Tag Archives: okavango river
May 9, 2012

Lost in Botswana, part 3

This might not make much sense if you haven’t already read parts 1 and 2.  Well… part 2, at least.

It occurred to me at the time – I actually had the thought – that the situation we were in reminded me of one of those crazy African travel blog entries I’d read online.  Dropped off in the middle of nowhere, not really knowing where we were, where we were going, or how we were going to get there.  I had the sense that we were in the middle of a great story, but at the time all I wanted to know was how it was going to end.

A large man in a military uniform was the last person to step off the bus.  Because he stopped to purchase something from the roadside stand, he was soon the only other passenger still around.  As he passed by us on the way down the road, Oksana asked if he knew where the river was.

He gestured across the countryside, “I’m not sure,” he said. “But I think it’s three or four kilometers that way.”  His accent was thick, but perfectly understandable.

Both Oksana and I looked the way he indicated.  It looked no different than any other direction.

“Do you… um,” I began. “Do you know how we can get there?”

“I would wave at the first car you see,” he replied.  Oksana and I looked up and down the dirt road.  There were no cars.

May 2, 2012

Waiting in Maun, part 2

This is a continuation of the story told in the previous blog entry: Learning to use the bus rank in Botswana.

We spent a week in Maun, passing most of our time in a chalet at the Okavango River Lodge.  The lodge itself was nothing special, but it suited us just fine.  This far from the actual river, we expected the delta to be mostly dried up, but Maun was seeing the highest water levels in 15 years.  Our chalet was a two-room cement bunker set back in the landscaped grounds.  It was quiet, but not so far from the open-air bar and restaurant on the water’s edge that we couldn’t hear the more social travelers watching the hippos grazing at sunset.

Our room was a concrete box with a curtain hanging over a doorway into a small bathroom.  I set up my laptop on a narrow desk and claimed the only chair in the room.  Oksana spent a lot of time reading in bed, underneath the mosquito net.  After dark I joined her there.  That close to the river, the mosquitoes began to swarm just after sunset.  We learned to shake out our clothing and shoes in the morning, too.  There was a gap under the door that let in all manner of little crawly things.

We didn’t see much of the delta while in Maun because we were caught between jobs.  I spent most of the week diligently editing a video of our four-day safari with African Big 5 Safaris.  They had treated us to a fantastic time and I was set on giving them the best promotional video I could manage.  In the meantime, Oksana was coordinating our next assignment.  There was a tour operator up near the Okavango Panhandle that had expressed an interest in taking us out on their riverboat in exchange for some professional photos of their renovations.

Problem was, we didn’t have internet access.  There was a laptop at the bar we could use to check our email, but at $6 per hour, it was actually cheaper for both of us to drive into town and get online at an internet café.  We fell into a routine where we’d catch a combi to the city center every other day, buy some donuts for breakfast and check our email at a place called “Tech Times.” We’d load up on groceries before heading back out to the River Lodge – it was cheaper to eat PBJs and soup than to buy all our meals from the restaurant.

Eventually, I finished the safari video and, because it was impossible to upload it to Youtube with Botswana’s poor internet infrastructure, we planned one more trip into town to mail a DVD back to our friends in South Africa.  Oksana checked her email and discovered that our riverboat contact had just arrived in Maun the day before!  We’d already made plans to ride out on a bus the following day, but she was offering us a ride instead.

We were kicking ourselves for not checking our email the day before and for not going to the effort to get a cell phone while we were in Botswana.  If we’d done either, getting in touch with them would have been easy.  As it was, all we could do was reply to her email and hope they got in touch with us through the Okavango River Lodge.  Just in case, I printed off all the contact information and directions to the riverboat from their website.