I watched David ride the swing and zipline at the Lookout cafe on the gorge edge this morning. Fairly tame he said, but not my idea of fun. The cafe provides a good view of the bridge and the many rafts negotiating the rapids. Didn’t look too tough but THAT would have been fun. Too late now. Getting here requires a vehicle though the distance is minimal, owing to a small herd of elephant that badly injured a guy recently. Baboons and a few warthogs stroll the streets but it is safe to walk where street lights exist.
The northern Zimbabwe Shona tribe are well known for carving, especially of soapstone. A large market 20m from this hotel has a massive variety, one stall in particular owned by an old guy Chris, caught my attention yesterday. I decided to buy a small carving of the Zimbabwe bird of the Great Zimbabwe ruined city near what was Fort Victoria. The stone walls are beautifully cut and placed, similar to the well known Machu Pichu on a smaller scale. Large areas of the country are terraced too and speculation is that Arab slave traders had it done – or a people now extinct. The bird emblem is located there. Ailine ended up buying a lot including an excellent very large heavy elephant carving, probably by local Ndebele.
Chris is talented; besides carving he plays music at a local venue, mentioning ’By the Rivers of Babylon’. He could easily fit in New York’s Harlem. He also said that Mugabe’s party never won here and that all lived in peace. Any outsider had to conform! I feel sorry that he has never seen the world, living in poverty relative to us, yet wonder if its not better than our ‘civilised’ west in these ‘politically correct’ anti-Christian times.
We moved David’s bags to the Victoria Falls Hotel, then taxied across to Zambia in three taxies ie from hotel to Zimbabwe gate, then to the Zambia gate, then several km to Livingstone. Both customs have similar long buildings, a glassed office with passages each side, in and out of the country.
Oranges are currently cheap in Zimbabwe. We saw at least 50 heavily loaded bicycles pushed by guys across to Zambia to make a 100% profit. Its about a 10 km hilly road they do twice a day in the heat. Tough life.
The taxi driver in Zambia pointed out many buildings and a shopping complex built by Chinese, now abandoned. The adjacent ‘Safe Harbour’ hotel is open but not in good shape. The driver claimed they were still here but didn’t say what they do. They dont employ locals, but provide loans to government that will never be paid, effectively buying Africa. Many years ago they built the rail from Lusaka to Tanzania with virtual Chinese indentured labour.
Livingstone is the fourth largest city in Zambia, comprising long main street, one traffic light at the cross road to Namibia, a few colonial era buildings and many more recent. All are in typical African disrepair. We were dropped at the far end next to a high long shed divided into many stalls displaying colourful local craft. Ailine bought some though the US$ are running low. David tried to change 50’s into 10’s at one bank; we were ignored but had success at the next.
We selected a busy local cafe for lunch having seen Europeans on both sides of the counter. One customer was a huge man who responded that he often ate here so we felt safe to eat here too.
Guards with guns are common in both countries which may explain the apparent safety. Tourism is very important; truck loads of young arrive as well as the older European rich or self-drive South Africans, and they have to keep coming.
At 4pm our taxi took us to the Zambian park gate for sunset. Despite the lack of water, enough fell in two spots to make it interesting, especially the first which offers a good view all the way down the fall chasm, overlooked by a Livingston statue. We had to be out by 6, 15mins before sunset, but managed to get some good shots (I think, as checking them is not possible on these long days). We opted to walk 1 or 2 km to the Zimbabwe side across the bridge as the steam train was there for sundowners. David asked the loco driver if I could blow the whistle- and I did! Ailine and I were dead by then so a taxi brought us back.
After a shower I walked 10 mins to the Victoria Falls hotel for a very tender venison dinner followed by a sundae and coffee on the terrace of this gracious old building. A great way to end this visit to what was ‘God’s own country’, a taste of the glory days. The garden perfumed air accompanied me on the short walk back to my hotel.
It’s 12.40am now and an early morning start tomorrow.