• Joanna

Okavango Delta & the Pink PJs

Updated: Mar 21

“To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told - that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.” - Beryl Markham

I awoke today with the grand illusion that I could create potato pancakes from last nights left over potatoes. Without any flour to properly hold them together, I failed miserably. Instead, I managed to ‘delight’ the crowd with an eggy hashbrown mixture instead. I wouldn’t go as far as to recomend my creation to any well deserving restaurant menu, but it filled the hungry stomachs of our crew.

I exhausted my supply of honey butter in to the potatoes. Previously, I had been overly protective, keeping the jars safe in my backpack, with the anticipation of bringing them home for all to try. They proved to be too much of a temptation... and, of course, I wouldn’t shut up or stop bragging about how delicious honey butter was.

When I finally did bring them out, David, Malinga and I had almost polished off an entire jar when suddenly my beloved new product became the demise of a dirty little fly. I guess it’s true.


You attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.


I was as disgusted with the fly infested honey butter as they were with the fact that I threw it in to the garbage..

I have enough problems dealing with flies landing on me, my drinks and my food with out having to put up with their disturbing & disease ridden death in MY deliciousness. 


To the trash, dead fly!


We are here in this camp site now for 2 consecutive nights, which is anther welcoming & blessed break from the daily hassle of the tent up & down ritual.

Today I decided to toss this privileged lifestyle, to which I had become accustomed, to to the side, and I am proud to announce that I made a valiant attempt to wash my clothes. I fullly realize that in the right conditions and with the proper product, it is not difficult to wash one’s laundry. That’s not the trouble I have with it. Hassle is never something that I deal well with and scrubbing dirty clothes under a cold water facet unfortunately falls in to that category. I had purchased bio-digratable laundry sheets, which I highly doubt are made for conquering weeks of sand, sweat, stain and dirt

In fact, after exhausting my entire supply on my bag of gross, I can 100% confirm that.


I did my best. I scrubbed, I rinsed, I wrung and I hung. 

Clean?


Had someone been watching me, they would probably gone as far as to say that all I really did was get my clothes wet. 


Soaking wet.


Muggy conditions and the smell of rain nearby did nothing but convince me that they were destined to stay wet. I often veer on the side of ‘Go Big or Go Home’.... never really paying attention to the bigger picture of ‘less is more.’ 


Doing my laundry was no exception.


I stood there, taking in what I had just done, looking at every single item of clothing I had. 


Wet.

All that was was left (and dry) in my pack was 2 dresses and the pyjamas I was currently wearing.

Okavango Delta excursion tomorrow. 7am pickup.

Our instructions for the day;Wear khaki colours.Closed toed shoes.Bring your rain jacket.Lots of water.Nowhere in there did they advise on wearing a lovely dress or even pink pjs.


I need a dryer. Now.


My solution suddenly dawned on me. I turned around and looked directly at the hotel across the lawn. 


Laundry service.


Faster than fast, I ripped my wet clothes off the line, threw them all in to a garbage bag and walked it right up to hotel reception.

When I walked in, they handed me a sheet in which I had to account for each item in the bag.


3 shorts

2 t-shirts

1 towel ... etc etc...

I found myself an unoccupied corner of the lobby, dumped my wet clump out on to the floor and proceeded to count it all, as I loaded it all back in to the bag.

I coudn’t find the category of ‘underwear’ anywhere on the form, so I took the liberty of writing it in on the bottom.

When I handed it back to the girl, she looked over the form and then handed it back to me and said, “We don’t do underwear.


Whaaaaaaaaat?????”


Admirable laundry service. That was my number 1 desperado item. Back to my little corner of the lobby once again to dump all my items out again and remove each piece of undergarment. She informed me that my laundry would be done by tomorrow at 4pm. That would not help me with my Okavango Delta excursion dilemma. 


Not at all.


In a desperate attempt to NOT be wearing pyjamas on the delta safari tomorrow, I once again, rummaged through the bag and removed one pair of khaki shorts. 


Soaking wet. 


I hung my shorts and underwear back up on the line and prayed for the heat to work its magic and  ease my stress.


It rained... 


... all night...


...hard.... 


