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Tuesday, 01 September 2020

Poling the Okavango, Botswana - Page 3

Written by Richard Taylor
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There were more giraffe now, with plenty of meat on their bones and striding with that unique awkward grace. There were yellow hornbills, Africa’s toucan, gliding about the acacia trees. There was a singular lack of flies and bugs among the tall grasses, which was a blessing.

Doctor waved us to stop.

“Leopard,” he whispered.

In the bush, about thirty meters away was the silhouette of a large feline. We had about three seconds to “ooh” and “ah” then it jerked its head at us and disappeared.

We circled around and headed back for lunch and Doctor flipped the mokoro back over again and unpacked the cooler, which was still there. So this boat flipping worked after all, although not completely – I flicked two ants off my sandwich.

This part of Africa hasn’t been sold properly in the West,” I told Paul and Samantha between bites. “It hasn’t been promoted properly. When we think safari, it’s still more East Africa…Kenya, Tanzania, zebra and wildebeest in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. You tell them ‘Botswana’ and they look at you funny.”

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Samantha laughed. “It’s true,” she said.

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I mentioned the drive to Maun, the animals near the highway, the bus driver’s explanations of rainy green grass and lurking lion and that elusive third reason I couldn’t recall.

Probably because the road’s warmer at night,” Paul said.

That’s it!” I bellowed. “Yes! At least it sounds right. Makes sense too.”

After lunch, we headed back. Once more, Doctor shushed us. Once more we rigged for silent running. An elephant, perhaps the same one as before, was sloshing out of the reeds and up onto solid ground.

Doctor started wrestling with a giant bulrush.

What’s going on,” I asked.

Paul said, “I mentioned to Doctor that the inside of the bulrush is edible. Would you like to try some? It tastes a little like celery.”

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Doctor had been paring down the bulrush with his knife. He handed me a piece. It was pleasant.

We banked the boats and thanked Doctor and Flora for a splendid tour and returned to the backpacker’s haven where the lodge manager contacted Rose and I said my goodbyes to Samantha and Paul. I waited at the bar. Ordered a very large, very fine burger from the kitchen. Drummed my fingers on the countertop. Stuffed the fingers in my pocket.

Crocs and such.

 

(c)Richard Taylor

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Tuesday, 01 September 2020

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