We spent some time getting to know Harare. Then came the day when we decided to head to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city. Here is where the adventures began. Bulawayo was a sprawling metropolitan and the closest city to the renowned Victoria Falls. I can not stress enough how incomplete a trip to Zimbabwe would be without a visit to this magnificent body of water.
In addition to its proximity to Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and its vicinity are also home to many historic sites, museums and national parks that draw tourists from all around the world. The city featured galleries portraying Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage and parks with green lawns. In its vicinity, one could find natural parks with a rich array of fauna and flora, and many tourist expedition packages were made available for all those wanting to explore.
We didn’t stay long in Bulawayo. The lure of Victoria Falls was too strong to resist, and so we made our way to one of the most magnificent bodies of water on this planet. After unpacking and settling in to our hotel room, my dad went to get some maps and tourist guides that would give us some clue of our location and what we are about to see.
The next day, while my mom decided to take a nap, my dad and I quietly made our way out of the hotel room and headed for a walk. Unbeknown to us, we had apparently left the patio door of our hotel room ajar, after opening it to help cool the room and having forgotten to close it before we left. After what seemed to be a long and tiring tour on foot, we returned. As we turned the knob on main door and made our way into our room, not in a million years would we have anticipated what awaited us there.
There we stood, suddenly eye to eye with a full grown baboon, sitting on the floor beside the bed on which my mother was still sleeping soundlessly. The first reaction from a nine year old would be a loud shriek, and I felt one forming in the base of my throat. My father must have anticipated that, for he quickly turned around and told me not to make a noise, which was rather difficult given the circumstances. We were trying desperately to think fast and act fast. If we made a sudden move, the baboon might feel threatened and might be forced to attack either us or my mom, who was dangerously close to it.
A battle of wills was taking place. It sat there, looking at us as if we were a couple of intruders who had just walked into the wrong room. And we stood our ground too, hoping the baboon would get the cue and leave peacefully. After what felt like hours, my mom began to stir from her sleep. That movement caught the baboon’s attention, and it slowly started retreated towards the patio. We moved closer, inch by inch, towards the bed where my mom lay. We were scared that she would wake up, come face to face with the baboon, scream and then all hell would break loose. Had I been in her position, that would have certainly been my disastrous reaction.
My dad quickly put his index finger on his mouth, urging her not to make a sound. All this muffled commotion seemed to have confused the baboon. Without any warning, it grabbed a box of puzzle pieces that lay right by the patio door, extended its agile arms toward the towering branch of a tree outside the veranda (picture included) and as suddenly as it had entered, leapt out of sight.
A collective sign of relief filled the room. After chiding us a little for having left the door open in the first place, my mom got up and looked around. Nothing was overturned or missing, everything was just the way we had left it. As we sat down to digest what had just happened (and what all could have happened),the initial shock evaporated and we felt absolutely grateful. Grateful that the baboon was a relatively cool-headed one, and that of all our valuables that were out in the open, the only thing that caught its attention was the jigsaw puzzle box. We sat there wondering whether the baboon mistook the box of puzzle pieces for something edible like cookies. Maybe. Or maybe, it was looking for some fun supper time activity for the family, who knows!
On the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia lies Victoria Falls. With a width of 1,708 meters and 550,000 cubic meters of water plummeting down every minute, Victoria Falls is said to be “the largest curtain of water” on earth and is considered by some to be one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World”. It was named after the then British monarch Queen Victoria when Dr. David Livingstone, a renowned Scottish missionary and explorer, became the first European to visit the falls in 1855. According to the UNESCO World Heritage website’s description, the mist created by the Victoria Falls can apparently be
We got there early in the morning and did not leave until later on that afternoon. We had to climb up a steep hill to get as close as possible to the perfect viewing location, a place that gives the onlooker the most ideal sensory perception of 550,000 cubic meters of water cascading over the edge of a cliff and plunging noisily into the body of water down below. Within minutes of standing close to the edge of the hill, all three of us were wet from the mist that emanates from this enormous decent. A fellow tourist kindly volunteered to take a picture. We stood there, the thundering sight in the back ground, until the flash from the camera came and went. The lush greenness of the surrounding plant life stood in testimony to the nourishment the roaring waters provided. It was indeed a memorable and breathtaking sight.
That was the end of our trip. As we retraced our path from Victoria Falls to Bulawayo to Harare and then back to Malawi, we thought about our new furry friend and the grand beauty of waterfalls. And here, in these unforgettable incidents, lies the lure of traveling.
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