Africa - August 26, 2012

Kate and I spent two spectacular hours canoeing on the Zambezi with our guide Casper, an expert on birds and local wildlife. Twenty-two new birds spotted in an hour including the one I wanted to see most on this trip -- a beeeater. Pulled out for breakfast at Hippo Island where we learned to tell the difference between hippo and elephant poo. Handy knowledge on this trip.

While canoeing back to our drop-off point, a 9-foot crocodile slid into the water, maybe 15 feet from the point of our canoe. Casper kept cool, but you could sense his concern as he motioned for the second canoe (carrying our supplies) to quickly move forward. Our two canoes raced over the croc side by side because joined boats intimidate the crocs more than single units.* Disaster averted.

Just in case we thought about relaxing after the croc encounter, hippos emerged 30 feet from out boat and made it clear we were invading their personal space. I love Africa.

Broke down our tents for the last time and made our way to the Shoestring Backpacker Lodge, where we'll spend the evening until tomorrow's flight out of Zim. Lousy, unclean hostel took my credit card down payment on the interwebs, but failed to mention they would only take the remainder in cash, so the three of us used all our remaining funds to pay for the room.** We had no money for food or an airport shuttle, so we hiked down to the Barclay's ATM after dumping our packs in the dirty rooms. The ATMs refused our cards (thanks for that, CB&T***), so we're going to be broke until reaching South Africa tomorrow night. Harrumph.

Not her croc. I shot this photo the next night. Jenn alleges she was "too busy" to take photos to prove her fantastical stories. I quit letting her have the camera thereafter.

Brad's footnotes: 
* And to think, I'd made fun of them for choosing a quiet little canoe jaunt, what with one of the world's grandest waterfalls right here and the opportunity to whitewater raft below the falls, or bungee jump, or ride an ultralight, etc.
** One of several disappointments with this place. Chief among the others, the website promised us "the world's smartest pig," which we never saw. Either some backbackers got real hungry or the pig is smart enough to stay out of sight.
*** MasterCard did an even better job of hosing us later. Suffice it to say, when you call a credit card company to alert them to traveling out of town, don't count on the fact that they actually did anything to make sure you can still use your card without triggering fraud alert.

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