a whole different world
I published yesterday's blog too early - before the cocktail hour. Since ours is a large group, taking up almost all of the lodge, they held a bon voyage party for us and surprised us with a short show of local song and dance. I love African music and was overwhelmed to be in the same room with 20+ young people sharing the culture of their tribes. There were two or three of us with tears welling up. Gratitude? Happiness? Both.
Leaving was hard today because we'd all fallen in love with the place. Since we had no choice, we all piled into a couple of vans and we're transported to a tiny little airport to board two small prop planes. I had been told that the view of the Okavango Delta from the air is spectacular and that I should try to get a window seat. I kept that info under my hat as I maneuvered my way to the front of the line waiting to board the plane. A very young man introduced himself as the pilot of the first plane going out and asked for six passengers to go with him. I walked on up and counted myself in. (I must confess, although he was really young, he was not hard on the eye.) Five others also stepped up, and while they trailed behind, I chatted with Doogie Howser as we walked to the plane. On a whim, I asked if I could ride up front with him. Unbelievably, he said yes - so I did! It was the most amazing experience. Here I am in the co-pilot seat, surrounded by gauges, and switches, and windows! Captain Doogie showed me how to lock myself in to a five strap seat belt and warned me not to touch anything. I think a few of the ladies were a little concerned about their fledgling co-pilot, but I assured them that I also wanted to get there in one piece. Anyway, it was wonderful. I can cross that off my list and I never knew it was on the list!
Meanwhile, back at the safari, when we arrived, (safely, thank you very much) we were in the middle of nowhere, on a landing strip with three non-jeeps waiting for us to whisk us off to our new home. This camp is eco-friendly (read "charming, but with few conveniences") It is located in what looks like bayou country and sits on a large reedy lake. Each room is its own canvas walled building. The rooms are big, with a full bathroom and they all face the lake. Meals are served in large open air common rooms by the lake.
Six of us went on a canoe ride around one of the neighboring swamps. The canoes held two ladies and a pole man (like a gondolier). It was kind of pretty, certainly peaceful, but the whole thing was a bit cheesy in my opinion - like they are stretching to find enough for us to do. I think I am the only one who feels this way, though. When the sun started going down we left the lake and on the way back to camp we encountered the rest of the ladies who were ordering cocktails from four staff members who were setting up a full bar out in the middle of the Botswana grassland with not a sign of civilization around, but they had all the mixers, all the liquor, ice and munchies. Oh, and bug spray. Gotta have it. This wonderful outdoor bar definitely improved my attitude.
After a couple of g&t's they took us home, served more drinks and then served us filet mignon under the stars. When it was time to retire, we had to be walked to our rooms because all of the wildlife roams free around here. Baboons and vervet monkeys play around the rooms all the time and the elephants walk through frequently. Consequently, if we want to leave the room before the sun comes up, we need an escort. There are no phones, so you're stuck in your room. Oh well, there are worse things than excellent food, plenty of wine, and exotic surroundings.