Friday, 26 August 2011

Mosi oa Thunya

Every weekend adventure has been hard to describe. I feel like all I ever write is that there are no words that are enough to represent the feelings and experiences. By this point I must sound like a broken record. But the truth is I have never been as lost for words as I have been this summer.

Kelly G. This is for you!!!

If I try really hard to think of words to describe our time in Zambia and Zimbabwe two weekends ago I am left with a hectic and uncoordinated list. Beautiful. Other worldly. Crazy. Insane. Adrenaline. Rush. Jump. Accept. New. Challenge. Poor. Desperate. Hot. Money. Laugh. Not exactly poetry. But every small word holds a world of emotions and thoughts with it.

Mekoro in motion
For me it was a weekend of testing myself. Of seeing how I have grown in the past two and a half months. How far I can push myself and how much stronger I am now. And of how insane I really am.

First glimpse of Victoria Falls
On Saturday early, early morning me, Chloe, Thomas and Lyndsay headed to Zambia. We took the 6:30am Kazungula ferry and watched the sunrise a fleet of mekoro heading towards us from the opposite shore. After blustering though customs - getting the wrong visa in a rush to spend less money- we jumped in a taxi and headed to the Falls. Right away there was a drastic change in the landscape. Green took over from brown and flat moved into rolling hills. Livingstone was wide boulevards with lush trees decorating medians. Going further we moved towards Mosi oa Thunya – the Smoke that Thunders. Mist bellowed in the distance. Entering the Park we confirmed our plan with a green clad soldier and watched baboons casually swing onto the hood of our car. Walking through the UNESCO funded paths we caught our first glimpse of the Falls. All plans of walking to our final destination without stopping were abandoned. Once again we were witness to the pure power of nature.

Derek and Jerry, our amazing guides
What we did next was a little crazy. Linked in an “African Chain” with our guides Derek and Jerry the adventure started as we prepared to make our way to Angel’s Armchair on the lip of the Falls. Walking side-by-side, hands grasping each others, we inched sideways across a 5 inch wide wall of concrete below the water, spanning the first channel in our path. Barefoot, the edges cut into our feet as the current pushed against our shins; eager to sweep away a foot which turned to the side. 50 feet behind us the water disappeared over the edge of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Laden with packs, sleeping bags, and hiking boots it seemed to take forever to get to the other side. The fear of falling added extra weight on my shoulders. My camera bag has never felt so heavy. My trusty Nikon 3100 has survived a lot this summer, but I knew that a dip in the Zambezi would end its life quickly.  Minutes feeling like hours later we reached the other side. Adrenaline pumping we walked though a passage in the trees and emerged on the other side to be faced with the real challenge: walking across and wading through the long section of falls that separated us from the Armchair. Ditching the non- essentials on a grassy knoll with a random Rasta we passed our cameras to Derek and the safety of a backpack.

Up to my waist in the Zambezi
Stones were slippery, sharp, rough, big and small. Water levels varied from ankle to chest deep. For one section Lyndsay was taken a shallower route. We reached the Eastern Cataract without mishap, and in awe we walked up to the very edge of the Falls. Such assholes, we waved eagerly and energetically to the people walking on a bricked path all the way on the other side of the gorge. “This would be a really bad time to fall!” Two feet from the edge. Water roaring and crashing. Mist rising. Smiles shining. Double rainbows with raging rapids at their ends.

Sitting on the edge of the Eastern Cataract

First view of Angel's Armchair
After continuing on after a photo shoot on the edge of the world, we arrived at our final destination. This is why I just walked across a waterfall. To jump 10 metres off another waterfall into a swimming hole on TOP of the first waterfall! Insanity for the purpose of insanity. Laughing in the face of mortality and reason. Convincing all natural survival mechanisms that I wouldn't be swept away by the current. That an eddy would catch me from my fall and pull me around to safety. Jump! Fall. Thunder traded for the pure quiet of the underwater world.  Ears pop. Feet hit the bottom – legs not tucked as they are supposed to me. Push back up towards the waiting world. And repeat.

