*Sorry in advance for such a long post!*
In all my 24 years of life I have never NOT been home for Christmas, so this year was quite the change of pace.
As many of you may remember last year I flew home for the holidays. By the time we hit the end of the year last year I needed a break and going home ended up being exactly what I needed. I was able to rest up and regain some perspective on what it was that I really was doing and recommit myself to coming back wholeheartedly to finish what I had started. This year, however, was a little different.
As of Christmas Day I officially had 100 days until I close my service so it seemed a bit silly to go home for the holidays and then come back for 2 months just to turn around and leave again. On top of that, flights can be quite expensive around the holidays and seeing as I will be doing a BIT of travel before I come home for good, it was important to prioritize my time and money.
For Christmas this year I spent it with my lovely friend Brian eating boiled bananas and goats intestine/stomach soup, drinking a Tanzanian made kahlua, and forcing him to watch endlessly buffering Christmas movies (at one point his wife called and he was gone for a long time I don’t think they were actually talking the whole time I just think he was done with my Christmas shit). Spending Christmas that way was a very interesting experience mostly because it really just felt like another day. So many things we’re missing that for me make it feel like Christmas that I just didn’t even register that that’s what the day way. To say the least I plan to try and spend the rest of my Christmas’s at home or at least in a place that has some snow and a Christmas tree!
After Christmas I headed off to start my Zambian New Year’s adventure by first traveling 20 hours on a bus to meet up with Kay in Mbeya. While it wasn’t the most fun ride of my life what with having only two bathroom/food breaks the whole time it wasn’t the worst, even getting in at 3:30 didn’t really bother me…I must finally be integrated. Mbeya was beautiful and it was fun to check out another region in TZ before I leave. That Saturday we headed to the train station and boarded what we believed was going to be a 17-19 hours train. 35 and a half hours later we finally made it to our first destination in Zambia, arriving at midnight with no plans for a pre-booked hotel and no clue the layout of the town. Lucky for us in the last 4 hours of being on the train we met the nicest guy, Mutende, who was traveling with his brother and niece and nephew, we had a couple drinks with them and they offered to put us up for the night. After being picked up from the train station by his sister and brother-in-law they proceeded to take us back to their house, feed us a huge delicious meal, and they had even boiled enough water for both Kay and I to take a lovely much needed shower. In the morning they again provided us with a delicious meal and transported us to the bus stand so we could catch a bus to our next location. All I can say is they are an amazing family, so hospitable and witty; the dinner time banter between the family was truly an experience in and of itself.
The bus from Lusaka to Livingston was a quick 8 hours (ha) we arrived at about 9pm and promptly checked into the hostel and went to sleep. Tuesday morning we woke up, had some breakfast, and made our way the Zambia/Zimbabwe boarder to take the 111 meter dive off the Victoria Falls bridge! The bungee jump was sooo fun, very scary obviously, but glad I did it. Kay went first and then when it came to my turn they told me I would have to jump off the bridge backwards due to the way they would be strapping me in. This was news to me and obviously made me more scared but I took the plunge and it ended up being great! After we finished up there we went back to the hostel and hung out by the pool till it was time to get ready to go on the sunset cruise we booked. On the cruise we were supplied with free snacks, dinner, and booze so we got a good start on the New Year’s Eve festivities all while watching the sunset and even spotting couple of hippos along the cruise route! After the boat docked we decided to stay and attend the waterfront hotel NYE party which was fun, we met some cool people from all over the world and at midnight we watched a little fireworks show!
Wednesday morning the alarm was snoozed a couple times before we finally made it out of bed but having another activity to look forward to made it a little easier. We got ready and grabbed a taxi to a small boat docking area. Waiting at the dock was a little speed boat that drove us over to devils pool which is located right in the edge of the falls area on Victoria Falls. After the guide took about a thousand pictures of everyone we swam back to the main island area, had a delicious breakfast, and were then lifted via boat back to the docking areas where our cab was waiting to take us back to the hostel. We spent the rest of the day by the pool trying to sweat out the night before.
Thursday we woke up and started our long journey back to TZ first stopping in Lusaka to meet up with Mutende again. He brought us to another one of his sister’s homes, this time it was a beautiful farm house in the middle of no where. We were cooked an amazing meal and after we had a dip in their pool (seriously such a nice house). After the swim we headed downtown to meet up with his other sister to grab some drinks and after she put us up at her home for the night, even waking up before she had to work to make us breakfast sandwiches!
The whole trip was amazing and such a great experience. We met so many people from all over the world both while we were out and about and while we were just hangin at the hostel. Kay’s a great travel buddy and I’m so happy we finally did the trip we have been planning for so long! From here we are headed back to Dar on the train (wish us lucky) to meet us with Jessie and another volunteer friend Andrew before we all make our way to Mafia Island next week. I’ll make sure to write another post about that as well as our close of service conference the following week, but this blog was getting really long so I wanted to post this one now and just do an update later!
Anywho, hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Feeling hopeful and excited for the changes 2020 is bound to bring!