Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Hemingway Safari: Chobe Part 4

At six the next morning, we hear the sound of zipping and then “good morning!” as our hot water is delivered into the bath and dressing room. We hurry our cleaning up, as it is COLD! We gather around the campfire for coffee, and have either hot or cold cereal and fruit before heading out on our morning game drive.

First, we watch the lions for about 45 minutes – they are a hoot. They are about 200 yards away, and rolling around, feeling well fed and guarding their carcass from the hyenas and jackals. Other trucks full of viewers start arriving. At sunrise, we are down by the river, watching hippos and crocodiles, and Namibean fishermen from across the river. Godfrey tells us there is a huge problem with poaching, as Botswana has made a decision to protect the game and encourage eco-tourism, but Namibia hasn’t. As the game has been hunted out in Namibia, hunters cross the river to hunt in the game reserves.

At 9:30 we stop for coffee/tea, all packed beautifully in a wicker picnic basket, with small sandwiches. AH and I start laughing – we had no idea we would be fed five times a day on this trip. At 11, we arrive back in camp. The deck chairs are in front of our tents, and lunch is ready. Dorcas meets us – every time – with the hot washcloths. And yes, there is HOT water in the shower!

Lunch is macaroni and cheese, cold cuts and cheeses and fresh baked bread, cucumber and green pepper salad with joghurt dressing, and oh, it is delicious. And now, thanks be to God, we have siesta time, time to snooze a little, time to look at the guide books in the library and check out what we have seen, time to review maps of where we have been. Ah, we need siesta time.

AH has just drifted off to sleep when I spot a HUGE baboon walking by our tent, right into the center of the camp. I shake AH awake and point. The baboon turns around, looks, then continues on his way. What a thrill. Tea is served at three, and Simaseku has baked an apple cake. My friends, this is a problem for me. I am on a weight loss program, and I don’t want to hurt Simaseku’s feelings, but I just can’t eat all this food!

On our afternoon game viewing we spend a lot of time watching the elephants wallowing along the river. It is so much fun, they are rolling, splashing, blowing water over their backs, having a great time. Some of the adolescent males are flghting a little, but not seriously. Later, we spend another 45 minutes watching the lions, and then . . . one of the most magical moments of the trip happens.

As we leave the lions feasting on what is by now a very smelly carcass, it is almost dark. Too dark to take any photos. And my guess is that the stink of the carrion was carried with us, as we had sat watching for a lenghty period of time. We run into a huge herd of impala. Impala are like the skinniest, most graceful little deer you have ever seen. They have large liquid eyes and thin little legs. And for whatever reason, as we drove into the midst of them, they went crazy. When impalas are anxious, they pronk.

If you were a ballet dancer, and you did a leap, and at the top of the leap you gave it a little extra kick, you would be pronking. And to confuse the predator, the impala pronk in all different directions. I am guessing we smelled like a predator, because for a good five minutes, the impala did what I can only describe as an incredible ballet around our vehicle. Groups would dash from one side to another, in front of us, behind us, beside us, leaping and extending that leap, like crazy ballerinas. It was the craziest, most graceful, wildest ballet I have ever experienced. I wish you were sitting next to me as it happened, I wish you could see them, barely visible in the diminishing light, as they did their manic leaps and bounds. We couldn’t photograph, we could just sit and experience it. It is a sight I will never forget.

Tomorrow morning we will depart for Savute Elephant camp, and stop to see Godfrey’s parents and village en route. I am getting used to the noises in the night, I even LIKE them! I love sleeping in our tent, and although I am in the midst of wild animals, I feel strangely safe.

September 12, 2006 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Botswana, Circle of Life and Death, Cooking, Cultural, Travel | , | 2 Comments