Day 1 of my African adventures, and I hand over my camera to the guide to take photos of me at Victoria Falls. He carefully puts it in a dry bag, and we set off to wade in the Zambezi River. He snaps a few of me on my phone (which has a cracked phone screen from dropping it the week prior), and then pulls out the SLR camera and snaps a dozen more. We move to the other side, near the Angel’s Pool and he takes several more, alternating between my phone and camera. Then he continues with the rest on my camera phone. After the photo shoot, and I’m drying off with a towel, he tells me that my camera ran out of batteries. That’s weird because it’s day 1 and I’m pretty sure I have full batteries. Oh well. I get the camera back and sure enough, it won’t turn on. But no “empty battery” signal is showing. It’s just dead. I try to dry off the camera as much as possible, but everything there is wet from the spray of the waterfall. When I get back to the hostel, I put a new battery in, and it still won’t turn on. Uh oh. This is bad. I’ve heard you can put your camera in a bag of rice, but it’s already late in the day and I leave tomorrow for Cape Town, so no time to buy rice.
The first opportunity I have to buy rice is the following morning. By now the camera seems mostly dry and still no response. I buy a bag of rice and seal the camera inside. I wait 1 full day, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. No moisture is collecting in the bag. Bad sign. I find a camera repair store that happens to be very well rated and just two blocks from where I’m staying, so first thing the next morning, I take it in. Within a couple hours, they email me to say that the camera is corroded and not salvageable, but are charging me $15 for the inspection. Luckily, when I got this email, I was eating breakfast near a camera store, so I walk in and buy my exact same model. Although it’s about 25% more expensive than I would’ve spent in the states, I’m happy that they had it in stock. I asked about upgrading, but the honest salesman let me know that unless I went into the next (really pricey) category, it wasn’t going to make much of a difference with my level of photography (the next upgrades mostly impacted video quality and I don’t do video). Went back to the repair shop and pick up my broken camera and lens. I really had no option of waiting to buy this, because I wasn’t going to take safari photos with my cell phone.