Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Different Side of Zambia

Well, we've seen a whole new side of Zambia this weekend. We left Kitwe on Thursday after some fond farewells to our hosts, Uncle Eddy and Aunty Sue, at the guesthouse. Uncle Eddy presented Jason with a traditional African shirt complete with silver trim and front pockets, and Aunty Sue's daughter made me a welcome mat for our front door that says "Welcome to Zambia" in the colors of the Zambian flag. I love it...it's awesome. We set out with our friend, Blessings, and drove the 10 hours to Livingstone. It's very touristy and busy...expensive compared to the way we have been living, but also really, incredibly beautiful. We rented two tents with cots and bedding so Jason and Blessings shared a tent and the boys and I shared the other. I was happy to share with Easton as it gets really chilly at night here. The tents are great though and we wake up to the sounds of monkeys jumping through the trees above us, the roar of Victoria Falls in our ears and many other amazing animals and birds waking up around us. I love it here, I love waking in the night and remembering where I am and just being so incredibly thankful for the life we're living.
On Friday morning, we set out to the Victoria Falls with Blessings, before he set off back to Kitwe. We had a great time just hanging out in the absolutely drenching mist and walking the many trails and viewpoints surrounding the falls. The water is incredibly high, the mist like a garden hose being poured out over you and the trees and foliage lush though we're well on our way to "winter". Blessings left us early and it was hard, as always, to say goodbye to such a good friend. What an incredible time we had with him and Towela. They just feel like family and leaving for an indefinite stretch of time always hurts. He left us at the falls and we continued around the area for a while until we spotted zebras grazing on a nearby lawn. We asked the gate guard at the hotel grounds if we could possibly just step in for a photo and she was very agreeable. Once in the gate, Easton and I snapped a few pics of zebras who are being grazed on the grounds but are still very much wild. I struck up a conversation with a man nearby named Webster, who it turned out was the veterinarian of the herd. We began to chat and he offered to show us the three giraffes on the grounds as well, in the back acreage. I sent Easton for Jason and Aidan, who were still in the market haggling with vendors, and they joined us for a long walk into the brush of the acreage. Webster whistled for the giraffes and after a short wait, a young female loped out of the brush before us. It was incredible. She was beautiful! Aidan's favorite animals are the giraffes so to even see one without a fence was quite amazing. She came slowly towards us, wary, but trusting of Webster. She stood just near us and we were able to snap some beautiful photos of her. Her mother came next, fully pregnant and due next week with yet another baby, she was tired and walked timidly towards where we stood. Suddenly, we found ourselves standing a few feet from two giraffes, who seemed as fascinated with us as we with them. Webster told us all about them and their quirky personalities and likes, it was as though we were meeting his family. We stayed for almost an hour, just interacting and watching these gorgeous creatures. At one point, standing in front of the mother for a photo, I felt her whiskers graze the back of my neck and a warm puff of breath. She was fully inspecting me as I stood there. I was very surprised but also really amazed that she would come so close. After we felt we had taken enough of Webster's time, we walked with him back to the gate and offered to take him for a drink as a thank you but he turned us down. What a beautiful experience and literally, it is typical of Zambians to show you what they are most proud of and care most about. We could not have asked for anything better. We taxied back to our lodging and spent the evening out on the Zambezi river, with hippos, crocs and impala parading out in front of us. As we left the wharf, the Victoria Falls were launching mist high into the air and the rainbows above it turned the mists pinks and greens, as though lit by some interior spotlights. There is nothing but nature here surrounding the falls, no guardrails save a few timbers, stones paths to follow, dirt paths to avoid that lead straight to the edge. It's no North American tourist trap with safety intervening on the natural beauty. The sunset, as all African sunsets are, was even more spectacular from our river vantage point and we had a great time with the boys and fellow passengers, enjoying the views.
Today, we went for the adventure. Jason fulfilled one of his longings by bungee jumping off the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe, over the river. He pulled off the best jump of the day with a gorgeous swan dive that I think most people think they are pulling off when really they are falling forward in a crouched variation of the cannonball, once their feet leave the platform. Jason was fearless, which was incredible as I was scared just watching and Easton couldn't bear at all...having left the bridge to wait whoever returned to him in the above cafe area. Aidan and I took a zipline from Zambia to Zimbabwe, literally. It wasn't scary although the idea of flying above the river with my son did strike fear in my heart pre-launch. It was a beautiful view and we loved it, though it went far too quickly. The scariest part for me was getting Aidan and I off the zipline and having to walk under the bridge back to the stairs up. We did well and we were pretty excited and proud of ourselves. Tomorrow, we leave Zambia, though truly, having been here for a few days feels like we have already left the bit of Zambia that has captured our hearts. I was completely flattered today when one of the crew at the zipline told me I had a Zambian accent! We'll fly to Johannesburg and then we are in the final days of our time in Africa. I can't think too much about it yet, I imagine when I'm on a plane heading towards Senegal or Washington, DC, it may hit me. Until then, I'm just taking in every possible minute left to us.

1 comment:

Kristal Dawn said...

You're getting so close to me... I'm not sure if that makes me happy or incredibly sad.