October 7, 2005

Zimbabwe FlagToday was another free day in Vic Falls. We went over for breakfast at about 8 am, and there was fruit salad! It sure tasted good, even though it was just apples and oranges plus canned fruit. By 9 am we were ready to tackle shopping again. We walked down to the town again, and once again we were approached numerous times to buy souvenirs and change money. This got very tiresome. What was worse was the mothers who were letting their small children beg. The children were cute but that is a sad way to grow up.

Instead of returning to yesterday’s open-air market, we checked out another one on the other side of the Elephant’s Walk shops. This time instead of being hounded by men when we first arrived, we were approached by women. This was a little easier to deal with, and we bought a batik wall hanging there for US$5. Then we carried on looking for the little table. Along the way we bought a statue of two giraffes (US$4 plus Z$60,000 plus a handkerchief) and a hippo soap-dish (R20 plus a pink plastic bracelet from the BC Cancer Agency). And finally we found the table we wanted, a little mahogany table with the figure of an elephant in it. This was in one of the shops, at a fixed price of R60. We would have had to bargain hard to pay that little in the open-air market. And not only that, the shop owner threw in some tusks for the elephant and wrapped the table securely for us. At this point we had to head back to the Inn to get rid of the purchases.

After a while we decided we needed something to do in the afternoon, so we went back down to the town. We took photographs of the markets, something we had forgotten to do in our earlier visits to them, and we signed ourselves up for the upper Zambezi jet boat safari in the late afternoon. We got on the last trip of the day, which would also include the setting sun. Since we were in the town, we did a little more shopping at the Elephant’s Walk shops. Their prices were very reasonable and you didn’t have vendors hassling you every second. Rosemary bought two necklaces for US$4 each, and we both bought “Zimbabwe” T-shirts from the free-trade shop. Then we bought a couple of apples that were really good from the Spar for lunch, and returned to the Inn again.

Our pickup for the cruise was scheduled for 4 pm, so we had time to take showers and get ready. When we went to the front to wait, we found that Axel and Margit and André and Diane were waiting as well. It turned out that we were all on the same boat.

The dock for the jet boat was in an area close to where we had dinner last night. Before arriving there we picked up a young couple from a time-share condo who would also be on the trip. We had a little wait while they refilled the fuel tank, but we were soon on our way. It turned out that the cruise was in a jet boat not so it could go very fast, but just because the river is shallow with many rocks.

Our first animal sighting was a very large elephant taking a dust bath. After that we headed downstream towards the falls, stopping along the way to watch the hippos. The water level in the river was low, so the captain took it slowly to avoid the rocks and the hippos. We went downstream until we were about 2 km from the falls, then turned around and went back upstream, stopping on a sandy beach for drinks and snacks. This involved setting up a table complete with tablecloth and a great platter of finger foods. Watching the sun set was really lovely and a nice way to end our visit to Victoria Falls.

After that we motored back to the starting point, but in a narrow channel we came upon a hippo that wouldn’t move. Hippos have the right of way, so we turned around and took the long route around the island. By now it was getting dark, so it was hard to tell the hippos from the rocks, but finally we made it back to the dock. It was dark enough to see fireflies, which was really neat!

Back at the Inn Leon was making dinner, which was barbecued meat and potato salad in the South African style. We sat around and heard about other people’s adventures, then went to bed around 10:30 pm.

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