In a village in the middle of nowhere, they made their own entertainment. Basil Read Construction personnel’s first peek at the possibilities was the Miss Maun (Male) Contest, held at the Duck Inn in early August, 1991. The place was packed out. There were 12 contestants, amongst whom were only two that we knew. Mike van Ginkel, a pilot we had met, and Keith Spackman, the Resident Engineer of our contract. Dressed to their sexiest nines, some had beards and moustaches. We laughed until our sides ached.
Our first boat trip into the Okavango Delta was organised by aforementioned Nigel Cantle, where he provided his own boat and we hired another. These boats, the most efficient design for weedy waterways and hippo highways, were almost flat-bottomed aluminium punts with seats and single outboard Yamaha 30 to 40 HP motors, built by a local company, eventually called Ali-boats.
Started in 1984, the company, with ex-Rhodesian Mike Bullock at the helm, ha-ha, has since gone way beyond mere fishing boats and continues to take on varied marine projects for use across Africa, from canoes, gunboats and landing craft, to ferries!
Our Sunday outing in late August, was a thrilling first that the Basil Read Company treated us to. We sped up the Boro River, through the Buffalo Fence to Makoro Island, where we had lunch under gigantic fig trees and jackalberries. As Delta newbies, we ogled at everything. Elephant, crocs, hippos, letshwe antelope, fish eagles, wattled cranes, saddle-bill storks, a myriad of water-fowl, kingfishers and cormorants. All greased with copious amounts of beer, of course.
The Boro River, beside for fishing, and being the gateway into the Delta proper, was a source of other entertainment. One was the annual anything-floats raft race. It takes very little imagination to guess at the chaos and fun in that. Another was called Boro Baseball, whereby all those interested assembled on the southern bank in a remote spot that included some sandbars, with the pitcher on one side of the river and the batter on the other, so that a home run included plunging through the river twice. Spectators, and participants braaied meat in the shade of the riverine trees, and slaked thirsts with more golden beverages.
Movies were shown at Island Safari Lodge, usually on Friday and Saturday nights. The most popular with the Motswana viewers was any Chuck Norris film. There would be a collective sigh of relief when he made his appearance.
In town, there was a squash court, two tennis courts and a club house originally established by the Botswana Meat Commission for use by their employees and locals. In addition to local tournaments in these sports, a game was evolved on a net-less tennis court vaguely on the lines of indoor cricket. Only batsmen and bowlers found that it was impractical to drink beer while exercising these disciplines, but there was usually a line of cans just behind the stumps for between overs. Fielding had no such restrictions, but it was wise to put your can behind you to save spillage when the ball came your way.