Have you ever had that feeling? I have. Like right now. And that's pretty much been my state of being for the entire time I've been in Africa. I want so badly to tell you all about Vic Falls; the stupefying force, sheer power and unmatched uniqueness that is this Natural Wonder. Like how, despite the millions of water liters of surging over that ledge of rock every minute, the gorge resists erosion. (It's made of basalt, and I need to do some research to find out why basalt so erosion-proof.) I want to tell you about the path of the mighty Zambezi River, how instrumental the River is and was to the region's development (or lack thereof) because of features like Victoria Falls. I want to tell you about everything I came across at the Livingstone Museum about the landscape and culture and people and history.
But I've only been here 10 days, and have been trying to learn and experience as much as possible in those 10 days. I've been staying at a brand-new backpackers (another name for hostel); since it's just opened, they don't really have the steady stream of clients that other, more established, hostels have. As such, I've been the only guest on premisis for the majority of my stay. Which has made me feel less like a guest, and more like a temporary roommate of proprieter (Gift) Skoolboy Zinga and his live-in cousin/ employee Obert.
So I want to tell you about Victoria Falls; really, I do. This journey, like any journey, is a series of steps, and I'm just starting to process them piece them together.
When I set out on this adventure, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the people that call these Natural Wonders home as much as I wanted to learn about the Natural Wonders themselves. And I'm feeling like I've taken in such a massive amount of information throughout the past 5 months that it's leaving my head spinning. Because I haven't been just learning about the Natural Wonders of the World and the surrounding communities. I've also been learning a ton about myself.
And then the Great Barrier Reef turned my worldview on its head. I always knew intellectually that things like sharks and starfish and brain coral exist, but they had never been a part of my lived experience. Now they are. The Reef gave me a "now I know what I don't know" experience. It expanded my perception of Earth so much that I feel like I'm still reeling. On the Reef, I've faced real fears and learned how to trust. In those hours of hearing only sounds of the ocean and the rhythmic turns of my regulator allowing me to in- and exhale, I began to understand my mind, my heart, a more clearly.
My first two Wonders required steadiness. Patience. Learning how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Deep breaths. Slow, deliberate, intentional movements. Self-awareness. Humility. And a great deal of humor.
And then I arrived at Victoria Falls. A crashing, deafining chaotic force of Nature; there is so much energy and action the place damn near feels electric. With the dizzying combination of heights and drenching downpours and rainbows and endless melody of massive amounts of water in motion, it's hard not to feel like a kid again. It's constant, erratic action that seems to build and build and never let up. The urge to stomp in puddles and kick around the rivers of water on trails is nearly impossible to squash (which I didn't), and smiling and laughing to oneself at the silliness and chaos of it all is practically a requirement in such circumstances (which I did, happily).
Because as I gazed at the Falls, I followed the lines of the columns of water up to the tops of the cliffs and to the calm stretches of the Zambezi beyond. And wondered if any of those little droplets of water in the upper Zambezi had any idea of what was about to happen. In a few moments, the ground would be ripped out from under them. Pretty quickly, things were going to get loud and crazy and chaotic. Life would get turned every which way it possibly could; momentum, direction, pace, all of it would change.
When I look at the big picture, I still can't decide if we control nearly everything in our lives (I would love so much to think "I made this trip happen" or "I worked hard and earned that job" or whatever), or, if like drops of water in a river, we control practically nothing, but are just here to enjoy the ride, go with the flow, and take it as it comes.
Regardless, in that moment, when I first encountered the beast of water that is Vic Falls, I laughed as I realized that right now in my life, I'm metaphorically-speaking right in the middle of the cascades of water, rather than on a calm stretch.
Remember Mark? He's the guy that introduced me to diving on the Reef and was the catalyst for the whole Indonesia adventure. Mark is an engineer that moonlights as a dive instructor, has one of the most infectious laughs I've ever heard in my life, and is 100% Australian gold. And now he's joining in on the Paricutin Volcano and Grand Canyon fun! We'll do a pretty quick stopover in Phoenix to plan, stock up on supplies, and hang out with some family, and I'll be so, so happy not to have to think about exchange rates, language/ accent snafus, or toilet/bed/utensil cleanliness for a week! I'm so excited!
I need to get to packing so I can bid Livingstone and Victoria Falls farewell in the morning before I fly back to Johannesburg. In the meantime, I'll be pondering the whole we make life happen vs. life happens to us question... let me know your thoughts on it, too! I'll check back in with you all from the City of Angels later this week! Happy Trails :D