So off I ventured to the Otavango delta donning my most favourite colourful pyjamas. Everyone made comments that they looked comfortable... they were... for bed. Not so much for bush walks, boat trips and potential wildlife viewing. 

I made sure I was seated on the outside of our open tour truck so that I could literally wave my shorts in the wind, much like one would a flag. A feeble attempt to dry them as fast as possible.

Our driver, I am convinced, thought he was in a game of chicken for most of the route, clambering along the road at great speeds, veering out of the way of oncoming traffic at the last minute. For the first 30 minutes of driving, we were lucky enough to be on paved surface, but as soon as we veered off to rougher terrain, BANG!!!


We blew a tire.


The sound was piercing. Had we been shot?

We all vacated the truck and waited on the side of the road while the guides changed the tire. A group of local children came running when Ruth tempted them with the candy in her backpack.


Takako did not pick any of them up for a photo.


Bumping along a maze of remote & rugged dirt roads in to the remote, yet lush farmland that made up the area surrounding the delta. Communities of properties sanctioned off with branch fencing, grass & bamboo huts, thatch roofs, make shift shelters and canvas tents.

Cows and donkeys were everywhere. Ruth later asked why there are so many donkeys. There are more donkeys in Botswana, than people. 


... AND they eat donkeys here.

Our destination was a marshy inlet bustling with safari style all terrain vehicles, guides, tourists and long boats, called mokoros. These boats were originally carved from trees, but now they are fibreglass.

Ruth asked if that was the national tree of Botswana.


The fibre tree.


Yes.


At arrival, I ventured off in to the woods to do bushy bushy and change out of my pink pjs and in to more appropriate outer wear and somewhat drier shorts. 

They say that this is the most rewarding and enjoyable way to explore and experience the beauty and serenity of this intricate system of lily covered channels and lagoons. But it was just so quiet and peaceful that I kept dozing off.

I have a theory.


hey wake us up so early for long drives that we have all become accustomed to passing out in the truck. When they throw us for a loop and add in an early morning activity, our bodies are confused. 

Each of our mokoros had a poler, someone who stood at the end of the boat and steered us through the narrow, reed-lined channels and lagoons.

After about an hour, we landed, broke in to two groups and went off for a 2 hour nature walk. To be honest, I was experiencing two very conflicting feelings. On one hand, I was safe waking with an experienced guide who did this every day. On the other hand, I was bait.


We wandered through the grasslands of the Okavango Delta, walking amongst elephants, giraffes, baboons, impalas and zebras. Our guide explained the importance of sage to deter oder, how the termites build their palaces, how to tell feces apart and how to differentiate between tracks.

Bruce Cogburn singing “Wondering Where the Lions Are” was on repeat in my head, but that day, lions were no where to be seen... although I did ask. I was told that if we did see them, to freeze immediately and never turn & run.I repeated that advice to myself a few times, to ensure it was memorized in case of an encounter.

Each game drive and bush walk we have done, every time we have encountered a kill - whether it be fresh or nothing more than a mere skeleton, the first thing running through my head is “Human or Animal?

I am constantly consumed with the thought of survival in places like this. Like, if I was abandoned by everyone, would I survive? 

Would the heat beat me eventually? 

Would I eventually find water? 

Would a lion take me out? 

Would I be stalked?


We saw a small crocodile on the way back down the channel and we heard the grunts of the nearby herd of hippos, but did not get close enough to really appreciate their big fat greasy & dangerous bodies.  Our much anticipated lunch break was a plastic bottle of water and... two chicken buns. Literally, when I say ‘chicken bun,’ I mean it. Two nearing stale buns cut in half... with some chicken. No mayo. No butter. No salt or pepper.

Chicken... bun.

I have often bragged that anything you eat outdoors after an activity is delicious. I was wrong. Exhausted, sweaty and back at the campsite, we all longed for a late afternoon swim to cool down... only to discover that our truck was gone.


Literally gone.


A new truck had taken its place and a whole new group of people were surrounding the area that we had left in the morning.


Whaaaaaaaaaat?”


Malinga and David were back about a half hour later and sorted it all out, but apparently the campsite was double booked, so we had to share space... which none of us were used to doing thus far. Sharing with other groups? Unheard of...


PS - I hate moths.


They only come out at night and they will not leave me alone. They dive bomb my face.

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