I am so very privileged, I have memories shared by few which now no one else can create. Sadly my children will never experience the Okavango swamps in the raw as I did in the 70’s. You can go to the Okavango swamps now, you will have to go on a proper tour and pay a few limbs worth. You need permits and loads of money. Back then we would offload the car into the hold of our little motor boat Maciya – fishing rods, some tinned food, tents and off we went into the swamps to find a place to set up camp for a few weeks. I was the champion fisherwoman in the family and remember at least one occasion when if I had not reeled in a few bream (Tilapia) we would not have had supper that night. Ohh there is no fish that tastes like freshly caught bream! Dad would skin and fillet the fish and we would cook it over a fire.
My father did a lot for me but his greatest gifts were the bush camping trips to the Okavango swamps (Okavango Delta) in Botswana and Lake Kariba in the then Rhodesia. A sceptic may question his love, he always told us that it was totally safe to swim where we were when the waters were known to be teeming with crocs. At night when we shone a torch along the water’s banks there were rows of croc eyes glowing back at us. I’m the only person I know who learned to get up on water skis very first time (at Lake Kariba) as there was no ways I was sticking around in that water. At the Okavango swamps we camped at the waters edge and bathed in the water every day. There were no ablution blocks we were totally and completely out there alone. When nature called you took a little spade and headed off into the bush.
We would spend the 1st night at the main camp site near Maun before setting off to find our own private patch of paradise. I remember reading “Arabian nights” by torch light in my tent with the sounds of the bush all around me. Leaving my tent once I stepped on a scorpion which stung me, the pain was searing, I thought that a snake had bitten me. I was given shot glass of Baileys liqueur for the shock which was quite yummy.
I loved fishing, sitting on the boat under the African sun, you just can’t beat that. The word swamps is misleading, the water was crystal clear, we could always see the sand at the bottom of the water. You could see the fish and the light dancing off the water. In our cluttered world it’s so hard to escape, to truly relax, you think you’re relaxed until you’re into the 3rd week of a camping trip then you find out what real inner peace is.
These days peace is turning off your cell phone for a bit. I am so lucky so very fortunate. The memories are beautiful but it hurts that I can never repeat that experience. I’m so sad that my husband and children will never have what I had. Every experience good and bad adds to the sum of who we are, I am so much richer from those precious times.
Thank you Dad