Sunday, May 7th:
Things are hectic in the morning- last minute repacking, checking out of the room, couldn’t figure out tents, dumped all our bags in the luggage room, swallowing breakfast down in one bite. All that after having woken up at 6am and still late and making people wait in the bus that leaves at 10am. I am excited for bungee and to check out the Zimbabwe side of the Falls. On the way to the falls I buy a 10,000,000 Zimbabwean dollar bill, yes that’s right- ten million all one on one note. I get excited for a moment but I am reminded soon after that those bills are no longer in circulation because the inflation in the country was out of control and in 2009 they abolished their local currency and transitioned to US$. Now these large bills are sold as mere souvenirs. We are told that even with the change over there are currency issues, right now the country is now out of USD and there’s no cash in the ATMs. If we really need cash, we must use the ATMs across the border back in Zambia. Zimbabwe is in a dire situation, instead of financial transactions, everyone wants to trade goods instead.
We get to the bungee place on the bridge, one last chance to convince Mariam to change her mind and join me but instead but she tells me that she is saving us money by doing the cheaper zip lining. Haha. I think it’s a lost cause, she has her mind made up. As we are getting weighed and registered, we can see across to the jump spot and the drop seems never ending. The water from the falls is spraying all over, the sun is shining down and there are multiple rainbows in all directions. It’s quite a sight, like nothing I’ve witnessed before. As we wait, the guy selling souvenirs tells us that an Aussie girl had the rope break on her four years ago but she survived as she fell into the water was able to swim to shore, even with her feet still tied together. Hmmm the thought of saving money all of a sudden sounds very appealing to me too! The instructor senses my hesitation and he continues to reassure me that he’s done the jump four times in the past 2 years, Will Smith was here to do the jump a month ago, and the same Aussie girl has been back to do the jump twice. I am a little hesitant and scared but I don’t need much convincing, I know I would always regret this if I don’t do it, that’s enough to get me going. We are with three other girls from our tour group. One girl named Laura goes first and I stand next to her as I get strapped up. Laura is freaking out as she’s on the edge about to jump, haha she’s really not helping my cause. OK my turn next, I cross over onto the ledge, trying my best not to look down, trying to be all calm and collected. All this time I am attached by a rope hooked onto my chest. I don’t know what’s going on, things are very fast and all at once- they get me to talk into a video camera while I am getting tied up from my feet. All done and set to go! They ask me to walk to the edge but I am tied up, I hop along and all of a sudden I am forced to look down at the drop, my heart sinks and legs start to tremble, I look down at my chest and I am not attached anymore. PANIC!! I look down and I am attached from my feet instead now, of course because I am bungee jumping. I check my GoPro to make sure its recording, check. No but wait- I am still wearing my glasses, I take them off and toss them to Mariam. On the edge of the ledge, I see a beautiful rainbow in the mist below me. How sweet, I am bungeeing into a rainbow. They ask me to get ready and with 5… wait wait I check my GoPro again and it’s still recording. I am thinking now “damn this is expensive, I need to save money, starting a new family, maybe going back to university”. As I am about to say let’s turn back, the two guys behind me skip straight to three. I just give in, this is happening and I choose a spot downstream to swim to if my rope snaps. Two and one, for a split second I see my life flash right in front of my eyes. I feel satisfied- I’ve lived life to the fullest, I have no regrets and I’ve always had the best of intentions for everyone around me. BOOM and I am thrown up into the air. I am on my way down, I am shouting out loud and I have my arms our into the air but I am very stiff. 2-3 seconds in and I feel like I’m slowing down, I tell myself another 20 meters and I am getting into a diving pose, prepared to dive into the river that is getting much closer. I keep going down, very close to the river and all of a sudden I feel my spine stretch as the rope reaches its max elasticity and its slings me back up into the air but this time I am upright with my head up, I try to push the rope away and make circular movements with my arms so my feet are pointing up again, that is where I am tied up from. I finally manage to get upside down last second just as I am shot up again. I keep going up and down for another five seconds as the speed and intensity are reducing. I look around and there’s another guy suspended down from a rope and he ties me up to himself. He pulls up the pulley to get us up to the lower part of the bridge. He unhooks me and then hooks me back to a safety rope along the bridge. He tells me walk down to the end and up the stairs to the top of the bridge. As I am walking along this skinny ledge I notice my legs still shaking. I make it up to the top and meet with Mariam and the other girls. I feels like it’s a new start to life for me, all my problems and worries are washed away. I walk back to the reception again for Mariam’s zip lining. I hear a voice behind me, I turn around and there’s a guy running over to me with my shoes, I look down at my feet and I am barefoot. How did I not notice I am shoe-less? I am still in a shock. Everyone has a laugh at the situation. Finally! It’s over and I survived.
Mariam’s turn- she gets attached to the zip line and she has a little moment of panic too as she is about to take off but she is pushed hard and in no time she makes it across valley. While waiting for her, I look for souvenirs and find myself attached to a hippo that I really like. I barter down from $35 to $5, happy with my purchase run back to see Mariam, as I turn around I kick a huge rock with my shin and stumbled down to the floor and next thing I see everyone gathered around me. I get up to my feet right away and refuse help but I look down to my shin and its gushing out blood. I give in and follow one of the bungee staff’s back to the office. He bandages it up for me. I try not to make a big fuss about it and make it back to the waiting area and meet Mariam. We all watch our recorded videos of the jump, it’s pretty cool and exciting but not worth $60 for a one-minute clip. After watching all our videos, we head to the falls for another perspective of the falls. On the way, we get up close with some monkeys and one screams at me when I reach out to him! They are the same type as the one that stole my lunch in Lake Manyara. Feisty little guys.
We spend the next two hours at the Zimbabwe side of the Falls with the girls from our tour group. It’s not as wet on this side. Mariam prefers the Zimbabwean side but I prefer the Zambian side from yesterday. We eventually leave with 30 mins left before our sunset cruise. Mariam and the girls walk back the campground and I ask a local where I can buy sleeping bags. He walk me to the store, I can’t buy the sleeping bags with my credit card and so I ask if they can provide change for my US$100. She goes though all the tills and finds just about the right change, takes my $100 and tells me they are now all out of cash.
On the river cruise we spot some hippos, crocodiles, and elephants and get history of the falls and Zambezi river. We chat with our group and other tour guide, Flo, and get to know them. After the cruise we all go out for dinner together at a nearby restaurant. We bond some more but by 9pm, I can’t keep my eyes open. We make it back to the tent for our first night of camping. I sleep like a baby.