A Bush Christmas & an Okavango New Year

Joy Evans & Klaas Bol, our friends and neighbours, invited Sheila and I to spend Christmas 1998 with them at Lake Xakanaxa in Moremi Game Reserve.  Joy lived in a rented cottage on Klaas and Maria Bol’s property next door to the Water Africa plot which was still our home, then. Maria, a US citizen, and the three children had recently left for the USA.

Klaas collected us on Christmas day in what Joy called his Pimpmobile, a red and gold 4×4 Mitsubishi stationwagon. Entering the reserve at South Gate, we game-drove our way Lake Xakanaxa; specifically to Moremi Safaris, where our hosts were Bob & Flo Flaxman, the managing couple there. The game had been sparse – some common antelope and only one elephant. Christmas lunch was a picnic; more memorable than the game was helping Klaas polish off a whole bottle of jalapeño chillies.

After some successful fishing off a boat belonging to the lodge the next day, and a late breakfast, we slept in our tents until mid-afternoon then took a game drive to Kwai until rain threatened. Back at the lake, Flo cooked up a delicious bream supper from the proceeds of that morning’s catch.  Klaas leisurely drove us all back to Maun the next day, finishing off a very pleasant sojourn.

Cat & Bod boys

Right: Adrian & Matthew Bodington, with Catriona Teed-Rollo & Tobani Phiri

The following Tuesday found Sheila and I on our way up the Okavango Panhandle to go camping, but near Etsha we caught up to friend David Bodington, his two sons, Adrian and Matthew, and Pat Hagan, Cathy, an Aussie, and various other friends on their way to Shakawe. Despite not being keen to be part of a ten-person crowd, we were persuaded to join them on Steve Harpt’s barge to float into the dusk down the Okavango…

At the time, Steve was headmaster of Shakawe Junior Secondary School, the home of the now well known  Shakarimba marimba band whose members had stayed with us in Maun while doing a few gigs there. But more of them next post.

Leaving our vehicle at Steve’s home, everyone climbed aboard the barge. Unfortunately, Steve was unable to accompany us, but we were in safe hands with Dave at the helm. We partied into the night, occasionally accompanied by the deep grunt of hippo which often had Sheila waking apprehensively.

bea eaterIt goes without saying that the birdlife on the river is magnificently strewn with many species of ducks, geese, kingfishers, cormorants, herons and waders. African skimmers were a first for me. At Red Cliffs there was a large colony of beautiful Carmine bee-eaters. The sand cliffs were peppered with their nesting holes.

We camped the following night on an island, then after breakfast, Dave took us adults back to Shakawe while the youngsters stayed on at the island camp. It took Sheila and me the rest of the day to get home due to helping a fish trader woman by loading her, her son and cooler-chest of fish, and taking them with us to Maun.

Just as we arrived at home, Pat Hagan and Aussie Cathy joined us to see in the New Year 1999. Life was unbelievably wonderful.

About peterjearle

Writer of thriller novels. 4 Published: 'Purgatory Road', 'The Barros Pawns', and the Detective Dice Modise Series:'Hunter's Venom' and 'Medicinal Purposed Only', all from Southern Africa.
This entry was posted in Botswana, Exploring Africa, Shaping a writer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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