At some point during my whole Africa trip, I’ll be visiting Victoria Falls. I’ve been warned that the area is utterly commercialized. After having visited Niagara Falls last year, I’m hardly surprised. The whole thing I think was a shock for me, after having visited Iguaçu Falls in Brasil. Brasilians like to claim that Eleanor Roosevelt said that Iguaçu made Niagara look like a “leaky faucet,” but I’ve seen no evidence as to whether she actually said that, or it was a mere story. Either way, Iguaçu is pretty big, and it is also pretty wild. I remember lots of jungle, being warned that onças (I had to look this up – Jaguars) have been sighted in the area, and there were plenty of quatis (small, racoon-type mammal) wandering around as well. The jungle surrounding the falls is a national park, and thus preserved.
And if you’ve ever been to Niagara Falls, well, you know that it is totally the opposite there. The area surrounding the falls is commercialized to the extreme – casinos, shops, arcades, fun houses, restaurants – hell, they even put neon lights on the water at night, and shoot off fireworks. I think I almost felt a little dirty by being there – a whore partaking in the rampant consumerism. I’m not sure how Victoria Falls is going to be, but somehow I can imagine that it is somewhere in between these two extremes. The touristy hotel I’ll be staying at, within walking distance of the falls, seconds as a casino – oh lord.
While I was at Niagara, I did manage to take a few photos of the Incline Railway there. Incline railways have existed along the Niagara for over 200 years, but for the most part have now been replaced by elevators. Most of the incline railways were to take people down to the water level, but the solitary remaining one transports people from a parking area to the “main level” where tickets are sold for the various tours and boats – how wonderfully commercial. Called the “Falls Incline Railway” – it claims to be the slowest incline railway in the world, an appropriately stupid claim-to-fame for an attraction in that city (you can find other moronic record holders in the Ripley’s museum and the Guinness World Records museum in town). The top speed for this bad boy is 190 feet per minute, and the track is 170 feet in length with a gauge of slightly over six feet.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to post some images and work on my record for running the slowest mile in the entire world…