Monday Afternoon, July 25th, 2011
The Royal Livingstone appears to be quite new, but is built in a classic style, very reminiscent of the British colonial era. It is a beautiful place, noted for its zebras and giraffes on the grounds, and sundowners (drinks) on a deck overlooking the river as the red African sun sets over the Zambezi. I took a look around the hotel and then took a seat on the veranda to await the rest of the group.
They had visited the Livingstone Museum and spent a few hours in the markets, doing even more shopping. Even Tom had shopped, once again looking at every single mask in the market before buying two more.
The historical information in the museum is in two sections – one devoted to David Livingstone, and one to the history of Zambia as a colony and in gaining its independence and subsequent development.
There is a natural history section with a lot of taxidermied animals, which is okay if not exactly top notch. Then there is an exhibit on the development of prehistoric man, including some stone tools and a diorama with cave-men.
There is a life-size diorama of village life that is highly accurate. It was just like being back in Mambilima. Blair found this seriously creepy. It was not so much that it was derogatory, but that so many of Zambia’s people live this way, and yet many Zambians will never see it outside of a museum. (see “Charles the Tourist”). There was also a mock-up of a small village shop.
It was not long before the family arrived. They found me easily at the Royal Livingstone. I subscribe to the “wear a funny hat for easy identification” philosophy. In short order, we were five again and stepping on to a small motorboat for the five-minute “cruise” to Livingstone Island. It was a good thing for Dr. Livingstone that the island was there. He was being paddled in a dugout canoe and otherwise could have gone right over the Falls, one supposes.
The island extends to the edges of the falls. Our guide took us to the only structures on the island, pointing out some type of horn-bill perched in a tree on our way. Before our tea, we shed our shoes and acquired raincoats for the rest of the tour.
We traversed a very muddy trail, noting hippo tracks nearby. They come out of the river at night to graze on the island. As the island is quite small, we soon arrived at the riverfront nearer the falls. Our guide led us to a narrow and shallow crossing through the river to a rocky outcrop overlooking the very edge of the falls. Libby declined to accompany us to the precipice, so she took pictures from a distance as we formed a human chain for the crossing.
One by one, our guide led us to the edge, where we could look straight down to the bottom of the falls. We could see the water crashing and boiling on the rocks below. Again, superlatives fail me.
We retraced our steps to the island proper, and continued a tour of its perimeter. Our guide pointed out various sections of the Falls, and their names – Main Falls, Angel Falls, Horseshoe Falls, etc.
When we returned to our starting point, our guide washed our feet for us with warm water and his hands. This was reminiscent both of the hand-washing before eating nshima, and of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. I found it mildly disturbing. I carry my own luggage and I can wash my own feet. It just didn’t feel right, no matter what the man was getting paid.
We re-donned our foot-gear and proceeded to “tea”.
We found that “high tea” was a pretty elaborate affair. Under a canvas canopy, a table was elaborately set with linens, china, crystal and silver. We feasted on an assortment of food, including curry tarts, vegetable tarts, small beef sandwiches, cream puffs, scones and jam, and chocolate cake. My ginger ale was garnished with an orange slice and maraschino cherries --- very festive. There was such a quantity of food, that we cancelled our previous plans for supper as being superfluous.
I went to the “loo with a view”, overlooking the river, and then we got back into the launch. We zipped back across the Zambezi to the waterfront veranda of the Royal Livingstone.
The setting here was elegant, and I really felt that we should have “dressed for dinner”, though only the hotel staff were formally attired. Drinks were sipped to the accompaniment of a flutist while we watched the sun set over the Zambezi river. A fitting end to a wonderful vacation.
Instead of the credits rolling, we had to take a cab back to Jolly Boys. Here we exchanged pictures, loading them on to one another’s laptop computers. Then the tedious process of packing for home began, and we turned in pretty early. Tomorrow, the ordeal of traveling home would begin.