This trip to Africa was busy, lazy, long, short, tiring and relaxing. It will take me a bit to convey all I can in blog posts that you might actually want to read. So I will be breaking it up in to several and hopefully you stay interested.
Just in case you were wondering, Africa is a hell of a long way away, and the Air Bus A 380 is a hell of a big airplane! I felt like one of those small fish that seeks safety in the mouth of the parent fish, then is spit out somewhere else. Disorienting to say the least! Four flights and two days of travel later I arrived in Manu Botswana, and was met by Jon and Nicole the trip leaders. There I also met Robin, Kyra and her sons who would be on the trip too. We spent a night in Maun, full of strange night sounds. Noises of Bush Babies, Scops Owls, and dog sized Fruit Bats. Then we loaded on yet another plane Kalahari Desert.
The Kalahari is huge 350,000 square miles, as big as Montana Wyoming and Nevada put together! It is also very very flat. I think I almost saw a hill, but then I realized it was just gopher mound.
The desert is really more of a semi arid Savannah. I was surprised at how much grass there real was. The soil very fine sand. It is the sand than makes great trackers and the bushmen are superb. Sandy soil means it is possible and practical to trail game over long distances. The longer one tracks the better one gets. After 20,000 years of living in the Kalahari the skill has truly been refined The bushman can not only tell what animal made the track, but what sex, what the track maker was doing at the time, head up head down, and whether the animal was nervous or relaxed at the time. Hopefully I will be picking up some of this wisdom.
We flew in a bush plane and arrived at Grasslands Lodge. The lodge was very nice. Too nice for me really. It was tough to be sleeping indoors… Well till the first lions started roaring very near by.. Then inside seemed like a good Idea. We all settled in then went out to spend sometime with the Bushmen.
The bushmen of the Kalahari are one of the last in the line of hunter gatherer cultures world wide. Like so many indigenous people, as modern life creeps in traditional knowledge and values get lost. The bushman are somewhat lucky in the fact that the Kalahari is so vast it has taken time for modern world come there way.
Even so, times are changing. The Naro Bushmen of this area, being adaptable and resourceful people, (you have to be when you might go months with out a real drink of water.) Watched the changing times, the cattle posts, then the tourists come.
The bushmen in cooperation with the owners of Grasslands Lodge, Thought of a new plan. How about teaching tourists the bushmen’s traditional skills?. So a partnership was formed. The bushmen get the benefits of income and maintaining their culture, while visitors get to participate in a life style that is all but gone in most of the world.
Our first encounter with the Naro, They came out of the desert from the north, wearing skins, with babies slung across backs in simple yet affective back packs.
The Naro language is very complex, with several different clicking sounds. Fortunately we had Franz a Botswanan whose as a childhood was spent with the Naro.
Xigao (pronounced Ka-Kao) a five foot two Naro man met us with a double thumbs-up and a cle-eioo! greeting. The bushmen proceeded to show us several traditional games. Then Robin and I joined in, somewhat clumsy at first but then getting better.The bushman thought were great fun with our awkward movements.
After a dance, acting out a wildebeest hunt. We made our plans to meet with the bushmen the following day. We finished up the evening sitting watching the waterhole As heards of Wildebeest and Kudu came down to drink. It was a great way to end all that traveling. I finally felt like I had truly arrived.
Link To Grasslands Lodge: