There in the Old Kalahari

Solly meets his relatives

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On Safari - an epic journey of a lifetime, lodging and camping a first for some! It was September 2019, bags packed, carefully counted and recounted we set off on our adventure, destination Maun, Botswana, gateway to the Old Kalahari, part of that land in the sky.

Four Chroniya couples heading off to the African Desert, baggage in a trailer hitched up to the jeep. The first port of call was a priority stop for stocking up on fluid replenishment and janitorial supplies, ladies cautiously preparing for any eventuality at our campsite. Colloquy was quite hilarious on changing money, shopping for snacks and seating arrangements in the jeep. After several days deliberation on who occupied the top deck- seats with the vantage point- Nathan & Viji inseparable. No surprise, Viji boarded the plane at Heathrow with 3 handbags, she had an endless supply of every jungle essential, which was passed through the cab when the need arose. Interestingly we did not factor in, that the earth revolves round the sun, ladies were in the main shielded by the fine body of men who sat on either side of them. Lakdasa and his lady, applying sun lotion creating at least a 1 cm layer on the full arm, sometimes on each other. To be honest never seen such large doses of lotion and feeling in a single application.

The call for a piddle was inevitable for men of our vintage and many a stop to mark the territory was the norm. The lunch was not a ‘Gusto’ or ‘Cote’ brasserie, but in the shadow of a tree, some safarian grub. In the sun along dusty tracks, jolting and jerking. deeper and deeper into the jungle, wild animals and birds to the left and to the right. A running commentary was given by the guide, Lakdasa in the front monotonously mumbling yes, right right, mmmm to every comment. Cameras were in action as were the binoculars. Laki trained his eyes on the birds, the Kori Bustard and Hameen was polishing up his poetic skills. Nathan kept his eagle eye on the rest of us. I was quietly but subtly trying to be intellectual by recalling the collective terms for groups of animals such as, a bra of Zebras.

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A moment of silence a petrifying experience- Dusk was almost on us and still a considerable distance from our camp site. The jeep got stuck in the quicksand would not budge a centimetre further forward. Rodgers our guide and driver tried shuffling sand from the front, then from the back, deflating tyres but no movement.

Volunteer Laki jumped into the driving seat. The gals resorted to sending messages to the above, prayers, reeling off their lips. It was getting dark and there were elephants passing round the back of us. All shuffling around for torches, taking turns to help with clearing the sand shouts of push, pull, almost there, constantly ringing out in the quiet of the desert made me feel that I was back at work.

A sigh of relief when our motor finally made the move, we reached our destination in the dark. The excited screams from the ladies caused the honking of the Hippos under water which quickly silenced the group. Manoeuvring in the poorly lit campsite we managed to perform our natural duties and sort ourselves out and open the bar to drown our exhaustion. Tucked into a much-awaited dinner under open African skies with the September full moon and stars to provide us with a brilliant backdrop and light.

Watch this space, more to come ………….. the Kori Bustard


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Alistair Solomonsz

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