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Published: February 11th 2011
My new buddy from the lodge in Gweta invited me back to the school in the morning. I was excited by the invite so of course I took him up on it. We visited the headmaster to get permission for me to greet the children and ask them some questions. The difference from the day prior is that school was in session and all the kids were in their uniforms. I visited some 5 year olds up to the 13 year olds. Some of the teachers were pleased as I spoke to the children in English and asked them about their studies. The little ones got high 5’s and were excited about my camera. The older ones needed some pushing to respond from their teachers as many of the students seemed shy. Overall, it was absolutely wonderful meeting many people in the community (did I mention I even got to meet the chief? – he is the same as a mayor…)!
My dear friend, Bhavana donated all her daughter’s clothing for me to distribute to needy children. Gweta was the perfect place. After the visit to the school, we found out what areas of the village had babies. Well, turns
out babies are absolutely everywhere. We went to an area with 5 huts facing one another. An 8 or 9 month old was sitting by itself in the shade. One mother comes out with a 2ish? year old. Another mother comes out with a 1 year old. Then a lady takes my hand and brings me into her hut. In what was about 100-150 square feet, lays 3 women. One I suppose is the grandmother, perhaps another was her sister and in the other corner is a newborn baby. The hut is simply filthy and filled with stuff piled up. I gave the clothing out to all the mothers and the 2ish year old grabbed as much as he could and ran. It was cute. The mothers seemed very happy and thankful. They offered me some corn as a thank you. It was hard to see the living conditions, but the truth is everyone looked happy. This is what they are used to and my guide assured me they were happy.
It is very common for men of Botswana to see if a woman can become pregnant before marrying her. Unfortunately, some have babies then decide not to marry
the woman anyway. The overall mentality in Botswana and Namibia is very old school. Men go out and work/hunt all day while the women care for the children and the home including all the heavy lifting. I noticed this when we were camping in the Okavango Delta. The 2 ladies were carrying all the heavy wood while the men sat and watched. I asked Locke why the men aren’t helping and he said it is just the way it is. I was a tad shocked, but it is what it is.
After leaving Gweta, we made our way to Nata. Here we stayed at the Elephant Sands Lodge. This lodge is known for their elephants. Just 2 years ago, a baby elephant fell in their pool and they had to dig up the whole pool to save the elephant. They seriously just roam around. The elephant’s footprints are everywhere! The owner is fearless and has no electric fences. Besides the elephants, there are lions, leopards, giraffe, etc… that roam freely. This freaks me out a bit, but Ben (the owner) assured me I would be fine. My room was open style so when I showered the sun was beating
in on my head. All the lodges were pretty far apart so you had complete privacy, except for the curious animals.
While relaxing before our afternoon drive, I meet Meri who was born in Brooklyn, NY. Meri is a 65 year old psychiatrist who just retired this past year (she was currently living in Washington). She sold her home and decided to travel the world for a year. She spent a lot of her time in the Middle East, including Syria. Turns out she is Jewish. She is camping most of the way which is impressive. Her spirit and her strength are super inspirational. We chit chatted as if we were old friends. Her 29 daughter is meeting her in Vietnam so I told her about my trip there and made some recommendations. Meri put some good insight into life for me. I can still live my life, have a family and still continue my travels at some point in time as long as my spirit stays alive. She was a happy lady. She even asked that I contact her friend Bunny in New York to let her know she is eating, happy and healthy!
Our game drive
was pretty good – majority of the animals were elephants. Ben showed us track marks of the warthogs, lions and others and he could guestimate how old the footprints were there for. Truth is this was the first activity where everyone drank beers. Even Ben was drinking and driving? I am not sure how I felt about this – but he was a super nice guy which some great stories. I got a little motion sickness, so he bought me 2 beers when we returned to the lodge. As burping is the best remedy for me, I certainly belched away.
Dinner, drinks, elephants by the watering hole in the dark, chit chatting… it was an awesome day from sunrise to bedtime.
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