Original Touring Africa Diary – Botswana a la Ian

Chapter 1 – Meet spot
Meeting seasoned overlanders somewhere in Africa is a harrowing experience – you think you’ve reached an agreement, booked your flights, and arranged your rental car and accommodation – the meet spot changes! Even when you’re on the continent, fine tuning meet spot details is demanding – sometimes international roaming works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes there’s internet sometimes there’s not. C’est comme ca.

Chapter 2 – Friends
One would be lost without them – big thank yous to Ruedi/Eunice and Tony/Denise.

Chapter 3 – Things that go bump in the night.
Braii time at Xakanaxa (Moremi) and Milan’s cooking up a meaty feast. Suddenly he’s running towards the darkness on the edge of camp stomping his feet.
Ian: What was that Mil?
Mil; I don’t know but it ran away (as he prods the steak)
C: It was black!
Mil: Can you bring me the maglite Louise?
AAAAHHHHH – hippos (one in front , 2 behind) – vooom, we’re in the landy before you can blink.

Chapter 4 – Photography
The name of the game is creativity. You go game driving at sparrow’s fart or dusk because the light is best and you photograph things like eyeballs, tusks and birds in flight (wings up not down of course). The trick is to get the birds to fly and game park etiquette would indicate that it is unacceptable to honk one’s horn but acceptable to slam one’s door or risk becoming lion’s brunch by leaping out of the landy and playing silly buggers. The perfect shot of two fish eagles looms, cameras are focused, door slamming fails and as Louise leaps from the landy C starts muttering, “the focus on my camera is fuzzy, very fuzzy, — it’s gone, eagles are flying. Mil’s camera clicks a squillion times. We’re all left wondering why C turned her camera off.

Chapter 5 – Tourists
A visit to Okavango Delta is not complete without a sunset cruise. There are two boats for hire – USD 50 per hour – seats 12. C decides to canvas the campsite for other punters only to find she’s too late as a group had already formed. The ferryman decides that we should join the initial group as they are four persons short. Boy did the ferryman get the bums rush. His horror was matched only by ours as this group of German tourists outright refused to allow us to join their party. (we were looking rather like “locals” by this stage of the game). The wharf became even more of a circus with the arrival of a group of South Africans just as the Germans were pulling away. The Germans had commandeered the double-decker boat that the South Africans thought they had booked.

Chapter 6 – Gravy
Lessons in the art of photography are generally followed by cooking classes. Tonight is gravy making class. C is in charge of soaking rather expensive shitake mushrooms while Ian is in charge of chopping up onions, garlic and ginger. All ingredients are tossed in a pot for M to deal to. After an agonising wait for the gravy to simmer M finally decides it has passed the taste test — he lifts the gravy off the fire “s—t” was all we heard. “Tucker F anyone?”.

Chapter 7 – Meltdown
We’re leaving Botswana – it’s hot – very hot. C and L have both melted down and it’s I’s fault. No one’s talking to I anymore. We fill out our leaving forms at window 1. C uses red pen, L uses green pen, I uses blue pen (M guards the cars). We all pass the test and are allowed to leave. Now we have to check the cars out at window 2. I has no carnet de passage and has to fill out a temporary export form. In the confusion of moving from window 1 to window 2 Ian ends up with a red pen in his hand and fills out the form under the watchful eye of “Big Momma” behind the counter. On completion “Big Momma” takes the form, looks at it and says “eesch all official forms must be completed in blue pen – do it again”.

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