Earth Traveler

Did I Ever Tell You about My Trip to Africa Pt.3

Posted May 6th, 2010

Vic Falls Adventures Day 4

The next morning Deva and her brothers and I were off to our three-day camping and canoe trip. It was supposed to be a three hour drive up to the furthest end of the Zambezi river and then a three-day canoe trip down until just short of the falls with camping each night.

And what we wound up doing was driving only about an hour up river and then we were going to canoe down river. Then drive back up to the same spot and canoe down again. Then the same on the third day. There was something wrong further up river. I don’t remember. I do remember not caring and just wanting it all to be over so I could rest.

But even this new plan would quickly fall apart.

As luck would have it, Deva and I shared a canoe. Her brothers each got put with a guide. So I got to spend the entire day basking in the warmth of my special girl’s love for me. It turned out that the warmth was actually coming from the sun and my slight sunburn turned into a really bad sunburn, especially on the backs of my hands.

“Why the backs of your hands?” you ask. Well, I had to row our canoe while Deva enjoyed the ride… um… I mean steered. Also in my attempt to make her happy I was rowing really hard, but I was plunging the oars too deep in the water, thereby exerting maximum energy to actually go slower (a good idea for sex, but not for rowing a canoe).

And I feel it is important to remind the reader that this was the exact stretch of the river where the guy in the magazine lost his arm. And we would be doing this run THREE TIMES. It was like Russian roulette. The guides on our trip were mainly there to make sure we avoid the known hippo and croc areas. And probably to make sure we get out of the river before the falls.

Halfway through the excruciating journey, we stopped for lunch. Which was just some shitty little sandwiches and orange soda. Orange soda? Really. No bottled water. Come on. Fortunately we only had another three hours of canoeing left.

Back on the river I really only remember a few things: 1. Class 1 rapids on a river are a lot scarier in an inflatable canoe than a giant raft. 2. Deva was disappointed in every aspect of my existence. And 3. In one stretch of the river we moved over to the left side of the river and on the right side (where we had just been) five hippos emerged from beneath the water. So we had dodged certain death by 20 seconds. What a fun trip!

And we get to come back again tomorrow? And the next day? Awesome!

I think it was around five o’clock that we got off the river. There was a safari truck waiting to take us to our campsite. As much as I was dreading sleeping on the ground, at least I didn’t have to row anymore that day.

My hands could no longer make fists – the muscles in my hands were completely cramped. And my arms barely had the strength to hang at my sides. And the skin on the back of my hands had started blistering from the sunburn. And with all that, I did not complain once. Those who know me, know that is a pretty big deal.

We had about a 30-minute drive to the campsite and on the way we saw our first giraffe and we saw a hippo on land which is just about the goofiest thing you ever saw – which is fitting for the animal responsible for the most deaths in Africa (AIDS doesn’t count).

We also saw some fenced off areas that are marked as minefields. Yes. Minefields. They hadn’t gotten around to gathering those up yet. I guess the plan was to keep the humans out while the local wildlife “eliminate” the remaining mines.

Around this time, the sun which had been cooking me all day was suddenly obscured by clouds. Rain clouds. First a few drops and then a downpour. Then thunder and lightning. An awesome spectacle. Yay camping.

We arrived at the campsite and took shelter in two tents. Deva and Seth in one and me in the other tent with Mick. He was getting freaked out by all the lightning and was worried we could get hit, so I told him that you can tell how far away the lightning is by the delay on the thunder. Each time there was lightning we would count the seconds until the thunder – it became a fun little game that eased his concerns.

After a while, Deva’s tent collapsed under the rain, so they came over to our tent to stay dry. Neither of us knew what to do, but I figured there was no way we were camping there that night. The entire campsite was flooded. Eventually one of the guides came by and told us that they were going to drive us to a nearby resort to spend the night. Hells yes!

So it turns out that the Zimbabwe word for “nearby” and the American “nearby” mean two different things. Two hours of driving is not “nearby.” But compared to driving to northern Africa or Russia or the moon, I guess it is.

