I proceeded inside the shop, where I watched the shop owner and his assistants wrap all the items in separate sheets of cardboard loosely formed into packages by random lengths of twine. As skeptical as I was that my souvenirs would remain in tact traveling halfway across the world in that kind of packaging, I knew that it was the best packing service I could manage in Zimbabwe. After a couple of hours, I was finally ready to tackle whatever obstacles might crop up at the post office itself. These obstacles turned out, unsurprisingly, to consume another two hours between the ridiculously dodgy customs forms and inefficient postal clerk. After such an epic saga, I was just glad to be rid of the items.
I had planned to cross the border to Zambia today, and the ordeal at the post office ate up a massive amount of time, so I skipped lunch and headed towards the bridge that crosses the Zambezi River. I exited Zimbabwe, walked the long distance across the bridge to the Zambian border post, and received my visa for Zambia. The main town of Livingstone is quite a long way from the border post, and I was short on time, so I decided to take a taxi. There was an American guy in line at the border post – one of the first Americans I've seen in Africa – and he offered to share a taxi with me to town. We haggled for a good price and hopped in the cab.
I was shocked at the contrast between the Zambian town of Livingstone and the Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls. Although most of the tourism at Victoria Falls is now centered in Zambia due to the political situation in Zimbabwe, Livingstone is not an attractive city. The town on the Zimbabwe side was built decades ago specifically with tourism in mind, so it is a walkable city very close to the falls, and it features nice hotels and casinos. Livingstone is a rather unremarkable African city. One of the few attractions I noticed was the Livingstone Museum, so I decided to check it out. It is an average museum that showcases the history of Zambia from prehistory to modern day. There are a few amusing exhibits, however, like the comparison between traditional village life and Western life in the cities. The exhibit titles of "Our Village" and "Their Town" carry a hint of resentment toward colonial rule.
Next I took a taxi to view the falls from the Zambian side. The viewpoints are very close to the falls – the ground is soaked due to the intense spray, and the vegetation is a thin strip of lush rain forest. I was impressed at the sheer thunderous power of the falls, which far exceeds Niagara. After my short visit to Zambia, I had to get back to Zimbabwe so I could view the falls from that side.