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Pole to Pole

Day 117: Livingstone to Victoria Falls

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleZimbabwe is younger than Zambia by sixteen years, and has just celebrated ten years of independence under the guiding hand of Robert Mugabe. On the wall of Immigration Shed A there is an old relief map of the country on which the word Rhodesia has been Tippexed out and 'Zimbabwe' scribbled in. The old capital, Salisbury, has been recycled more ingeniously - a piece of tape with 'Harar' on it has been stuck over 'Salisbur', so it reads 'Harary'. Perhaps they weren't expecting independence to last this long.

Check in to the Victoria Falls Hotel, an immaculately clean white-painted complex with red roofs and shining green lawns. The gift-shops on the Zambian side were pathetically empty, but here the shelves are full of all sorts of fluffy junk, though there is not a newspaper or book to be seen.

The room is comfortable and efficient. The carpets are soft and the curtains of flower-print pattern. The whole place feels like a very well appointed Old Folk's home.

The price for this soft-furnished cosseting is re-entry into the world of regulations. The 'I Presume' Bar has a sign warning that between 7.00 and 11.30, dress is 'Smart Casual. No Denims, No T-Shirts, No Takkies'.

A pleasant meal out in the open air, but surrounded by package tour faces. Roger and others leave early to hit the casino, but when I eventually hobble off to my bed I find them all gathered in the 'I Presume' Bar looking very cheesed off. Apparently all of them were banned from the casino for being improperly dressed. The doorman picked them off one by one - Roger, sandals; Paul the driver, trainers; Basil, canvas shoes; and Nigel, denim jeans. It may hurt but at least I go to bed with a laugh.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 117
  • Country/sea: Zimbabwe
  • Place: Victoria Falls
  • Book page no: 261

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