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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

The Pans

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

We got stopped at a check stop today. To be fair though, Malinga had warned us that this might happen.

Hand and foot disease checkpoint.

I can’t make this up.

We had been told that while in Botswana, to always have an extra pair of shoes handy for frequent checkpoints. This confused Takako to the extreme and the conversation somehow morphed in to “why doesn’t the government care about the people?” 

It was then that we realized no matter what was said, she was not going to understand and we all managed to shut the discussion down.

At the checkpoint, we were instructed to vacate the bus and walk on top of what appeared to be a wet mat and then dip our other pair of shoes in to a salty soda beside it. After this complicated & intricate process, we were led across a cattle guard to wait for David to pick us up in the truck.

I couldn’t quite grasp the strategy of this procedure, but we all followed suit and performed without question or complaint.

left Maun behind us and made our way to Nata. We passed through the Moremi National Park, but were not permitted to stop as then they consider us a game drive and the truck can be fined. David slowed right down for the numerous elephants and giraffes that we saw along the road.

Wildlife on the side of the road is the one thing that really brings us all promptly to attention. 

David or Malinga will announce “elephant” or “giraffe” on the loud speaker, and all of us would jump in to action.

I don’t know what it is about ‘Keith the truck/van/bus’... but he seems to work as a sedative. Not once in almost three weeks have we all sat in the bus for our long distance drives and ‘shot the shit’ or ‘really got to know each other better.’ 

We pass out.

Don’t get me wrong- we have all become like family since Christmas Eve... but in the truck, we conked.

All of us. Whether it’s a half an hour drive or 5 hours.

As we approached Nata, I noticed an enormous sign saying “Keep Nata Clean” that was absolutely surrounded by litter. I was surprised, as I have found Botswana much cleaner than Namibia. There were moments driving in Namibia that we were all positively shocked by the garbage on the road. 

Broken glass, plastic bags & plastic bottles, styrofoam, blown tires... etc.

We had the afternoon to relax at our new campsite , as our activity started at 4:30 on the dot. When I say “on the dot,” I mean it, as even Malinga slept in and got in a bit of trouble. 

This campsite was like a maze and I don’t think that any of us went the same way twice. It could take you 30 minutes to get to reception or it could take you.

Reception is always an important place to get to, as it’s usually the only place that offers wifi... if it works.

Working wifi is rare in Africa. There is always a valid excuse for why it’s down... but excuses don’t help.

Our activity for the day was a game drive through the Nata Sanctuary and to the Makgadigadi Pans. The Makgadigadi Pans is situated in the middle of north-eastern Botswana and is one of the largest salt flats in the world. 

We got lucky with our guide, he was very entertaining and full of one liners.

At one point, he made a comment that it was our responsibility to roll up the windows if it rained. A German women in the front of the open safari 4WD was desperately looking for the handle in which to roll the non-existent window.We saw thousands of flamingos & pelicans... it was a bird lovers paradise.

We stopped to watch the sunset at the Pans, but unfortunately it wasn’t extraordinary enough to warrant mention. We were all given a complimentary beer and we ran around the endless horizon amusing ourselves with interesting photo shoots.

My injury is beginning to heal.

I still suffer when I trip... or if we hit a big bump in the road. Basically whenever I am rattled, I can feel it in my left chest.

I have continually had problems with my right arm. In and out of chiro, physio and massage... the chronic aching has almost become the standard.

When I was rolled over by the quad, it was as if my body could only handle one injury at a time. My right arm overcompensated and stepped up to the plate to help me out.  Once my left arm started healing, my right arm systematically fell apart again.It’s all very baffling and difficult to comprehend, but the struggle is real...

In a nutshell I think i have cracked (or bruised or pulled) something, somewhere in my chest region. 

Lucky me.

Life in our Nomad truck is coming to an end and it’s bittersweet. I think that I will be biding adieu to a life of tenting.


I KNOW I will be biding adieu to a life of tenting.

It’s over.

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