My favourite swimming hole in the world
Since we were the first group to cross the falls in the morning we were privileged enough to have the Armchair to ourselves. So beautiful that, as Livingstone said, angels passed it in flight. I could have stayed forever, but a pressing schedule led us back across the Falls to where we started that morning. This time we conquered the underwater concrete wall with ease – racing across in no time.

I have to say, I was pretty proud of myself. I have never really been a huge fan of cliff jumping – yet there I was jumping off one with the edge of Victoria Falls less than ten metres away from me, with no hesitation. Emboldened by the beauty and power of my surroundings. Life must at all times be lived to the fullest. Take opportunities as they are given. Let the joy of living enter your mind, body, and soul. And never let the fear of the unknown stop you from making the most of every moment. If you aren’t living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.
My own flight of angels
That last paragraph might just be a bunch of clichés; but hey, clichés are popular for a reason!

Team in love 
Sunday in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe saw Team Bots parting ways again. Boys rafting, girls bungee jumping. But before we hurled ourselves off of a bridge, Chloe and I went to a Pentecostal service with the owner of Victoria Falls Backpackers (our home for the weekend). It was really nice, with such beautiful and fun music. Lower, lower, higher, higher was a favourite of mine. Chloe, if you’re reading this, I need to know that actual name!!! The nanas (babies) and mamas definitely thought that our dancing was amusing, turning to openly smile and laugh at us. I could take all the dance classes on the earth and still not be able to dance well enough to fit in at a church service like that! Unfortunately it’s a natural talent I just don’t have.         

Picking up Lyndsay at the backpackers we headed towards our afternoon activity: jumping off a bridge with only a glorified elastic band to save us. I’m not just saying this, but in the week leading up to the weekend I really wasn’t that nervous. I was excited, but not really nervous. That all changed walking towards the bridge. Slowly the anticipation built and I started questioning the sanity of what we were about to do. Reaching the bridge didn’t help, as we saw exactly how far we were going to fall. After stalling for as long as possible, watching person after person jump and plummet down, we went to sign our lives away. Chloe: Bungee. Is: Bungee. Lynds: Gorge Swing. To be honest, the scariest part of the whole process was stepping on the scale and having my weight written in big, blue, block numbers on my arm. At that moment pap was no longer my friend.
5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Bungee!
Bungee was UNREAL amazing. Chloe went first. Completing her first head-first dive with flying colours; dropping to the ground with her eyes closed and not a single sound. Lynds was next, jumping feet first and falling like a stone to the end of her rope where she then swung like a “really intense Tarzan”. Going last, without Chloe and Lyndsay back up on the platform, there was barely even time to be nervous. Bungee! Jump. Fall. Flip. A feral scream escaping my lips five seconds after freefall started; completely unplanned and uncontrollable. Bounce. Rebound. Fall. Repeat. Until suddenly the bounces slowed and it was almost peaceful, just gentle extensions of the cord. Peaceful is an odd word to describe anything to do with bungee, but that’s what it felt like to me. Winching back up to the bridge I had a great conversation with the spotter. “Nice office!” “More than 300 jumps.” Getting back up to the Bridge I just wanted to do it all again. Seeing Chloe and Lynds in the distance I literally jumped for joy. Celebratory Mosi beers were had in the cafe overlooking the gorge as we waited for our pictures and movies to process. Challenge. Annihilated. 
Bots girls are so epic


  1. challenge annihilated indeed.
    this has been amazing to follow. keep posting next week. i love it all--words cannot describe.
    and rebel high fives and little miss sunshine dances for the challenge! EXCELLENT! :D

  2. Fantastic! What a great experience! All your blogs have been wonderful and made me feel I was in Africa again, and young again.In my time we parachuted with a static line and I am very proud of having a Grandaughter who has done a bungee jump
    wow. Love Grandma

  3. Hey Iz, thank goodness I did not see the Bunge shot until after you were already in Mozambique and I had heard about it from you on the phone. I'm proud of your sense of adventure. Runs in the genes I guess given where we are all scattered all over the Globe, but still, I'm your Mom and for a second when I saw that picture I had a little gulp intake of air going on. I love you lots and am so happy to see how you're soaking up life in various part of Africa. Can't wait to hug you and hear all the stories. Enjoy the diving and see you soon. Love Moo