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June, 1998


    I was bouncing with excitement when I woke up at four in the morning the day we flew to South Africa. Or at least bouncing as much as one can at four o'clock. Today, I was going to fly out of the country, to a place I had never been to before. Okay, so later I discovered that we actually weren't going to leave the country THAT day. But I didn't know that then, and I went to the airport excited that I was finally going to be traveling on my brand-new passport, instead of my birth certificate, that I had used whenever we went to Canada.


    Cape Town, when we finally got there, after one night in the airport in Miami because a luggage-cart rammed the plane we were going to go on, was a slight disappointment. It was rainy and gray, and it wasn't much warmer than it had been back in Redmond. My mom had told us about the crime in lots of places of southern Africa, and what people do to avoid it, but here there were only four-foot walls, with little push-opening gates in them.

    After a week or two in Cape Town, we drove (my grandfather had a car there) up to Johannesburg (Jo'burg), where we picked up my dad from the airport. Before we met him, however, one of my favorite things that we did was visit the Congo Caves. We did the scrambling, slithering, crawling route, and it was really fun, climbing up chimneys, sliding through "mailboxes", and that sort.  Up in Jo'burg walls around the houses were shorter than my mom said they would be, but here, people had bars across windows and doors.


    We went into Zimbabwe for one night, and then crossed the border to Botswana, where we spent three days in the Okavango Delta. traveling around by canoe and camping out. That was amazing. We saw so many animals (not from a car, either), and we even saw a black mamba skin (the black mamba is the most poisonous snake in the world), though not the snake itself. There were lots of hippos, we saw an elephant herd bathing, and even a crocodile. I wish we had stayed there longer.


    We crossed into Zambia for a couple of days in Lusaka, the capital. There we saw defense against crime. The walls around houses were ten feet high, a foot thick, with broken glass and razor wire on the top. Full gates, with gate guards, and bars on windows and doors. 

    We went and saw the Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, and that was beautiful. Sadly, our waterproof camera wasn't working then, so we had to be careful when we pulled out the other one, because the spray came up so far. Still, we got some really nice pictures of so much water gushing over the ledge to splash so far below. My grandfather said that years ago you could walk along the other side, and that there used to be concession stands, there used to be so little water. I found it very hard to believe.


    On the Zimbabwe side, we spent a couple days on a huge crewed houseboat in Lake Kariba. After that, we went to Mana Pools Game Park where we could sleep out in the wild and walk around, even though  there are predators there. One elephant walked right by our supper picnic table, about 30 feet away! From there we went to to some of our friends' and family's farms.


    Back into South Africa, and then into Swaziland, where we saw lots of history, and explored lots of museums.

    We went back (again...) to SA, this time Durban, and then spent a day going up to the tiny country of Lesotho, where we actually saw SNOW!!! Back in South Africa, we stayed in Jo'burg for a couple days, and then flew home.

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