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Swinging from low to high, to low and up again January 8, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Out of the city, Peculiarities, Raaah!, VSO.
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Day 11: an early start prompts me to be active with laundry (there’s only so much dirt I can stand), breakfast, moving to a private dorm for just our group, and looking at all the tourist trips in Livingstone. Then panic strikes, my wallet is missing. With about US$150 and all of my bank cards in it. I report it to reception and all the staff set about searching the site for it. Since I hadn’t left the backpackers that day, I knew someone there had taken it. I just couldn’t understand, as I hadn’t left my bag unattended for barely a second all day – and I never keep all my money and cards in one place, but had forgotten to change it around on this one occasion. Rah!! Fretting and miserable, I head off to change the rest of my traveller’s cheques, calculating how I would be able to live without my cards or money. The lady at JollyBoys reception reassured me that the wallet could still turn up, and to not cancel my cards yet as credit card fraud is so rare in zambia as they just don’t have the technology. To delay returning to the hostel to be told that my wallet was still missing, we stopped off at the surprisingly good and informative Livingstone Museum – I’d highly recommend it to anyone passing through the area, if you like that sort of thing.
I get back to the hostel for lunch to amazing news….they had my wallet! The maids had found it wrapped in the sheets of a bed in the 16-man dorm, which they were stripping after the occupant had earlier checked out. Needless to say, the cash was gone (apart from a bit of Malawian kwatcha!?), but I had my cards, which brought me great joy. On retrospect, I think my wallet was pinched whilst I was washing up in the kitchen, and the suspects had immediately checked-out, and had been staying in that dorm. Bastards. But there’s no point in crying over stolen money and I didn’t want it to ruin a so-far amazing trip (although there was lots of swearing, sulking and feet-stomping); and they have just given themselves some hideous karma which will pay them back in due time.
And the day had plenty more excitement to come….
At 1.30pm, we were picked up to go jump into a 70m deep gorge. Livingstone is the place to do action, and being on a volunteer’s budget meant that white-water rafting, microlight flights and bungee was out the question. But the Gorge Swing was worth every cent. We were taken to the ridge of a massive gorge downstream of the Victoria Falls, where we were harnessed up and told to literally step into a 53m free-fall, before the swing cord would become taut and would swing us across the gorge bottom to the other side, and back, and forth, before being lowered to a platform where ‘the catcher’ would, well, catch us and put us back on the ground. I was quite ok with this until I was taken out the platform, had my toes curled around the ledge, with nothing to hold onto other than a wire cord attached to my harness. But as told, on the count of three, I stepped out into the gorge and plummeted 53m in 3 seconds, grazing the gorge walls (or so it felt!) before swinging widely across the gorge. Only on my fifth swing did I actually start to appreciate the view, which was awe-striking. As I was lowered down, Joost (who had jumped just before me) was there laughing at me, as I found the ground and stumbled around shaking uncontrollably. We then had to hike out of this gorge, up steep rocky terrain in a hot, humid and windless valley (they kindly lowered out shoes down after the jump for this). It took quite a while to get ready for the next one after this hike.
Next Joost and I did a tandem jump. They don’t tell you this beforehand, but you can’t step off forward in tandem, but have to roll off backwards!! So side-by-side with our back to the gorge, one hand gripping each other’s harness and the other gripping our support wire, we squat down and gently roll backwards off the ledge. Falling on our backs, we could only see the gorge whipping past us backwards, as we plunged faster than before. The tandem was by far more terrifying option. It made me feel alive at least. Thankfully a cold beer was waiting for us after our hike back to the top! (I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise to any children who were present to witness my terrible language as I fell.)
Back at the hostel, we bumped into the rest of our party, had some dinner and then hit the town.

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