Monday, 24 February 2014

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #5

Good Monday Morning Peeps! Here is Part 5 of A Southern African Safari to enjoy with your morning coffee!   Get Parts 1 - 5 here.

A Southern African Safari  Travel Memoir South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa 17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011 

5. Baobab

We awake early on Day 2, pack the car and prepare to leave. Zarina, who had stored the meat in Emoyo’s freezer the night before, had efficiently made sandwiches for the day’s trip. As we pack, Suhale and Arshad chat with another traveler, a middle-aged man named Kobus. Kobus was from Kempton Park and his children were guilty of noise-making the day before. 

Kobus would also be heading to Zambia on that day. Like us, he plans crossing the Chobe - Kazangula border via ferry between Botswana and Zambia, even though his wife had some-how managed to throw away his maps of Southern Africa. Kobus was profane, even in front of his 9 year old son. “She fokken threw it away!” I found his vocabulary reckless, however things have a way of being explained without direct explanation. 

Our trip between Francistown and the border was prolonged by construction. Wilderness borders the highway in a surprising manner, yet consistent with African stereotypes. While travelling along the make-shift road alongside newly constructed tar, Zarina announces the smell of elephant dung.  Amused, we travel further to be confronted by two elephant adults alongside the road. Although prepared by the road-side signage that elephants occupy these lands and Zarina’s keen sense of smell, we gaze in complete surprise at the creatures peacefully chewing on the trees, blissfully ignoring us.  As we travel further along the highway, we spot a bull elephant. He is enormous and mythical-looking, with giant tusks and flapping ears, we understand the gesture* and move on. We were traveling on Botswana’s national highway, which also happened to be the heart of wild Africa.  It was surreal.  

Since Chobe was a mere 180 km from Francistown, Suhale suggested that we visit the Baobab trees of Chobe before crossing the border. We arrive in Chobe to encounter a queue of trucks spanning over 1 km. When questioning a truck-driver about the queuing, we discover that the trucks were waiting to cross the border and that some of the ferries were not operating. The delay was only affecting the trucks and the car ferries were operational. “How long have you been here?” Arshad asks. “Weeks, maybe days,” the driver responds. We leave him with sad smiles, sweets and good wishes, without realising our own fate.  

We stop at a shopping centre to buy some fresh bread for sandwiches. The centre was alongside the Chobe River and the use of the toilet cost 1 Pula, including toilet paper.  The toilet attendant accepted our coins from her make-shift office, which was once a wheelchair accessible toilet. Her resourcefulness extended to the transformation of what was once a toilet seat for the disabled into a chair for her behind. 

On the way back to our vehicle, we walk along the river edge and meet a man with a boat. He is enthralled by Suhale and wants Arshad’s “badni bottle” for drinking. After explaining the use of the bottle, the man stops asking. As we return to the 4x4, we observe a warthog with its babies, proudly familiar with humans, marching in the shade under a truck. Heart-warmed, we continue.  

The baobab could not be missed. Enormous, glorious, present and bold, it was a sign of God. This tree was beautiful. In spite of its vandalism, inconsiderate context and polluted environment, it had its dignity and it brought s joy. Arshad climbed the tree. 

We appreciated the baobab, which was worth searching for.

*Natural Africa is beautiful in that its wilderness is preserved.  Out creatures are amazing because they are untamed and unpredictable.  We love visitors, but please remember: wild is wild!  Don't provoke our animals.  They will unjustly suffer death for defending themselves.  Watch this:  Elephant attacks vehicle in Kruger National Park.

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