I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Victoria Falls

I take back everything I said about airports being all alike. Large international airports may all be alike, but smaller airports all have their own rules and rhythms. And Johannesburg may be in Africa, but it's becoming obvious that that's just a technicality. Johannesburg really exists on that rarefied plane of wealthy international cities -- New York, London, Shanghai, Tokyo -- that have more in common with each other than with the smaller towns and cities that may happen to share a country or a continent with them.

In Victoria Falls, we crowded into a small immigration hall with long lines snaking out the door. I already had a Zimbabwe visa so I got to stand in the shortest line, but it turned out that I was apparently the only person in the line who had one. And Zimbabwe visas are very long and elaborate, and filled out entirely by hand, so I waited and waited while each person in front of me had each piece of paperwork reviewed, each visa filled out, each fee paid, before finally getting my official stamp, and being admitted to Zimbabwe.

Which consisted of being allowed to duck behind the counter and retrieve my suitcase from a huge pile on the floor, go through one more security/x-ray checkpoint, and walk out into Victoria Falls to wait for the rest of the group.

The air was hot and dusty. These musicians were singing and dancing in the small parking lot outside the terminal. Curio sellers waved carved hippos and giraffes.

And Russell announced that we would be heading straight to the lodge and he would pick up the rest of our passports later.

Now we were in Africa.

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