Okay. While I might have seemed a bit on the "I'm not sure this all it's cracked up to be" side of things yesterday. . . today totally changed my perspective. It was awesome and I know the best is yet to come!
To begin, we woke early to head out to Victoria Falls -- one of the seven natural wonders of the world -- which happened to be about one quarter mile from our hotel. We were instructed to wear very light weight clothes and rubber-soled shoes as we would be getting a "natural" shower on our exploration. And they weren't kidding. What a spectacular site! We hiked over to the falls, which they qualify as a "flow and blow" waterfall. Basically, what this means is that the water falls into a very narrow gorge at the bottom and thus doesn't flow out like most waterfalls, but rather blows back up to more than 500 meters, thus the shower. So if you're walking in certain areas, it appears you're being overwhelmed by a major rain shower that is simply the blow of the falls. (To give you some perspective of the power of Vic Falls, Niagara Falls is 56 meters from top to bottom and Vic Falls is 108 meters).
Not only was this one of the most spectacular sites I've ever seen in my life, each of us felt like little kids playing in the rain again. We were soaked from head to tow with the most satisfyingly refreshing rush of water we've ever felt. We had the time of our lives! (pics to come).
After our trip to the falls, we went to a local village where, of course, we spent hours negotiating the best price possible on a cadre of stuff we don't need and will likely never see the light of day when we return home. But it was all in the name of fun and in support of the local community. In the afternoon we went into the local village where we visited families and schools providing them with tons of school supplies, toys and more. Some of the most spectacular faces and personalities you'll ever have the privilege of knowing. What was most profound here is that you have an entire culture living in utter poverty -- in little more than a mud hut with no running water -- but these children, in particular, are likely happier than most kids you and I know in the states. They cannot miss - or covet - what they do not know. A sad and happy experience all at the same time.
In the evening we were transported over to a train - in the era of 1904 - where we enjoyed a three-hour journey including amazing views of wildlife (Impala, Elephants and Giraffes) and a spectacular five-course meal. Envision me on a train . . . having a romantic dinner with Robert Redford (Think "Out of Africa") . . . and slowly making our way across the barren lands of Africa . . . .
Okay . . . back to reality. I was with good friends, whom I'm becoming very fond of. But they are no Robert Redford . . . and I"m no Meryl Streep.
The highlight of the train journey -- and the day -- were the children we saw along the way. They greeted us with open arms and warm smiles as we moved slowly along the tracks and while some stayed with us for only moments in time, others chased the train down the tracks for hundreds of yards. One young boy ran for more than a mile behind the slowly moving train with a strong stride and big smile. He reminded me of a miniature version of Forrest Gump only with shorter legs and darker skin -- yet the same will and determination to achieve a goal -- although his was simply to be noticed.
I could go on and on about today and the experiences I had, but there is more time for this in the future. You must simply know that Africa is a very special place, filled with very special people, who house very special hearts. Take that and hold onto it. I know I will. It's my privilege to be here!
Stay tuned for tomorrow's news:
An Elephant-Back Safari
A Lion Walk
A Cheetah Encounter
A Helicopter Ride Over Vic Falls
What more could a girl ask for? Oh yeah . . . Robert Redford! A girl can dream, right?