Royal Livingstone, Zambia

When I said Saturday was going to be relaxed, I didn’t really mean it. After lunch and chilling around for a while, I was told I had to dress up. Again. It was mostly Katie who made me wear a dress, and in retrospect, I’m glad she did. There is a fancy place called the Royal Livingstone, which has rooms for £600 a night, and has random zebras around their lawn. More about that later.

This place is right next to the Victoria Falls, and by that I mean you see the mist rising up in the air. It’s got a fancy deck and even fancier drinks. Since I am the kind of person who cannot spend way too much money on a pretty looking drink while travelling on a budget, I just got a fanta. And we sat there for about 3 hours, just looking into the Zambezi. It looks just like any other river does, flows quickly and has a decent size. But it would get impossible to imagine that this river is what the Victoria Falls are made of. The sun was strong, and the wasps kept stalking us. Nevertheless, we kept strong and the Snapchat game was on point. I don’t remember the exact time, but I remember how the sunset went by. The mist started looking peach, and the sun stopped burning our skin so much. We could see the sun going down towards the horizon of trees, and the sky turning shades of yellow and red with every passing minute. I personally didn’t know how to take in everything that was happening. It was gorgeous, to say the least. What struck the most, I suppose, was how the river itself glowed in the last rays of sun and then slowly turned into darkness.

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The Zambezi during sunset

When we did finally pay up and decide to leave, it was about 7 pm. We did get to see Zebras, and I did freak out a little as one ran past me. The hotel called cabs for us, and we meanwhile went to their washrooms so we could remember what it felt like to not have insects and bugs around the place. It was heavenly, to see a clean washroom again. But honestly, the entire thing made me think. I don’t claim to be very proud of the fact, but I do like luxury. I liked the hotel, I live in places like these for vacation. I am the kind of person who books two days of resort time extra, only to enjoy the spa and the pool. But living here and seeing the kids in the High Five House, who don’t have enough shoes or food to eat, £600 sounds excessive. In that money, you could sponsor a kid’s education. You could provide drinking water to a village in Africa. You could help build someone a house, albeit small. You could treat many patients of Malaria or Yellow Fever. You could do so many things, and yet we’re the kind of world that would rather live in a hotel with zebras. That’s the kind of screwed up world I’m a part of, and there is something so inherently wrong with it.

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Because apparently they're too cool for pet dogs

I am glad I took this trip. I have never learned so much about a culture before as I have here. I know the concept of “African Time” and I know the kind of racial bias everyone holds in their minds. I know that shima is their staple food and it’s made of powdered corn, and I also know local bars here have a liking for pool. I know it’s rude to get to the point directly, and small talk is a necessity. I know haggling is the way of life, and not everything is always perfect. I know most Zambians hate their current President, but corruption is rampant. I know about the patriarchy and that men can marry as many women as they want to, but the women are so strong and independent. I know the government school fees are unaffordable. Many locals haven’t seen the falls, although they hear them from a distance as they drive tourists to the location. I know the world, including me, am partially responsible for their condition and yet, they treat us with so much affection.

The Royal Livingstone. The place with a view, of the falls and the world.

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