Six years ago, I spent three months in Cape Town and fell in love with Africa. I always told myself I’d be back and this trip is me making good on that promise. After seeing so many friends take a dip at the edge of the world, I wanted to get that adrenaline rush, so part of the dream of coming back, was swimming in devil’s pool at the Victoria Falls.
Now sometimes, dreams do come true. And when they do, it is never what you expect it to be. Dreams prove to be unrealistic, overly hyped or the fantasy itself was just better than the reality. And every once in a while, the dream is all that you’d wished it to be. More than you could’ve imagined. And still, two days later, life isn’t perfect anymore. Victoria Falls helped me remember that.
We arranged the trip so that we would be at the “Vic Falls” whilst the water would be low enough for a dip in the pool. We, or rather, I had been looking forward to this from the moment we booked our flights. Maybe from the moment I left Cape Town. So, in spite of the money it costs, Erik and I say goodbye to the truck and spend a leisurely afternoon in Livingstone (the Zambia side of the Victoria Falls) as that is the side where the Devil’s pool is at but everyone else is crossing the border to the Zimbabwe side called Victoria Falls. After the, is is time to make our way to place where dreams come true. Mine anyway.
We walk through a five-star resort. The lush green lawn, the chandeliers and the pet zebras practically screaming “MONEY”. The dark ceiling beams, the crisp white linen on the tables and the unchipped furniture provide a stark contrast to the basic campsites we’ve been staying at. Wonderful to see, but also a great reminder that we’re on a travelling, magical African adventure, not just a holiday.
We take a short boat trip to Livingstone Island. The roar of the waterfall becoming louder and louder and a fine spray starting to graze our cheeks. The waterfalls are called Mosi Oa Tunya which translates to the mist that thunders. Getting to the edge, this name makes perfect sense.
We walk a little bit, wade through the water, hoping and praying that the guide won’t let us get caught in a current that will sweep us over the edge and into our deaths. And then, finally (FINALLY) we make it to the pool. Just like that, my dream is coming true.
We are here. At the edge of the earth. With water roaring, thundering and plummeting down all around us. And here we are, in this calm pool. Serenity amidst the violence of the current; just what the devil intended. We sit on the little ridge that separates us from certain death, nervously laughing about the guide strutting around like the depth is not shouting out his name. We defy gravity, vertigo and the current, just to be here. Where I wanted to be.
It was absolutely incredible, but unfortunately, after a while (and the best damn brownie on the planet) we have to get back to reality. To the group and our final days together. We have to get back, to go say goodbye.
Travelling in a group, you never know what you are going to get. People like you or people unlike you. People you like and sometimes, people you love. Travelling makes all friendships more intense. With all known securities of home having disappeared, you cling tighter to the people who surround you.
This time, we really lucked out. We’ve met people who are not just there, but who we click with. Whether it is the restlessness of travellers that binds us, the humour Erik and the Brits share, or something different still, we’ve made some great friends that we will now have to leave behind. We are continuing the trip, and they are not.
So the next days pass by in a surreal blur. We visit the waterfalls on the Zimbabwe side, we have lunch and dinner together. We lounge around the pool and play games. But mostly, we pretend the end isn’t coming. The end I didn’t expect to find in the devil’s pool (like they’d let us swim if it wasn’t safe), but that did accompany my dream come true in an emotional way.
The final official dinner shines a bit of a light as both our pictures are voted into the top three of the photo competition, but the actual final dinner is a double edged affair. We have fun, laugh, eat, drink. And afterwards, we say goodbye. It’s a hug and words of appreciation. It’s letting go and watching them walk away. It’s knowing social media will make it easier to keep in touch. And it is knowing that most travel friends disappear into the background. It is hoping these friends will be among the few you will still visit, years later. It is saying goodbye after dreams came true.