Friday, April 06, 2012

Central Kalahari, we're still a coming ...

Even though we got to bed really late, we actually had a very good nights sleep.  The campsite is in this bowl of mountains which we couldn't see last night but very picturesque.  The taps at the campsite weren't working very well, one would open the tap and about half a litre of water would come out and then, nothing.  This does not make for a good shower.  We saw the camp hand come and put more wood under the donkey boiler so we thought that it had been sorted out but this didn't prove to be the case so we could see the hot water we just couldn't make it rain on us.  Spoke to the camp hand who disappeared into some bushes above the camp and then voila, hot and cold water and lots of it.  We had a great shower under the blue sky and the hot water on ones' skin with the chill of the morning was amazing.

We had a lazy breakfast and by 10:30, after graeme had re-packed his car, we were off.  The farmer had told us about a shortcut going via turfspruit which cut an hour off the journey which we were very pleased about.  The trip to the border was uneventful other than caron getting annoyed that she couldn't identify a bird which we saw several times.

The border was where the day really started in earnest.  The South African side was very efficient, we waited for about 5 minutes in the queue and then we were through, the Botswana side was a whole different kettle of fish.  The first indication of what was to come was that we had to avoid a truck reversing back over the south african border because there wasn't enough space in the parking lot on the Botswana side for it to park.  Then we had to drive half on, half off the pavement in order to get around someone that was blocking the road in order to get to parking bays on the other side of him. Some people just clearly have no clue.  The immigration was quite efficient but then the fun started, we needed to do customs and pay for the road tax.  The queue was just a solid phalanx of people and we could count the progress in tiles on the floor per hour.  Standing in the queue there were constantly people coming and walking past and going backwards and nobody really knows what is going on.  One moment one is told that no forms are required, then they are required by a different person.  All very frustrating, fortunately it wasn't very hot.  Caron went to the commercial counter which was in a different building but they wouldn't help us, graeme tried the same thing and they would help us.  It turned out that the shift had changed and the women whose shift had just ended was just plain unhelpful, her replacement was the complete opposite.  So while caron and gill waited in the long queue, graeme and I tried our luck in the commercial queue.  We were third from the front when caron appeared to inform us that they had split the long queue and, as luck would have it, they were now third in the queue.  Dilemma, leave our place and go there or stick it out here?  We decided to stick it out and this proved to be a good decision because by the time we had finally paid, caron and gill were still third in the queue.  The last step was to get a customs stamp, no queue which was good and it turned out that we didn't require one.  Joy! it only took us two hours, there were people that had been trying to get through since 09:30 in the morning which would have been just short of 6 hours.  Obviously nobody is happy that it took so long but, all in all, people were taking it in their stride.  Caron had made us lunch which we ate while in the queue, not the most scenic of lunch spots and I went to throw the remains away but there were several dozen bees hovering around the rubbish bin so I chickened out and didn't throw it away given my recent experience with bees.

We were stopped at the exit of the border post and graeme thought that the game was up when they made him open up his boot and asked him about meat, he replied that it was vacuum packed and because he was being a bit slow about opening up, they just let him go.  The border guard for us was on her cell phone and just waved us through.

The trip through to khama rhino reserve was uneventful and the road was pretty good although there were a couple of places where the road has subsided a little bit and it gets a bit nerve wracking with the car being more top heavy than normal.  It's very wierd, we can be travelling at 100km/hr and it feels absolutely fine and then the road changes subtly and suddenly a speed of 60km/hr would be more appropriate.  Is some cases they have marked this by changing the speed limit but at other times it catches you unawares and I can see how this could flip a vehicle very easily.

Aside from the subsidence, the dogs, donkeys and cows are a menace.  Evolution has yet to take hold of this and kill of those that don't look left and right before crossing the road.  One really has to be very careful and swerving is not an option with the car so heavily laden, that would just be a recipe for disaster.  In spite of this, instincts take over and when a dog wandered into the road caron swerved around it and threw out an arm to prevent me from being thrown out of my chair.  So the mantra is brake, don't swerve and if you see something you need to call it so we barrelled down the road to sounds of bon jovi and "Dog at 11:00!" or carlos santana and "Cow at 15:00!".  Things get really tricky were animals are trying to commit co-ordinated suicide and you need to keep track of multiple targets at the same time.

The last menace on the road is the drivers themselves, not that this is different to anywhere else but graeme and gill had a close shave.  There was some moron in a black nissan (I think) that was overtaking behind another car that was overtaking and when the first car pulled in there was suddenly a large toyota on a collision course.  All we saw was gills brake lights as she pulled over as far to the left and the puff of smoke from the tires of the nissan as he braked and swerved back into his lane.

The khama rhine reserve was a great campsite, nice hot showers and each campsite is tucked away on it's own.  For supper we had battered fish and I was very happy to find that the freezer is really working very well.  The fish was frozen like a rock which proved to make it difficult try to batter it in a bowl into which it wouldn't fit.  Along with the battered fish which we fried, we had potato, onion, cheese bake in tin foil parcels on the fire which could have been done a little longer but was pretty good nonetheless.

By the time supper and washing up was finished we were all pretty knackered so we didn't spend much time staring deeply into the flames.  The firewood that one purchases here is awesome, they make the most amazing bed of coals.
 How is that for a night sky to go to sleep under?

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