Sunday, January 9, 2011

Paradise Found

For the final few days of vacation, our group went to a little place called "Jungle Junction." Jungle Junction is a "magical experience of island heaven in the middle of the Zambezi River." It really defies description but I will try.

Jungle Junction can best be described as a cross between a resort and a camp (try picturing that one) and occupies an entire island. There are various huts and campsites throughout the island and everything is kept as close to natural as possible. Trails were made over existing hippo or monkey trails, the buildings are made from natural materials, and there is no electricity (but there were flushing toilets and hot showers). Candles light everything up and all cooking is done over charcoal or open fires. A very laid back attitude permeates the place and there is even a self service bar. The only way on or off the island is by traditional canoe. These are similar to dug out canoes in the US and are called "makoros."

Being on the island was exactly what I needed. I didn't wear shoes for the entire time I was there and rarely wore a shirt. The days were spent fishing, swimming, reading, and just relaxing. The owner was around and quite friendly but really left us to our own devices. It was almost like having our very own private island resort.

I spent a few mornings going fishing but only managed to catch a very small tiger fish. I had another one hooked but after a short fight, the fish jumped out of the water and spit the hook out. There was so much tension on the line that the lure shot past me like it had been fired from a gun.
The island itself is quite fascinating. I could have walked around it for hours. the buildings are made out of locally available materials and hot water is heated by using charcoal. The whole place really is an engineering wonder.

It felt so nice after being in a desert to sit sit and relax and watch the sun set over the river. We had a night where we went up the river in makoros to watch the sun set from a small rock outcropping in the river.

There were also all kinds of animals on the island. I saw a large monitor lizard and small monkeys swung through the tree tops. One night while cooking hamburgers, half our cheese mysteriously disappeared. We shined out flashlights into the woods and saw a weird creature that looked like it was a mix between a monkey or a cat (which prompted a long discussion over which it actually was). As it turns out our cheese thief was a genet.

We all joked about never leaving and just living on the island throughout our stay. It really is an incredible place and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be back at some point.

"And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it's not some place you can look for, 'cause it's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something, and if you find that moment... it lasts forever..." - Last lines from the movie "The Beach"