Sunday, September 2, 2007

Southern Africa, Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls from the plane. If you look at the top of the screen, you can see the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It gives you a slight idea of how massive this waterfall is. I came here alone having no idea what to do. After checking into my $6/night hostel, I found a village to go to. You just kind of hang out there and someone shows you around. It is very slow paced but I was fascinated because it was not touristy at all. You can see what villagers do during the day. Most of the men are gone at work so it was random things as you will see.

They often cook inside the grass huts. The smoke kills bugs that live in roof.
I think about the people and the families I saw a lot since I came back. The father of this family died and the mother cuts grass all day for people to use for their huts. She only has enough money to by corn meal that isn't even enough. It was so sad but I hope to use this as a drive throughout medical school to keep me on the right track to helping those back here.
Anyone want some fish? This lady ran a little shop in the village. Dried fish from the river sounds pretty tasty.
This is the inside of a small hut where a little girl showed me where she lived.
Here is the beginnings of a hut. They put these sticks up, add some rocks in between and then pack it all in with mud and possibly some animal dung.
This is how dishes are done for those with a little more money to have dishes.
The whole village gets water from this wel They were showing me how it works.
So I did try some fish, vegetables and pap (corn meal, sort of like grits I guess). It wasn't too bad although you had to be a little brave to rip the meat off fish from the river. Perhaps I am a little too trusting.
Hippo tracks. Most paths are made by elephants or hippos.
Old crocks don't scare me... Yeah, I didn't go fishing but it seemed like an adventure.
Part of my Adrenaline Day. This was my first adventure.
It was called the flying fox. After you got used to the pressure points on your body, it really feels like you are flying and floating through the air. I think it was about 400-500 ft in the air, but I could be wrong.
Repelling: this was fun because it got quicker as you got more skill on bouncing down.

Okay, let's try it face forward. This was way more scary because at the beginning you just lean off the side of the cliff looking straight down. It was also quite fun after you get over that.
Almost there.
Let's look at a video of it: (sorry it is sideways)

Here is the scariest one. I just jumped.
Here are the videos of it: You freefall for 3.7 seconds and then rope catches you and swings you across the gorge. It was by far the scariest thing. Some say it is more scary than a bungy jump and others say it isn't as scary. You have to hold the rope taught as possible so when it catches it doesn't snag you. Once I accidentally did a back flip and lost control and it snapped me really hard. I did it 3 times, once forwards and twice backwards.

This is me as soon as I got to Vic Falls, I caught the sunset.

So once a month on the night of the full moon, you can actually see a rainbow from the moon: a lunar rainbow. So the moonbeams travel through the mist.
And voila: a lunar rainbow.

This is what it looks like during the day. You could really see 2 of them side by side it was so bright.
If you look in the distance, you can see the elephant crossing the river in the background. This is near the edge of the falls.
Here is another elephant that was feeding on the path.
A magnificent sight.
Here are a couple of videos. This one just shows the power of the water rising from the bottom and gives a slight hint of how wide it was.

This video shows most of the full rainbow I saw. Did you know it actually makes a complete circle?

They actually led me right to the edge. I mean on the edge, like a slip and you die. It was a more exciting part of the trip than I was expecting.

The rainbow was so bright and beautiful.

You really see part of it from here. At certain times of the year, there is a little pool you can swim in on the edge too.

Here are some Edge of the Vic Falls videos:

This is the overall view of the falls, right before I headed out. After this it was back to the US.

You might think my summer would end after this, but it didn't. Heh Heh heh.

Souther Africa, The safaris

On our way to the first big safari on the Lower Zambezi River.This is are chalet, a fancy tent that tourists stay in.

Some are even air-conditioned.
We saw so many elephants. It was all a river safari. One of the coolest things about river safaris are that the animals aren't ever sleeping when you see them, they are playing and eating and otherwise quite active. Look at this cute guy's smile. He is knee-deep in water and picking up grass for grub.
These 2 were wrestling. You can tell how much power they have when they run into each other.
A family of hippos. Hippos kill more people than any other animal. While elephants ignore us, hippos stare at us and then sink under the water which is our signal to get out.
Elephants eat bark, which led us to discover a medicine that relieves GI symptoms.
This was the only elephant that really took notice of us. Not only that, but he seemed really angry. I'm too embarrassed to point it out, but if you look at this picture long enough, you'll notice something else.
They look majestic and move so graceful. A random fact: their ears are filled with blood vessels so they cool off by flapping them out.

I was there. You can see the elephants in the background. These pics aren't off the Net.
You can see hippo with his mouth wide open. It looks so cool!

Sunset on the Zambezi...
Hippos in the dusk sunlight.
The next, the hippos are at it again.
Saying good morning to an elephant.

This is an example of a little village on the side of the river. We ran into fisherman too.

This mother and child were so cute.
Check out this video I took. The baby elephant is too short to reach the river to drink but it tries until it gets to scared. They get on their knees to drink but it is really cute.

Here is one of the fisherman. They basically hollow out logs and there ya go. I believe that most fatalities dealing with hippos and crocs are fisherman using canoes like these.
Johannessburg Lion park:
Here I am playing with the lion cubs. Little did I know that one would become a little too playful and leave me with something to remember him by.
It sure was fun though.
I fed a giraffe. The tongue is so long and bright purple.

This is my Lion King Section. I didn't get a great picture of a meerkat but here is Timon.
One of they hyenas.

I know this is a bit of a stretch, but here is Zazu.Me hanging out with Mufasa.
Mufasa Mufasa Mufasa!!!!
Simba and Nala wrestling around.
Awwww, Pumba has a family.
Nala decides that I should join in.

Here it is on video:

Wild dogs look sooo crazy. Their fur is all random and they just followed me around. I swear they wanted to eat me and then I asked when they get fed and the answer: "Every three days. This evening is their next feeding."
A cheetah!
This was a water buffalo. It was dead. Why?
Well, these gals were hanging around and might have the answer.
We ran into some road blocks at times.

This was a water monitor. Not including the tail, maybe a little over 3 ft long.
This is one kind of antelope, but not my favorite. That is later.
This isn't the closest I got, but gives you an idea.
I think this guy could have eaten Captain Hook.
Yeah, look at that smile. You know he did.
The African Water Buffalo. Technically, there are only bison and no buffalo in America.
Looks like a bald eagle, I can't remember the name.
Yeah, here he is. My favorite antelope, the Kudu. With the beard and long curvy horns and facepaint, I picture this guy as the wise guardian of the forest, a la Princess Mononoke.

4 crocs. 1 2 3 4, 4 crocs.
He got kind of angry, or not really. This is how they cool off.
Then he took a swim. It's actually kind of creepy when they jump in the water and do their side to side swim past your boat.
This is all one pod of hippos.
A little closer view. They are enjoying a bit of a mud bath.
There were hundreds of buffalo. I always wanted to see a huge herd. I also wanted to see a pack of lions race through, but that didn't happen.