Previously I mentioned that I signed up for a travel writing course. I am three quarters of the way through and it’s been an encouraging experience. I really had no expectations going in. I thought it would be something interesting to try, combining two things that I enjoy.
When I received marks in the 80’s on my first two assignments, I was shocked, and then excited. And then the third assignment came along…. This one was a literary article. The first two had been consumer type pieces. Writing about a place or an experience. I am much more factual than I am creative so the literary piece scared me! In fact, I thought well this was good while it lasted!
I wrote the literary article and honestly didn’t expect much. I was pleasantly surprised when I received my instructor’s comments which included “nice sense of storytelling” and “this kind of quirky little travel anecdote is something you will find is often sellable – publications often look for short, interesting pieces like this”. Well those certainly weren’t responses I was expecting.
Don’t be afraid to try something new, you never know how it may change your life.
So in keeping with my own advice, I am stepping out of my comfort zone once again and sharing my literary article with you…
Elephants, Buffalo and a Mammoth Waterfall
I arrived at the lodge and was greeted by the South African innkeepers. “Is this your first time in Zimbabwe?” the husband asked. “Yes” I replied. “Great, welcome. There are a few rules which we should go over”. Interesting, I’ve never been given rules upon check-in. He started to brief me on the lodge and then started discussing the rules. I was only half listening. I assumed it would be standard information. I’m not really a rule breaker so I didn’t think there would be anything that applied to me.
The first rule – absolutely no walking to town at night alone. It struck me as odd. Maybe because I was a bit nervous being in Africa for the first time and traveling solo, but I had no intention of going to town by myself, particularly at night. I joked, “Yes, that would be dangerous”. He looked at me with a very serious face. “It’s the elephants”. Seeing the confusion on my face he continued, “The elephants walk through town at night, you could be trampled”. I didn’t know how to respond, “Uh, ok” I mumbled.
After hearing about the elephants I will admit I was concerned about going outside at any time of the day. I set out to make the trek to town, but following the directions of a fellow traveler, I got lost. I was unsure where I was, unable to speak the local language and in a country with it’s share of political issues. My heart starting racing. I approached a woman. She was kind, she provided directions to town and followed them with, “Be safe”. That certainly didn’t increase my confidence of the situation. I made it to town and started to feel drops. As I walked further it started “raining” harder. Only it wasn’t rain at all, the spray from Victoria Falls could be felt kilometres from the edge.
The spectacular rush of “The Smoke that Thunders” made the trip worthwhile, despite the apparent dangers. The awe-inspiring view is captivating. A massive volume of water flowing into the Zambezi river provides a breathtaking view, dividing Zimbabwe and Zambia. I was enticed by the magnitude of both the unfathomable quantity of water and the immense beauty of this natural attraction.
After staring at the grandness of the descent for hours I made my way back to the lodge. It was dusk as I walked to the edge of town. A taxi driver approached me and asked if I would like a ride. “No, it’s ok I will walk” I replied. “No, you shouldn’t walk, the buffalo will be out soon. It’s not safe”. I got into the taxi with visions of a parade of animals marching down the road after dark.