The Cactus Patch
Volume 10       May 2007      Number 05

The Tripping Continues
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

On the 24th of Feb. when we reached Maun after leaving Qangwa, Polly & I checked into the Island Safari Lodge, watched TV and had a good restaurant meal. Next day we drove into town, but as it was Sunday almost nothing was open. We had lunch at a new "Chinese" place, but it was mostly just spaghetti. (We added some smoked oysters from our camping supplies for flavor.) We then drove out to see Okavango Ceramics, but found the place had burnt to the ground! The owners are quite optimistic and plan to reopen soon. We had tea and watched monkeys and glossy starlings eating the bird plum Berchamia discolor.

After another restful night at the "Island", we did some shopping in Maun. Polly got some hand-printed cloth and I found a book on "The arrow Poison of the Ikung Bushman Hunters". (Oskar Nadler, 2006, Osnera-africana, Heidelberg). It is a terrible translation from the German and starts with a diatribe against the removal of people from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Never mind that the Qkung (= Ikung) are in Xaixai, Dobe, Qangwa etc., where we had just been, and nowhere near the CKGR. Much of what he says is untrue.

Although he concentrates on the beetles which live on Commiphora shrubs, he also includes poisonous snakes, spiders, and scorpions as well as a variety of plants. Most of the plants are taken from literature rather than his own field work and some do not occur anywhere near the Qkung. His illustrations are often wrong. For example he has an aloe labeled sansevieria and Solanum panduriforme labled S. kwebense! The book ends with extraneous pictures of various European explorers, only two of whom are accompanied by explanatory text. Altogether a strange book.

From Maun we drove south along the dry Boteti River where there were hundreds of Abdim's storks. That night we stayed at a hotel in Letlhekane (with its nearby diamond mine) and started to Serowe on the 27th. Just north of there we lost our gears with a horrible noise! While waiting to be towed into town, a gentleman stopped to help, diagnosed a sheared-off front drive shaft, took off said shaft and left us in rear-wheel drive to limp onward. Having only two-wheel drive, we cancelled planned off-roading and returned straight to Gaborone.

Back home we had both drive shafts replaced (for a mere P2,000 or about $350) and our Land Rover is up for sale!

On 6th March the film club started a Russian series with vodka and the showing of "An Unfinished Piece for the Mechanical Piano." It is based on a story by Chekov and reminded me too much of "The Three Sisters" which we did when I was at BC— too much talking and introspection. (I much prefer the spoof "Cherry Sisters" which we did at Capital Players here in Gaborone.)

On the 9th we camped at Jwana Game Park with the bird club. (The park surrounds the diamond mine at Jwaneng.) That evening Geraldine Hester (wife of Herald, president of the bird club) gave a star talk with her piercing green laser. Fortunately, it was a clear night. (The next night was cloudy.)

Sat. the 10th we got up early and were treated to the sight of numerous small birds mobbing a pearl-spotted owl. We then went to a village near Jwaneng and watched a local leather worker. We bought some sandals. In the afternoon we drove around the park spotting animals and ended at the educational center where they have numerous wildlife games painted on cement slabs left from old buildings. That evening we drove into town and observed swirling clouds of European swallows which eventually settled in the trees at dusk.

Next morning we walked down to a water hole and observed wildlife from a tall hide. After lunch we visited the Cheetah Conservation Unit and viewed a very large "cub" behind a fence.

On the 13th the museum opened a tapestry exhibit. The main feature is a long embroidered cloth which shows the history of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. It circled the main gallery twice and has fine details which include plants and their uses. There were also woven hangings from Botswana.

The broken end of the drive shaft from the Land Rover

Bruce & others comparing wingspans at the aducation center in Jwana Game park

Aloe ferox from the South African tapestry

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