South African Rusks and Botswanan Bugs

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Day 59: Okavanga Delta-Gweta, Botswana (5 November 2009)

We’re leaving the delta today! We woke up under the African night sky at around 5am to start to pack all of our smelly ‘deltafied’ clothing away and to be able to have some breakfast before we had to break down camp. Now, if I haven’t told you about these before, get ready for some yummy goodness. We had South African rusks. For anyone who has visited this great country before you have probably had the privilege, but if you haven’t think of Italian biscotti but better! We ate the kind from the OUMA company and they were buttermilk flavor. You dip them in your tea or coffee, wait for the liquid to swirl through them to make them soggy and chomp…they are delicious! South Africans eat them in many flavors but so far I have to say I am partial to the buttermilk.

We broke down our tents and said goodbye to our tent spot. In front of us one of the polers, who I nicknamed ‘machete-man’ had laid his machete down (he brought it I’m sure for chopping fire wood but I liked to think it was for protecting us against the wild) and he let me pick it up and take a photo (also not a thing to tell your mother when you do it) which was awesome! We said goodbye to our bush toilet (hoping not to have that experience again soon) and hopped in our mokorros for the ride back to the station leaving only our memories and hippo experience behind. All of our belongings including all of the garbage that was created in our three day journey rode back with us on our mokorros. We got to the station, tipped and thanked our polers, got into the 4x4s again and eventually arrived back at our old hotel in Maun where we met Karel and the coach at the ablution box in the back of the hotel and were finally given the privilege of a shower! Well, it appeared that the boys were using all of the water as the girls only got a trickle out of the shower heads, but a welcome trickle it was and the top layer of dirt was able to come off and after getting dressed in clean clothes with the smell of the delta behind us, we set out on our way to lunch at Nandos!

Nandos, for those of you who have never had the pleasure, is home of the Portugese chicken (and good veggie burgers) and specializes in peri-peri sauce. We ate our food, including chips with peri-peri salt on them and enjoyed every minute of the experience! After lunch we set out on our way to Gweta, Botswana, where we were to stay at the Gweta Lodge for the evening. We arrived at our thatched roof huts complete with mossie nets and an outdoor toilet, sink and shower (that would be the only bathroom facilities-don’t think there were also ones inside our hut) and very little light. The grounds of the resort were beautiful and the staff incredibly helpful and cheerful. We relaxed poolside, used the internet to update some fun face book status, and chatted with a guy at the bar. Ready for this one, he was a British PHD researcher who had been in Botswana for the last five years researching the habits of the brown hyena which is apparently very different than the spotted hyena that you may think of from The Lion King. The brown hyena, he said, is the third largest carnivore in Africa and it is endangered. He and others worked to track them by sedating them and tagging them and then releasing them back into the wild so they could follow their patterns and perhaps figure out a way to make life a little safer for them on their own land. He had tons of photos on his laptop that he showed us and he was staying at the lodge as he had many times before because his truck broke down and it would take a few days to replace the necessary parts.

After our chat with the hyena guy we went to have dinner which was beautifully set up outside. We would have eaten there as well but there were millions of little bugs the size of orzo pasta that were flying and landing everywhere. They attached themselves to drinks, were on the salad and even on the butter on the table. So, thankfully, the staff allowed us to move inside and we ate a beautiful buffet dinner inside sans bugs. But wait…there’s more! When we went back to our room there were bugs galore! No wonder the mossie nets were provided! You see, the top of the thatched roof hut didn’t reach the tops of the walls so there was a gap in the middle which let in all of the bugs. This also meant that there was no air conditioning; only a small fan in the center of the room. We couldn’t use our bathroom facilities easily as there was an outside light on and all of those same little bugs from dinner were all over the sink, toilet and shower by our room. It was so much that I went back to the bar to ask Paul if there were any inside rooms available as the room was flooded with bugs and creepy crawly things including a big, giant, green grasshopper. There were no other rooms available unfortunately so one of the staff members came and sprayed a strong bug spray in the room but couldn’t give us a coil to keep them away all night as it would give off a bad scent and bother my asthma. So, we hoped the grasshoppers and their friends would find their way outside and the flying bugs would go to sleep. I got under my mossie net and Mathew tucked me in and as I looked up there was a ginormous spider in the center so that was it for that one. We tucked ourselves in under one mossie net and hoped for the best as I slept part of the night with my torch on checking for other bugs and surprisingly after a two night adventure in the bush, this was the worst night’s sleep I had on the whole journey so far.

Tomorrow: Chobe National Park!

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