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Published: August 4th 2010
“If you reject the food,ignore the customs,fear the religion and avoid the people,you might better stay at home”.James Michener.The addiction is growing with each day and there was once again a sense of wondering what lay ahead as we negotiated the sand and water channels back to the main road to then point vehicles south.Destination Maun.The countryside in this region was desperately dry which was in stark contrast to the highest flood levels seen in 75 years.Trees are somewhat stunted and there are many dead ones that,at some stage,succumbed to the ravages of drought.The little villages we passed had a moonscape look to them with sand and dust being the dominant features.At some point on any journey there is a need for a comfort break.This involves a leg stretch and a cup of that fine instant Nescafe Cappuchino.The girls also duck for the nearest bush to have that urgent pinkle and,in Sue’s case,a little sprinkling of the feet.The squatting and pinkling thing is still proving to be a bit troublesome but she keep declaring that the sprinkles onto her feet are getting less each time.Whilst slurping our coffee it became noticeable that the Fortuner no longer carried the front NUR 44460 number plate.A quick check and Bruce,likewise,was minus a number plate.Now this was a mystery….too much of a coincidence that we would both lose number plates on a rough road.Was there a person at Guma Island Camp who had a fetish and was collecting number plates?Is there a steady trade in number plates in Botswana given the huge number of people on the move?No answer…this will remain a mystery.Botswana’s economy primarily hinges on mining,beef production and tourism.A lot of the cattle one sees are part of the huge herds which provide the beef which is exported to the EU.Now,we all know how anal the men in suits are in Brussels,so they have decreed that no beef will be imported from any country which has a smidgeon of foot and mouth disease.Botswana has responded to this call and there are many veterinary stops all over the country.Car tyres are sprayed and you have to dip your shoes into some sludge which I guess kills the little blighters causing the problem.There is also a cursory glance into your car to ensure that you aren’t transporting a live ox or parts thereof.We hadn’t had a problem thus far and in our complacency even failed to hide,for the first,the meat we have carried since arriving in Namibia.As they say there is always one bridge too far…..Arriving at yet another veterinary stop we went through the motions and then to our surprise and indignation the “authorities” insisted that they would heed the Brussels decree and confiscate our meat.Protestation followed but to no avail.A shrug of the shoulders and time to move so with a dash of humour thrown in exhorting the F&M crew to enjoy our meat we moved to the gate.This is when things got interesting as our gatekeeper(a vociferous,mad eyed Godzilla type woman)refused to let us through.She didn’t like the comment about them eating the meat and insisted that we would not go until it had all been burnt in front of us.Trouble is that there was no fire to speak of so this could have been an excruciating 2-3 hour stop.The Botswana police officer showed little interest and said that he had no jurisdiction over the gatekeeper who,by now,was in full cry ranting and raving about these insolent people.Other cars drifted by.Stalemate!So here we had a high noon situation which required some deft diplomacy.I stepped forward to listen to our gatekeeper turning the whole situation into a quasi racist incident stating that “she wasn’t a dog” and we should not have insulted her.I guess the word “sorry” often works so I apologized to her stating that we had never intended to insult her and we were genuinely “sorry”.After this 30 minute stand off she reluctantly lifted the gate and we moved on.The temptation to yell abuse and give her the finger was irresistible but we held back…..not smart to make a bad situation worse.No doubt the F&M crew plus cops probably had one of their finest road side meals feasting on Woollies steak and wors.Maun is reportedly the fastest growing town in Africa and being month end the place was a heaving mass of people…many of whom were game reserve tour groups similar to ourselves.This was a “watering hole” for us…the girls drifted off to do some shopping(even Woollies in town apart from Checkers and Spar)and an internet place was found to upload the latest blogs.Surprisingly there are signs outside all shopping areas warning of crime so one needs to keep an eye on fully laden vehicles.After a week in the solitude of the bush,Maun soon got to us and having sorted all the park entrance fees out,we drifted into the Audi Camp just on the outskirts of the town.This was a one night stand and is used by many entering or exiting Moremi.After the magnificent camp sites we have occupied in the past few days,Audi camp proved to be something quite different.Best way of describing it is to liken it as the “Formule 1” of camp sites….at about 5pm 4x4’s in numbers drifted in and set up camp.Interesting observation on our travels to date is the large number of French people on the move(apart from Germans and a few Poms).We had a very pleasant dinner in the camp restaurant where Megan’s sister,Melody,startled guests two years ago with an impromptu pole dance the likes of which Maun has never seen since.She was offered a contract but turned it down.By 8am on the morning of 31st July,the camp site had cleared as we drove out….the camping fraternity are an eager bunch and waste little time dismantling a vast array of sleeping shelters.Our destination,Moremi,which is rated one of Africa’s finest game reserves where we will spend four nights sleeping in the wild.Should be a blast.Somewhat belated rating for Guma Lagoon Camp:3.7/5.
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