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  • Joanna

Fulfilling my Camping Experience

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Everything in Africa bites but the safari bug is worst of all." - Brian Jackman

That quote literally made me laugh out loud because I am not at all concerned with the safari bugs. 


Not one bit. 


It is the aggravating moths that repetitively bomb my face and dive in to my wine & food that piss me off. Due to rainy season, they are everywhere. Hundreds of them. Previously, I thought that termites and springbok were taking over the planet. I was wrong.


It’s moths.


And lucky me... they seem to have taken a particular liking to me.  I think it’s the numerous lotions that I smother all over my body on a daily basis. The combination is their crack and I’m their dealer.


Soap, sunscreen, body lotion, muscle heat rub, mosquito repellent...

Malinga thinks it’s the shiny, metal wine glass I hold... but rest assured that I do not always have it in my hand. As fabulous as that would be...

Last night was another Nomad customary upgrade and was very well received... by me, at least. Since my accident, I have utterly exhausted the “camp” in me and longed for a bed. 

This time, no danger in sharing with Claudia, so that was enough to commemorate occasion.

Our accommodation was called Heja Lodge, a quaint little game reserve lodge near the border of Namibia & Botswana, outside of Windhoek.

It was decorated with African statues, grass hut roofs and odd decoration, such as woven bowls screwed to the wall, next to a neon “BAR” sign. Although, if we’re being honest, the bar did catch my eye. 

Internet was touch and go. The usual. We are all more than accustomed to this by now.

We all dined together... except Claudia, who sat alone at a table adjacent to us. Apparently she had some legitimately crucial flight details in which to figure out, so could not take time out of her busy jet-setting lifestyle to join us. Odd that she was without her phone or computer. 


Unquestionably important.


After her meal, she disappeared, but resurfaced to say goodbye later in the evening. By the time she had worked adieu in to her schedule, everyone had already retired. Just me, Park and Yu. I can’t speak for how they felt.. but I didn’t care. I’m sure it showed.


Bye Claudia.


Good luck in life... you’ll need it.


In the morning, we met our new crew. A father daughter team from Cape Town and a young German girl. It was the German that had us worried. We didn’t want to trade one nightmare in for another.

Lisa is our new German and she’s lovely. Everyone likes her.

The kids (and me... a bit) have been inundating her with Claudia horror stories since her arrival- so she doesn’t really have any shoes to fill.

There was shopping to be done, so we hit the local mall for lunch. I thought that I would pop in to the pharmacy and pick up a few necessities like toothpaste & shampoo, as I was getting low on both. As I was desperately searching for muscle relaxant pills, I noticed that they had an entire half aisle dedicated to diarrhetic relief and constipation... 


Good to know that I have not been the only one suffering.

The other half aisle was dedicated to safe sex. Not hard to figure out what the problems are in Namibia.

Crossing the border in to Botswana was a breeze. 


Annoying.... but a breeze. 


You have to go through so many crossings & passports checks prior to the actual border for each country that you actually don’t know when you’re in or out.

We had a long day of driving but finally reached our destination. We arrived at Ghanzi in the Kalahari Desert. Starkly different to the Namib Desert, the Kalahari is no less dramatic and covers over 900 000 square kilometres. 

I was dreading the tent assembly, but was pleasantly surprised when I came down from the truck to discover a scattering of the most adorable little African huts. They were musty and nothing I would ever want to call home, but they offered refuge and an opportunity to leave the canvas tent in the truck for the night.

$10 US upgrade? I’ll take it. 


There was no convincing me. I would have laid out my credit card for any price presented in order to avoid setting up my tent in the this thick red sand.

There was no mini bar, private shower or open window wildlife views, but it did come equipped with two rickety metal green beds, four very decrepit mattresses and.. nothing else...

Lisa and I shared a hut.

I hauled a coupe plastic/foam mattresses over from the van , set up my sleeting bag and put down the mosquito net that had a very Sleeping Beuaty / Bride of Chuckie vibe to it.  Home for the night.

After I had finished setting up, Takako approached me, 


You sleep in hut?”


“Yes.”


“I thought you like camping?”


Nope. 


You had that wrong.


Takako was floored that I wasn’t a fan of camping. I assured her that she really shoudn’t be. I’m just cheap. This tour was more than half the price of accommodation.

Takako,” I asked, “Why don’t you upgrade to one of the African huts?”

No.”


She shook her head profusely


“I want fulfill my entire camping experience.


Fair enough.

She didn’t complain when we were put up in a lodge last night. I don’t recall seeing her setting up her tent in the parking lot in order to fulfill her camping experience. In fact, she made quite a few trips up to the breakfast buffet this morning.

Remember that when I write, depicting how Takako speaks, one must make allowances for a heavy Japanese accent and some very mispronounced words. Necessary consonants must be removed and additional vowels need to be added at the end of random words. 


Paint the picture...


A highlight of the day was the San people. The San people have long been associated with this harsh environment and they welcomed us in to a glimpse of their history, their culture and their lifestyle.

They took us on a bush walk. 


We watched in awe as they dug up truffles and managed to drink water from leaves using branches from various scrubs. We watched in shock as they ripped apart beetles and caterpillars and squeezed out their innards for a meal. They pulled roots from the ground to assist with headaches, toothaches, stomach aches, diarrhea, etc. They made fire from the art of rubbing sticks together and even enjoyed a homemade cigarette amongst them. They acted out traditional hunting formalities and gave us some insight in to various rituals. 

The elder of the group, Callate (meaning shut up in Spanish) doesn't know when he was born, but remembers a time before cars and tractors. He refers to himself as Ox-Tractor and is covered with tattoos signifying what an incredible hunter he once was.  Hunting is no longer permitted in the Kalahari, so I inquired as to how they get their protein. They buy it. The financial assistance that they receive through our tours and our tips help immensely.

Despite evident financial despair, everyone seemed pregnant... even a wrinkled old lady who could easily be mistaken at a seniors buffet for someone in her final years. One girl was on her 6th pregnancy and plans on having 10. 

In the evening, after the sun had gone down, we enjoyed song, dance and story-telling rituals that provided insight into their culture. Robert, the guide, explained each song & dance before they performed. A kill, a sacrifice, a birth, a death... praying for rain, rejoicing the rain... whatever. It seemed like the exact same dance to me.Takako didn’t come because she already saw the dancing in Kenya... 

Odd for Takako. 

Hope that she isn’t planning on filling Claudia’s shoes in strange.


Once in the comfort of our accommodation, whether it be tent or hut, the heavens opened and the rain started. 


Heavily.


This time though, we MORE than blessed the rains. They blessed us.

In fact it was such a torrential downpour and intimidating storm that we all felt it was a direct threat. The cracks of lightening and the deafening thunder were enough to make us jump out of our skin... and vacate our hut!

I had just got positioned and comfortable in my sleeping bag and Bride of Chuckie net... when...


Drip...


I ignored it. Random drip. Nothing to worry about.

Drip... 


Drip...


Drip...


On my face...

I sat up as fast as I possibly could considering my injuries, grabbed my flashlight and looked up to discover that my reliable & authentic roof was leaking... on me. Lisa suggested that I turn around so that my feet were where my head was.


Good idea.


Well... it would have been a good idea if my feet in the sleeping bag were resting atop a pool of water on the mattress. Not good..

The storm continued. The dripping continued.            

          Finally I had to move my bed almost directly beside Lisa’s in order to avoid the waterfall that was streaming down on my side of my $10 Botswana hut.

Other than that, I slept well.


These are the roots of rhythm... and the roots of rhythm remain.

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