Down Under

Trip Start Jan 16, 2008
Trip End Apr 27, 2008

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Zimbabwe is the only country in the World where I could walk into a casino and put 10,000,000 on red, and not care about the result. After all, 10m Zim dollars is just less than a pound.

On our last day in Vic Falls I went white water rafting on the Zambezi River in the spectacular Batoka gorge. The river is defined as a Grade 5 river, which means "Extremely difficult,
long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops, pressure areas." 
and so, after a little training and a steep, slippery walk down into the gorge, we boarded into a raft and headed into the first of the rapids. The river is reputed to have the best rafting in the World and we were lucky as the following day the river was closed for a few weeks because the water levels have become dangerously high. The highlight of the rafting trip was rapids 16A & B, named Terminator 1 and Terminator 2 respectively. The 16foot-high waves tossed the boat in every direction, we lost half the people from the boat and the boat disappeared completely under the water, reappearing under us a few seconds later. It has to be seen to be believed and, luckily, they had a cameraman perched on the rocks to capture it all.

That night we went out for our last dinner in Africa, saying our goodbyes to all of the people that we've been travelling with over the past 3 weeks and looking forward to the rest of our trip, which continues to speed on faster than we'd like.

I'm sad to leave Vic Falls. It was without doubt the best place that i
went to on the entire trip. Not really because of the activities
(although the rafting and bungee jump were incredible), or because of the falls (but they were
spectacular), but mainly because of the zim people. Lotte didn't like the town because everywhere you went you were accosted by people trying to sell
you wooden carvings and paintings, but once they realised you weren't going to be buying anything
then they just chilled out and you could chat with them - I was on
first name terms with all the people selling curios outside our campsite within a couple of hours. The
first day I was really wary at how friendly everyone is, it seems
unnatural, but I was chatting with our trip leader and she said that
people really are just that friendly. I
had people offering to go with for a drink with me to watch the chelsea
v liverpool game who i had barely met and people offering for me to go
and have breakfast with them. it was really surreal but made me feel
very sorry that they live in such a messed up country.

Inflation is spiralling out of control and the current exchange rate when we were travelling was 10,000,000 zim dollars to the pound. Seeing as the largest note they make is 10,000,000, you always end up with huge piles of change whenever you buy anything, and each note is pretty much worthless - that even have expiry dates on their money. It's really hard to get provisions too - supermarket shelves are empty and when you go into a restaurant, usually only a few of the items on the menus are actually available to you to buy. You see hundreds of people walking 10km to cross into Zambia every morning just to buy provisions across the border, and carry heavy bags of maize on their heads all the way back. Hotel rooms are empty because no one is visiting Zimbabwe anymore, and seeing as the town used to be such a hot spot, there are some really nice hotels in the town, all struggling to survive.

No one will talk about the political situation either, it's far too risky to discuss it in the street and it's tough to see how the country will turn itself around. But if my experience of the Zimbabwe people is anything to go by, then I'm sure it will.

Anyway, we've arrived in sunny Perth, where the temperature is a cool 36 degrees celsius. We're planning to clean up ourselves and our stuff after roughing it for 4 weeks and relax a little before moving onto Ayers Rock on Friday.

Hope you're all ok back home,

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