Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls, Zambia

I’m a huge Batman fan, and I particularly love Joker (as portrayed by Jack Nicholson) and his signature line “Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

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No, I haven’t, but I have swum in the Devil’s Pool, which is way better.  I guarantee it.

This was by far my most favourite excursion.  Make no mistake, all the others touched me deeply on some level, but not many people get to see the Falls from this perspective; the Devil’s Pool is only open for a few months a year (when the water levels are low) and the number of people that get to visit during the open window is about 80 per day.  So I am very privileged to have been one.

The day started super early:  first to watch another breathtaking sunrise and then hop on to the transfer bus which took me to the border post.  Farai, the manager on duty at Old Drift Lodge kindly had a light breakfast packed for me, in case I got hungry.  Once through Zimbabwe, I was met by another driver who took me into Zambia, to the Livingstone Island launch site.  Check-in was done with Prince, a Zambia local, who says he has been doing this job for many years.

Launch Site

I signed the indemnity form, which I got to keep as a souvenir.

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Prince said that I was in actual fact signing a marriage certificate; that he was going to make me a Zambian woman.  I had a good chuckle.  Soon more people arrived and once the first six were ready, we set off.  I was in a group with an American father and his daughter, a Canadian man stationed in Lusaka for work, and two students (from the Netherlands and Japan) who are studying English in Cape Town.

The speedboat ride to Livingstone Island takes about seven minutes and in some parts the water is a little tumultuous, but nothing remotely rapid-like.

Rapid Water

That happens further down, in the gorge below the Falls.

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For the most part, the water is flat, not unlike it was during my sunrise cruises at the lodge.

A short swim across a small area is required, but the water is smooth and there is a rope for support if required.  You don’t have to be an exceptional swimmer, but some relative swim-fitness won’t do you any harm.

I expected the water to be freezing (as it is in South African natural pools), but the water was a comfortable temperature, like that of a tepid bath.

Our entire group slid into the pool under the careful instruction of our guides, Kevin and O’Brien and remained in the water until it was our individual turns to get onto the ledge and experience the wonder of this natural infinity pool.  It is a little scary, especially when the mudsuckers decide to lightly nip you but with adrenalin flowing through your veins, you don’t get a chance to think about fear, only have fabulous you feel!

The view is indescribable and the sound of the water rushing by so close to you is almost deafening.  I am so grateful that I got to see not one, but a double rainbow.  Later that afternoon, when I did the rainforest walking tour, the clouds had covered the sun and no rainbows were visible.

Some friends said I was completely robbed of my senses wanting to be so close to the edge, but as an excursion-goer you never feel unsafe because all through your turn on the ledge, a guide is either next to you if you’re sitting, or holding your feet while you’re trying to pull out your best model-pose for the other guide who is photographing you.  One thing I know after this experience is that I would suck as a model.

Devil's Pool Feature PhotoPose

After our excursion, we took a walk along the warm, black basalt rock and got to see a statue of Dr. David Livingstone and were told some history about him.

Black Basalt Rock

Livingstone Statue

After that we headed back to shore, where a light breakfast awaited us.  There was an option of a croissant with cheese and tomato, or Jungle Oats with some berries.  I opted for the former, which was delicious.  The coffee was a welcome boost after the energy I expended in the water.

I would definitely recommend this excursion to anyone wanting to experience the Victoria Falls from within the waters of the Zambezi River that feeds them.

Double Rainbow

Go on!  Be a little daring!

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

I’m sick 😦  And with sick, goes grumpy.  I feel like I have been hit by a freight train that has derailed.  But… it is worth it because I got to see the soccer in Cape Town last Thursday night.  While the bank told Dad the tickets they were sending him were for the England-Algeria match, it turned out that they were for the Netherlands-Cameroon match.  I couldn’t have bothered who was playing – just to be able to say “I was there” is all that mattered to me.

I still haven’t found a word or phrase that encompasses the atmosphere, although electrifyingly-superbly-amazingly-superflyingly-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious does do it some justice.  It was a truly memorable experience – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which I will be forever grateful to Dad for.

Allan came to pick me up at the guest house just after two and we headed off to the Cape Town International Airport where we caught a fan bus into town.  I spent half the journey wracking my brains as to when last I had actually been on a bus.  Suffice to say, I still don’t remember – that’s how long it’s been.

From there we walked to the Fan Fest at the Grand Parade, and for as far as the eye could see, there were Dutch supporters, all kitted out in orange gear.  Many of the supporters went to a great deal of trouble with costumes for the occasion as you can see from some of the photos below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there we trotted off along the Fan Mile (and for those of you who don’t know me, I abhor walking anywhere.  I have a car for a reason), which turned out to be an experience in its own right.  There was a palpable atmosphere and dotted all along the mile where performers, food stalls and throngs of people.  All along the mile the sound of an instrument which has become synonymous with soccer, the vuvuzela, could be heard. 

We arrived at the stadium with two hours to kick-off and took our seats – 10 rows from the pitch, right behind the Dutch team dug-out.  It was surreal, because the pitch was so pristine it looked as if it was painted.  Soon the stadium started filling up and it was evident that there were more Dutch supporters in the stands than Cameroon ones, although Blood Diamond actor Djimon Hounsou and his wife, Kimora Lee Simmons were supporting the latter and sitting three rows down from us.  I kept thinking to myself, “those two look so familiar” and eventually Allan enlightened me as to who the former was.

