In addition to being a long weekend in the U.S. for the 4th of July, it was a 4-day weekend in Zambia for Heroes Day and Unity Day. It was also my birthday weekend, and it was simply amazing!
On Friday evening, my friends and I had a celebratory last dinner at Mukwa, our favorite Indian restaurant and perhaps the best Indian food in the world, since it was Dana and Sophie’s last night in Kitwe. (They’re headed back to Canada soon to wrap up their internship program with VIDEA.) Afterwards, Max put on a Michael Jackson tribute night at The Hut where my amazing friends surprised me with a delicious cake and thoughtful card. It was a beautiful way to end our time in Kitwe together.
Very early the next morning, Max and I almost missed our 6 am bus from Kitwe to Livingstone. We had hoped to make it to Livingstone in time to cross the border to Zimbabwe, but our trip took a total of 17 hours, the border closed, and we had to spend the night in Livingstone. Tips to those interested in running the Victoria Falls Marathon: Travel in time to cross the border. You need to be in Zimbabwe the morning of the race to actually run!
We woke up early again the next morning to cross the border from Zambia to Zimbabwe. We almost did not make it and watched the marathoners run across the bridge from behind bars on the Zambia side. Somehow we were let through and walked briskly across the bridge, soaking in the beautiful view of Victoria Falls as we went, to the starting point. I ran the 7.5km Fun Run with my friends, and it was just as fun as it sounds. I have never run a race before, and I really enjoyed it! I am now inspired to run a half marathon, maybe even a full, one day!
In the afternoon, we explored Victoria Falls Town, Zimbabwe, which is lovely but does not have much to do other than tourist activities related to the Falls. Max and I soon crossed over to see the glorious Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. Though I swam in Devil’s Pool in September, I have never seen the falls in their full glory. It was magnificent. Pictures or words cannot even do Victoria Falls justice…to top off the amazing afternoon, on the way back to lodge we ran across a herd of elephants!
On Monday, the 4th – my birthday – the lovely MalPals, Brian, and Max surprised me with a delicious home-cooked brunch at our hostel. In the afternoon, I did the most daring thing I have ever done in my life. Max had been talking all weekend about jumping off the famous Victoria Falls Bridge, which I adamantly refused to do. First I thought he wanted me to bungee jump, as in dive head first off the bridge, which I definitely did not have the guts to do. Then I realized he wanted us to do the tandem bridge swing together, as in jump the 111 meters feet first off the bridge together. That made much more sense to me, but I still wasn’t interested. Then, I changed my mind.
We made our reservation, traveled to the border again, got our gear at the bridge, and then I saw the drop. I was terrified. I still cannot explain how I did it or why I did it or anything, but it was a terrifying ton of fun. As we were swinging over the water, I told Max to soak in the glorious view because we were never going to do this again. Even though I cringe every time I watch the video of the jump, I am still very happy I did it and would recommend it to any interested daredevils.
In the evening, we had delicious drinks at the Royal Livingstone Hotel while we watched the sunset. Zebras grazed in the grass nearby and we had a lovely view of the mist from the falls on the water. I was surprised with a huge cake from Mwansa and ellie-themed birthday gifts.
The entire weekend was so thoughtful and kind from the birthday wishes from back home to messages from friends in Zambia to the lovely people I was lucky enough to spend my day with. I could not be more fortunate! It was also extremely daring from running my first race to jumping off a bridge. I wonder if that implies any foreshadowing for how the rest of my year may go? 😉