We woke up to a campsite littered with wings. It looked as if there had been a light snow throughout the night. We packed everything up but it was much less appealing of a job than ever before due to that fact that we were folding up hundreds of bugs and wings into our tent bags. Cleaning the bus wasn’t too much better and using the bathroom facilities was like entering into a war zone where the bugs clearly didn’t win, but some how still managed to cover the floor. Luckily the day got a lot better!
Today we were heading into Zambia and staying at our final location just outside of Livingston. In order to get there we had to take a ferry across the border. Because of the shape of Namibia and the location we were crossing we had a vantage point where we could see all 4 countries at once; Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia.
As soon as we got to the other side we were flanked by several locals who were looking to either sell one of their crafts or to sell us some Zimbabwe money. Zimbabwe money is of no use anymore after the inflation got out of control. They are currently using the USD and the reason why was because the Zimbabwe bills were fluctuating up in the trillions! Right before the switch was made and the Zimbabwe currency was still in use it could cost you up to 500 billion dollars to buy a loaf of bread. If you were to go to a store to do shopping of any sort you’d need a backpack just to carry your money. They tried introducing a 50 trillion bill and a 100 trillion bill but it wasn’t long before inflation caught up with bills even that high. Imagine sending your child to the market with a few 100 trillion dollars so they could pick up some essentials. You certainly have to be quick with your math if you have any chance getting the right change back!
Another thing about Zambia is that the markets and craft shops that you see everywhere except trading just as much as money, in fact they seem to prefer trading over receiving money. Since it was many of our lasts stops along the trip we were keener to part with some of our belongings. Even though it’s technically worthless I still had to get some Zimbabwe money as a souvenir. As of this part of the trip I had 6 different currencies in my wallet; South Africa’s Rand, Nambia’s Dollar, Botwana’s Pula, Zambia’s Kwacha, Zimbabwe’s Dollars, USD, and I even had a few Euros in my wallet. Since we were in Zambia that was the currency of most relevance followed by the USD, and the exchange rate was 5000 to 1. I knew I was going to be partaking in some costly adventure activities so I had to withdraw a junk of Zambian Kwacha. How much? Oh just a Million! That’s right, I was a millionaire in the country of Zambia… too bad it didn’t even last throughout the day.
After getting our money sorted out we headed to Vic Falls. We had a couple hours on our own here so we explored the many paths that took us around the river. I headed down a trail with Cat (Catherine) to the base of the falls. The hike down was difficult but we were distracted by the enormous baboons that shared the path with us. Some of these baboons would prove to be taller than me if they had stood up straight! At any moment these beasts could have killed us with ease but alas they minded their business while we minded ours. That didn’t stop me from getting some good footage of them though! At the bottom of the gorge we had a great view of the bridge that spanned the distance between Zambia and Zimbabwe. That’s also the bridge I’d be jumping off of in due time!
Before we left the falls we had one last thing to accomplish… we had to barter away a sleeping bag, a fleece, and a pair of flip flops Grainne had left us. I took the sleeping back while Cat worked with the fleece and flops, and we went in with a strategy to win! We had a about 20 minutes to get everything we wanted and get as much as we could which basically just meant souvenirs/presents. I won’t list everything I got just because there’s a chance you, as a reader, may be one of the recipients, and I’d hate to spoil the surprise haha. I’d like to say I’m a darn good bargainer though.
Our next stop was our lodge and it was beautiful! By far the nicest place we stayed thus far on our journey. Helene and I even upgraded to a permanent tent because neither of us had any desire to set up our tent, especially after the episode with the bugs from the night before! Our new home had two beds, a lamp, fan, and a power source! We were living it up in Zambia and I couldn’t have chosen a better way to end our trip. Of course the best is yet to come though because it was only just afternoon by the time we were all settling in and remember, at this specific time, I was a millionaire!! We headed to the main building of the lodging where they had a restaurant, bar, and pool that over looked a river. It was here that we watched a DVD depicting all the activities we could do while in Zambia. I actually already knew what I was interested in doing before the video started but the video did help convince Fabian to join me! We signed up for a bungee jumping combo that involved a jump, a swing, and a zip line for the current day and then signed up for a full day of white water rafting down the Zambezi for the following day! I was still in the mood for bargaining and was able to get both of us a discount on both packages. As soon as we finished singing up we went down stairs where a taxi was waiting for us.
