A Dream-Like Delta
Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
101Trip End Ongoing
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Eventually we arrived safe and sound at a shored lined with makuros. These are traditional African canoes. Originally, they were all made from very large trees. The trunks of the trees were hollowed out and then shaped into a canoe. Let us tell you, that they lack in size, they make up for in instability! Each makuro had a poler, a young African man who stands at the back of the boat with a long pole used for pushing the makuro along, steering and keeping us safe. Yes, we realize that we just described a young African man with a long pole - grow up! Immediately the motorboat full of supplies was emptied into the many makuros. The tents were used as backrests for us and sleeping mats became bum cusions. There were two of us for each makuro and we must say that stepping into the hollowed out tree trunk and sitting crouched up, knees high, was difficult enough without trying to balance precariously with an overnight bag.
The ride through the water in the makuros was incredible
Occassionally, the reeds would open up completely and we would find ourselves floating through a huge and stunning pool of lily-pads. It was amazing that we could go from nothing but blue sky above the talls reeds, to suddenly gazing across an enormous, flat water flower-bed. The lilies were beautiful. Most were a stark white flower with bright, bright yellow bursting from the center and stretching outwards as if it wanted to touch the water as well. Others were shades of pink or purple, some fully opened and others were tight maroon buds still waiting to wake up. Trevor says it was like a vast polka dot display on a fat ladies dress, dots as far as you can see. (Ain't that a pretty picture?).
Our makuros continued on throught the water creating an image of pathways in the reeds. Soon other polers all pulled up along side each other and we stopped infront of another reedless pool. Two eyes, four eyes, six eyes, eight! Hippos ahead! We were in the Okavango Delta, in a makuro on the water, staring at a family of hippos! This was the part of the safari we were most nervous about, because hippos are known to be very dangerous. The reason we were keeping to the reeds was because hippos like deep clear water, and crocodiles get twisted up in the reeds - so we were apparently quite safe. Our group was still quite nervous because we had read in a local paper that an American tourist died three weeks earlier after falling out of his makuro to an awaiting crocodile. Our guide, Bernard, didn't believe us when we told him so he asked the polers and they confirmed it and explained that the group was crossing a pool area and the American doctor's makuro got bumped and flipped by a hippo and then a crocodile got ahold of him. They didn't recover his body. There was nothing left to recover.
Back to the reeds!
We turned around and floated our way back to our island to set up camp. The rest of the day was basically free time until supper, so as a group, we went for a walk to explore our island
To pass time at camp, the group of us played some games as we waited for a guided walk before supper. Two of the polers from earlier led us around the island sharing with us all of their knowledge about the trees and wildlife we saw. Lester, the head guide, told us the long round hanging 'somethings' were sausages in the Sausage Tree. If one of these hard sausages fell on your head, you would be knocked out cold - or could even die. Death by sausage! How emabarrassing!
After learning about wild basil and cream of tartar etc. we saw three warthogs in the distance. They are so shy though, that as soon as they see you they are gone! We were all still hoping for an elephant sighting but the best Lester could do for us was stopping at a pile of poo the size of a deep freeze, each pellet the size of a ten-pin bowling ball
The large plastic hollow sounding trees were called Bon-Bin trees. Lester took the fruit from this tree which looked like a pear in kiwis clothing. It was very hard and had to be cracked open almost like a huge nut. Inside were chunks of yellowish white rather powdery and dry pieces that were somehow attached to the fruit by stringy fluff. Lester offered it to us to taste. No one did until he tried it himself. He handed a dry powdery chunk to those of us who wanted to have a try. These pieces were lighter than styrophome and it was strange putting them in your mouth. We were told to just suck on them like candy and it ended up they were really good! A sweet/sour kind of taste with a small red, oval pit in the middle. It was only after eating a few graciously taken from Lester's hand that I had a horrible flashback to Lester ripping apart the ele-turd. Way to build up that immune system right!
We headed back to camp once again and prepared to go out in the makuros one more time to watch the sun set over the water, reeds and lily pads. A sunset like this is hard to describe, and even harder to forget
We still had a great night ahead of us as all of our polers camped with us that evening. Around a warm, crackling campfire, they sang us three traditional songs while one man acted them out while dressed up as first a hunter and then a pregnant woman searching for a husband. He was so funny that even their singing was mixed with chuckles. In return, we sang them "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", complete with high pitched squealing.
The evening soon turned into a Stupid Human Trick Showdown. The polers challenged us to try to pick up a cup on the ground from a few feet away by reaching through our legs from behind and grabbing the cup without our knees touching the ground. Trevor made it to the final, but lost out to one of the polers in the end.
More tricks were done involving flexibility, Trevor jumping over his own leg, and me fitting my head through clasped, twisted and inverted wrists. What a fun night! It is amazing how we can all still communicate even with the language barrier.
Hugs and Love,
Dana and Trevor