Soon kick-off happened and the game was underway.  Even though I know zero about soccer, I cheered for the Dutch team and erupted into applause when everybody else did.  At half time the score was 1-0 in favour of the Dutch, but the Cameroonians fought a good game and equalized in the second half, but the Dutch managed to squeeze in another goal and in doing so, moved onto the next round.

Leaving the stadium proved to be quite a feat – with more than 63000 other people also wanting to get out the gates, it took us almost as long to get from the stadium to the bus stop at the stadium than it had for us to walk the entire fan mile.  To give you an idea of just how many people there  were…

We caught the bus back to the airport, picked up the car and Allan dropped me off just after the clock chimed the proverbial pumpkin-hour and I crept into bed.  I woke up as sick as a dog on Saturday, even worse on Sunday (and I had to drive back home from Cape Town), even worse-than-worse on Monday (and I had to go to Hermanus for a head-office meeting and back again) and I am still sick.  Mom went to the doctor this morning and he has diagnosed her with bronchitis, which means I am very well suffering from the same ailment, and while I know I should get myself to the doctor – I’m still stuck here for 11 hours a day…

The Windfall Continues

The other day I blogged about an (un)expected parcel, see https://reflectionsofamisfit.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/good-better-best/ which The Original Cin (http://theoriginalcin.wordpress.com) referred to as a windfall in her comment, saying that she hoped it would continue.  Well, it looks like it has…

Last night Rachel and I had plans to pop out for drinks, but we opted to visit at my house instead because it was too cold and wet to go anywhere.  To ward off the cold, we each had a glass of Boplaas Chocolate Port, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then the bottle was finished *gasp*! 

While we were chatting, our conversation was interrupted by the phone – my parents, wanting to find out what I was up to and to find out just how much, if any, interest I have in the FIFA 2010 World Cup.  I told them that I’d like to watch the opening match (which our boss is letting us leave work early for) and any games that England, Brazil or Italy would be playing in.  I have a penchant for British men (they all seem to have such open faces), the Brazilians are just so hot-blooded and the Italians just ooze sex appeal.

Dad then pipes up, “Oh, I have two tickets for the game between Algeria and England in Cape Town on the 18th of June.  The bank phoned me today to tell me I qualified for them due to the kind of account I have with them.  If you want them, they’re yours.”  I could hardly believe my ears. 

Now would be a good time to mention that I know diddly-squat about the game itself, but what I do know is that there is definitely some eye-candy to be seen on the field.  Or is that meant to be pitch? I know too that David Beckham is injured and will not be taking part, but maybe he will still be visible on the bench.

The atmosphere is also going to be electric, and it is going to be something that not many other people I know will be able to enjoy.  I will be able to say, “I was there.”  It is going to be a phenomenal memory maker.

I am uber-excited, and have already told Sandra, my superior, that I am planning to put in for a day’s leave on the 18th.  So far she seems to be leaning towards authorizing it.  *Squee!* 

I am wondering if I should push my luck and go and play some Blackjack or Roulette tomorrow (after I’ve recovered from the effects of tonight’s dancing) to see if the windfall still continues.

Sidey’s Weekend Challenge – National Pride

A number of us now blogging at WP, used to blog on another platform. Each Friday Side View would propose a theme for people to write about if they wanted to. This week on her blog (http://viewfromtheside.wordpress.com)  she has given us a challenge to write on national pride.

It was 1995. I was in standard eight. Yes, I’m that old. I went to school long before people talked about grades. It was a chilly Saturday afternoon where we lived. Dad was away, working, in Angola. Mom and I were trying to ward off the cold by watching TV under the blankets in her room – we started watching the rugby world cup final between the South African Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks.

It was a great game. Touch and go many times, but in the end Joel Stransky kicked a drop goal which won the Springboks the match. Mom had covered her eyes, quietly praying, “please let it be over, please let it be over…” Before she could say “Amen,” I sprang out of bed yelling “Yes! We won, we won!” and found that I was actually crying. I felt proud to be a South African that day.

In 2007 I got to relive that pride as Elizabeth, Lisa and I headed off on a wine tasting weekend in Roberston, but stayed in Montague. We spent the day dying of the heat, which led us to being thirsty, which led us to tasting much more wine than we should have. Upon our return to our little bungalow, we asked one of the locals to steer us in the direction of a place where we could watch the clash between the Springboks and England. We were directed to one of the local haunts which turned out to have a fabulous atmosphere, a big screen and great food.

The three of us were kitted out proudly in our Springbok T-shirts and jeans and I even went so far as to do my eyeshadow as green and gold (now if that isn’t national pride, then I don’t know), and we cheered the Springboks on, along with an entire pub of other supporters. Elizabeth cheered so loud that at one stage she lost her voice.

We won that game too and it was Springbokkie shots all round. We piled back into the car, with the windows rolled down, playing “Shosholoza” as loud as the car’s radio would allow.

I have national pride when it comes to our sports – we try hard, and most times we conquer! I’m sure this will apply to Bafana Bafana as they play their hearts out in the upcoming FIFA 2010 Football World Cup.

Viva Rainbow Nation, Viva!