the smoke that thunders...

The morning after our sunset cruise on the Chobe we hired a car to drive us to Victoria Falls for the day.

Vic Falls is about an hour north of Kasane, across the border into Zimbabwe. At the time of our visit, Zimbabwe was trying to sort out its presidential elections, which Mugabe had just lost. Now it is months later and Zimbabwe is still not sorted.

The news from Zimbabwe is all bad and has been all bad for years. It is so depressing and sad, and so unnecessary. When I last lived in this part of the world, in the early 1990's, Zimbabwe was fantastic. Wonderful people, awesome scenics, my pick for the greatest country in the world. I went there every chance I got. My single goal in life back then was to figure out a way to make Bulawayo my home. So far, that still hasn't happened.

Both Teshka and I knew Vic Falls from our previous lives. We looked forward to our first visit together, although not without some trepidation. How had it changed? Had the economic collapse of the current regime let the Falls go to ruin? Most places in the world aren't as nice as they were 20 years ago.

The traditional name for the falls is Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning "the smoke that thunders". They are immensely spectacular. On the day of our visit, the Zambezi river was running full and the falls fully living up to their descriptive name. In fact, they were scarcely visible through all their "smoke", voluminous clouds of spray thrown skyward from the thundering smash of the river into the deep chasm below. Visiting the Falls on this day meant a drenching shower from all the misty spray and soon we were soaking, dripping like wet dogs. It was a fine thing to be so enveloped by these natural forces. Up close and personal, the bath made us feel like a part of the Falls.

On previous visits to this exact spot, I had always dreamed of returning one day with a good medium format camera. On this occasion I finally got my chance. Well, as you can see, I have utterly failed to do the Falls any justice. The clouds of spray obscure their scale and drama, and everything is enveloped within a milky sheen of brightness. Only hints of form come through the cloudy veil, only the merest suggestion of the awesome beauty within.

All we have to show from our visit to the Falls are lousy pictures like this one. But, as usual here on incidence, nothing will stop us from showing them!

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, April 2008.

Rolleiflex T, Fomapan 200.