A day of 1855, Livingstone, Scottish missionary and explorer, ventured onto the rough waters of the Zambezi river. He had to draw alongside one of the bank when he faced a sizable obstacle. Locally known as Mosi-Oa-Tunya, « the smoke that thunders », he was the first European to wonder at what the modern world will know under the name of Victoria falls and often ranked at one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. He got back to his country to tell his exploits before leaving again for a new African expedition ; this odd virus, subtle blend of trip, exploration and African colors he will keep up to his death.
About 150 years later, the wonder is the same. Triumphant welcome in an aquatic rumble. We fade in the cloud of steam which hovers above thre vegetation. Meanwhile, numerous figures and books have completed the David Livingstone's discovery. 108 m high and 1,7 km wide, the waterfalls are shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambia allows a nearer access while the Zimbabwean side is three times broader. The rate of flow which rushes into the precipice can be multiplied by 25 during the wet season. A wide metallic bridge links the 2 countries a steam train still runs onto and reminds the colonial era when Zambia and Zimbabwe were called Rhodesia.
It's perilous to put some words in order to describe the enchanting saga the nature unfolds. The purists or blasé people will say its only running water. I stay dumbstruck in front of this deluge. The cliff cries with joy and my eyes become iridescent as this multicolored scar which decorates the cataracts.
From this famous metallic bridge, we can observe the curtain of water that crashes at the bottom of the canyon, take back-lit photographes or enjoy the noise of a river abruptly stopped by a sheer drop.
But something else keeps my mind. If I changed into one of these drops and felt this fall sensation. I turn back towards the other side of the bridge. What happens next is in the 3 videos below...
To complete the view of the waterfalls, we take off with a helicopter for fifteen minutes. Exquisite view from the sky. It seems a mere gash grazed the plain. We approach to this curiosity. An indelebile image engraves our retinas. This somptuous water-soothed river the geography rouses. A ball of steam escapes from the bowels of the earth. Celestial sight of terrestrial heaven.
Despite the recent events which broke out in Zimbabwe and the loaded elections of the president Mugabe, that's in this country we have decided to see the waterfalls. And the situation of the Zimbabwean was gut-drenching to the point to leave a bitter taste to the natural wonder we hear in the background. Travellers desertion who, in view of the instability of the country, prefer to go to Zambia is made worse by a currency which knows an inflation without precedent (we can change 50 billions Zimbabwean doolars for 1 US dollar, in 2000 the rate was 100 for 1!). These two factors cause a plummeting tourism and an economy in desperate ; a disastrous situation that strikes the inhabitants full-force, inhabitants who essentially not to say exclusively live on this sector. So when these latter catch sight of a tourist, they rush towards him to try their luck, sell a bracelet or a carved figurine. Without being able to confine the destitution with a wave of the magic wand, we have to repeat « no » all the time while we wander about the streets of Victoria Falls. We have the blues to refuse to give one dollar to all of these poor people that only need a little bit of money to survive. Some of them are ready to trade a statuette for a pair of shoes or a T-shirt. And despite their distress, they succeed in keeping smiling. The life is unfair and the everyday life is definitely not the same if wr're bron European or Zimbabwean. Despite all of that, we try to spend some nice time with them, attempting a few jokes to see half-smiling. While we plan our future wondering what our next destination will be, they don't see further than the present evening wondering what wil fill their plate. Sad reality.