Sunday, August 16, 2015

Okavango - around the fire at sunset

Okavango Papyrus
When the hours of the day are passing through, you know the time for a shower is getting closer. That's the best moment to relax those 5 more minutes, which eventually become 10 and then 15. Then you would never leave those golden rays that cover the tip of each string of papyrus. Papyrus in Okavango stay still facing the water and reaching out to reflect in the clear water all their delicate charm. It seems delicate but actually it is a strong stem.

Chief's Camp
I, usually, leave the folding chairs typical of the bush and drag myself to my tent.
I often come to check on new lodges or if any has changed management. Most of the time, because of my job, luckily I can get some free accommodation.

Weather it is a glamping tent or a fancy hut build on a lifted wooden floor, this is a choice you make when booking. Make it more adventurous or more elegant. Choose it cozy or harsh. Whatever, it will always give the feeling of being in the bush. That wonderful feeling that has a particular smell, a particular fragrance that leads you to freedom.

Stepping into the tent, it is nice to open a bottle of good wine or even have a first gin and tonic ready at the side table. Enjoying it while undressing for shower, I never stop checking outside for some surprise. It is just like in modern houses when TV is on, you are always tempted to watch. Here, instead, just a little away from the water of the Okavango River, you are pushed to check: is there "anybody" around, maybe an elephant going to drink having felt he calm returned around the camp. You always wish to see elephants passing by and when it happens they come so close to your hut that  branches of the trees shake so strong to the scratch of his back against the bark. You feel unstable but wild! "So this is the bush", seems your brain to recall each time.  Noises of monkeys starting their way up on the trees for the night are around you, maybe even on top of your roof to tell you, "yes, it is time for a shower".
But still your heart is outside to remember all the things you saw during the day. Things, colors, life, smell, shivers, excitement, adrenaline.

I remember when camps were not so fancy and had only private but open bathroom. On the opposite side of the tent there is another door that leads to the bathroom. No roof was there over the shower pipe. This was great for our friends elephants who had taken the habit to drink water from the pipe as you were about to open the tab!
It was at Savute the picture that came to my mind now, but this could be anywhere in Botswana.  You wonder why the water is not falling anymore, when then, you look up and you realize that a long trunk is sucking it all away. But those were the days...

Now most of the camps have close-indoor-bathrooms or at least bathrooms where it is difficult for "trunks" to reach the pipe.
I take a hot shower and feel relaxed. Lying on the bed I take the book I have left open that afternoon before going on safari and read those few pages more before dinner.

Voices outside tell that people are starting to gather around the fire. You recognize the puffs and ticks scattered away from wooden logs that are burning. That marvelous red fire that sends out a nice smell of smoke, chairs stretched around it. A second glass of gin and tonic is ready.

Often, but now more often, a good glass of wine has replaced the habit of drinking gin and tonic. It has always been like this since the time of English explorers. They even used to believe tonic water would not make you bite from Mosquitos; so, to that, they added gin!

The red fire is there in the middle of the scene. It has taken over the looking at the water of the afternoon. Now each eye is concentrated on the sound of the logs with one ear. The other ear is still looking for noises of adventure.

But time for dinner is called out by the chef. Cozy tables are standing ready for you to enjoy tasty food from the bush elaborated, most of the time, for continental habits. Soups are the best thing after a warm and full day of emotions. I love butternut soup, one of my favorite. Every place you go to you are certain to get it sooner or later. It is good and yummy. But dessert are interesting and have that not-too-sweet taste that lasts long in your mouth and happily you rerun to you shelter.  

Where is the elephant?

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