Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
Time to be tourists and take a break from work via a British Airways flight to Zimbabwe! (Actually I thought that relations between that country’s Government and Britain was such that commercial links would be non-existent….). Arrival heralded our first Ebola check, firstly for any ‘Iffy’ passport stamps, ie, from West Africa, followed passenger temperature checks. Instant worry, do I still have a temperature from the bug that had hit me a couple of days back?
After the long queue for the health check, there was an even slower one for immigration. And I mean slow! But eventually we reached the very colonial Victoria Falls Hotel. Being greeted at the entrance by staff with hot-scented towels and cold lemon drinks was great. After a quick visit to the room to drop our bags, back on the bus for the sunset cruise on the Zambesi.
The ‘first’ for us were the hippos! Playing around in the river was a large family of these big animals, splashing and snorting out sprays of water out of their nostrils, their appearance seemed in contrast to their fearsome reputation.
Next morning, it was off to the Falls. The surprise is their extent, and the short geological explanation offered at the entrance opens the mind to their extraordinary and continuing evolution. Whilst we somehow managed to come at the time of lowest water, you actually get to see more as the spray obscures much in the wet season. Also those who swim in the pools at the edge of the falls might think twice later in the year! (However it makes for a great excuse to make a return visit.) Clearly many take up the offer of helicopter rides over the falls, for the incessant clatter starts early and finishes late. It is also not cheap at $140 per person for just 12 minutes in the air!
Thrill seekers are well catered for! Bungee jumps, gorge swings and all sorts of stomach-churning antics are on offer for adrenaline mainlining. These are definitely not for the nervous, more for the certifiably insane!
Dinner just had to be in the main restaurant. Thankfully, by popular request, the necessity of wearing jackets and ties has been relaxed (Harumph! Standards are really slipping! 😊). We were joined by Darelyn and David, from Melbourne, who we got talking to on last nights cruise. Of course the essential start had to be cocktails on the terrace, followed by the 7 course ‘degustation’ menu. Absolute colonial decadence supported by an army of attentive staff and an indefatigable pianist.
Neither of us could face breakfast, what a surprise! So it was a lazy walk round the town before a quick bite, and then time to head back to the airport. What a brilliant break!
And yet, amongst all this uninhibited tourist activity, there are a few disturbing reminders of what lurks in the shadows. At the road border crossing with Zambia, there is a line of trucks waiting to cross into Zimbabwe. Nothing unusual until you learn that they can wait for two months to be allowed through.
A visit to a local shop led to a chance encounter with an ex-farmer who had his farm stolen and lost everything, including his wife who died aged just 40 from the stress and shock.
Local ‘vendors’ try to sell you 100 trillion dollar notes from before the adoption of the U.S. Dollar during the last coalition government. Imagine what hyper-inflation does for poor folk. No wonder they plead with tourists to barter for your shoes and clothes.
I do feel a bit hypocritical for visiting a country brought to its knees by political mismanagement, sadly a not totally unknown situation on this beautiful continent. And yet our tourist dollars are the sole source of income for this town.
I also know from my work that, metaphorically speaking, businesses are massing on the border, just waiting for a change of climate to come in and invest.