Since I had a couple of hours to spare before the train to Victoria Falls was to depart and I didn’t have a cent of viable currency on me, I took the opportunity to take a brief stroll into Bulawayo city center to see if I could find an ATM or even an exchange. My search was short lived as the sun would shortly dip beyond the dirty horizon and I was not yet comfortable with my Africa travels to be walking around at night looking like a pawn shop with all my belongings on me. I gave in to fact that I would be going hungry for the night and returned to the station platform where I collapsed on bench.
|The waiting game|
Will and Debora were working at a mission together in Zimbabwe, Will from England was spending 2 months in Zim as a doctor and Debora from the Netherlands had been at the mission for 3 months. Friendship was solidified with a peanut butter sandwich and discussions of our travel experiences, after which I retired to my cabin, fortunate to have it to myself though at the same time lonely in not be able to share the experience with someone close.
The journey itself was fantastic and I encourage anyone who finds themselves in Zimbabwe with time on their hands to jump aboard and enjoy the romance of rail travel. I was in 1st class sleeper which cost $12 and consisted of a single cabin with two beds, the lower which converts from a seat and the upper which folds down when needed. There is also 2nd class sleeper at $10 which has an extra two beds per cabin. Beds are sold on an individual basis, so if you want to ensure you have the cabin to yourself you should book all the beds or you can take your chances as I did. Shortly after we left Bulawayo, delayed by about an hour, the guard came around asking if we needed blankets and linen. I had my sleeping bag with me which was perfectly cosy at this time of year. I’ve traveled by train enough to know the one thing that always soils the experience is the toilet, since I had not entrusted my fellow passenger earlier on in the evening with my bags I had to make a visit early on in our journey. I found the toilet in clean order, though since it is of the long drop type, I can only assume that as the journey wore on its state would not hold up to western ideals.
We arrived at an iconic Victoria Falls station around 8:30am the following morning feeling as if were the lords and ladies of a colonial past about to enjoy the grandeur of high tea overlooking the falls. It was a brief feeling of wealth which was snatched away from us as we found ourselves at shoestring backpackers.