Zimababwe or 'I like your shoes'

On Wed morning I got up and sat outside while the rest of the family slept. As I was sitting there reading and journaling, I realized that the "roar of traffic" I was hearing was really not traffic. There are not enough cars/buses in most places in Africa to make that noise. It dawned on me that what I was hearing was Victoria Falls! I think we were a mile or so away, maybe a little more. I thought that was so cool!!!

So, at 10 am we all met at the bus, loaded up, checked out and left for The Kingdom! When we got to our room all I could say was, "Thank You, Lord". For me it was a nice way to end our trip and it was clean, pretty and safe feeling. Best of all, Greg and I were going to be able to sleep in the same bed together again!! I think that that is the longest we have ever slept apart since we've been married. The Kingdom is beautiful and quite a nice resort hotel. We were on the first floor and had a balcony that overlooked the pond/waterway that winds through the complex. In the middle of the complex are three pools that feed into each other, lounge chairs and a bar. The restaurant (open for breakfast and dinner) sits back a little way from the pool area. It is kind of neat because if you walk from the hotel lobby down the stairs to the restaurant, you start out inside, but end up outside without opening any doors to get outside. The restaurant is covered, but what could be the whole front wall is open to the outside.

The plans for that day included going into town and shopping and going to the Zimbabwe side of the falls. We could walk to the park entrance from the back of our hotel property. Greg, Kyle and I went into town to shop. Caolinn stayed with one of the other families and swam. That was her biggest excitement about being at The Kingdom. Shopping at the vendors in Vic Falls is an EXPERIENCE! Some of the people on our team are very good at it. Some of us had a definite learning curve. (We got better). When you leave your hotel property you are fair game for anyone who wants to sell you something. The three of us were escorted by two young men down to one set of vendor stalls. We told them we didn't need their help, but apparently they thought we did and would NOT leave us until we reached "the market". These stalls are all side by side and each person sells essentially the same things. The variations are in color, quantity and type of wood. Each vendor tells you they will give you the best price. It's hard just to browse. We just wanted to get a sense of what they were selling and think about what we might want to buy, so we got good at "No, we are just looking".

We did buy a few things there and then found our way to the other (and bigger) market. We bought a chess board for Kyle there- he had seen several he liked and they were all fairly expensive, so Greg found one Kyle was ok with and began negotiating. How you do this is offer half of whatever the vendor says the price is and then you go from there. It is really kind of difficult because first of all we really have no idea what the item is worth and secondly we have to convert every price to US so we have an idea of what the asking price is. I think we did ok with some stuff and not so great with other stuff. Kyle was frustrated with us at times 'cause we weren't as aggressive as he thought we should be, but he also wasn't doing the bartering. (Later he said he would have bargained for his chess set and I wish we'd known that 'cause I think that would have been interesting). In the market you can negotiate in Zim dollars (their currency), US dollars (their favorite) and stuff...like your name brand tennis shoes, t-shirt, hat or socks. And they will take just about any combination. The most commonly heard line in the market is "I like your shoes". If only we had several pairs of shoes! I think we could have gotten anything we wanted. (I did drive a hard bargain on Fri with a pair of kyle's old Nike's).

After we left the market, we went back to our rooms and then met our group to go tour the Zimbabwe side of Vic Falls. So, here's the interesting thing about the entrance fee - it is based on your nationality. If we were Zimbabweans or Zambians the fee would have been $3, but since we are Americans we got to pay the highest fee of $20/person. Quite interesting. And of course on the way to the entrance we got to fend off the vendors who wanted to sell us their elephant, salad forks, cane, etc at the very best price...or for our shoes. The falls were awesome. There is more to see from the Zimbabwe side. It just seems to go forever and ever. I kept thinking, "What was it like when David Livingstone discovered it?" For him...we sort of knew what to expect and we've seen pictures, but he hadn't seen pictures, he just knew that there was a water fall that made alot of noise. It must have been the most fantastic experience!

Well, on the Zimbabwe side the safety features were much less safe than on the Zambia side. In Zambia there were railings to keep a person from going over the edge, but in Zim. there were woven thorns at the edge. So, we figured it's like the introductory pain before the real pain if you end up going over. Then at the very end of the path is danger point. Danger Point is an outcropping of rocks and there is NO protective barriers there just one little sign that says not to go beyond that point (ha,ha). All our pictures from there are from
beyond that point. Standing there you can see across to Zambia and down to rafters who are rafting in the water that comes off the falls. Beautiful, awesome, fascinating!!

We walked back toward the entrance and past it from there. Further up from the entrance is a monument to David Livingstone and the head waters of the falls. As Greg and I were walking up to look at the headwaters a guy came running up to us and told us that the park was closed past there. That he was part of a movie team and they were working on a documentary and could we stay out of the way while they filmed. I wasn't completely comfortable with him and the fact that he said he is from Atlanta and had NO southern accent not even a trace. Anyway, we all milled around for a little bit, but got a little frustrated 'cause the movie people were telling us that our movement was going to depend on their movement. Well, Sharon pulled the guy aside, told him she didn't like how we'd been treated, that the park was open to everyone, we'd paid our money,etc and she wanted to see what she came to see. He personally escorted her to see the part she wanted to see and we were all able to walk back without worrying about the filming. Greg said that this was no documentary because there were too many people involved including a helicopter. He decided that it was a reality show filming.

That night for dinner we went to a place called Boma. It is a restaurant at another resort type hotel. The restaurant was really neat. It had the thatched roof and feeling of being outdoors even though we were in. The meal is served buffet style with several courses available. We had an excellent cream of vegetable soup. There were breads, salads, veggies, meats and desserts. At the meat area we could choose from impala, chicken, warthog, kudu, ostrich, steak and ribs. Oh yeah and you could get a certificate if you ate the fried Mopane worm (a type of grub). I tried the warthog and it was ok. Kyle tried the warthog and kudu. Meanwhile, there was also entertainment. A group of tribal dancers came out at intervals and danced. All in all it was pretty interesting and I really loved the ambience.

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Warthog & Kudu - aka 'Dinner on the hoof"

After dinner it was back to The Kingdom and to bed shortly afterwards. On the way home on the bus, I stared out the window at the sky as long as I could. The sky was gorgeous with stars. (Remember there are no street lights - it is really dark as we are driving along). So, the sky looks like it's exploding with stars; there are so many and they are so bright. It's absolutely gorgeous! Kyle really liked the night sky there and tried to take a picture of the stars, but it just doesn't work too well. Anyway, that is the one thing I wish I had done more of while we were there. Almost every night the sky was like that, but when there was time to just gaze at the stars I would for a few minutes and then tiredness drove me indoors.

And now tiredness is driving me off the computer. I've got to go say good night to Caolinn and pray with her. She starts school in school for the first time tomorrow.

love to all,