Kristan Hoffman

writing dreams into reality

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Tales from Botswana (sort of): Livingstone, Zambia

It wasn’t my intention to drag out these safari stories, but I realize that after a month, enough is probably enough. So, don’t worry! I do have one more batch of photos lined up, but with this post — the one you’re reading right now — my tales from Botswana are coming to an end.

(Also, these bits are set in Zambia, so it doesn’t even really count.)

On the last day of our safari, we took the Kazangula Ferry across the Zambezi River. It’s the place where four countries meet: Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. It doesn’t look like much, but for those fifteen minutes, we were everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

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The moment we stepped off the ferry, we were bombarded by Zambians trying to sell us things. Carvings, purses, paintings, t-shirts, keychains. “I give you good price, sistah.” “How much you want?” “Two for ten kwacha.” “Three for ten kwacha!”

The relentless noise of their voices, and uncomfortable pressure of their bodies, were a sharp contrast to the laidback quiet of Botswana.

From the ferry landing, we drove for an hour to Livingstone, where we would spend the night in a hotel — with real showers! real beds! — before flying back to America. Our hotel was just outside the city, right on the river, with a view of Victoria Falls. Or at least, the rising clouds of mist that the waterfall produces. Mosi-oa-Tunya.

The smoke that thunders.

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Victoria Falls was incredible. Though it is neither the tallest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is overall the largest — spanning more than a mile in width and falling from almost twice the height of Niagara. On both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides, you can walk across bridges and forested pathways to get a magnificent view of the massive cascades.

(If you’re brave, you can even bungee jump.)

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Nothing I say can really do justice to the rumble of the water, the beauty of the lush greenery, or the staggering depths below. The mist is so thick and constant that it may as well be rain. (Fortunately the Swiss couple on our safari had warned us, so we wore our shower shoes and rented ponchos.) There are rainbows — and even double rainbows! — from every angle. In a moment of wonder, we spotted a hippo walking among the rocks near the edge of the falls.

In spite of our experience at the ferry, we optimistically entered the curio market at Victoria Falls — and were promptly bombarded again. “Sistah, let me show you what I have.” “This bowl would look so beautiful in your home.” “Maybe you want some more for your friends.” “I need money for my family.” “You would be supporting a whole village.”

It was hot and cramped, and the haggling was intense. My mood dipped drastically in the short time it took us to negotiate for gifts and mementos. But we managed, and we got out, and we took another short walk through the fresh air along the falls, to clear our minds and spirits.

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Put off by the pushy peddlers, as well as the trick our taxi driver had played to ensure that we would use his — and only his — services, we decided to stay at the hotel for the rest of our time in Zambia. From the back deck of our room, we watched monkeys playing in the trees. We had dinner next to the river and shared a sundae for dessert. We slept in late the next morning and took a second shower, just because we could.

The last story I’ll tell is that of the French toast-stealing monkey.

Andy and I were enjoying our breakfast, emotionally unwinding from our wonderful trip, and mentally gearing up for the long plane ride home. While we sat there, listening to the falls and fending off the advances of the hotel cat, a vervet monkey jumped down from a nearby tree and perched on the light pole to watch us. I snapped a few pictures, and then we ignored him.

As usual, Andy finished his food before me and stood to go pay the bill. As soon as he walked away, the monkey scrambled down the pole to the railing next to our table. Sensing his mischief, I stood, shouted “No!” and threw my hands over Andy’s plate to protect it. Well, that monkey was no fool. He ran right around my arms and snatched a slice of French toast off my plate. He was back up on top of that light pole before I knew what had happened.

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After hearing me cry out, Andy had stopped and turned around. He watched the whole thing unfold. And oh how he laughed.

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8 Comments

  1. Juliann

    You really did a nice job of transporting me there with your words. I could hear the falls and the voices of the peddlers. I felt the heat and the welcome relief of the shower. In essence, I felt like I spent a moment in Africa. Thank you for that. :)

  2. Wow bungee jump on those falls? EEEE… so scary. I really enjoyed your travel stories Kristan, Your stories may be the closest I’ll get to Botswana (and Zambia) in this lifetime.

  3. That monkey story was worth the wait! Too funny!

    The falls are GORGEOUS. I can’t imagine seeing them in person … they must be awe-inspiring!

  4. “Sensing his mischief, I stood, shouted “No!” and threw my hands over Andy’s plate to protect it. Well, that monkey was no fool. He ran right around my arms and snatched a slice of French toast off my plate.”

    I LOVE this paragraph! That is one smart vervet.

  5. Too funny! I’m sure it’s impossible to be mad at a monkey, no matter how badly you want that french toast.

  6. So glad you guys enjoyed hearing about our trip! Thanks for being the best blog-friends ever. :D

  7. T.S.-
    Well, you bungee over the waterfall’s river, from a bridge. Still cool & terrifying though, lol.

    Mandy-
    Oh, it was a breakfast buffet, so I was more upset about being embarrassed than about losing the French toast. I just went and got more. ;P

  8. linda

    ahahaha. what a clever little monkey. thanks for sharing :)

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