Friday, May 12th and Saturday, May 13th:
We pack up our little island campground in the morning and load everything back onto the mokoro boats for the return journey. The sound of hippos grunting in the distance is loud and clear, but this time we don’t see them. The return trip is a little quicker, the dewy wet blades of grass are slapping my face as we fly by them on the boat by and it’s so early that most of the lilies haven’t opened up yet. It’s chilly in the morning but I’m enjoying the relaxing boat ride… I wish it was a longer return trip.
Back in the Lando, we drive for a few hours before arriving in the sandy campsite which is our last stop in Botswana. As soon as we arrive, there’s an arranged educational hike with the traditional Khoe-San indigenous bushmen that live in the area. Their culture is dying out with most people assimilated into modern society and very few bushmen still living off the earth. They speak one of the click languages that pop culture often refers to, with the tongue clicks in the middle of words. The purpose of our walk with the bushmen is to teach us about their culture and how they use the earth and environment in their day-to-day lives. The bushmen don’t speak English but they’re so animated that we all stay captivated by their stories of herbal remedies like quinine for malaria prevention, burning plants with animal fat for headaches, and tonics to induce miscarriages (the eldest woman went on a rant at this point because one of the young girls ignored her advice, taking modern birth control instead of the traditional drink and now she has a baby!). Their educational walk was entertaining and the translator kept us laughing. After dinner they were doing a dance performance which would normally be right up my alley but I had heard that we can’t participate and somehow that was the deciding factor for me to stay behind. A small group of us that stayed back and sat around the fire at our campsite were even more entertained by Maryke’s stories about other tour groups and the craziness that can go down. Our group is a pretty tame one compared to some of the stories she told us!
Saturday morning, we head out early to head to the home of the world’s oldest deserts. Namibia is a country I have only recently read about, learning all about the deserts and history while I was in Uyole with the kids. They had these Scooby Doo magazines that would tell a mystery adventure set somewhere in the world but then the rest of the magazine was little facts and pictures all about that place. Namibia was one of my favourites- I think the kids fell asleep while I was reading it to them but I finished the whole Namibia edition since it was so fascinating! The camping trip will end for some of us in Windhoek, Namibia but the rest of the group will be joined by new campers and they’ll all continue on for another 11 days to Cape Town, with most of the time spent in Namibia. I’m actually jealous! I’m excited to get to Cape Town sooner but exploring Namibia could have been so fun as well. Sher is disappointed that we’ll miss out on sand dunes… we’ll have to come back one day! One thing that I won’t miss is the daily ritual of taking down the tents in the early morning and then setting them up again in the evening. Plus I can’t wait for wifi and a non-campsite shower! The air is also getting colder everyday… my hands go numb in the morning while washing dishes. I wonder what the weather in Cape Town will be like since it’s even further south.
We drive all day, crossing another border from Botswana to Namibia and also driving by a G Advenutres bus heading the opposite direction. We stop for a while for our guides to chat with theirs and the hilarious group on the other bus hold up a sign “Help, we’re being kidnapped!”. Their group is definitely a party group- I see a rubber chicken, a hanging happy birthday banner, a Bombastic sticker, and they look like they’re dancing on the bus! We return their message with a sign of our own, “Careful at the border, cavity searches!”.
We make it to Namibia and it’s a lot more modern than I expected. Windhoek looks like a modern, fairly large city with palm trees and rolling hills of sand and greenery dotted with white fancy houses all over the hills. Sher says it reminds him of Scottsdale, Arizona. We check into the Urban Campgound and we get keys to our tent! Too funny… they are actually permanent tents set up with little sitting areas and beds inside. This is a pretty exciting thing to us at this point. The camping trip so far has been a lot like our time in Uyole- no mirror for days, slight adjustment to a different shower and washroom situation, but so much fun with a large group and shared meals. The main difference is that I think nothing can replace the fun we had with the kids in Uyole, that was something special. And there are a lot more bugs in the campgrounds! The camping is more organized- our days have a lot more structure but also less excitement compared to our experience in Uyole. I will really miss this group as well, though. Nine of us are leaving the group tomorrow and ten new people will join. I’ve already made up nicknames for a lot of our new friends- there’s the Socialite couple from Australia, the two party-starter girls (Laura and Sophie), the down-to-earth couple from Vancouver, Sarah the group’s “Mom”, the Danish Gazelle couple, the group Leaders from NYC, the grumpy girl from Canada (I hope her trip turns around with the new members joining), etc. Tonight is our last night with all of them and we’re all going out to a casual restaurant called Joe’s that is known for exotic meats. Even though I’m still only eating seafood, I’m excited to hear about how all the different meats taste. I know Sher is adventurous and will probably try some new things so he can describe them to me.
Our night out ends up being hilarious- Flo and Maryke let loose and we all are entertained by a little glimpse into their wild sides. At one point, Flo even offers to pay Sher to stay longer! Haha I tell Sher that I have no problem staying longer but I think there’s no more room on the bus for us anymore! Maryke is interested in joining Sher and I the next time that we return to Uyole and she’s also contemplating climbing Kilimanjaro… maybe next fall if we can make it work! I’ve fallen so in love with many of the places we’ve been to… I really hope to return one day. But at least we’ve made so many memories and I’ve grown closer to Sher as well. Africa was the perfect choice for a couple like us to go for our honeymoon!