Okavango Delta

Friday March 22, 1:11pm


Yesterday was a very special day. We left the Lando at camp and ventured off in a safari Jeep. The breeze was welcomed as we had been baking in the sun for six straight days.

We drove through tall grass, got a bit stuck in sand, and even drove through ponds of water when we had to. The terrain was bumpy to the point I couldn’t drink my water unless I wanted it all over me, and I wasn’t waisting a precious drop, since I “only” had 6 litres to last me until morning.

After two hours of bumpy roads, we were greeted by our polers. These men & women would take us in twos, with our mat and tent into a canoe-like boat for 1 to 1.5 hours until they found a campsite suitable for the night. 

Valentine from Germany hopped not-so-gracefully into the mokoro (the canoe) with the help of our poler,  Langos. We cruised through the delta slowly and carefully as to not miss any animal sightings but more importantly as to not disturb any animals, like crocodiles or hippos. 

We spotted some hippos and they spotted us and we all stood still, as of waiting for the other to move. 

We continued on to the direction of the camp. We found a few more hippos and birds on our way as we relaxed on in mokoro (canoe), taking photos as we went and just enjoying the ride. 

Meanwhile, Langos was a machine. Clearly he has done this routine dozens of times as he ran up my mat and tent to find me a good spot, and then put up my tent himself in the fraction of time that it would take me. He even offered to help me as I had picked up these annoying green needles all over one leg of my pants. I changed and he quickly cleaned my pants, which were ready long before we were due to leave for our “one hour” bush walk. 

And then....we had about four hours of nothing to do. We had the option to learn how to pole...which I would have loved to do, had it not been so stifling hot and had I brought more than 6L of water. We also had the option to swim, but we were told only for a short time because of crocodiles. Well if that isn’t a walking advertisement... I had already decided I wasn’t swimming in the delta because I was certain that it was one of the bodies of water that the travel clinic had marked off as carrying a certain type of parasite, but the crocodile warning pretty much made it a done deal.

So I changed, left the door to my tent open in hopes of a breeze, and listened to music and daydreamed. I thought about the past, I thought about what will come in the next few months, and...I thought about how last year was supposed to me “my year”...and then it crashed so hard, with such...a sad ending. 

Soon enough it was time for our one hour walk that - to be honest - I was dreading it. I don’t like random walks in general. Add in the heat, fatigue, and worrying about my water supply....I just wasn’t looking forward to it...but I’m here for a reason. So I went. And this is where things got interesting. 

We broke into groups of eight, led and flagged by a poler. The grass was very high, sometimes there were huge holes dug by ardvarks, and sometimes there were big piles of elephant poop. 

We kept quiet and watched a family of hippos. 
We kept on and saw two giraffes, and then three, and then all of a sudden there were seven or eight, and they began running in a horizontal direction, right in front of us. Then, a heard of elephants walked in front of us, again in the same direction. This time we had to be very still. 
We waited a bit until it was safe and then we came across at least ten zebras, who were also running in the same direction, but on either sides of us. We couldn’t move, because we were also trying to stay still because an elephant was very close. 

All to say that it was VERY overwhelming and extremely amazing. To be that close in nature with the wild animals, them watching us watch them....it’s incredible. 

And that’s where things went downhill. I had to put my sunglasses on even though we were in the shade, because my brain started running the show. Even in all this nature, even in all this huge, wonderful world, I’m still thinking about my ex, angry at him, frustrated for the way things ended, confused with it all, thinking that I could have done better and saved us. Feeling inadequate as a partner...and feeling like I will forever be inadequate. As we walked, the sound of our footsteps was loud enough to stifle my crying. I let my tears flow as we walked...certain that one of two of my tour buddies had seen me but wasn’t sure what to say or do, & hoping they just let me be, and continue to walk in single file. 

We returned back to the camp, me feeling defeated, even after the breathtaking wildlife show. I changed and we ate a traditional meal, including pap, meat. & veg. (Pap needs to be explained if you’ve never had it before). I had an upset stomach so I rushed off to the bush toilet (I’ll save this for another post!) and as I came back, our polers started to sing for us.

My tears came back and they came back hard. I was shocked by the beauty of the harmony of voices. I didn’t take one photo or one video, because it was...my cleansing moment. I cried because I lost my partner and best friend. I cried because I feel lost and feel like a failure. I cried because the music ignited such a feeling of gratitude and feeling of blessing that I got to be there, at that moment in time, in the middle of the Okavango Delta, where fifteen or so locals sang to my heart. I cried because I remembered what true happiness felt like...and I cried because it gave me hope of more happiness for days to come. I’ll get some video from one of my trip-mates and post a minute or two later on.

The tears didn’t last forever, because the singing quickly turned into song and dance, and even quicker turned into participation time. A few of us were invited us to take our turn chanting some mix of words that we would brutally butcher and attempt to repeat their style of dance. They needed one woman and I felt inspired to white-man-can’t-dance so I chanted and boogied and the fire in a circle as I sweat my way through. 


Despite the tears, despite the ups and downs, this was one of the best days of my life. THIS is why I came to Africa. This is stuff that I needed to shake my brain up. This trip has been HARD. But worth every moment. 

(Pictures to come)

Comments

  1. Oh how beautiful. My heart just swelled for you. I hear you grieving, I HEAR you accepting, I HEAR you appreciating, I HEAR you enjoying, I HEAR contemplating, I HEAR you loving, I HEAR your playfulness, I HEAR you loss, but most of all I HEAR Nicole. God Bless you and keep you. I love you. G XO

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