Written by Pierra Heard ’18
This blog post is written in response to Pierra’s fall 3-week trip to Zambia in 2017 with Professors Emily McClung and Amber Chenoweth.
Zambia was one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride for me. This was my first time out of the country and traveling without my family. Not being able to even communicate with them on the regular basis was especially hard for me, but through different experiences I can say being out of my comfort zone a little was definitely worth it. One of the best days I had in Zambia was visiting one of the seven wonders of the world, Victoria Falls.
Victoria Falls is said to be one of the highest waterfalls in the world if not the highest. The boiling pot is the stream that sits below the falls. It’s called the “Boiling pot” based off of the humidity and mist all in one area. We did both activities over two days. We observed the falls one day, looking at both the Zambia and the Zimbabwe side which at the times were dry and wet and cool to compare. Zimbabwe being the completely wet side and Zambia being the dry side since their rainy season started late due to global warming.
Walking down to the Boiling point for me was pretty cool because I met an awesome person. I was walking up from the boiling point I met an elderly man who was wise and gracious enough to walk and talk with me on the way up. The conversations I had with these people about history, the way the old man could look at my physical features and share some of his knowledge left me in awe.
Now this walk is really rigorous and I was so hot and tired and out of breath I almost gave up walking, but this man told me he was 86 years old and I would have never known. All of a sudden my strength peaked. I couldn’t give up seeing my elder do this walk so effortlessly. Out of all of the conversations I had walking back up, which was probably about 30 min walk back up, my new friend had left me with a quote I will forever remember. “People can come from different places, speak different languages, but one thing for sure is we all have the same things in our blood. Africans are strong. We bend but we won’t break and all we have is each other to help uplift.” This is something I will try to now live by. The next time we went back to the falls, I was able to do what’s called “The Devil’s Pool”.
The Devil’s Pool is a spot at the very top of the waterfall that’s actually a pool and a natural formed ledge is supposed to keep people from falling over the waterfall. I’m terrified of waterfalls so needless to say, I was terrified! As we took this 45 min hike all the way up to the very top of Victoria’s falls, all I could think was what the heck are you doing? Why are you doing this? And what if you die? My heart I could hear beating. At one point we had to hold hands and literally walk through a really strong stream that was now higher and full of water and my partners could feel my pulse through my hands I was so scared. Just my luck, right before getting in the Devil’s Pool the rainy season was in full effect. The water was higher and stronger on the Zambia side that holds the pool.
I’m Christian so I remember thinking this is your “One step closer to Jesus moment.” Either you get up here in this pool and feel closer to heaven and you pray and rejoice in awe or you go over this waterfall and you meet your maker. Once we got to the pool the guide tells us to jump in. I panic. I feel the tears start to form in my eyes and I scream I can’t do it over and over. My partners who happen to be Hiram alumni encouraged me and all of a sudden this wave of peace comes over me and I just jump. The feeling I had at the top of this waterfall looking over, I can not explain but I can say I conquered this fear and it was phenomenal.