A Travellerspoint blog

A Quick Good-bye :)

Thanks for following along. The journey home was long, but it was very easy and uneventful. It took us both a few days to recover from jet lag and to get used to the scorching heat we came home to, but we are back to "normal" now and it occasionally feels like that whole wonderful month was just in my imagination. I now have to face a bunch of reality and I'm hoping those memories of driving around looking at elephants and searching for penguins on the beach will help me through some of what is ahead.

Until next time...

Posted by Pelham Family 07:09 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Well, Air Zimbabwe won’t be getting anymore of my business!

So this airline sells these flights as “direct”, knowing full well that they are going to end up combining them with other flights to other small towns to pick up more people. They give a set time of departure, which is apparently only “approximate” and sometimes leave early without all of their passengers or luggage. According to a fun Australian couple we talked to, they also made an unscheduled stop on a flight to Victoria Falls and then told the passengers that “the President needed the plane” and left all the passengers stranded with no way to reach their actual destination since there were no more flights coming or going from that airport that day. Baylie and I spent all day yesterday convinced we would never see our suitcases again – but miraculously they made it to Johannesburg. A wonderful South African couple that we were indebted to were not so lucky. Let me back up…

There is a cash shortage in Zimbabwe. They had a major financial crisis in the past few years and their currency completely collapsed. There are guys on the streets selling old Zimbabwe currency as souvenirs, we were offered million-dollar bills every time we walked down the street. They now use the US dollar but will also take pretty much any other currency you have. When you buy something, they give you the price in dollar, rand, euro, and pound. The real problem is you can’t get cash of any kind anywhere in town. There are banks and ATM’s everywhere, but no cash. People line up at 8:00 in the morning at the banks to try and withdraw cash and every machine and bank is out of money almost instantly. We tried a few times at ATM’s just to see if we would get lucky, but we never got any cash. I had $180 US dollars on me plus about $50 in South African rand. We figured by using my card at restaurants whenever possible we had plenty to get us through a couple of days. Which brings me to the departure tax that had to be paid at the airport before we could leave the country. We were assured we could pay the fifty dollars each with a credit card. Haha! Not when the card reader machines go down just thirty minutes before your flight leaves (a flight which notoriously leaves whenever the hell it feels like it). We started to panic just a bit. I had almost enough dollars and rand combined to cover the fee, but the guy at the counter was not going to budge. I looked at the people behind me in line, held up the cash I had, and said, “Can anyone loan us enough to get out of here? I will take you to an ATM the minute we get to Johannesburg and pay you back!” The super nice couple behind us handed over a $100.

Once we finally landed I immediately went in search of an ATM and had to try THREE before I found a working one and could pay back our hero. Meanwhile, her partner was filing a useless complaint about a piece of their lost luggage.

But after all of this being said, I actually loved Zimbabwe! The town of Victoria Falls is great, loved the people, and felt totally comfortable there. Could have stayed a lot longer!

So here we are in Johannesburg for two days to finish up our fabulous adventure. I think a visit to the Apartheid museum and a ride around the city on another big red bus are on the agenda.

There are a few of my zillion waterfall pics now in the gallery.

Posted by Pelham Family 07:27 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Simply Awestruck

Even once I am able to post pictures, they will not come close to capturing the incredible falls. They are awesome in the truest definition of the word. SO happy we made this part of our trip. I will be back in Johannesburg tomorrow, maybe I can do a more complete post with some photos.

Posted by Pelham Family 05:27 Comments (1)

Made it to Victoria Falls

The flight from Johannesburg was supposed to be a quick, one-hour little hop. Well, for some reason they combined two flights and we had to make a stop first in some other city in Zimbabwe. They made everyone get off the plane, go through customs, claim our luggage, and go check in and reboard as a domestic flight. We were convinced we would not see our luggage again. Well, it took us all day to navigate through three airports and finally arrive in Victoria Falls. I still haven't seen the falls up close, but I could see the mist from the plane as we were landing.

By the way, our luggage did successfully follow us here but two nice old guys we were talking to weren't so lucky. Last we saw of them they were trying unsuccessfully to buy underwear in the small town here.

I'm sure I will have a ton of pictures tomorrow. Now I'm going to sleep in this little hut under a mosquito net at the Victoria Falls Backpackers. 😊

Posted by Pelham Family 11:08 Comments (1)

24 Hour Train Ride?! Whose stupid idea was THAT?!

“It was supposed to be a fun adventure”

Well, when I was planning this trip I tried to put in a little of everything…safari, road trip, big cities, small towns, touristy stuff, off-the-beaten-path places, up-scale and “roughing it”. I thought an epic train journey across the country sounded adventurous and like something us carefree backpackers would do. Well – it SUCKS! I am sitting in our ugly little compartment, next to the aluminum prison sink (which I’m fairly certain people have been using as a urinal) watching my breath in the freezing air and we have just been told that we are running almost three hours behind schedule. I’m not surprised since this rattle trap train keeps coming to a trembling, screeching stop every thirty minutes for no apparent reason. The sound of metal-on-metal and the teeth jarring shaking happened all night long. Not that I could have slept anyway listening to the non-stop chatter/yelling/”singing” of the people in the other compartments. They can’t possibly be having a conversation because they are all talking at once! One person sang the same off key tune over and over for at least an hour. We tried to eat in the dining car a couple of hours into the journey; Baylie had a cheese sandwich which was at least edible, the memory of my “lasagna” gives me that “mouth watering right before you gag” sensation.

Baylie and I go back and forth being the positive, optimistic one trying to cheer the other one up. I think it’s about my turn so I better work on my delivery of the line, “This is a fun adventure!” This is a good place to end anyway because I need to go put some socks on my hands before my fingers succumb to frost bite.

I typed that first bit while still on the train. I am now sitting in a very comfortable, peaceful hotel room at the Southern Sun hotel right by the airport. We wanted to stay as close to the airport as possible for our flight tomorrow to Victoria Falls. We were actually stuck on that rusted tin can of a train for just over 30 hours. As soon as it stopped at the station we bolted as fast as possible for the door and leapt into the first taxi we saw. Our driver was nice, even after he got pulled over by a traffic cop and was given a ticket for some unknown violation. He didn’t seem too concerned about it and he didn’t try to jack up our fare to help cover the ticket, so we continued on our way. There was a buffet dinner at our hotel, so we dove into our first real food in 24 hours. Baylie was so hungry she piled what she thought were beans on her plate, to later discover that it was some kind of salad made from marinated peanuts. It wasn’t bad, just odd. In the end we both found plenty to eat at the buffet 

We’re already kind of laughing about this “adventure” so I guess it’s a good piece of this trip after all.

Posted by Pelham Family 12:31 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

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