We drove back to the falls where the bridge spanned the gap between the neighboring countries and parked in Zambia. We had to bring our passports with us in order to get back but we later realized it didn’t really matter. The bridge is technically in no man’s land and the locals call it ZimZam. Before we could even get out of the taxi there were several locals looking to sell us stuff, mostly copper bracelets and Zimbabwe money. It ended up being one local for me, one for Fabian, and one for our other friend Marquell, who was joining us to observe. The guys stuck with us the entire time cheering us on as we jumped and trying to sell to us every chance they got. The process to which we jumped was very fast paced. I think they could sense a storm approaching and wanted to get us in before it was too late. So without further ado we were strapped up and headed to the bridge via zip line. Once we made it over they had Fabian strapped up to do the gorge swing and strapped me up to do the bungee jump. They were really trying to kill two birds with one stone and I almost thought we were going to jump off the same platform at the same time. Before he had any time to think about it Fabian was off the bridge and swinging between the legs of the bridge with Zimbabwe to his right and Zambia on his left. One thing you don’t necessarily realize is that the gorge swing has a huge freefall in the beginning of it. I should mention the bridge is 111 meters tall which sounds huge but that’s hardly anything compared to the bungee I did in South Africa that was 216 meters tall (tallest in the world!!). and because I’ve already jumped before I didn’t want to do the same old jump so this time I decided I’d jump off backwards. Never once was a scared about jumping off or falling the 100 meters but I was a wee bit concerned about the method they used to strap the bungee to my ankles. They basically just wrapped bath towels around my ankles and then leashed the bungee around those and that was it… as I jumped I held my video camera in my hand to get a first person perspective. Watching the footage you can see fragments of the rope falling off into the water below! The worst part about the whole process was waiting to be brought back up to the top. All the blood was in my head and I felt like was going to faint. I was still filming throughout all of this and I even commented that there was a good chance that any viewers of this video may witness me about to pass out… but luckily that was avoided. I followed the jump by the gorge swing and enjoyed that even more! It reminded me a lot of the bungee jumping only I was able to be right side up and didn’t feel like was going to pass out. I did feel a little nauseous after swinging back and forth a dozen times but the rush of the wind in your face as you leap off a bridge was totally worth it!
Of course as soon as this was all over my local salesman was waiting for me at the top of the bridge ready to sell me anything I would take. It’s rather annoying trying to say no over and over again to someone that is desperately trying to convince you they are the poorest person in the country and needs the money so they can buy bread and milk for their children. I’ve gotten pretty good at it though… haha.
We headed back to our lodge and made it back with time to spare before dinner. As we pulled into the lodge we noticed a ton of monkeys in the surrounded area. We watched them and took their pictures as they climbed on and in cars. A truck had its window opened and the monkeys were having a field day going and looking for any leftover food. I got pretty close with a couple of them and wondered if I’d be able to touch one of the small ones. Of course the problem is never the little ones but rather the big ones that are keeping a watchful eye on you. I ended up getting ambushed by 5 of them and had to ward them off with my water bottle. I couldn’t turn my back on them cause then they would have just attacked me and bit me and the risk of rabbis was too high. So I tried to intimidate them which worked great with the small ones but just pissed the big ones off even more. During this dispute a car was driving by at a very slow pace and put a barrier between me and half the monkeys. There was still one on my side of the car and at the time my thoughts were something like… “what now monkey, it’s just you and I and you have nowhere to run!” Only this time when I intimidated him he turned and ran… right under the car. Don’t worry he survived and I think only hit his tail and as soon as the car passed they all came right back after me and I was left to fend for my life once again. This continued for some time until they suddenly stopped to start eating bugs off each other’s butts. We did get it on film but it makes me look really bad
Afterwards, Fabian and I chilled in the pool and shared our footage with the others. We hung out with everyone that night knowing that we’d have a long day ahead of us. Even with the fan it was a hot night to fall asleep to.