A nice change of pace, the Okavango Delta is the 1,000th place to be listed on as a World Heritage site. This swampy inland delta doesn’t flow into any sea or ocean. Every year, flood water spreads over the 2,300-5,800 square mile area to create a unique ecosystem.
It was refreshing to be surrounded by the color green. I didn’t realize how much I’d gotten used to the brown of winter in the short week and a half I’ve been in Africa.
Wind-whipped and sun-warmed we arrived via speedboat at our hotel for the night, a little houseboat on the delta. Sophie and I shared a twin bed, a luxury since that meant we had a pillow for the night.
What color is your aura?
The evening was spent around the dinner table, where we learned more about our trip mates.
Kathy is British and has a unique talent. She sees auras. I hear that and I’m immediately skeptical. I have never been one to believe in horoscopes or zodiac signs, so auras were not even on my radar. But after a few conversations with her, I believe she sees these auras.
Until about a decade ago, Kathy had no idea that she was one of very few people who see shimmers of colors around people. It’s funny too, because she’s one of the last people who would ever believe in that sort of thing. She said she feels like an imposter, because she doesn’t self-identify with the stereotypical mindset and lifestyle.
Auras to her are like looking at the heat waves from pavement on a hot summer day. They radiate and the colors are just hints that appear around a person’s head and shoulders.
The colors change based on mood, but she notes a dominant color on most people. She said I was a very clear bright red. Sophie was a navy blue.
To avoid any bias, she doesn’t know off-hand what each color means.
She’s also training in reiki, which is a holistic approach to health. Practitioners move their hands over a person’s body, usually without touching it. Their hands are meant to transfer or remove negative energy.
Paul, a UK Air Force pilot and her boyfriend, is the last person you would expect to have any faith in reiki. However, he swears that after four months of being in serious neck pain from a bad plane crash, reiki was the only thing that worked to completely remove his pain.
And I couldn’t leave out the conversation that had everyone in stitches. This trip is 85% camping. Kathy has never been camping before this trip, so she came prepared. Extra prepared.
Of a 26kg bag, about 10kg was dedicated to her portable potty. This portable potty kit came with over 100 bags that contain this sort of “kitty litter” that when mixed with urine turns into a gel. All of it is biodegradable. Along with this kit, she brought over 300 toilet seat covers.
Canoeing through a delta
The next day’s plan was to wild camp in an island on the delta. We took mokoros, which are traditional canoes. A local named Morgan, in his wide-brimmed hat and with his big smile, directed Sophie and I to his canoe. Along the way, he pointed out a number of birds, elephants, and hippos for us to marvel at.
Bush camp was something else. No barriers separated us from any wildlife in the area. The delta is home to the big five, and when we arrived, there were four elephants just a short minute walk away. We heard the sounds of snorting hippos and growling lions throughout the night. A little crazy if you think about it. So I just didn’t?
We had a relaxed afternoon where Ben was able to give us a rushed hour-long introduction into survival training. An expert in survival for northern Europe, this course on 72-hour survival normally takes three days. He introduced us to the basic principles. More on that in a future blog post!
The evening was spent on a nature walk, where our guide showed us the various uses of the trees. He cut off chunks of a branch of one tree and called it nature’s toothbrush and toothpaste. You chew the bark until it looks almost like a mini broom. You then use that broom to scrub your teeth.
He said those who are poor and cannot afford toothpaste use this tree regularly. If kids show up to school with yellow teeth, they get caned. He said this in a joking manner, but I flashed back to my time volunteering at a rural Kenyan school, where they did exactly that.
Songs, dances, and riddles
As is natural, the tourists congregated in one area and the locals congregated in another. But after dinner, the locals stepped into our circle and broke that invisible barrier.
They sang songs and pulled us up one by one to dance with them. By the end, all of us were all clapping and laughing together.
They asked us to reciprocate and sing a song from our culture. At a complete loss, we threw out a number of song options but no one could decide. The hokey pokey. No. Wonderwall. No. Christmas carols. No. Want to know what we ended up singing? Bohemian Rhapsody.
We ended the singing and dancing with a simple hymn.
We shall never forget beautiful delta
We shall never forget beautiful Africa
We shall never forget beautiful Dragoman
After much off-key singing, we were all laughing together. Once those shenanigans were over, he challenged us to a number of riddles. Let’s see if you’re smart enough to figure them out:
- Turn a cup upside down without the gin leaving the cup.
- Ten people want rooms. You only have nine rooms available. How do you fit ten people?
Cynthia fired back with a few of her own:
- A man walks into a bar. He asks the bartender for a glass of water. The bartender pulls out a gun. The guy says thank you and walks out the door. What happened?
- A woman has two sons on the same day, same month, and same year. They are not twins. How is this possible?
- Two men go to a bar and have two identical drinks. One guy drinks his quickly and the other one drinks his slowly. The one who drinks his drink slowly dies, and the one who drinks his drink quickly does not. What happened?
These scenarios were sufficiently frustrating for the entire campsite. It was a blessing to be removed from the modern world for a couple days and surrounded by such an eclectic group in this peaceful environment.
Recharged, I’m ready to push onwards towards Namibia! Botswana has been a beautiful and welcoming country. I am so grateful for the people I’ve met along the way from Cornwell to Lesh to Morgan.
Lots of love,