I couldn't help but take a second look at these men in native dress who were welcoming tourists at the airport! Too bad they were taking a break and weren't dancing as that would have been a very exciting introduction to Zimbabwe.
The town of Victoria Falls began with a small souvenir shop and slowly expanded until the 1970s when it became the gateway to the falls themselves. Now the extremely compact town seemed to have become one souvenir shop as we just saw one shop after another with hardly anything else in the town, save a few restaurants and bars. We learned later that there are no residents in the town itself as they all live in a community many miles away. As you must know by now, Steven and I are certainly fans of shopping but only as part of visiting a town, not as the only option.
While we walked through town, men constantly followed us as they hoped to sell small curios they held in their hands. Perhaps it was because we were nearing the end of our long trip, but it was very hard to remain civil and courteous when we said repeatedly to the men we weren't interested in buying anything. However, they kept walking beside us, continuing their spiel and hoping we would relent. It felt like they looked at us as if all Westerners were made of money and it was our responsibility to bail them out of their economic woes. It was hard not to feel gouged when some of the hawkers tried to sell about ten paper bills of Zimbabwe's outdated currency for $50!
We could hear the almost constant hum of helicopters ferrying tourists back and forth from the nearby Falls.
On learning the admission fee to enter Victoria Falls National Park was $40 each and didn't allow for re-entry, we decided to visit them tomorrow when we had more time.
Since on a clear day, the spray produced by the Falls can be seen from 30 miles away, the swirling mist rising above the savannah looks like smoke from a bush fire. That inspired the local name 'Mosi-Oa-Tunya' which means the 'Smoke that Thunders.' The Falls, which are more than 300 feet high, are one of the seven natural wonders of the world and were declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989.
In lieu of seeing the Falls then, we decided to walk instead to Victoria Falls Bridge which connected Zimbabwe with Zambia. Cecil Rhodes, an English businessman, mining magnate and politician in South Africa, founded the southern African territory of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and Zambia. His dream was to complete a Cape-to-Cairo railroad line. It would have been far easier for Rhodes to build the bridge upstream from the Falls but having the bridge pass directly over the natural wonder captivated him.
We had to stop at the Zimbabwean immigration and border controls first to obtain a gate pass before beginning the mile plus walk to the Bridge.
I couldn't blame the monkey for seeking shade under one of the long line of trucks entering Zimbabwe as the temperature was in the 90s and it was very humid.
We then saw a large number of other monkeys alongside the highway. They appeared quite aggressive so we made a point of staying clear of them.
We had a spectacular view of the Zambesi River roaring through the Batoka Gorge from the bridge, as well as a small section of the Falls on the Zambian side. I read that when the bridge was being built and a net was stretched under the construction site, it prompted construction workers to go on strike for a few days. They only began working again when they were told they would not be expected to jump into it at the end of each workday!
The safety net probably had a lot to do with the fact that only two people died during the bridge's construction. What an amazing feat of engineering when it was completed in just 14 months when the last two cross-girders were joined on September 12th, 1905, by Professor Darwin, son of the famous scientist Charles Darwin.
This was as close as we got to entering Zambia!
We decided to take a pass on bungee jumping into the gorge; we're not that adventurous, I guess.
What a hoot reading what would make the jump more enjoyable!
So many locals carried what appeared to be incredibly heavy loads on their backs, on their heads as well as on their bicycles on the road to and from Zambia.