Chobe River from Satellite

The Great African Adventure, Part 9: Leaving Chobe

Sunday May 18th Moving Day Chobe River Front

We wake up extra early, head out and climb the rocks to the Bushman Paintings and watch the African rise and show us her rosy face. Pictures are taken of the 2000 year old paintings of the giraffe, buffalo, Mopani Worm and Sable.  It is an incredible anthropological site. Cheri loves this. I sit in my spot and try to take it all in so I can remember every detail.  We head back to our camp and the fellas load up the Green Mamba and we are off to the Chobe River Front for our last camp.

We head up the main Chobe road through 2 small villages and arrive around noon.  We stopped and gathered fire wood. It is fun.   I run around the 2 small ponds a little bit for some exercise. I’m certain I will get scolded but instead I get a big round elephant poo tossed at me. Close Call!  We see some new birds….Pied Babbler, Rock Pratincole and the Pearl Spotted Owlets – cousins of the facial cleansing towelettes.  We help set up camp and honestly Cheri and I are really more trouble than we are worth – but we do give it a good try – and it feels as though maybe we are contributing!

The Last Camp

Once again our camp is lovely – up on a ridge that overlooks the Chobe River.  There are elephants nearby and a busy troop of baboons are very interested in my shoes which I have left by the door of the tent. Cheri and I do a little laundry and I watch them look at my pajamas hanging on a branch…I’m hoping they will put them on someone’s head!  We drive down to the water’s edge for Sundowners and a game drive.  It is a beautiful place for a cocktail and we just take it all in.  There are giraffes, baboons, elephants, many birds and a beautiful sunset. I’m trying very hard to remember every detail.

Monday May 19th

We take our leisure at the fire in the morning, drinking coffee and chatting. Clinton and Dad are telling stories of adventure in the wilderness…. I love the stories of who they are.   We head out and bumble along.  We see some new birds a black breasted snake eagle, Schwarro Herron and a blue wax bill.  We see a raft of hippos and yet another journey of giraffes and a family of elephants with one very little guy…very cute.  We drive through the water…I love this…and come upon a big water monitor lizard.  And this time I don’t scare him away.  We get really close and get to see his feet, tongue and weaponry.  Very Interesting Fellow!

We have coffee on the beach and then continue to drive through the water’s edge.  I look out over the Chobe River and just feel incredibly happy. That afternoon we come upon a huge male elephant in musth and Clinton gave him a lot of room to navigate around us.  Even though I have seen elephants every day they still fascinate me.  This fellow meant business. Dad said that he was very proud of himself. I don’t know… he seems irritable to me…not at all like those elephants playing in the water.  We had our last Sundowners on the beach and it is a little bittersweet – ok maybe more than a little.  When we arrive back at the camp Lawrence and Degree are making a fun dinner for us. They let Cheri and I help cook and it is very festive, delicious of course it is wonderful.

The Final Night

No sleep tonight, I lie away and listen to the night sounds and I think about all that I have seen. It occurs to  me that all of my life I have had this misguided belief that humans have the corner on the market in the way of bravery, kindness, family bonds, joy, friendship, perseverance and sacrifice- qualities that we try to develop within ourselves.  I have seen every one of those fine things undiluted in this place…from that brave little lapwing on day one to a mother lion and her pride.  We’ve all got our stories…I hope that I can live this story…

Tuesday, May 20th

We wake early and make a quick soiree through the Chobe Riverfront and look for some lions which are not to be found.  We head back to our camp, fetch the loaded trailer and the six of us drive to our drop off point where Dad, Cheri and I will head off to Victoria Falls after a boat cruise and leave our guide, Clinton and Lawrence and Degree. We drive along and see a Sable for the first time – he is a beauty – and I believe a farewell gift to us. There are not many things I hate but goodbyes are one.

We arrive too soon, give quick hugs all around.  Degree is on top of the Green Mamba tossing down our bags and just waves with both hands and a big smile.  I can’t look in his eyes so I just wave and walk away with a sharp sadness.  I will miss my African friends, their warm kindness, generous laughter and their deep abiding love for this beautiful place they call home.

And one day I will come back.

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