Maun, The Makgadikgadi Pan & Gaborone (Photo Diary)
From Maun in Botswana, we successfully navigated the length of the Makgadikgadi Pan, camping half way across, surrounded by nothing but blinding salt for as far as the eye could see. We then travelled cross country to Gabarone in search of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective, Mma Ramwotse and found the next best thing; a policewoman called Precious.
In Maun, by the Okavango Delta, we camped next to a brave and fascinating man called Sander. He is attempting to maximise the growth of unhatched crocodiles using temperature regulation. To carry out tests, he must first steal eggs from crocodile nests. When the mummy crocodile attacks, he whacks her on the end of her nose with a very long stick. Often the stick gets progressively shorter as she snaps back and there comes a moment when Sander has to run for his life!
Across a bartering market in Maun, we spied an incongruously space-age looking hand bag, twinkling on its owner’s arm as she jostled with change and bananas in the sunlight. Like magpies we pursued the bag and discovered that its owner, with babe balanced on hip, was called Penane and that she had woven the bag herself!
We visited her well swept, solar panelled home and with chicks twittering around our feet...
Penane’s children proudly showed us their mother’s handiwork.
Penane’s daughter called Onalenna (which means ‘I am with her’) and her friends collect discarded chip packets and sweetie wrappers (this is what gives the bags their futuristic shine) and Penane expertly recycles these by weaving them with reeds to make the bags. We ordered bags from Penane and they have arrived and are now available to buy at http://www.vagabondvan.com/chip-bags-97-c.asp
Less haircuts, more spit and polish at this barber shack in Maun.
No point repainting the whole sign.
The dazzling great emptiness of the Makgadikgadi Pan is so vast and disorientating that even people with GPS have been lost here for days.
One small step for a township puppy, one giant leap for canine-kind.
It really felt as though we had set up camp on the surface of the moon.
In Grootfontein, Eugene's dad had given us some of his delicious homemade, kudu boerwors and we had managed to smuggle them over the border to Botswana in our washing basket. There are strict rules about taking meat across borders but this was just too good to leave behind. In fact, I doubt that there has ever been a more enthusiastically anticipated sausage.
As the sun set over this lunar landscape, I began to cook our prized boerwors and their rich, spicy aroma wafted across the salt pan.
Dinner was almost ready. Lachlan went for a slash (sounds crude but I can hardly say he went to the loo when there were none) while I grabbed our head torches from a drawer in the back of the car. I was only gone for half a minute but when I returned there were no sausages sizzling, just an empty pan spitting oil and Bow Wow nearby, guiltily licking his chops. Mma Ramotswe's super sleuth talents were not required here. To say Lachlan was devastated is no exaggeration. Bow Wow has never been in so much trouble but we knew exactly what he was thinking; "Those boerwors were totally worth it."
When we closed our eyes, it was impossible to run across the pan's salty crust in straight lines. No matter how hard we tried, we went round in circles.
The sense of unfettered freedom in this wild open space was intoxicating.
In bandit country, on the outskirts of Gabarone, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency film set is all locked up and beginning to look a bit run down. Lachlan and Bow Wow walked around the perimeter to see if there was a hole in the fence that we could squeeze through while I stood guard. Just when Lachlan and Bow Wow had proudly come bounding towards me on the INSIDE of the fence, some police officers pitched up! I frantically gestured to Lachlan to duck but after chatting to the police, realised that they were so friendly we could come clean. Lachlan and Bow Wow revealed themselves and we explained that all we wanted was a photograph outside Mma Ramotswe's agency. The policewoman who was called Precious (just like Mma Ramotswe!!) wanted to see where the hole in the fence was so she came too while the other officers looked after Lula. When we got back, one of the policemen asked if he could have some dust that had accumulated on the back of our car. We said yes but were completely puzzled as to what he would do with it. "In Africa we can use everything." he explained "I am going to make a miracle out of this dust."
We think that this is one of the props from Alexander McCall Smith's baboon version of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
He has opened a delightful music centre and coffee shop called the No. 1 Ladies' Opera House. We were so looking forward to a cup of warming bush tea and the chance to sample some of Mma Makutsi's pancakes but they were closed for maintenance that day...
at least Bow Wow got to sit in Mma Ramotswe's tiny white van.
Leaving Botswana, a mean border official confiscated Billy the Kid who it turns out was not a goat but a rather exotic blue duiker. Sniff.