Tuesday, July 07, 2015

God bless the Internet!

Our internet connection has been iffy, at best, during most of the last month, and, though I have tired to work with what I had or gracefully accept what I didn't have, I can tell you I am truly thankful to finally be in a place where I can get quality wifi from the comfort of my own home! The story of where I am and how I got here follows.

When I was 17, I traveled to Zambia and Zimbabwe with a group of medical missionaries. My travel experience at that time was very narrow, but that trip whetted my appetite for travel and gave me a perspective that has shaped me to this day. When I left Africa all those years ago, I left a piece of my heart and have hoped and prayed for years for an opportunity to return, specifically, to return with my people. Twenty years later, the dream has become a reality!

On Friday, we boarded a plane in Rome, Italy that took us to Cairo, Egypt. From there, we traversed the whole of the African continent, chasing the sunrise. We arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, just as the sun came up and then shortly boarded another plane to Livingstone, Zambia. A cab took us to our dorm-style room, in a very quaint guesthouse, with come-and-go electricity and water. This is the African experience I remember from my youth, so it seemed charming and authentic. For dinner, we sampled some wonderful local cuisine at a local restaurant, before calling it a night.

On Sunday morning, we had a cab take us to the Zambian border, where we donned our packs, and, after checking in with the immigration office, walked across the bridge, which spans the Zambezi River and takes you into Zimbabwe. It was so surreal and super cool to walk from one country to another, with most of our worldly possessions on our backs, with breathtaking Victoria Falls on one side of us and the rushing Zambezi River on the other side. We had another stop at another immigration office on the other side of the bridge and then walked right to our lodge, The Victoria Falls Rest Camp, which was such a great place. We could hear the falls and see the mist from our cabin, which was so perfect, since the African name for the falls is Mosi-Oa-Tunya, which means "The Smoke That Thunders." The kids had a blast picking up all the seed pods from the "hot dog" trees and watching the monkeys run around.

On Sunday evening, we were able to do a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, which was absolutely amazing. We saw crocodiles, hippos and elephants, and a fantastic sunset, all while enjoying drinks and snacks on the boat. When we got back to our lodge, we had dinner at the onsite restaurant, sampling some of the more exotic dishes, like impala steak, warthog schnitzel, crocodile curry and crocodile tail pasta. Just as we were finishing up, a group of young men in traditional tribal costumes came in singing and dancing, and we stayed to enjoy the show.

Yesterday, we spent the majority of the day at the Victoria Falls National Park, and I felt my heart near bursting with joy, getting to share this place I have loved for so long with the people I love so much and watching them fall in love with it, too. The mist from the falls has created a small rainforest around the falls, so the park is absolutely beautiful. The falls also showed off with multiple brilliant rainbows. And, we even got to see a bushbuck, some mischievous monkeys, a herd of warthogs, and some of the crazy humans who chose to bungee jump off the bridge over the river.

For dinner, we had a reservation at the Livingstone Room at the Victoria Falls Hotel, which has a dress code and normally doesn't allow diners under the age of 12, but the manager made an exception for our crew. It is the fanciest restaurant I have ever been to and probably one of the best. We had a seven-course meal, with a hundred different pieces of silverware and a new glass for every course. Each course was more delicious than the last, and we got to try so many unique and fabulous things. Admittedly, I was nervous about taking the kids, but they rose to the occasion and behaved perfectly and enjoyed themselves tremendously. It was absolutely a perfect day!

Today, we had one last look at the falls, as we crossed the bridge back to Zambia. Then, it was another day of planes and airports, before finally arriving in Cape Town, South Africa, where we will be all week.

Clearly, my Internet deprivation has caused me to go on and on for way too long now, so if you're still here, thanks for hanging in there. I will do a picture post soon from our time in Zambia and Zimbabwe, for those of you wanting the virtual tour.

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