Catherine, formerly know as Mrs. Joey on Weddingbee, blogs with her husband, Micah, on 4024. They write about the trials and tribulations of building a new house, dealing with 9 crazy neighbor cats and other adventures in travel and puppy raising on their blog.
I am NOTORIOUS for getting myself into some sticky situations when I travel. There was the time I sort of got “taken” by the police in Moscow. The time I chased a student off the roof of a very old palace in Poland and recently the airport escapade in Italy with my husband. My troubles started young, I think I was 3 years old when monkeys started chasing me for my corn and coke at a National Park in Sri-Lanka. That is still one of my favorite stories but I’ll save it for another time. Today I’m talking about elephants.
My very first work trip with my current NGO was a big one. I went to Zambia. Zambia was the center of my program’s work and things were growing fast there. It was decided we needed a regional office as we were going to be working in more countries in the region. I was shadowing a co-worker that had experience opening new offices. I was there to learn so one day I open offices for the team by myself.
I had never been to Africa before that trip and was anxious to see more of Zambia than office spaces for rent, furniture stores and the employment office. The head of our project there STRONGLY (see the caps?) encouraged me to take a long weekend trip to Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls are some of the largest in the world and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. I hoped for some company but everyone else had been and already had plans. Determined to be a tourist, I booked a ticket and got myself a room near the Mosi-i-Tunya (the smoke that thunders aka Vic Falls).
I arrived on Livingstone (town nearest the falls) early Saturday morning. We went straight from the airport to the falls. A great way to start any trip. I was by myself (duh, I said that) which I think isn’t the greatest when you are exploring, but you can’t really complain when you are getting sprayed by greatness.
That’s not fog, it’s the mist
I wandered around the park getting wet and checking out the different gorges that make up the falls.
The bridge from gorge 2 to 3 (I think)
See, really wet.
An amazing view of the gorges connected by a bridge
The place I stayed at was called Chundukwa River Lodge and was situated on the banks of the Zambezi river on what was (and still is) an elephant corridor. What is an elephant corridor? Well, it’s a safe pathway for the elephants to travel on between one location and another. In this case it was the passageway from Zimbabwe, across the Zambeszi river and onto the protected Zambezi National Park . So what does all this mean? Well, it means there are elephants EVERYWHERE. I had never seen so many. And they just roam free.
I spent the evening and the following morning with the manager of the lodge in a little boat. There weren’t any other guests (it was low season), so I got full use of the boat for free. Everywhere we went, there were elephants playing and cooling themselves off. We watched them for hours. It was amazing.
Bath time made fun
A very unflattering picture of me in front of the playing elephants.
On Sunday afternoon I was told I should check out Polocross out on the field. Polocross is literally Polo and Lacrosse put together. Yes, it is played on horses. Anyway, I was on my way to the field when I heard a strange rustling in the bushes. The lodge’s Jack Russell terrier took off to investigate and started barking up a storm. I went around the corner to check out what was going on (who does that?) and came face to face with an elephant who was stomping his feet and flapping his ears a.k.a. getting ready to charge. OK, the smartest thing to do would have been to back up slowly without making any sudden moves until he lost interest. What did I do? Yep, I did the exact opposite and took off running. I know. I can’t believe it either.
But guess what? I (obviously) escaped. I could hear someone laughing so hard they were crying in the clearing. I headed over there to find to property manager laughing so hard he could hardly stay on the horse. Apparently the elephant and I scared each other. When I took off, I scared him and he turned and took off in the opposite direction. The site of me and the elephant meeting, freaking out and then taking off was clearly the highlight of the year. So glad to be of comedic service.
That evening I flew back to Lusaka where I promptly fell in a hole shortly after arriving. Don’t ask me how THAT happened. I have no idea (beside not looking where I was going). I still have the scar on my knee.
Seriously, I have no idea why these things happen to me or why traveling is part of my job. I guess it’s good my NGO covers medical evacuations which I’ve miraculously never needed.