My Aunt Went To Victoria Falls
© Copyright 2021 by Natisha Parsons
Photo by the author.
My Aunt enjoyed telling me about her visit to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. They had a lovely, though short, journey in a South African plane. She went with her best friend forever.
Aunt was surprised to learn that Victoria Falls is not just the name of the waterfall, but of the beautiful city.
There was a man waiting for them, who was holding up a chart with their names on it. Aunt says they were excited. Their tour had begun. They were taken to a beautiful riverside hotel.
Their first outing began when they had unpacked. They took a ferry ride along the Zambezi River. They were given delicious snacks and as much cold drinks as they wanted during the hour-long ride. Aunt loves Sprite and she never has one at a time, but that day…. She just laughed and her chest bounced up and down and her glasses nearly fell off.
There were animals in the river: a family of hippopotami and large birds on leafless branches in the water. Aunt said she wished the hippopotami were not so shy. They showed just their noses above the water.
She laughed heartily again. “Gladys wanted to see them so badly, she wanted to throw something at them so that they could show up.” Gladys is my aunt’s friend. I call her aunty for respect sake.
“What would Aunty Gladys have done, I wonder,” I said, “if a hippo had pushed its way to the ferry and pushed it over? Those are strong animals.”
“Let’s not even think about it. Whew… and we can’t even swim.”
At sunset they stood against the railing and watched the beautiful sight.
That night they went to bed early because there was an early start the following day.
They had a choice between walking with lions and riding on elephants. Both ladies chose riding on elephants. They were fetched by bus and rode quite a way on country roads to the elephant farm. They arrived to find there was a fair sized group of tourists also wanting an elephant ride. They were from Australia, America and from other countries. Aunt says they were the only South Africans in the group. While they waited for the elephants to arrive, they sat under a shady lapa where the breakfast setting was beautifully arranged. They had tall glasses of fresh orange juice while they waited.For forty-five minutes they trundled (Aunt’s word) along, bravely swinging from side to side as the elephant went along. When Mr Elephant wanted to eat, it wandered off to where it saw a juicy branch and wound its trunk around it.
“Child, I was amazed to see how the elephant then pushed its strange food into its mouth,” Aunt laughed again.
She told me that elephants have huge feet. The soles of their feet are not rigid, they are pliable; they mould to the shape of the ground they tread upon.
When I looked closely at those pictures, I had to know just how my aunt and her friends managed to get up there. I don’t need to say that my jolly aunt had a good laugh.
“Gladys and I sat behind a handler – three of us on that jumbo. We had to climb up a flight of stairs that ended on a platform. Then the handler helped us to get a leg up and over.”
My imagination ran wild… My aunt is not small at all! Aunt Gladys is almost bigger than my aunt. I felt sorry for those elephants, but they seemed to carry their burdens with ease.
“Did you enjoy the ride, Aunty?”
“I’d like to say yes, I did, I did, but I was too nervous. I held on so tightly that my arm was sore for days afterwards…”
“Sorry about that…”
“Sorry about that? What about my poor hips… sitting with my legs widespread on that jumbo for forty-five minutes! My hips took a few days to forgive me.”
I grinned at that. “Will you be going elephant riding again?”
“Child,” my aunt said thoughtfully, her eyes half closed, “I don’t know; the jury’s still out on that one.”
had a fine breakfast cooked on an outside fire, by very friendly
chefs who allowed them to stand around and ask questions.
Going back to the Lodge, it was still early in the day and their guide took them to do some sightseeing.
“The baobab trees!” My aunt’s eyes flew wide open, and her eyebrows almost touched her hairline. “See there – me showing how wide that trunk is.”
I began to giggle.
“What’s funny?” Aunt Glad asked.
“Nothing. Trees have trunks. Elephants have trunks. Elephant’s trunk strips tree’s branches for lunch.”
She raised her eyebrows and looked at me strangely. Well, I did think that was funny.
After a ride around the forested area that had well-kept roads, they took a ride through the town.The ladies were amazed to see wild boars and baboons roaming the streets freely. They even saw Bambi in the street. That excited me. I love Bambi.
Aunt had so many pictures, I enjoyed looking at all of them.
Back at the Lodge, they were in time for lunch. They chose drinks and salads freely from the spread, but waiters came around to take their main course orders.
look on aunt’s face when she explained what her dear friend had
for lunch was classic as my mom said. It was a mixture of horror and
“My friend had crocodile! I am no adventurous eater,” she almost turned green. “Crocodile!”
