Saturday, August 13, 2016

Arriving to the Okavango River

We say goodbye to Joana, who is flying back to Portugal today. It is sad to see her go.

Lukas from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil joins our family. He sits with Graham.

A couple days ago, I mentioned to Gift that it is fortunate that so far none of our group has taken ill. Gift said its because of all our hand washing. I said " so we probably won't get ill because we're acclimatized now?" Gift said that's not always the case, usually people get a bit of runs the third day after they start taking the malaria pills. Hmmmm.

We are currently in Brenda, hurtling towards Botswana. We stop for lunch just before the Namibia and Botswana border.

Just as we start eating, a sudden dust storm comes up.

I hear that sand in your food is good for digestion.

The border crossing is quicker than the one between South Africa and Namibia. We stop and have our paperwork checked on both sides. We lose one hour due to the time change between Namibia and Botswana.

We arrive just before sunset to the Trailblazer campsite which is run by the San Bushmen. The choice is given of staying in our tents or paying a bit extra to stay in the mushroom shaped stick huts. The huts have a light, two beds with really warm blankets and mosquito netting. Some of us ( including Shawn and I) chose the huts. Maddie and Jim had prebooked one of the cottages.

Gift has us cutting up all manner of vegetables for a vegetarian supper of rice and stir fry...which is perfect since we've been eating a lot of meat on this trip. Ive also been eating lots of junk food cause we usually stop for bathroom breaks and water/snack replenishing at service stations ( which aren't known for their healthy choices).

After supper we go to a central area where two huge bonfires light up the night. We seat ourselves at the first fire on chairs facing  the second fire. About five San Bushman women of various ages are seated around that fire. They are soon joined by four men (20's to 70's) in native dress; loin cloths and dried cocoons filled with small pebbles wrapped around their calves. These rattle when they move. The women begin to clap and chant as the men move their legs in a rhythmic dance. Dust rises around their feet. Many times they dance while in a low squat position.

This sounds a lot easier than it really is...think of doing non stop low squats at the gym. The show lasts almost an hour. They get us up to dance and my legs feel it after three minutes. I'm really impressed with the guy in his 70s who danced the whole show.

The performance around the bonfire has a feeling of unreality as if we are witnessing something from another time.

After the show, our group stays around the campfire to talk. Gift tells us about Botswana.

Shawn rises early and along with Frank, Martien and Felix goes on a tour with the Bushmen to learn about different medicinal plants and the San tribes healing methods. Most of the others sleep in and I spend the time taking pictures of birds.

The starlings here are gorgeous. When the sun shines on them, they are truly a vision of teal iridescent beauty.

We drive on roads, rarely passing villages. We stop every now and then to " Mark our territory" (usually behind a bush).

Tonight we stay at Swamp Stop Camp. It has great facilities, hot showers, running water, WIFI, pool, bar,restaurant and deck overlooking the Okavango River. We watch the sun set from there.

It is getting warmer, the further north we go.

We head into the delta on boats tomorrow.

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