The Kalahari San ……..

A few quiet days from me as Mark and I have been slogging along on the less scenic tar roads of South Africa as we make our way from Lesotho, which we adored, across the flat plains to the mighty desert on the trans Kalahari highway. The problem with this type of “desert” is it has a lot of small bushes and it is dead flat, therefore you can only see about 20m on each side of the road, for a thousand km or so….hence unless the animals jump out at you from the side of the road you see pretty much nothing.
However it was clear from the many tracks that there were a lot of animals, so we turned off to a “bushmans” campsite to see if we could do better. Getting there was 60km of rutted sand track, a new experience for Mark, at first he did not quite get my guidance to be careful not to get the wheels sideways or the car would suddenly jump out of the ruts into the bush, when it did, he paid a bit more attention, slowed down and got quite good at keeping the truck on the track….
It was good to get off the road and on to the sandy tracks, felt more like the adventure we had come Africa to experience, and two days of flat out in an old LandRover is enough for any human. This sense of adventure continued as our hosts were able to organise a culture walk with the local San people in the early evening.
This again gave me the strong feeling of a disappearing world, and for the individuals probably that is of course reasonable, but some of these people still live in the bush off the land in the same way that generations have done before. We learned the healing properties of many plants, tracked animals, dug and ate succulent roots and tubers, were shown how to keep water in a buried Ostrich egg fresh for weeks and finally to make fire by rubbing two sticks together.
It was a nice circle that I myself had learnt to make a fire the very same way in the Scouts as a boy, Lord Baden Powell had in turn learnt many of the things the San people showed us from his native Scouts at Mafaking and incorporated his learning into the Scout handbook. The grandfather was surprised to learn that we practiced his arts even in Northern Ireland as kids…..
We had to endure three days of roads like this, very nice roads but dead flat with low bushes so minimal visibility just blue horizon
One of the nice policemen who cheerfully imposed a fine on Mark for breaking a 60km/hr limit, he even had a credit card machine, very well organised and professional the Botswan police.
The sand track 60km of this to get to the bushmans lodge in the Kalahari got us back into the adventure feeling
Camped up under the moonlight, this is not sunlight the iphone camera is great at night shots, we use red lights inside the camper as they attract the insects much less
The grandfather of our culture group is teaching us the different tracks of the animals, we followed honey badger, Giraffe, Elephant and Kurdu tracks, the animals themselves stayed well hidden
We had fun discussing techniques for creating fire from rubbing two sticks together with fine hair like kindling, the magic ingredient that was new to me was dried zebra dung powder, we did not have that handy at camp in Ireland
One of the children waits paitenly while Mum digs for a succulent root
Success, once the root is unearthed and stripped it is passed around and was quite good to eat
Back on the sand the net morning the animal tracks are plentiful but the thick bush and flat land hides them from our view apart from occasional glancing looks

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