Reading this week:

  • This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  • A Man without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  • Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut

So my girlfriend’s #1 dream during her time in Zambia was to ride an elephant and we got that accomplished in Livingstone. Also during our time in Livingstone we did a game drive in Mosi-o-Tunya National Park and took a booze cruise on the Zambezi. All activities I highly recommend. The elephant ride took place at the elephant cafe, which is in the park. The elephants are orphans and have been taken care of in Zambia for about 15 years, having previously been taken care of across the river in Zimbabwe. The girlfriend and I were the only two people riding the elephants that afternoon, so we got a personalized experience. On each elephant it is you and then the elephant’s trainer. Most of the trainers, it seems, came over with the elephants from Zimbabwe, and have been working with and caring for these animals for years. My elephant was named Danny and was the current bull. He was about 50 and was a very nice guy. The ride itself was probably about two hours, and took us on a jaunt through the park. We saw a good chunk of animals, including a giraffe, warthogs, impala, and zebras. Mostly it was cool to be riding around on an elephant and taking in the Zambian landscape. After the ride you got to do a meet n’ greet sorta thing with the elephants. You dismounted and then wandered over to feed the elephants some and thank them for carrying you around. Danny was really nice though suddenly being on the ground next to him and his giant tusks was rather imposing. He was calmer than I was and I sat on his knee so that was cool. You can pay to have a dude follow you around and take pictures and a video, and we did, and they produced a really cool video we’ll get to show to disinterested relatives for years to come. The next day we took a game drive through the park. For various reasons ours was kinda hokey (but cheap) and we went in an old British taxi. Once in the park you have free reign to drive around, with the only mild requirement being you stick to the roads. In the park we saw elephants, warthogs, impala, buffalo, and zebras, so that was pretty phenomenal. We also briefly glimpsed in the park some rhinos. Deep in the park you can go see white rhinos. These are a few re-introduced white rhinos and their offspring, and they are kept under constant armed guard. You can, however, go walk up to see them. That was a pretty cool experience and given the watchful eyes of the guards they seem pretty safe from poachers. The rhino we saw had a calf with her, and they were sleeping. The final animal experience we went on was a booze cruise. The main attraction here was, of course, the booze, though for me I was absolutely tickled pink to be on a boat and I asked to drive it and the dude for whatever silly reason totally said yes: The tour takes you up and down a stretch of the Zambezi actually only a little upriver of the falls, though given the amount of rocks I think it would be more than difficult to go over accidentally. It is on the banks of the national park, so there are plenty of animals around. We saw crocodiles and a whole lot of hippos, along with a very large amount of other booze-cruisers. The cruise ended after we watched the sunset over the Zambezi. It was gorgeous and I highly recommend. My favorite part is that the guy driving the boat, the bartender, and the grillmaster were all qualified to do each other’s job’s, which was the sort of skills egalitarianism I like.