After several days(Bon fighting a cold & doing internet stuff) we leave on the free shuttle to The Falls & border into Zim. It is not w/o some trepidation since the parties fighting for control of the country have not come to any agreement & Mugabe's people are continueing to harass opposition people - burning & killing in rural areas is reported. So a runoff election w/o outside observers may end in boycott & further bloodshed.
We hiked the 2 km. over the bridge and into Zim immigration where for $30 US we got our visas(sgl entry, 1 mo.). No problem w/ taxi to Vic Falls & Shoestrings Lodge BP - the dorm was for 4 so the 3 of us had plenty of room. The taxi waited so we could go right to Falls - on the way we stopped at BP Bazaar (name from Sue at Jolly Boys), but they were closing in an hour. They did say a train leaves every eve at 7 for Bulawayo but since we'd already paid for ON we could not go tonite. At The Falls - wet! The power of the falls is so much more evident on Zim side, even more water coming over since 2 weeks ago in Zambia! I haven't been so thoroughly drenched in years! After Zambia side we decided it was useless to wear a raincoat, ha!
Went to talk w/ Tisitsi (& Joy) at Backpackers Bazaar - lots of great info, & calls to Bulawayo & Packer's Lodge(reservations) & RR for reservations on train tonite...did not ask for any $$ but we gave them a bit for their trouble. Since buses to Bul. leave at 4 am, we'd see little of countryside anyway & cost is less on train(only $5.50 US - must pay in Zim $$ tho). She also exchged US for Zim dollars - illegal on the the street - and in a matter of minutes we became BILLIONARES!!! $50 US equiv. ($100,000,000 = $1) US).
We went looking for the RR Museum but it seems to be gone since no one knew about it down the road which still indicated the direction it was once located.
Back at Shoestrings we ordered dinner - the ON lodging places have food since they have their own suppliers. However, I noticed that just from yesterday all the prices on the menu have gone up about 50,000,000 (.50 US)! The drinks at the bar remain the same however! We're finding that sometimes a price quoted in dollars is cheaper when paying in Zim $$ and other times visa versa...really confusing, they even laugh about it in agreement.
At 6 we put on our packs and head the 1 km to the train station - it is still lite so no worries but by the time we arrive at the station it is almost dark...it is amazing to me how fast it gets dark once the sun sets.
The train pulls in at 6:45 and we get on and pulls out at 7:15!! A lot of people were waiting, they don't waste time getting on! It appears to be fully loaded - lots in coach, we're in 2nd class, a 3 berther a bit tight especially once the bunks are put in place. During the nite the train seems to sop about every 15-20 minutes and about midnight we find ourselves in a station for over 2 hours! In the morning we find out the train is running late - the stop was to deliver a baby on board!(both are doing fine). Now we pull in to Bulawayo at 10 am and the van which was to meet us is nowhere in sight. After some discussion we head to the main drag(we have wasted time looking for the van so all the taxis who could have taken us to Packer's Paradise Lodge wher we've got reservations have left. About ready to begin our hike to the ON (no taxis passing by) a small open bed pick up filled w/ people stops and offers us a ride. We piled in and arrive no worse for wear but a bit tired and hungry. On the counter is the sign they made w/ our names on it - apparently they only waited til just 10, we pulled up in train only minutes later. Our fare to the ON was $6 US, and they would have charged us $10! All works for the best!