Okay let me start out with two things.
1. Yesterday was so ridiculously amazing. I'm not going to top it today. Not even going to try.
2. Good news!! Nothing I ate last night came back up (or out for that matter!) AND I remembered to take my malarone. That's a successful night.
I was up waaaaay too late - honestly still hyped from that waterfall experience yesterday. The bed and all the pillows were super comfy - and I had the ac blasting - so I eventually fell asleep. I did NOT want to get up when my alarm went off at 6:30. But I purposely left the curtains open last night as a little inspiration to get me up. I mean how can you not get out of bed when this is right in front of you?
So I was just taking my time, responding to some messages from last night - and then I realized I should probably check what time I was getting picked up. One guy said 7 and another said 7:30 yesterday...so when I killed my sheet out and it said 6:30....it was definitely an "ooooooh shit" moment. Lucky for me i can get ready in about two minutes. I have a good habit of always laying everything out the night before (even back home) because a decision like what to wear early in the morning is just too hard. ;) So I threw my clothes on (smelly boot included), splashed some water on my face...and didn't touch my hair. Crazy curls and a head wrap for the win!
Always time for a mirror selfie, no matter how late you are ;)
I went to the reception desk at my area first (remember I got upgraded to the in level down the road) and they said no one had showed up yet. Sweet. So I race walked down the path to the main building reception desk...and no one had come there either! Oh thank goodness. So I told the guy I would be right back and ran back to my room to grab more snacks - for breakfast - and to chug am EmergenC. My throat is a little sore -- but I bet it's just from the ac last night.
The worst part about traveling? The food. Or the lack of it I guess. Haha. I literally eat all.day.long at home. I mean small healthy stuff. But still. I eat a lot. And all day. So this whole no breakfast thing is really throwing me for a loop. I want fruit and fresh veggies so bad I think I can taste it. ;)
People ways ask how I do it. How I travel with my eating habits. And the answer is...about half my backpack is food. No joke. My "food bag" is big and heavy. And it never leaves my side. Haha. :) dried fruit at nuts and granola bars and meal replacement bars and protein bars and beef jerky. That's about all i brought this time. But a LOT of of it.
Okay so I made it back to the lodge and that same bus I was in yesterday was right there waiting for me. At 7am. So much for that little freak out moment. I really didn't want to miss my safari in Botswana!!
It was just me again. And after walking back and forth twice...yeah, I was sweating. Already.
We picked up two more girls American girls (from New York) at a shoestring backpackers hostel in Vic Falls (that's where I would normally be staying) and then one more older Canadian lady. And we hit the road for Botswana!
It was about an hour drive to the border. We chatted some. The two Americans are super cool. My age. One is working at a school in Arusha and her friend came to visit her on vacation. The Canadian is a teacher and thinks she knows everything there is to know about Africa. Slightly annoying... So i eventually laid down and tried to take a nap. (It didn't happen.)
Oh on the drive - which was all on paved roads! - we whizzed by a giraffe just chilling on the side of the road. We all screamed and our driver just kept on going. Oh, a giraffe? Yeah we see those all the time...
We pulled up to the border between Zimbabwe and Botswana and had to go in to the little immigration building to get our passports stamped. Then we had to walk across the border to another driver on the Botswana side who would take is the rest of the way to Chobe National Park. (The guides have yet to drive me across a border. Always stop. Always walk. And always a new driver in the next country.)
I think I got dehydrated yesterday. I mean I was going all day and it's not like there are wade fountains around here! I thought I would need to use the bathroom before we hopped in the safari vehicle...because I chugged two bottles of water his morning. But still nothing. TMI?? 😁
We thought it was just the four of us on the safari, but right before we left another set of four girls walked across the border and got in with us! Two Norwegian girls who were pretty quiet and didn't speak much English, and then two Mexican girls from California (just a few years older than me). So eight young girls for the day. Such a fun group!
Almost as soon as we drove in to the park (with the guide spewing out all kind of info about the park and Botswana) we saw elephants down at the river. We were a ways away but of course we were all oohing and awing over them.
Came around a corner and there was a whole herd of Impala.
Then saw some water buffalo...
And the big one of the day: a leopard!! Apparently it's the second hardest animal to see in Africa...and this one was just chilling on a mound of dirt in the shade. (Have I mentioned how freaking HOT it is here?!) He eventually got up and walked right in front of us down to get a drink of water. I have lots of good pics on my good camera. And our driver even took pictures on his phone! So I guess it really is rare!
We drove around for several hours and saw hippos and all kinds of birds...but mostly elephants. Lots of elephants. (No zebras and no giraffes so that was a little disappointing.) But it really was fun with all the girls. And I have at least s thousand pics from it. No joke.
