Tongue meat and AIDS posters

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
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15
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Trip End Feb 15, 2005


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Where I stayed
Nata Lodge

Flag of Botswana  ,
Friday, February 4, 2005

It was near 1130 that we crossed the border into Botswana. After an uneventful stamping of passports (yes, I am still hoping for a border crossing episode to add to the list of misadventures on this trip) we made a short petrol stop. Here we changed some US dollars into Botswana 'Pula', an even more decorative bank note than the South African Rand.
Venturing over to the snack bar, we were welcomed to this country with the sight of packaged tongue meat. Piling back into the safari minibus, our group of four aussies, a kiwi, our guide and ourselves made our way down the two-lane highway to our first camping grounds, the Nata Lodge.
With windows peeled back wide open to create wind inside the vehicle, our blowing hair and the breeze felt on our faces was a blunt contrast to the still trees growing out of the red earth. It was back to the Africa I've dreamed of for so long. Untouched by Western marketing schemes, trees grow stubbornly in the pronounced heat while clay homes appear in bush clearings.

Animal crossings in Africa are as popular as Tim Hortons in Canada. One becomes accustomed to horns blaring, not for the purpose of maliciously swearing at other vehicles in car language, but to give ample warning to goats and cows that they are close to becoming a unique print on searing hot pavement.
I was pleasantly surprised when our guide took matters into his own hands with a particularly stubborn mule. After several honks, the donkey moved over slightly to the side of the road and then in defiant ass-style, he walked cumbersomely across the pavement. Our driver veered toward the mule and with cigarette clenched between his teeth and his left hand on the wheel he smacked the donkey on his ass with a quickly retrieved sandal.
Later on during the drive, tears were shed as we passed a tractor trailer lying on its' side in the ditch, a sea of broken green Heineken beer bottles strewn about the grass. A moment of silence was had and we continued in search of our campsite.

After a long drive with lush vegetation as our backdrop, we finally reached our campgrounds. The definition of "roughing it" was imprinted onto our minds when, after setting up our tents, we made the 3 minute walk to the pool, complete with a waterfall and winding bar.
We celebrated our first night camping under the plentiful stars in Botswana with a half glass of chocolate-tasting Amarula for everyone. A scorpion decided to join us as well and once Wayne, our guide, saw it and declared it the poisonous kind, we cleared the camp site rather quickly. He had a proud death - eviscerated by a chubby stick. So began our indroduction to future animal guests.

The next morning, after leaving at my favorite hour of 0545, we drove past more patrols, a bus full of Botswana soldiers and several elephants, one a meter from the road. After hours of driving we were ready to cross the river and step onto the soil of Zambia.
The ferry does not resemble a safe mode of transit while crossing over water with a minibus and tractor trailer - so we deemed it an excellent way to enter this new country.

Having not explored any towns in Zambia it is difficult to comment on this country. It does, however, have rich coloured land with plenty of trees (the thorn trees haven't gone over so well with Kevan since he was attacked on his head by a hook-lilke thorn.) Zambia is also home to beautiful children waving to passing safari trucks and is a nation bearing an aggressive AIDS campaign. Posters dot the country like complicated street signs and anti-AIDS graffiti covers school and bar walls.
After one hour we reached one of the seven wonders of the world, the Victoria Falls.

From eight weary travellors...
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