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Published: August 6th 2010
It has been quite a while since I have last posted but the internet has been sparse and we only stop in major (or small to be honest) towns for like an hour a pop and then we have to buy all our snacks and such, check our emails, and if lucky reply to a few. Anyhow weve made it to Zimbabwe.
My first humourous observation regards Zim currency. In the first half of the 2000s, Robert Mugabe, the last of Africa's “Big Men” said that he would not “be bound by traditional economic practices” and he proceeded to add an additional zero to the end of his currency about once a month for 5 years. The result was currency in the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 billion zimbabwe dollars! A loaf of bread in 2008, the last year Zim currency was used, cost 5 trillion dollars. Now the humourous part is this: people sell as souvineers on the street, Zim currency. I bought a 50 billion dollar note for 5 dollars US. The worthless Zim currency is worth more now than when it was actually used! This weekend we will go to Victoria Falls
(one of the 7 natural wonders of the world), do the walk with lions, a booze cruise, and go white water rafting on the Zambezi River. More of that will come later, but back to what we have missed.
NAMIBIA: I think I last left you when we reached Swakamund. Namibia was known as Southwest Africa and was a colony of Germany until apx 1918. At the end of the first world war and as a result of the Versailles Treaty Germany was forced to give up its colonies. South Africa ran Southwest Africa until about 1990 when Namibia declared its independence. Swakamund was about with Konditereis and Buchhandlungs (German bakeries and book stores). We went quad biking in the desert which was amazing. I thought we would sink into the sand somehow but it was packed down enough that we could cruise up and down the dunes. Sand all around. Another day we went sandboarding. Having never snowboarded before it was nice to learn to board on the sand, which is a lot slower than the snow. I wasnt very good at it though and think skiing is much more fun. Also the environmentalists wont let the sandboarding
companies put a lift there so you literally have to carry your board up a huge dune (100 meters vertically) after each run. We also used our Kalahari Ferarris to sled down the dune. Literally it is a piece of hard cardboard and that is it. You lie on it on your belly and go screaming down. A guy with a radar gun measures your speed. I managed 73 kph and Laura 65 kph screaming all the way! We also went to Etosha National park and saw tons of elephants, giraffe, zebras and a lion kill as well as many other animals.
SAN people: The San people were the original nomadic people living in Africa. They were forced into smaller and smaller and more and more inhospitable land each year after the Europeans arrived. As late as the 1920s it was legal to hunt the San people (like animals, as if they were vermin). In the 1930s shooting the San was outlawed but if you turned in a San person to the local authorities you got a cash reward during the depression years. They have almost no possessions and hide behind bushes and shoot animals with their poisoned arrows.
When moving place to place if someone could not keep up, they were left behind. If a mother left her child behind that night she sat in the smoke of the fire. Then when someone asked why are you crying, she could respond that it was just the smoke in her eyes. They didnt kill the ones they left behind because just over the next hill might be a water hole and you could always go back for the ones you left behind, but if you killed them it wouldnt be possible. The San people today number only several thousand.
*Not related to the San people but to the desert, is an interesting tidbit. One of the interesting desert animals is a certain type of spider. It makes a 10 foot tunnel under the sand, fortified by its spindles. When it hears the insect that it preys on, it comes up and eats it. You can smash the top the entrance but since it is so deep it can always find its way out.
*To attract a mate a male elephant pees on his leg. This is called musting. He also has his prehensile penis out swinging
away. Since it is prehensile it can swat flies even! I didnt know this but a prehensile penis is like an arm.. it can move in any direction. It has to be so flexible and such because it has to snake around to get to the female elephants area.
*The last 12 ton elephant was killed in South Africa in 1952. The largest ones now are just 7 tons. It would take 1000 years for elephants to get that big again.
*Three interesting breeds of animals we have seen here: Zorses, Ligers, and Tions, which are as you may have guessed breeds of Zebras-Horses and Lions-Tigers. Unfortuately these animals cannot produce offspring themselves for genetic reasons that are beyond me.
*No two zebra stripes or elephant pads are alike
*The acacia tree is fascinating. After a zebra munches on it for 15 minutes it turns sour releasing a terrible tannin so the zebra will stop munching on it. It also releases spores into the air to alert other acacia trees around it that there is a preditor in the area effectively “talking” to other trees!
*the black shouldered kite bird is the only bird that can flap in place without
*Termite hills here can be 10 feet above ground and 40 underground! They have constructed an air conditioning system that cools off the entire nest. Scientists cannot replicate it.
*Grazing is eating from the ground plants while browsing is eating from the trees.. I didnt know the difference. Some animals graze and others browse.
We visited 2 major nature parks in Bots; the Okavango Delta and Chobe Park. The Okavango is like a giant swamp or marsh. People poled (or gondaleered us if you will) around the park in home made boats. Some were synthetic now as it takes 80 years to grow one sausage tree that will produce just one boat that will last only 5 years. Also the natural boats tend to leak. Laura and I were happy in our synthetic ones. Many great sunsets here! In Chobe we saw tons of animals on a cruise and a game drive. I always thought elephants in the circus were dumb but seeing them upclose it was much different. The baby ones are very cute. I also enjoyed the hippos quite a bit. We also went to a Cheetah park where we got to play with
cute cheetahs which are huge by the way and with giraffe, all animal rescues. The giraffe stuck his head in our truck and wouldnt leave! It was great! We eventually lured him away with an apple.
Well we spend a few days at Victoria Falls where we are now, then head up to Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia... More to come later!
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