We got dropped off at a fancy lodge in the town of Kasane, Botswana, and had one hour to relax and eat at the buffet. It was actually really good. The dessert bar was really REALLY good. I might have gone back for seconds...
From there we got on a boat - right there at the back of the lodge - and did an afternoon river cruise down he Chobe River. I wasn't expecting much out of it because it was so hot I figured all the animals would be hiding in the shade or sleeping. So my expectations were shattered when we saw a croc heading for a group of Impala after being on the boat for about five minutes...
It really was so much more beautiful from out on the water. I tried and tried to take pictures of it but they just came no where close to doing it justice. The water and the bush and the most perfect sky with clouds that looked fake. Elephants all around. (Tons more elephants - swimming right by us.) It was all so much more awesome than I thought it would be. A nice surprise.
After a couple of hours on the boat -- and we were in Namibian waters, does that count? - we got dropped off back at the lodge, drove back to the border, dealt with a very unorganized immigration office, and then drove the hour back to Vic Falls.
(I'm leaving out some details about the lengthy process of getting back in to Zambia, but it's late and I'm tired...) ...
I was telling the girls on the drive back about The Boma restaurant I went to last night and they thought it sounded fun. So I agreed to meet them in the lodge of my place at 7, head up to my room so they could drink my free alcohol, and then head to dinner at 8.
When I got dropped off back at my room, there was a wart hog just chilling on the lawn. Right in front of my room.
Back in my room with some wifi, I had this funny text exchange with my mom :
I've never been so happy to shower - and even wash my hair - in all my life. It was so hot today and I sweat so much. I mean my tshirt was soaked and I could almost smell myself.
Oh yeah and there is this:
So my view from the shower?? The African sunset. (Yeah I left the curtains open...)
The two New York girls showed up with another guy from their hostel who turned out to be really cool and a fun little addition to our girls group. And the Cali girls took the free shuttle out. We had s good time sitting around drinking wine and beer in the room. And it was free!
The boma wasn't quite as happening as it was last night but I'd say we all managed to have a good time best seen the dancing, drinking, drumming, fortune telling, and face painting.
Yes, I somehow ended up with a face painted like a lion.
So this guy came around to the tables asking if anyone wanted their faces painted. I was too busy drumming to know what was going on. But all of a sudden he was in my face with his brush. Michael (the add on to our group) told the guy "I was just talking about how much I wanted my face painted like a cat!" Hahaha - he got me good.
So I then whispered in the painters ear to make my new friend look like a monkey. How in the world he got a monkey out of this face I'll never know. But I don't know if I've ever laughed so hard in my life. The rest of the night I just died every time I looked at him. I mean come on. Does anyone see a monkey in this face?!
Anyways. Dinner was a blast. And on our way out it got even better. There was a guy sitting on the steps selling hand carved wooden animals. I really wanted the big elephant but it was so big and heavy. So I settled for a smaller hippo ... for $10!!! It was actually one $8 but that was so ridiculously cheap I felt bad and gave him $10. And I was pretty happy with my purchase, as you can see. ;)
We all had a good laugh. I walked out of there in a boot with my face painted like a lion and carrying a hippo named Boma. Haha. What a night. But it was about to get better.
The shuttle to take us from the restaurant back to my room was taking forever...so despite the warnings from the employees about it not being safe due to wild animals - we took off on foot to walk back. And on be way we realized just how amazing the African sky is. I really wish I knew how to photograph the stars at night because it really is something.
So when we got back to my room, the one worker I kind of know now was just leaving for the night. So I went up and hugged him and was like, "Oh we really wanted to sit out on the deck and have a drink. Is it closed?" He said they closed at 10. So I asked if it was possible to open it for us. Semi-joking. But of course he said anything was possible. And he unlocked the doors and opened up the whole deck and bar just for us. It was nuts. He got us drinks and sat out there under the most vivid sky I've ever seen and told us all about the constellations. It was magical. Literally. Such a cool way to end the night.
Finally made it back up to the room and am packed up and ready for tomorrow. I even got Boma packed away!! Hope he doesn't break at some point between now and next week. But I'd say the odds of getting him home in one piece are pretty slim. Oh well. Only $10 and we already got so much enjoyment out of him tonight. He gets all the love and attention. ;)
Getting picked up at 7am tomorrow to go see the falls again for the Zimbabwe side. Apparently walking through some rain forest or something. Then a helicopter tour of the falls (hey, gotta see it from all angles) and then off to the airport to fly back to Joburg. And catch my red-eye to Uganda at midnight. Wish me luck. ;)