“Is that smoke,” I asked, pointing to the cloudy billows on the horizon as we headed toward Livingstone.  “No,” I was told, “it’s the mist from Victoria Falls.” In Tonga, one of the local languages here in Zambia,  the name for the falls is Mosi-O-Tunya, which means “the smoke that thunders.”  Now, as we approached from a distance, I could see why.  The falls are amazing and grand. The smoke appears first, from out on the highway before you even get to Livingstone.  Then, as you approach the gateway to the falls, you hear the force of water, a thunderous whooshing that is too strong to be taken for wind. As you walk toward the sound  you see and feel the spray, and then, suddenly, or so it seems, an immense wall of sheer gushing water.  The water force is so strong that the thick showers of water falls and rises with a bounce, with droplets breaking off and defying gravity, so that it feels like it is raining from above and below at the same time.

The rushing water, cool mists and sunny skies had me dizzy with delight.  Soon I was hoping for a rainbow, and I was not disappointed.  In fact, it seemed as if every time I asked,  the universe indulged me with colors of reassurance. So many rainbows on demand couldn’t be a coincidence!  Eventually I had to accept that miracles are ordinary and everywhere.  If you are looking. And if you remember to ask for them.

Our stay in Zambia was short, yet we had seen and learned so much.  I had wanted to see the falls, to put my toe in if I could, and now we were here.  Water in abundance,  rushing like thunder, cold sprays, powerful currents that can sweep you away.  The gift of color.  Again and again.

Hiking just above the falls we came to the still headwaters. It seemed impossible to me that I could stand so close the edge without being swallowed.  In spite of the kinetic frenzy just a few hundred feet away, the headwaters were a quiet pond.  There was so much more underneath the still current, and, I knew, so much more below the surface of this country, Zambia.

On the long ride to the Falls I had insisted that our friend and guide, Ali Sad, teach me a Zambian song.  It is an absurdly short visit, I reasoned, there will be no evidence that I was here at all if I don’t at least learn a song.  He taught me the following song/chant which is often sung when people gather.

    Nchale wo wau, nchale chi wau tu,

    Nchale wo wau, Nchale chi wau tu.

It means, loosely translated, “Everything is good.  It should be like this.”  And then it repeats, so there is no mistaking about anything, “Everything is good. It should be like this.”

Zambia — just a toe in….

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