Star Date: October 2011
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
( How are you? Setswana )
eyes have the power to speak a great language."
We are not alone. Crimson dawn explodes in the African bush. The thunderous roar of a lion sends shivers tingling down our spine. This is alive. Lions are a symbol of majesty and power, admired for their beauty and strength. Top predator in their ecosystem, they have held us spellbound and sparked our imaginations and fears through the ages. The sheer physical strength and regal presence of lions demands respect. Just knowing that these stealth forms are moving silently in the night is a reality check in your surroundings.
Receiving a call on Skype from family, from their computer forwarded to our cell phone in the wilds of Africa, is a technological wonder and a highlight to our day. Often the connection is poor but walking to the crown of a hill will increase the reception. One night I heard a branch snap and decided it was time to return to the safety of the van, rather than become someone's dinner. The next morning while visiting a remote village nearby we asked an old man sitting in the shade if there are still lions in the area. "Of course" he replied with a toothless smile!!
Driving remote areas of Botswana we soon realized that the whole country is a wildlife reserve. Not being able to read signs and ignoring feeble attempts to fence areas, wild animals roam beyond boundaries, as they did in days of old. From the rich green seasonal waterways of Okavango Delta to the dry scrubland savannah of the Kalahari Desert (Kglakgadi in Setswana), Botswana is rich in diversity. Kalahari bushmen are hidden down rough sand roads and we wondered if "The Gods Must be Crazy" in this corner of the Kalahari? Out here one is truly alone with your thoughts. For miles/days on end one can experience the magnificence of this merciless environment reminding us of nature's tenacity, not to mention the rugged souls who live within its boundary. Distances are vast, and infrastructure is non-existent, giving rise to many exclusive and expensive safari experiences. Space is endless. This is a land for the intrepid traveler. With transportation rare it is best to strike out across the country on your own, well prepared, realizing that the next 'town' on the map may simply be a few thatched huts huddled around a seasonal borehole. Roads boast potholes copious enough to hide one of the elephants ambling along the shoulder. Massive elephant herds are totally unaffected by your presence on their turf and the skittish behavior of zebras or wildebeest gives a clue to lions lurking in the bushes. Signs at crossroads remind passengers to stay in their vehicle. But I guess not all humans can read. Just a few months earlier a couple was driving along our route from Chobe National Park to Gaborone when their truck's radiator blew. Not wanting to spend the night in their truck the husband ran over to a small watering hole to get some water. He never returned.
Botswana is one of sub-Sahara Africa's success stories, both politically and economically. Democratic rule was established in 1966 and progress has marched on. Diamonds are Botswana's best friend. Boasting 3 of the world's largest diamond mines the amazing punch line is that, at least on the surface, some of the profits have trickled back down to the people of Botswana rather than the usual scenario of hiding in a few deep pockets. The country enjoys economic stability and a high standard of health care and education. It has developed into mainly an urban country with vocational training and professional jobs encouraged for young people migrating from the villages. Gaborone is a village that has outgrown it's pants and the sprawling suburbs are called 'phases' centering around shopping malls. After all, why work if you aren't going to buy things? Consumerism drives our modern society. The lone bushman just scratches his head in perplexity.
And so it goes.........................................Next month Northern South Africa. Please share this website with friends and family. Pass on the success story of Botswana. Help dissolve the fear of this fascinating continent called Africa. First hand experiences and information, not influenced by the media, help us to learn more about this intriguing planet we all are orbiting on. Thanks for keeping in touch - we love getting your emails!
Love, Light & Laughter,
$1.00US = 7.6 Botswana Pula
As in Zambia, we just pulled off a side road to park and camp. The added excitement of not knowing what animal was lurking out there kept things exciting.