Trailblazers


We entered Botswana by passing through immigration and wiping all of our shoes on a bleach mat to try to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease. We kept wondering why we had so much stuff but when I gathered our shoes together – one pair of hiking boots, one pair of tennis shoes, one sandal, and one flip flops for each of us – that added up to a full duffel bag of stuff.

So Botswana wasn’t much to see, just low trees and scrub and cows. We were driving across the Kalahari desert at this point, so I’m not sure what I expected.

We finally got to Ghanzi, which was a bank, a bureau de change and a Shoprite, a low-end grocery store. Then a few miles away we pulled into the worst accommodation on the whole trip. I called it the sand place until I knew it was called Trailblazers.

We had bare little cottages with mosquito nets and bathrooms almost as big as the sleeping area. The cottages were surrounded by sand and we could see lots of tracks of springbok and lots of other animals, so clearly there wasn’t much protection from the wildlife. So of the cottages had bathrooms which were walled in but were open to the skies. I think if our cabin was like this it might have thrown Jenni over the edge! I mean, it was just weird! Who wants to bother with a hotel room and then go outside at night to face mosquitos that can give you malaria to go to the bathroom!

We had dinner and then we had another encounter with local people. These were San people who are a disappearing tribe of hunter gatherers. The people still exist of course, but they are being forced to lose their traditional culture because the governments can’t deal with people being hunter gatherers anymore. People own land now and they don’t want people wandering around and they require kids to go to school. When kids are in school, they aren’t able to learn the ways of their people. It’s a terrible cycle. I feel this disappointment that these people can’t keep their culture, but then I see the way they are living – on Level 1 if you read Hans Rosling’s Factfulness and you want them to live a better life.

So, Gift told us that all the songs sound the same and he was right. Women were seated around a campfire, clapping and chanting, and the men danced a sort of shuffle dance while holding a tall walking stick. They asked us to dance with them and it was deceivingly strenuous. The people were dressed in skins and the songs they sang were about the animals that were important to them, such as kudu, giraffe and springbok.

We were starting to experience forgetfulness and started losing things at this point. I remember starting to feel really tired. Also, as we had little to no internet, no data plans on our phones, and no maps, we really didn’t know where we were at any given time. This led to this feeling of being taken around by parents, in this case Gift, Joseph and Almon, to wherever they said we were going.

The stars here were incredible too, now that we had clear skies again.

Our new passenger ass Sam, 29, from Australia. He joined us in Windhoek and we all thought that he and Sven would have liked each other but they never met. Sam had just finished an alcohol-soaked fortnight in Cape Town as the best man in his brother’s wedding. He was funny and personable.


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© 2020 by Leigh Haubach, The Buzz on Travel

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