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World Wander : Married at Victoria Falls
by Scooter and Karen Willis

In eight months of traveling you really get to know a person. In fact, Karen and I have not spent more than twenty hours apart in the last eight months together. We are best friends, partners and in love. If you think about it we have spent more time together in the last eight months than most married couples spend together in their entire lives. We still didn't know where we would get married but it would be special and during our trip. We had copies of our birth certificates and all we needed was a special place to tie the knot. We both wanted friends and family at our wedding but it would be a little tough in a foreign country for everyone to attend. We both realized that we would be the only two at our wedding and somehow it seemed like that is the way it should be.

This brings us to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and the place we would get married. Karen came across a wedding book in Johannesburg that mentioned you could get married at the Victoria Falls Hotel. We signed up for a twenty day overland camping tour from Cape Town through the deserts of Namibia, Botswana and our final destination Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

We arrived on Friday in Victoria Falls and started asking about getting married. We presented ourselves at the customer service desk of the Vic Falls Hotel and were told it would take at least two months to get the proper paperwork. According to the rules we had to advertise in our home newspaper for three weeks our intent to marry. We also had to prove that we are currently not married. Karen and I both looked at each other and thanked the nice lady for her help. We set off for the tourist information office to ask more questions. We would be getting married at Victoria Falls.

The tourist office directed us to Dahaba Safaris and our wedding planner Liz. We had no dress, no tux and all we wanted to do was get married. We also wanted it to be a wedding we would never forget. Liz is the kind of person you want involved with any project you are working on. She was born in Victoria Falls and she and her husband run a successful travel service in the area. She also does weddings every once in a while..for fun. We met with Liz Monday morning at 10:00 AM and by 3:00 PM she had everything arranged. The wedding bands had been ordered, the material for the dress was on its way and she knew someone with a tux my size. We are in the middle of a country where it is impossible to make a phone call and this all happened in five hours. The magistrate would perform the legal
ceremony and we asked about meeting with Father Thomas, the Catholic Priest in the area. We wanted to be married on the river and Liz knew exactly what we wanted. Karen and I both knew we were in good hands.

Liz took us to Vicki's house who would be making Karen's dress. Her garage looked like a dressing room filled with costumes and outfits from the numerous plays they produced. Karen picked out her pattern and I tried on the borrowed tux. It was a perfect fit and the only thing missing was a cummerbund. No problem says Vicki, they had just finished a production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and I could wear the cummerbund worn by Brad. All I needed was a pair of dress shoes and a hair cut and I would be ready.

Karen had a couple things to do on her very short list and they all involved being pampered. The Elephant Hills Inter Continental Hotel had just opened a day spa and Karen signed up for the works. After eight months on the road you can get a little dirty. In fact, I signed up for a facial and some eyebrow shaping. If you have never had your eyebrows plucked guys, you should try it. Women get it done all the time only reconfirming my belief that they are tougher than men.

Wedding day arrived and we checked in early to the Vic Falls Hotel. Up until now, we have been camping for the last twenty-six days. Even during our six days in Victoria Falls we camped in the city camp ground for $4 a night. Our new accommodations cost $378 a night. We wanted to check-in early and check-out late to get our money's worth. A little sun at the pool and the need to recover from our impromptu combined bachelor-bachelorette party - three of us drank an entire bottle of Jack Daniels. Karen was off for her makeup and hair appointment. I would get cleaned up, put on my tux and disappear until 4:00 PM for pictures.

Karen arrived in the lobby a little past 4:00 PM and she was a stunning bride. The dress was a perfect fit and a style that made Karen sparkle. I wasn't nervous and couldn't wait to be married. If we would have done this at home I am sure I would have been a wreck. Instead, I was smiling and thinking about the next 80 years. I could tell Karen was relaxed and anxious to see Palm Island. We had complete faith in Liz and knew that the site she had picked out would be perfect.

A short drive to the Zambezi River at the top of Victoria Falls and we board our boat to Palm Island. This was the first time we saw the river and I couldn't imagine it could be so beautiful. We arrived on the Island and found a wedding paradise. The magistrate performed the legal ceremony and just like that, Karen and I were married.

I almost forgot to mention our special guests at the wedding... two elephants in attendance and a group of loud hippos. When Father Thomas asked, "If anyone here knows of any reason why these two should not be married?" After a short pause the hippos burst out in loud approval. Karen and I are truly blessed and our good fortune seems to have no bounds. Somehow I had just attended the most incredible wedding imaginable and it turned out to be ours.

I look forward to a long life of happiness, family and love with Karen Willis my wife, partner and best friend.

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