Wednesday May 16- Victoria Falls and Shoestrings

After having the best sleep ever, we packed up our luggage and avoided the outside bathroom and shower which was occupied by fist-sized insects.  We loaded our luggage into our van, turned in our room keys, said a final farewell to the staff and visiting animals at the waterhole, and began our journey to our next pitstop, the Painted Dog Conservancy.

The Painted Dog Conservancy which was only a short distance away from the lodge was an information facility used to educate tourists on the painted dog and their dwindling numbers.  Outside of the education building was a large fenced-in park which was to be home to painted dogs so that they would be protected from outside threats.  This area was fenced in and had an elevated wooden trail that started at the education building and ended at the rehabilitation enclosure.  This trail was built so that tourists could walk and observe the painted dogs while they were inhabiting this large enclosure, and for those tourist (such as myself) that visited while there were no dogs in the protected enclosure, it provided a birds eye view of the home that the painted dogs could live in.  Once we finished our trek across the trail, we arrived at the rehabilitations enclosure where there were two beautiful painted dogs that were playing shy.  We did not get an up close and personal view of the little pups but what we did see was amazing.  Painted dogs are unlike anything I have ever seen before, and they are absolutely beautiful and it is heartbreaking to think that their numbers are in such incredible decline.

Following our visit to the Conservancy, we continued our trip to Victoria Falls which was only a couple of hours away now and was highly anticipated by our entire van of volunteers.

We made it to Victoria Falls in one piece, where we were greeted by a hazy sun.  The falls which were not visible from the road we were on, were large enough to be creating the spray which was blocking ut the sun and were load enough that you could hear a dull roar from where we were.

We arrived at In da Belly rest camp, where we were given our keys and were led to our "homes".  We were staying in what appeared to be houses, with 4 singles beds in each.  There were 2 rooms, each with 2 beds, a dining area with a basic tabe and chairs, a kitchen with a bar fridge, and a bathroom, with a scary looking tub.  Just down the path were communal showers, which were used to avoid the scary looking bathroom.  Alex and I unpacked our luggage in one room and found our roommates Jenny and Katherine and went back to the reception area where our van was waiting.

Our van brought us to an office where we were to book all of our trips.  Prior to coming to Victoria Falls, we were informed about some of the trips that we could do, one of them being bungee jumping.

Since the day I had found out about bungee jumping, I had wavered back and forced on whether I was going to book it or not.  Some of the volunteers back at Antelope Park had returned from Victoria Falls just before our departure, and some of their experiences bungee jumping did not help make my decision.  On the day before we left, one particular volunteer at camp found it absolutely necessary to tell us about an incident that had happened at the bungee jump.  He told us that a young woman who had come from Australia had decided on the bungee jump, and while jumping, the rope had snapped.  What he didn't tell us, but we found out later once I decided it would be necessary to investigate such claims, was that this happened only months before our arrival in Africa.  So, logically this story should have convinced me that jumping off a bridge was silly.  Instead, I figured this would be the best time to jump because the ropes were just replaced...

This particular day, I walked into the office thinking there was absolutely nothing that I wanted to do more than jump off a bridge.  So, Alex and I booked a trio package for the following day for the three of us (Celine, Alex and I) which included zip lining, bungee jumping, and gorge swinging.  We also booked a dinner cruise on the Zambezi river to watch the sunset for the three of us, Alex booked a helicopter ride with Jenny while I booked a trip to Zambia to do a microlight flight.  Following our action packed day, we opted for a game drive in Botswana to visit Chobe National Park which would be our final day in Victoria Falls.

Once we were booked and paid for, we went to Big Mama's Place of Eating, had a late lunch and went to a grocery store to stock up on peanut butter, jam, bread, and chocolate.  After stocking up on groceries for $20, we went back to our rest camp to get ready to go to Shoestrings.

For those of you who don't know (but should because this place is epic!), Shoestrings is a bar and hostel that is the hot spot in Victoria Falls.  It looks like a big house, and was to some degree.  It was a large building with hostel accommodations in the back, with a roof that continued to cover the bar.  The yard was full of picnic tables, couches, fire pit, swimming pool, and 3 large dogs.  Think Project-X, but bungalow and African style.  That is Shoestrings. Best. Place. Ever.
Only the classiest at Shoestrings

So, dressed in the classiest pieces of clothing that we had packed (shorts and t-shirts), we joined Kailos in the van and drove 2 blocks away to Shoestrings.  Our group took up residence at the pool table with our $2 beers where we were met Dan, who was in Victoria Falls on business.  Shortly after settling in to our spot at Shoestrings, Celine showed up after just arriving in Victoria Falls by bus.  To celebrate the arrival of our 3rd musketeer, Alex and I took it upon ourselves to teach Shoestrings what a "Dirty Hooker" was.  Needless to say, several cheap drinks later, we were thoroughly enjoying our time in Victoria Falls, had met everyone in the bar, had a great relationship with the bartender who poured dirty hookers without prompt and we were considering continuing on with the liquid courage for the bungee jump which was the following morning.

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