My Heart Is in Africa...
So I wrote this paper for english 015 a few weeks ago. Made me miss Africa badly... here's my paper
In August 2004, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to see Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe. I spent two days there, and those are two days that will remain etched in my memory forever. Victoria Falls is part of the Zambezi River and is created by the river flowing into a gorge. The river is about a mile wide at the point where it encounters the gorge. Since the river flows over one of the long ends of the gorge, tourists are treated to a spectacular view of the falls. They are able to walk along the other long edge and see the wall of water in front of them. It is a view you cannot get at other major water falls like Niagara Falls or Iguazu Falls, because you cannot get a head on look at either one of them.
There are so many ways to describe Victoria Falls it’s hard to decide where to start. It appealed to each of my senses except taste. I guess I’ll start with the smell and touch and work my way up to sound and sight. The smell of Victoria Falls is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Walking along the edge of the cliff, the smell was almost overwhelming. On one side, I could smell the stink of the wild animals that lived in the woods on the left side of the path. Several baboons roamed those woods, but they didn’t come near the tourists. But when I turned my back to the woods, I got the full array of smells from the water. The smell was much like the smell after a refreshing summer shower, but it was a cleaner smell. It had that musty smell that you smell when you’re in a cave that has water flowing through it. The smell of the moss, lichen and wet grass all contributed to the fresh scent that hung in the air. Each time I encounter a smell that is similar; I am yanked back to my memories of Victoria Falls.
What I felt while I was at Victoria Falls was small, but it still played a part in the overall experience I had. Before I even got within fifty feet of the falls I could feel the ground faintly trembling. It is a weird feeling when the ground shakes underneath you. I can only imagine it’s something like a mild earthquake. The shaking could only have been caused by the force of the water that was pouring over the edge of the cliff to the river bed below. I could feel an increase in the movement as I stood directly across from the falls, but that is to be expected. The other thing that I felt was mist from the water hitting the rocks and splashing up. Now, the gorge is 130 meters (about 430 feet) deep and water was splashing up and hitting me. That flat out amazed me.
It is hard for people to get an accurate picture of how deafening the roar of the falls was if they haven’t experienced it. I think the most amazing part to me was the fact that I could hear the dull crashing of the water from my hotel room at The Kingdom, which is over a mile and a half from the falls. The sound can be heard all around the town as well. As you approach the falls, the sound begins to grow louder with each step. Finally, there are only a few trees separating you from the falls. Once you clear the last tree line, the full force of Victoria Falls blasts you. The sound is like listening to thousands of antelope gallop across the African Plains. By the time you leave the falls, your ears have the same feeling they get when you have just left a particularly loud rock concert. It rings in your ears for a good ten minutes after leaving the falls.
It is impossible to do any justice to what I saw at Victoria Falls, but I must try. When I first came up on the falls, I took a little path through the woods to get there. I couldn’t really see anything, but I knew it must be there because I could hear it. Near the end of the path there was a tiny waterfall and I thought to myself “There is no way that this is all”. As I approached the end of the path it veered off to the left, and then curved back right. As I cleared the curve suddenly there were no more trees to my right and they were replaced by the full view of the falls. All at once. It is a lot to take in. I think I just stood there for a few moments trying to get a grip on what I was seeing. Thousands of gallons of water were rushing over the cliff each second, and falling. Four hundred and thirty feet to the ground. It was a surreal feeling. The feeling was complimented by the mist that pervaded the area. It was like walking through a dreamscape, only it was very, very real. I walked along the path towards the west end of the falls. At one point there was a bridge that spanned the gap that allowed the Zambezi River to continue its course. It was at that time that I saw my first perfect rainbow. The mist in that area was so thick that a complete circle rainbow had formed around the bridge. It was almost as breathtaking as the rest of the falls were. The falls stretch for about a mile along the gorge. There were points where rocks along the top of the gorge poked through the water and broke up the water flow. However, I was there during the dry season. Apparently during the wet season, the water flows uninterrupted as one long sheet of water. I wish I could’ve seen that.
My experience at Victoria Falls was the final part of a life changing trip. I loved walking along the path next to the falls. It was a very serene moment in my life. Despite all the surrounding noise, the scene was nature at its perfection, and I couldn’t get enough of it.