Last week on my radio show, I played a set of tunes from Zimbabwe in honor of the recent elections there and the hopes of removing the execrable Robert Mugabe from power. Responding to the music, a listener, Peter R., emailed me some photographs of tourists going for a dip in the Zambezi River.*
Africa's fourth longest river, the Zambezi marks, for a 300-mile stretch, the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The swimmers happened to be in the water at just about the point where the upper Zambezi, er, flows into the middle Zambezi. This location is also known as Victoria Falls— the locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya (Smoke That Thunders). Often referred to as one of the world's Seven Natural Wonders, Victoria Falls is more than twice the height of Niagara Falls.
Known as the Devil's Pool or Devil's Swimming Pool, the refreshing spot happens to be mere inches from the edge of the falls. That is, the falling part of the falls. Astonishing photos of loopy vacationers splashing at death's edge have been making the rounds lately, but nothing quite captures the knee-knocking thrill of the scene like this footage:
For a thrilling first-person description of a Devil's Pool frolic, read writer Michael Joseph Gross's account in the New York Times.
*I'm not sure if listener Peter was aware of this curious connection between the photos he sent and the music I played in tribute to Zimbabwe's re-liberation: Despite the fact that Mugabe has unleashed violent political repression throughout the country, there have been pockets of fairly open opposition. One such area just happens to be the city of Victoria Falls itself. Located on the Zimbabwean side of the Zambezi, Vic Falls has been a hotbed of support for the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and its leader—and (fingers crossed) Zimbabwe's new president—Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe has resisted lashing back at the town in fear of scaring off desperately needed tourist dollars that are attracted by the Falls.