Currently: Enjoying the last of our leisurely start surrounded by… oh just a measly 27 tents at the Victoria Falls Rest Camp.
At our pre-departure orientation, our tour leader Ben mentioned one thing that I wanted to talk about. He told us never, ever to bring up politics with the locals. Violence and politics go hand in hand.
I wanted to know more, so I did a little research. Shocking, I know.
Elections are July 30 and there was (what the news is calling) an assassination attempt made on the current President during his campaigning exactly a week ago. Two died and hundreds were injured, including his vice presidential candidate.
Zimbabwe was Southern Rhodesia until not too long ago. If you know anything about Zimbabwe’s history, you’ll know about the Lancaster House Agreement. With its signing on December 21, 1979, the Republic of Zimbabwe achieved their independence from Great Britain.
The country’s past is one defined by colonialism. The British governed the country and gave very little rights to the native population. That all changed when revolutionary Robert Mugabe overthrew the Brits, won the election, and served as Prime Minister for seven years.
He tired of that title and renamed himself the Executive President. I reckon he would have preferred Emperor Czar Kaiser of Zimbabwe but was smart enough to know he couldn’t get away with that. He remained Executive President until 2008, when he was overthrown at the age of 93.
He left the country with some massive human rights violations of modern times that caught the attention of both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
- A massacare that killed over 10,000 people
- Operation Murambatsvina, where 700,000 people lost jobs and homes when police destroyed their homes and businesses
- Extreme inflation rate (~200 trillion percent every year), which is why if you look like a tourist, you’ll be asked at least three times on the way to the grocery store if you want to buy a billion dollar note
And I’m just scratching the surface with limited internet research time.
Money lost 99% of its value in nine hours. It got so bad the government was printing 100 trillion dollar notes. So really, billion dollar notes are nothing special.
That’s why everything is priced in US dollars, which is extremely convenient for us. On top of everything, there’s currently a crisis, where banks are dry with both US and local currency. In the grocery store, Sophie and I got pushed to the front of the line, because they needed our cash to pay out a customer.
I get it now. I promise I will walk away from any conversation related to politics. I know just enough to understand there’s a massive problem, yet not nearly enough to fully understand where the anger and passion many in this country feel on a daily basis.
Moving on to brighter things, let’s talk about rainbows and puppies. Or just rainbows?
I got to see another world wonder: the beautiful, historic Victoria Falls. Also known as Tokaleya Tonga or “The Smoke That Thunders” this majestic mist maker is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen.
It might not be the highest and it might not be the widest, but it’s still considered the largest waterfall in the world. It’s 5,600 feet wide and 354 feet tall and serves the world its largest sheet of water.
Victoria Falls is a beautiful place where thrill seekers can do all the things. I mean all of them: zip line, flying fox, crocodile cage diving, bungee jumping, high wire, gorge swing, lion walk, white water rafting, the list goes on. Sophie and I opted for the much less thrilling helicopter ride.
Maybe not thrilling, but everyone says it’s worth the money. Thoughts?
Well that’s it! It’s been a relaxing couple of days getting used to having a backpack and figuring out how to have everything I need ready when I need it. Currently failing at it, but that’s okay. I’m ready to hop on that bus to our next destination!
Team Imami at the ready!