Here’s an excerpt from my journal while travelling through southern Africa in 2008.
Day 10—Well, we’re camping in Botswana tonight.
This morning we packed up and left Zimbabwe.
The Botswana border was SO not a big deal. No questions, no fees. All we had to do was get out of the 4×4 so they could spray it for foot and mouth disease and we had to step on this soiled towel before walking across the border, presumably for the same reason.
Botswana is supposed to be safer than most other African countries, although since we’re camping in a game park…safe is a relative term.
I’ve decided to think of this like camping in Canada—there are wild animals around but most likely they’ll steer clear of you so long as you put your food in a tree.
Right. Keep thinking that Robyn.
Once in Botswana we were told to buy enough water and snacks for four days in the bush.
Four DAYS in the park? Whoa, whoa, whoa.
- What are we going to be doing for FOUR DAYS in the DESERT?
- What do you mean ENOUGH water…how much am I going to need?
- How many campgrounds are there in the DESERT?
- What about my camera? I don’t have enough batteries!
This freaked me right out because I wasn’t expecting it. It made me realize how unprepared I was/am for this trip. Lame. I wonder what would’ve changed in my packing list had I known what we’d be doing…I should make a revised list for all those planning on doing a spontaneous trip that someone else, “sorts out,” for them.
After the shopping we drove around Chobe National Park. We saw TONS of animals—massive herds of buffalo and elephants. And vultures, all sorts of birds, zebra, lions (only three this time) and all those different antelope-types.
The weather was really, really hot. I bet it was over 40 Celcius because I’m quite adapted to the +35 degree weather that it has been ever since I arrived in Africa.
However, I bought a butt-load of water to deal with the sitch. Like, four litres. I figure a litre for every day? Should work. (Although, I’m not very good at math).
We just got an animal-overnight briefing.
I. Am. Terrified.
Here is why: Because if an elephant walks over your tent, you can’t do anything about it. If an orangutan decides he doesn’t like you and poops on you, too bad. Because if a lion or cheetah decides you’re food, then dude, you’re food.
Don’t ask me why, but when I learned earlier today we were camping in, “the game park,” I understood it to mean we were camping in a designated camping area IN the game park but not OF the game park.
You know? Like, a place where there are rangers and huts and fences inside the park but kind of a settlement for humans, where animals stay away from.
I was wrong.
We rolled up to a deserty place, looking just the same as all the other deserty places we’d been seeing animals in all day, and our guide announced, “OK. Here’s our campsite.”
My breath caught in my chest. Whaaaaaat? But we just saw THREE lions just over there!
Since my face is a liar I had to set everyone straight that I wasn’t going to cry.
Then I got out of the safety of the 4×4 and tried to set up my tent. Too bad I was shaking so much that it looked like I didn’t know how to set up a tent and two of the boys felt compelled to help me.
Then I grabbed my borrowed sleeping bag (since I didn’t know we were camping until two days prior, I didn’t pack a sleeping bag. Or anything camping-related actually. Or anything appropriate for camping. I mostly brought beach clothes and electronics) and threw it into the tent. This is when Liam told me he’d decided to sleep on top of the 4×4 with our guide, instead of in the tent with me, to get a better African experience.
With widened eyes and a completely dry throat I nodded that it was OK with me but on the inside I was screaming in fear. Not only are we camping in the middle of the freaking desert, but I have to sleep BY MYSELF in my tent?
Oh dear…think of Canada. Think of Canada…
We had supper around the campfire and are did a lot of star gazing. Of course the stars are different in the southern hemisphere but you can still see the Big Dipper and Orion. They’re just upside down.
Scorpio constellation was pointed out, and the Southern Cross. It was really great.
The sheer overwhelming amount of stars made me think of Genesis when Abraham was told to count the stars…can’t be done. There are too many!
As I was thinking about that a massive comet or meteor (something with a big, long tail) flew across the sky. It was really special.
This is a really unique trip. I’m glad I’m here but I am constantly battling fear.
It’s a good thing I think. This is the most thinking I’ve done in a long time. I don’t wrestle with my thoughts like I did years ago—so at least I know I’ve perhaps learned peace. I can shut down my doubts and just rest. That’s something Christo and I talked about in Johannesburg and it’s really stuck with me these past few days.
It’s probably an important conversation I should think more about actually.