Deva and her brothers sat up in the cab of the truck with the driver and I sat in the back with the other crew. In the back. Of the open air safari truck. It was still pouring rain but fortunately we had a tarp that covered at least half of our bodies. But because my hands were incapable of gripping anything I had quite a bit of trouble keeping myself covered from the rain.

I was the man and it was better for me to suffer than for Deva or her brothers. Yes, it was excruciating. It was cold and wet and painful. But the lightning storm/show was also just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Sometimes three or four lightning strikes at the same time lit up the night sky.

And I was comforted by knowing that I would be able to sleep in a bed that night. In a resort. Oh, and dinner! It was almost eight o’clock and I had only eaten a small sandwich for lunch. And three or four orange sodas.

When we arrived at the resort, the rain had stopped and I was just a mess physically. In addition to The Sickness, I had my sunburn and muscle pain throughout my arms and hands. And my upper body was soaked. Deva’s brothers were complaining that it was too hot in the cab of the truck. I did not have that problem.

Our first stop was our rooms. Deva and I had a room together and, as if they already knew, there were separate beds. The most awesomest feature of the rooms was no windows. There were openings, but no windows. So birds, mosquitoes and lions could just come right in and take anything they wanted. Whatever. Better than sleeping on the ground. Or was it? I’ll give you a hint: No.

We dropped of our stuff and went to the dining area. I don’t remember exactly what it was they served but I remember that none of us liked it very much. It was all exotic stuff that looked like something that the locals would have cooked up. A hundred years ago. My kingdom for a pizza.

That was when I figured out what this “resort” was all about – really rich people pay a lot of money to live a rustic experience. And of all the resorts within a two hour drive of our flooded campsite, this is the place they took us.

Okay, off to bed. Finally some time alone together in the privacy of our room, so Deva and I made sweet, sweet love. Just kidding, of course. We got in our separate beds and went to sleep. In my case, it was TRY to sleep. Deva had once told me that while mosquito nets are very effective, if your skin is right up against the net, a mosquito can get to you. A mosquito with malaria. These beds were quite small and so the mosquito nets were tight. I wound up getting about three hours sleep that night because every time my very sensitive, sunburned skin touched the net, I woke up scared to death of getting malaria. Deva slept through the night.

Vic Falls Adventures Day 5

At breakfast the next morning I told Deva that if she wanted to go back out on the river and canoe the same stretch we had just done the previous day, I would do it. Regardless of how bad I was suffering. Mercifully Deva’s brothers had gotten sunburned the day before and the decision was put on them. They told Deva that they didn’t want to go out and get even more sun. Though I think they were more concerned that I was probably going to die if we went back out. It was nice to think that someone on the trip didn’t want me to die.

So I informed the guides that we were going to cancel the rest of the trip and that they should just take us back to town.

The grandmother had switched to the elegant Victoria Falls Hotel. This place was just fantastic. When we got there Deva went and found her grandmother and explained what had happened. I don’t remember if the grandmother was fine or pissed. The next thing I remember was being escorted to our room. Yay. Room = bed = sleep.

I was trailing behind everyone and Deva dropped back to talk to me. My fiancée. My love. My everything. She got close to me and whispered: “Knock it off.” And then walked away.

The room for me and the brothers was actually two rooms with four beds. One room had a TV and the other was meant for kids, or in my case, servants. So, that’s where Deva had me set up. God, I did love her so.

The grandmother suggested that we call the hotel nurse to come by and check me out. Deva was reluctant because she still thought I was putting on some sort of act or just exaggerating. The nurse showed up about 10 minutes later and checked me out for a few seconds.

The ambulance ride to the hospital was a bit bumpy.

Deva rode up front with the driver and I rode in the back with the “paramedic.” He hooked me up to a heart rate monitor and assured me that it was just standard procedure and that it was a pretty short drive. About halfway there, the heart monitor stopped. MY heart monitor stopped. The paramedic laughed and then adjusted a loose connection. Yes, paramedic guy, hilarious! But I was pleased to see my heart beating again.

