Malawian Rice Vendor

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Where are we going today?

Maun is a strange place. Located in the center north of Botswana. The town is smack dab in the middle of the Kalahari desert.We stopped at a place called Audi camp, a nice oasis swathed in African colors. The area itself is very interesting because of the combination of the gray desert sand interspersed with tropical shrubbery sprouting up from the parched soil. Huge herds of goats seem to roam the streets unattended munching on the dessert scrub. Wild donkeys are seen also throughout the entire region. We have no idea who these gray animals belong to as they wander about along the side of the road. Its as if they have free reign of the dusty town. Our initial plan was to go on a mokoro ride (a dug out canoe) through the Okavango Delta but after talking to a number of people at Audi camp, none of them seemed super enthusiastic about the trip so we decided to fore go a journey. Not one person was able to see ANY wildlife since the delta was flooded more so than in over 30 years. People said that for the money it just was not worth the effort. Our thinking then was that if we could go North from Maun towards the Caprivi Strip along the Okavango Delta we might have better luck. After a lot of research, both on the web and asking locals and tourists alike, it seemed doable, though not easy. Unfortunately the deciding factor was that a bridge only 30 kms outside of Maun was washed out. Making the journey incredibly long if not impossible. As luck would have it we met a Namibian who informed us that various Angolan rebels were known to be hiding up in the hills. Erika was picturing us trying to hitch rides with our huge packs and suddenly being picked up by a truck load of Angolan rebels. It was then we decided maybe heading west to Windhoek would be the prudent option. Our luck was with us because that same morning we made that fateful decision a Namibian pastor of German descent living in South Africa happened to be leaving for Windhoek that very morning. The night before we had made plans to catch a ride into town with 3 Spaniards we had met to give us a ride to the bus station. So we were once again caught in a good situation by being flexible. Robert, a Lutheran pastor was able to fit us and our mobile homes/backpacks into his little VW Golf. We were off before 8am. I wish I could say that the drive through the Kalahari was scenic but I would be lying. We headed Southwest through the gray/beige sands with scrub brush as far as the eye could see. Robert, our driver had the peddle to the metal averaging about a 160 km/hour (100 mph). We made one pit stop in a town called Ganzi, a secluded barren Botswanan outpost with only a few shops, government offices and a petrol station. We continued through the Kalahari passing the few small roadside villages toward the Namibian frontier. The border post was literally in the middle of nowhere. Immigration was a breeze at both sides. We made even better time in Namibia as Robert kept up the speed as the mid-day sun beat down up on us. We stopped at the only town called Gobabis for lunch, an interesting one road town. Ladies dressed in ornate, Victorian era dresses belonging to the Herero tribe wandering the streets. Namibia is an old German colony so most streets, shops and restaurants have German names. Lunch was typical German fare, Bratwurst, meat balls, and other gray meats along with potato salad a great change from the rice and nshima we've had over the past several months. We continued full speed ahead toward Windhoek. The flat, barren landscape finally gave way to some rolling hills, some 150 km East of the capital. Robert was able to get us into Windhoek around 5pm, he was kind enough to drop us off in the city center where we caught a taxi to Chameleon Backpackers. The 9 hour journey was finally finished. Thanks to Erika, as we were both lucky to catch a lift, otherwise it might have taken us days if not weeks to make it through the Kalahari via public transport or hitching...

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