|It poured rain throughout the night. At 7am it was still raining but lightly. Breakfast at the restaurant at Vic Falls Rest Camp was our last group activity together. We said our good byes and traded e-mails.
Al and I are short of US cash so we have to cross the border into Zambia, find the Barclay's Bank there; get some US cash to last us until Tuesday when the next Nomad truck arrives to take us to Johannesburg, south Africa.
We end up taking a taxi to the border, which was only 2km away. Paying $7US for 2 km was ridiculous but we were in a time crunch. From the border we walked the rest of the way through the check out and another 500 meters to the Zambia border crossing. It cost us each $10 US for the visa. The rain was coming down again. It was still another .5km to a place called 'The Falls', a resort where the Barclay's Bank was housed. It was only open until 11 am so we had to hurry. The resort was. . . . . WOW! Just our luck that the ATM was not working so we had to take an advance on our visa card. . Scary but. . . . I hope it turns out OK.
Since we were here Al and I decided to view the falls from the Zambia side. We walked to the World Heritage Site in the rain, paid our $10US each to enter, hired 2 rain ponchos for $4US and we were on our way. Gold umbrellas were offered to us even thought we had our own small travel umbrellas. Al decided it was a good idea to protect his camera so he took one. The views would have been more stunning, I'm sure, with sunny skies. It was still worth getting soaked to our underwear even with the rain poncho on. Upon returning our ponchos the fellow apologized and said that they are useful for the mist of the falls but not the soaking rain conditions we experienced.
Our walk back to the Zimbabwe border was just as rainy. Everything is soaked including our shoes so there is no use taking a taxi back when we couldn't really get any wetter than we already were. Baboons run around on the road to the borders. It is now so commonplace that Al and I don't seem to be nervous around these creatures any more. A sure sign that we have been in Africa for too long!
A quick walk through the Kingdom Hotel once we are back in town to see this nice place. WOW, another amazing 5 star hotel. It seems to house it's own little town with restaurants, a casino, and shops.
Wimpey's is where we eat lunch- 2 small cheeseburgers and one small fries not including drinks cost us $18US OUCH! It didn't really fill us up. Most places to eat have limited ingredients since the grocery stores here have only a few items on the shelves to buy. People stand in long lines to buy food. The shops have little inventory to buy. Inflation is skyrocketing out of control making their currency close to worthless. Long lines at the ATM machines because the government runs out of bank notes! Absurd! Even if these people have money, they can't withdraw it and even if they can it is difficult to find anything to buy! That is why the locals are trying to sell their woodcrafts and goods but not for money. They really want our shoes, backpacks, pants, shirts, etcetera since these items are worth more to them than money.
Recently the government took the last 3 zeros off their currency to make it less confusing but an OJ drink still cost over 3 million Zimbabwe dollars from a 7-11 store! Locals walk around with wads of cash in their hand, mostly numerous 750,000.00-dollar bills wrapped in an elastic. Wallets are useless here. US money is widely accepted here. In fact the government has declared an exchange rate of thirty thousand Zimbabwe dollars to $1US for all foreigners. You can get about 2.5 million Zimbabwe dollars to $1US on the street but it is illegal. The only way a foreigner can purchase anything with Zimbabwe dollars is to carry proof that you exchanged money at the bank for thirty thousand to one US. That makes staying here very expensive for tourists right now. African Rand and Botswana Pula are also accepted.
Al and I returned to Vic Falls Rest Camp to our new room for the next few nights. It cost $34US/night. We have communal showers and toilets a short walk away. The rains here are an issue. The locals tell us it has been raining steady for the entire month of December and is the worst weather they can remember. It is hard on them because the tourists don't stay long or spend money in the markets. The internet here was super slow and was costly at $1US for 15 minutes. It took close to 15 minutes just to log on!
I really feel for the people here. They have nothing and things are not getting better. Zambia is getting more tourists now because of the situation in Zimbabwe. How sad.