The hospital was more like a clinic but I was just glad to be seeing a doctor. Deva and I were escorted to a private room. While we waited for the doctor, we made sweet, sweet love. Kidding again. The room was pretty much what you would expect in a third world hospital. Lots of equipment from the ’70s. And a giant hornet flying around the room. I don’t like bees or wasps and I especially don’t like four inch black murder hornets.

Me: “I’m not getting checked out by anyone until that thing is out of here.” Deva: “Don’t be silly. It’s not going to bother you.” Me: “It IS bothering me!”

After we made our introductions, I told the doctor that he needed to get that evil zombie death hornet out of the room. The Doctor: “It’s not going to bother us.” What is wrong with these people?! I am the patient. I am sick. I don’t want the acid-fang poison psycho hornet in the room.

Deva rolled her eyes and told the doctor that, yes, I was serious. You bet your ass I was serious! So the doctor got rid of the brain sucking killer hornet. By shooing it out with his hand. WITH HIS HAND!

The doctor checked me out and much to Deva’s chagrin, I was actually quite ill. Strep throat, tonsillitis, throat infection, head cold and chest cold. But no fever, so I wasn’t contagious.

He wrote out a prescription for some antibiotics which I was happy to hear they had in the country. When I asked him what kind of food I should be eating he said that I was lucky because I should be eating a lot of ice cream to help with the swelling in my throat. So I turned to Deva and gave her my best “Suck it. I told you so!” look.

Then it was time to get back to the hotel so I could get some rest. And some ice cream.

When we stepped out of the hospital, Deva suggested that instead of taking a taxi that we just walk back to the hotel since it was really close. I had no idea how far it was. I had been in the back of the ambulance watching my heart stop. So I followed her down the street. And, as my luck would have it, the hotel was much further away than she remembered. But at least I got some exercise in.

Somehow I got back in the room. I may have walked there or I may have collapsed on the ground and been carried in by the hotel staff. Once in bed, I ordered an ice cream and a tuna sandwich that was just about the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever had. As a matter of fact I ordered that sandwich each day at least once before we left. Oh, and the ice cream felt amazing against the swollen, infected, strep’ed throat.

Deva went off somewhere with her brothers while I rested. We planned to meet up for dinner in one of the restaurants. Five hours later I woke up from my semi coma. I was late for dinner but I figured almost dying was just about as good an excuse as someone could have.

I showered and got dressed and headed for the restaurant. I was already feeling better. It didn’t even bother me that the hotel restaurant was on the extreme other end of the property. The grandmother and the two brothers were glad to see that I wasn’t dead. Three out of four ain’t bad.

Since we were supposed to have been canoeing the next day, we had to come up with something else to do. Though I would have been totally fine with just resting in bed, the others would have found that boring.

We decided that Deva and Seth would go rafting and Mick and I would hang out and go to a nearby crocodile farm. They were both too short to do the rafting but Seth was close enough and it’s not like these folks are going to turn away a paying customer.

Vic Falls Adventures Day 6

I got to sleep in a bit and when I woke up Deva was already gone off to the rafting. I don’t remember what the grandmother was doing. I know she wasn’t rafting. Maybe the bungee?

After another delicious tuna sandwich we headed over to the crocodile farm. For those of you that don’t know or who haven’t bothered to figure out by thinking for one second, a crocodile farm is a place where they grow crocodiles. They don’t actually “grow” them, however, as most living things do, they do grow in size over time. Sheesh, I didn’t think I was going to have to give a biology lesson here.

Anyway they had crocodiles of all ages. We took the small guided tour. And, no, they do not have a crocodile named Dundee. But on that day they did have an obnoxious American tourist who looked a lot like me and kept saying “That’s not a knife. Now that’s a knife.” (And I still think that’s funny.)

Back to the hotel for more rest and tuna sandwiches. Deva and Seth showed up later in the day after the rafting and I’m pretty sure they said they had a good time. Well I’m sure Deva did, if only because she wasn’t burdened by her embarrassing heavyset fiancée who was pretending to be ill.

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