Then she pulled herself together and continued. “I had a chicken salad with peanuts in it which I enjoyed very much. I picked them out one by one and that’s all I had of my chicken salad.”
She pressed her lips together and looked at me.
“Why Aunt? Why didn’t you have your salad? You like chicken.”
Photo by the author.
She breathed in deeply and let it out in one fast blow. “Whew! It looked exactly like the crocodile meat!”
I didn’t say a word. I, too, am a very picky eater. I don’t even eat the flesh of a pig! Not even bacon. Its good smell is a hoax! But that’s just me.
Later they met a family of mongooses that scattered when they drew close. The picture is very unclear.
They had a quiet evening after that day of all that fresh air and fun. The ladies were glad to rest their tortured hips and arms.
There were signs up in River Lodge yard that warned against crocodiles wandering in from the river. Aunt says they were on high alert. I can well imagine.
Y’all don’t mind eating crocodile, but crocodile dare not eat you. I didn’t say that aloud. I didn’t dare.
I have heard or read somewhere that we are what we eat.
The very efficient Guide was there promptly to pick them up the next morning for their trip to the Victoria Falls. This was an exciting day for the ladies. They were going to see Victoria still falling (Aunt’s joke).
The Guide gave them a good History lecture with pictures about the Falls, the city, and interesting titbits about the place since way back when.
A large statue of Dr Livingstone was right at the entrance to the well paved walkway to the falls.
“Imposing,” said Aunty. “That means large and in your face.”
“I know what imposing means,” I muttered.
They were not the only people doing the route. Thankfully the walkway was wide enough and in places it was widened even more so tourists could gather to see more clearly.
They were enchanted by the double rainbow down a deep gorge to their right and to their left the beginning of the falls, called Devil’s Cataract that fell into a very deep gorge and raised up huge spray that hid the bottom of the gorge.
They were given plastic ponchos to wear, but aunt says that by the time she decided to put on hers, she was already soaked. The spray is no joke but in the heat of the day, it was not unwelcome. The walkway wound along in thickly forested area. In places watching the falls from between hanging branches, made interesting and beautiful viewing. They took the walk leisurely because yesterday’s elephant ride was still a reminder… their hips. The Guide was in no hurry, either. He was a fountain of knowledge (Aunt’s words). He pointed out animals that shyly kept away and flowers and trees and so much that her poor aging brain was getting over-informed (Aunt’s words). Eventually they got to the end of the kilometre walk, which was clear of trees. There are plaques there, well coated by years of being sprayed and befogged. Aunt called the coating a patina.
Across the way from where they were, was a long bridge. The Guide informed them that this side of the bridge was Zimbabwe and the other side entered Lesotho. It was a railway bridge, built a long time ago. Pedestrians often walked from one country to the other, along the side, with their passports, of course. Their guide pointed out the different grasses that grew in that area with almost no trees. The spray from the falls kept the grasses well-watered.
“We had reached the end of the fenced-in area and it was return time. So back we went, enjoying everything again.”That night was party time. They were fetched to have supper at a place not too far away. It was a wonderful setting like an African Fairyland. The place was packed. The entertainment was Africa at her best.
There was a challenge put out, and posted on boards for all to see, EAT A MOPANI WORM. I shivered at the thought.
“You ate one, Aunt?”
“Not on your life! My dear friend did and received a certificate for her trouble.”
Mopani worms are a popular food item in Zimbabwe. If we were Zimbabweans, we would be enjoying them, naturally, no doubt. But we are not Zimbabweans.
There was a wide array of foods to choose from. The deserts were to diet for, my aunt said with a faraway look in her eyes. They had venison, as well. Bambi, I thought, my tummy turning painfully. Aunt chose what she knew and could recognise. I smiled at that.
The music was catchy. They were foot-tapping and drumming on the tables with their knuckles to the beat. Then a band came on and handed drums to every guest there.
“My word. You should have seen us. Hitting those drums like they were our worst enemies… and enjoying it to the max.” Aunt threw back her head and laughed loudly as she hit the table with her fingers and drummed with her knuckles to a catchy beat that only she heard. I joined in noisily and she soon put a stop to that.
Finally, the night ended. End of tour as well. Tomorrow, at midday, back to the airport and… Africa South, here we come.
The following day they had to check out of their room much earlier than their airport shuttle’s arrival. They learned that there was a crocodile farm down the road from the lodge, and away they went.
“Of course, we had to make sure the monsters were well enclosed.”
course,” I repeated.
Now those pictures are stuff nightmares are made of.
they were fetched and back to the airport it was. Home,
don’t spare the horses. (I’d read that somewhere.)