Saturday, July 31, 2010

Work Hard, Play Hard

While I definitely worked hard during the week, some of the weekends were left for fun and traveling.  Two trips were highlights of my African experience:

Victoria Falls:

Victoria Falls is one of the seven wonders of the world, and me and some other volunteers felt that we couldn't be this close and not experience it for ourselves.  Though it was a ridiculously long bus ride (approximately 15 hours one way), we decided it was worth it. 

We spent a whirlwind 20 hours in Livingstone, Zambia.  We arrived and rushed to the falls.  We ran around the park, checking out the incredible rushing falls from each different look-out point.  The sight of the massive waterfalls took my breath away.  I have never seen anything like it!  We ran across a bridge in the park and got totally soaked by the heavy mist from the gushing and full falls.  Other tourists covered from head to toe in ponchos looked at us like we were crazy!  From there we rushed back to our hostel and changed for a dinner at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

The four of us had been living and working in les than glamorous environments, and certainly not near hotels with five star restaurants.  Our dinner out was a supremely special treat in which we delighted in every bite.  I enjoyed my first taste of impala game meat and it was delicious.  We rushed from there to a Zambian Cultural show and enjoyed some traditional dancing.  After this, we spent a night out on the town in Livingstone.

Early the next morning we took an amazing helicopter ride over Victoria Falls, circling above both Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The pictures almost do it justice, so you will just have to wait and see those.  Our trip quickly came to an end, but it was one of the most memorable weekends I have ever had.


On my way to Windhoek for my flight back home, I stopped in a popular touristy beach town on the coast of Namibia called Swakopmund.  Swakopmund has a distinctly German feel to it, as this is where many of the Germans settled when Namibia was first colonized.  It is very different from the rest of Namibia, in terms of wealth and the abundance of white people.   

The most striking aspect of Swakopmund is the beautiful fusion of the ocean and huge sand dunes.  It is incredible to see the dichotomy of the sea and the sands of the Namib Desert right next to one another.

I enjoyed Swakopmund alone, which was so relaxing and nice to have some time to decompress before a long trip home.  I spent one day sand boarding down the massive dunes at speeds of up to 75 km/hr - quite the adrenaline rush!  I also spent a day at Walvis Bay on a cruise where I saw dolphins, seals, pelicans, and more.  On the ride we enjoyed fresh oysters fresh from the bay.  On my last day I went quad biking through the dunes with a new friend, learned about the history of the dunes, saw foot/animal prints that were thousands of years old, and also plenty of creatures of the desert.  The rest of my time was spent eating food I had not enjoyed for the last two months and shopping around Swakop.  It was a wonderful trip and great to see another side of Namibia.

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