Time Out in Africa: Part 16

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This trip stems from a promise that El (my better half) and I had made to ourselves - when her exams were over we would take off for a while, travel the world, have a little fun. The aim was to do a wide variety of stuff – some touristy things, some mountains, see some friends and family. Most of this journal dates from notes I took in the evening - I have allowed hindsight to creep in in some places though...

Days 56 and 57 Mabuasehube National Park and Tsiabong

Daybreak can't come too early and we have a full cooked breakfast to fortify us. On a drive around, we see the usual suspects plus tiny little steenbok and what is probably a bat eared fox. After a sleep in the sun we look for more animals but it's not really the right period. El elects to spend the night in the truck with the doors closed and locked, on the grounds that if she gets eaten by a lion with a lock pick, her demise will at least merit a National Geographic investigation, and maybe an Attenborough documentary. In fact virtually nothing comes to prowl.

In the morning though, the wind really gets up, the hornbills and francolin have gone and we decide to go too. On the way out we see caracal, the desert lynx, which is a nice surprise. Tsiabong, our destination, hasn't got a lot going for it (and especially no cashpoint, which is unfortunate) but the farm we are staying on is brilliant. Camels, horses, peacocks cats and a fat 'Boer bull' called Luna all mooch around and provide photo opportunities. The food is also excellent. In the evening we play cards with the owners and generally relax.

Day 58 Berry bush Farm, Tsiabong

We are greeted by a hearty breakfast and a slobbery dog, who again manages to deposit most of the contents of her jowls on my trousers and her coat on my jumper. Thanks Luna. She's really quite playful for a breed of dog called a Boer bull, and it is only when she gets a bit too excited that you remember that she weighs 35-40 kg. One of the farmhands must have given her a beating at one point, as her hackles rise and she barks and growls every time he comes near.

We have another go at the table tennis. El beats me and I draw with Al. We also do a big clothes wash, in hot water after the farm ladies chide the youngest lad for giving us cold water to start with. In three hours it is dry under the hot desert sun. After dinner we watch a film, most of the farmhands have come in to play pool and there is a good atmosphere in the farmhouse, not hierarchical or racially divided as we have seen elsewhere.

Day 59 Tsiabong to Moshupa

We pack the beast and put the last of the fuel from the petrol cans into the tank. The road north east is not great – it seems to have shrunk as the edges have broken away in the fierce heat. There are plenty of animals to avoid as well, and about half way there the inevitable happens. A guinea fowl takes off right in front of the truck when El is driving, it makes over the windscreen but the roofrack proves to be that bit too high and it clatters into it at some speed. It must have been killed instantly, but its purple legs hang down over the windscreen for a few seconds as El trys to stop the vehicle while laughing hysterically.

In true Monty Python style, El enquires whether it is dead and we observe that it certainly doesn't look very well... It would appear to have shuffled off its mortal coil, to have kicked the bucket, to have rejoined its maker, etc. Indeed it's more than dead, it's dinner – we put it in the back for later consumption. Chobe chicken, as Al calls it (after Chobe National Park, home of thousands of guinea fowl) has got to be better than tuna and pasta.

The rest of the journey passes without incident. We try a local delicacy, like a doughnut without sugar but it's a bit stodgy. In the early afternoon we arrive in Moshupa. It's a peaceful looking place with boulders strewn around on top of small green hills, and circular huts dotted around. I can't believe that Al hasn't brought his rock climbing shoes as some of the blocks wouldn't be out of place in Fontainebleau.

Al's place is just outside the school where he teaches maths. It's compact, but well furnished and equipped. He also has a garden but due to the drought conditions the goats have eaten most of it. This has got Al's goat as it were and he now pursues them implacably with the aid of increasingly large stones. With the last of the daylight, we climb Al's local hill. The view is fantastic and the silence is almost perfect, broken only by the lowing of cattle and the faint tinkling of cowbells. We prepare El's victim for our consumption – it's edible but could have done with hanging for a bit as it's still quite bloody.

Day 60 – Moshupa and Gaborone

We need to go to Gaborone to do boring logistics stuff, which we hope to kill in a morning but Al tells us that Gaborone sucks time and predicts that we won't leave before 15:00. He proves to be right. We get cash at a terrible rate as the dollar has again weakened, book tickets to Pretoria, and see some crafts including some nice baskets, unfortunately at European prices.

There's time in the afternoon to visit Al's school, a big place with facilities that would compare favourably to a lot of UK secondary schools, although with more goats wandering around. There isn't much to see or do in Moshupa – a few bars, bottle shops, convenience stores and the boulders. We have a look for traditional mud and cow dung painted huts but there aren't many as it hasn't rained this year.

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