"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The 2021 Africa Journals, Ch. 7, In Which My Heart Finds a Forever Home Away from Home

 (Note:   I have no idea why the text is appearing in white strips.   Still working on a fix.)

Chapter Seven:

In Which My Heart Finds a Forever Home Away from Home


“Wilderness is not a luxury

but necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey


I had a preconceived notion of what the Okavango Delta looked like.   It must be a vast swamp, I imagined, cut with water channels three to four feet wide in which people poled or paddled those little dug out canoes that were about the size of an average Nile crocodile through tall reeds and grasses.   The Delta, however, has some of the largest crocs in the world.  

Not for me.   Not when hippos are notorious for charging and over-turning those little boats.


I intentionally cut off the heads of these men for their privacy.   They are paddling a mokoro on the Chobe River.

But wait.   I’m getting ahead of myself.   When last I left you, I was dismayed about the long lines of wildfires burning through northern Botswana.  I took a few photos as our pilot maneuvered around towering cumulus clouds and uprising smoke.

When we landed at the first airstrip to drop off two people, there were flames leaping from burning bushes along the edges of the strip.   Oh, man, I was sure glad this wasn’t our stop.  



         A half hour later, it was our stop and we climbed out of the small plane not to clear air but as least we couldn’t smell the smoke.       I looked around and saw a lilac-breasted roller on a nearby branch.   

That’s a good omen, I figured.   Maybe Murphy’s Law won’t catch up to me here.   We were met by a lovely lady name Razi and were soon bouncing our way to Great Plains Explorers camp, about an hour away.  Sand.   I noticed the trails were made over sand.   Softer than rocks but bouncy nonetheless.


         We weren’t in the Delta per se, but in the adjoining 320,000 acre private Selinda Reserve of northern Botswana.  The Selinda Spillway drains into the Delta.   The Delta itself drains rainwater from Angola and floods a large area.   None of the water reaches the ocean.   Rather, the water is evaporated or transpired by plants.   It is an oasis in a desert.

       I borrowed this map from the Internet.   Selinda Reserve is at the top of Botswana with a number 1 in it.   Our camp is not listed.

         We stopped for a few wildlife shots as we made our way to the camp.   We were in somewhat of a hurry because we didn’t want to miss the late, short, afternoon game drive.


Tsessebe, pronounced something like SEH-seh-bee.   The fastest antelope species in Africa, it can run at 60 kmh (37 mph).   To me they look like a cross between topi and red hartebeest.


Common waterbuck, male.  So-called because of its heavy dependence on water, males stand  a bit over four feet at the shoulder.

And then we reached camp.   Zowie!  I fell in love with my tent immediately.   I never wanted to leave here.



My tent number.


                        Note that the tents are covered by a larger fly.

                            At 5  AM wake-up call, I would find my tea and cookies on the side table.

        The decor is tailor-made to evoke images of the early African explorers, with packing trunks and luggage  outfitted for hanging and storing clothing and other items..   

In the very center of this photo is a tent flap that leads to the en suite bathroom.   It is outside, but under the tent fly.   It has a shower and a flush toilet surrounded by a privacy screen of bamboo.   The white thing is a towel rack and the floor is slats.


The "closet" designed inside a trunk.

From the firepit to the common siting area.   We dined in this area at night.

The dining tent for lunch.

The common sitting area where we gathered for our game drives, for snacks, tea or coffee.   At center right, Marg is kneeling in front of her computer.   At her right is the crate where all the devices could be charged.

An almost empty charging trunk.   I think that's my iPad and black battery charger in there.   Sometimes it's impossible to find a an empty receptacle.

The common loo.

Inside the common loo.

Just before four o'clock, we gathered in the common sitting area for snacks and fruit juice.   Two of the people we met at Pangolin photo safari lodge were here and would be our game drive companions for a few drives until they left.

"How are you doing?" I asked the woman.   She showed me her wet tee shirt and replied, "Learning how to cope with the hot weather."   I looked at the little thermometer attached to my camera bag:   95 degrees Fahrenheit!!!

With that introduction, we were off to see what we could find in the Selinda Reserve.   After driving through the riverine forest for a few minutes, we pulled alongside a beautiful waterway.    This is not what I expected at all!!

                                            Beautiful, beautiful Selinda.

This was not the first surprise Selinda had in store for me.

Sunday, November 28, 2021


Chapter Six:

In Which Marg Comes to the Rescue


 "Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.”

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc.


I pushed the button to turn on my travel laptop and waited to see if the crackling noises were still there.    Silence.

    I plugged it into a power source.   Silence.

    The laptop was well and truly fried.   It would not turn on, would not charge.   It lay on the counter at Pangolin Chobe hotel as useless as a rock.


                                                    The Crispy Critter

    Marg came to the rescue.   She messaged Shelly in Canada, who would be joining us in Kenya in a few days, to fetch a small MacBook Pro from her office and bring it when she flew to Kenya.  In the meantime, Marg took my camera memory cards and the two external hard drives I had to her room.

    She made a Lightroom catalogue on one of the drives and downloaded all my photos to it, as well as making a copy of the photos to the second drive.  Lightroom is a software program we use to edit photos.   Its use has been a steep learning curve for me and I’m still a beginner at it.


    Nonetheless, for the next week, Marg continued to download my photos to my external drives.  The process, which took hours on my laptop, took minutes on her super-Mac, but it still cut into her valuable free time during which she could have been editing her own photos.



                                The two 2TB external drives that would hold two copies of my photos.

    Problem solved for the immediate future though I didn’t look forward to re-learning what little I knew of Macs.   Windows gave me enough problems.

     Once back on the Chobe River, we found birds and baboons to photograph on the way to Elephant Bay.


    Baboon infants are carried under the mother’s chest.   When they are older, they ride jockey-style on the mother’s back.


A large male walks over and sits in front of the mother and infant.   The infant seems interested in the male's large paw.

Juvenile yellow-billed stork.

African Mourning Dove

Rock pratincoles staying warm as the sun rises.


Surprise!   A different, more blonde lion was in charge of guarding the elephant carcass and he had his paws full trying to keep the vultures away.


     Whenever he sought shade from the blazing sun, the vultures crept in.   When the vultures crept in, he ran down to chase them away.   And on and on it went.





At one point, a water monitor walked through.   The lion paid it no attention.


    The lizard is between the lion and the carcass.


    The next day, the lions were gone.   The carcass reeked of decay.   The vultures and the Marabou storks were closer, but not on the carcass.

     The crocodiles had moved in and claimed it for their own.   There were dozens of crocs lying around, huge malevolent crocodiles.


    They had managed to move the carcass even farther into the water. 

     The elephants still came but were cautious.

 Note the crocodile between the carcass and shore.  There is another behind the carcass and dozens in various places along the shoreline.

This was our last look at Elephant Bay, the Chobe River, and our friends at Pangolin photo safaris for this trip. Just before noon we boarded a small plane that would take us to the famed Okavango Delta. 

    The plane took off and headed west.   I looked out the window and saw a long line of smoke rising along the horizon.

     Wait a minute!   Smoke?    No one told us about wildfires!!!





Reed cormorant landing.

White-breasted cormorant
Carmine bee-eater
Carmine bee-eater
Pied kingfisher
Water lily
Black-winged stilt
Goliath heron
Goliath heron
Goliath heron
Brunch at Pangolin
I don't know what it is, but it's huge.