February 14th, 2012

Here we are driving on the A14 bouncing in our Prado land cruise heading towards Maun. Maun is up north and the gateway to Mokoro (small dugout canoes with a `poler`at the back that drifts through the Okavango Delta) and safaris to see large aninmals. It`s not exactly our vehicle but Geoff and Sophie`s who live in Mahalpye. They are friends from Canada who are living here in Botswana and one of the reasons we`ve jet setted here. Unfortunately Geoff`s dad has passed away so they are back in Canada and we are here. Furtunately they have left us their vehicle and camping gear. Thanks Geoff and Sophie and we send you hugs and kisses.

We have put 276 kilometers behind us and heading towards our first landmark of Serowe. Driving in Botswana is easy save for the fact that everything is ass backwards. We are driving on the left side of the road as opposed to the right, the drivers seat is also on the right which is completely the opposite of Canada. When we go to put the signal on we activate the wipers they are also opposite from what we are use to. Every right turn is a metiuclous maneuver with great concentration to avoid going onto the right side of the road. We have both landed on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic. We are there for one another helping to stay on track. Drivers seem to respect the other vehicles on the road.

 What one needs to watch for is the speed limit as it can change from 120 to 60 with no warning and requires a quick slow down. This quick slow has to be done as we have heard that the police are on hand to provide large pay on the spot speeding tickets, even 5 km over the limit will give you a steep fine. So we are each other`s co-pilots making sure we spot the signs and slow down in appropriate times. I love that we can move at 120 km an hour. It`s lovely to zoom along at high speed watching the scenery go by.

The only wild life we have seen so far are donkeys, beef cattle, and goats which aren`t really wild life but they are just roaming freely compared to their Canadian friends. They graze along the highway, sometimes butt in the road, head in the grass grazing away with no cares as to our approaching. We have no illusions as to who owns the road here. Donkeys are so cute and I am reminded of Eyeore, Winnie the Pooh`s friend with his head bowed down and ears low. I`ve been told that boys between the ages of 7-10 learn to ride donkeys as they are a mode of transportation and we have witnessed wagons pulled by donkeys. Donkeys also till the soil and are well taken care of. The people seem to have a great respect for the animals of their country.

The landscape is beautiful with long sprigs of golden green grass, and evergreen leaves. The land is mostly flat, scattered with low umbrellas and baobab trees, the earth is a beautiful copper red and in some areas light sandy brown. We are riding tarmac roads but there are lots of off road options which we are opting out on. To off road one must be really prepared with food, water, gasoline and you need to know how to get out of sand traps and whatever else might occur in the wild. If you get in trouble you might not see someone for a couple of weeks. So we are staying safe on the tarmac, avoiding animals, obeying speed limits and having a lot of fun. The big African sky is filled with dark grey clouds with breaks of sunlight. We are graced with sun for the moment but all around us we counted 10 rain clouds downpouring towards to the earth. The scene is beautiful and ominous. We are headed towards a wall of grey and figure that sometime along the way we will be navigating through a storm.

The PeopleBlack people are beautiful and kind. Their skin glistens and their smiles show perfect white teeth, the kind of teeth that we pay thousands of dollars for back home. Everybody has been but nice and friendly. It is awesome being in a beautiful country with amazing people.

We have been lucking and getting lots of guidance. Richard and Liz are friends of Geoff and Sophie`s and last night they helped us chart a route for our adventure. With a map of Botswana spread on the kitchen table they spoke with passion of their homeland and it`s wilderness. They have lots of camping experience and a love for the wild. They spoke of a scorpion bite tale that made me cringe. Liz had been bit by a scorpion and Richard had to use spark plugs above the bite to break down the protein and fend off the poison``s travels up her arm. Scorpions like to hide in shoes and bedding and we will definitely be checking those before feet enter footwear and bodies enter blankets.
Although the tale of their friend being bit by a deadly snake was left untold it stayed cemented in my mind. Their tale of their drive to Chobe game reserve in northern Botswana was also hair raising. It was 3 a.m. when they spoted eyes shining through the darnkness, the eyes of a lion who jumped their car. Neendless to say they had a fright. That being said lions attacking cars is not the norm. I have to be honest that run ins with snakes, scorpions and lions does make the hair on my arms go up. This is Africa and there are lots of potential dangers from little mosquitoe bits that bring the dreaded Malaria to a variety of snakes, lions, charging elephants and more. This is all very exciting and nerve racking and partly why I am here. I love learning new things and getting my adrenaline rush. It does make me feel alive and who doesn`t like to feel alive.

It was our good luck to meet Richard and LIz as they gave us contact infomation for people all the way to Maun and around. Their son lives in Maun and we are going to meet him tonight or tomorrow. He is a guide and will be able to guide us towards some great adventures.
Later...still on the road 100 km from our destination. I am in control of the steering wheel, Jay is finding music on the ipod. Rain is pelting down around us,lightning crashing from the sky, clapping thunder startles and rattles us. Wipers are on full pushing the rain away helping but not enough, visibility is almost nill. Pot holes are hard to avoid but we are managing.

My jaw is tense with every passing car as the car hydroplane in the big puddles and I fear a head on collision. All of a sudden, 100 meters away I spot four shadows heading our way. At first my mind assumes it`s donkeys or cows but then I notice the smallness of the forms and the stubby legs of it`s owner. I peer over the steering wheel squinting my eyes through pellets of rain. I almost leap out of my seat when I register that running towards us is a mother, father and two baby wart hogs. In my excitement I yell: ``wart hog!!! wart hog!!! wart hogg!!! With my right hand on the steering wheel I grab for my camera and take some shots of them scrambling off the tarmac and into the tall grass. At this point both Jay and I are yelling ``WART HOG! WART HOG! WART HOG!,` our first sighting of wild life and my African totem is the wart hog. Soon they are gone and I regain my composure and get back to the task at hand, getting us to Maun where more animals await. Akuna Matata...Don`t worry be happy.

February 15th, 2012

After much driving we arrived and staying at the Island Safari Lodge which is a beautiful little getaway along the Thonolo River at the edge of the Okavango Delta. Tomorrow we leave for a mokoro camping expedition in the Delta. Hippos, Zebras, elephants here we come! Today is a day of rest and shopping for supplies for the next few days. We will be camping and need to get ourselves self sufficient. Stay tuned as the adventures will only keep coming. We hope that you are all doing well. Zoe and Owen I think of you every minute of every day and love you deeply.


Karie said...

Wow!!!! Sounds awesome Annie! Keep the stories coming! xx

The GreenLunns said...

Glad you are having fun, take care of yourself. I hope mom's not reading this. :)

I'll send your thing for handmade harvest. Love you!