Bush Fire in the Delta

While at Camp Pom Pom it became apparent that a bush fire was rapidly spreading in our direction. As we enjoyed our sundowners and then returned to camp it was hard not to miss the huge plumes of smoke and golden glow on the horizon that was not a result of the sunset.

Upon returning to camp, Rams, Major and several other guides set off in a truck to track the fire and determine which way it was heading. So while we enjoyed a scrumptious meal four of the Camp Pom Pom employees were heading straight into smoke.

While back in North America a bush or forest fire is considered an emergency situation, in the bush here it is considered a natural part of life. Here a fire might be started by someone’s careless toss of a cigarette or match. Or it could be the result of a lightening strike or the sun reflecting off a piece of glass. That is why it is so incredibly important when you are in the bush to never leave anything carelessly behind. It can be life or death for environment.

However, unlike when a massive forest fire sweeps through terrain in North America, a fire here in the Okavango causes re-growth, regeneration and species control. So the only concern with the fire was which direction it was headed in and were our guest tents in any danger either from the fire or the exodus of wild beasts staying ahead of the flames and heat.

Although Rams and crew went prepared to fight the fire if need be there was no need. Due to the types of grasses & reeds that flourish in the area and copious quantities of marshes, swamps and flood-lands Camp Pom Pom and its inhabitants were safe and secure.

Well, sort of!

While Major was off with Rams being a hero, I had my own personal hero to safely escort me back to my tent at bedtime…Max. What Major didn’t know, couldn’t hurt him 😉

Of course Max was a perfect gentleman and to be truthful, I have never had such a proper escort home at the end of a long day. He even escorted right to my tent doors and unzipped them for me! Be still my beating heart!

Actually, Max had a real motive for getting me through those tent doors.

Oh stop imagining things that you shouldn’t!

He wanted me safely in the tent because he didn’t want me wandering Elephant highway on my own! You see during our walk to my tent my independent self reared its ugly head and at some point I had slipped passed Max and was walking ahead of him on the path.  Definitely a no-no!

But the ever gracious gentleman simply informed me from two feet above my head that I needed to careful that I didn’t accidental walk right into an elephant. The reality is that the path had gotten its name not just for fun but because elephants actually do wander down it especially at night. Ooops! and in a move that even Buche would be proud of, I graciously ceded the lead to my fearless seven foot tall Max and quietly followed him the rest of the way home.

I know, will the miracles never cease.

The next morning, following a much more peaceful night’s sleep as the hippos were a tad quieter, it was time to head out on one last game drive with Rams before flying off to our next safari camp.

Rams was intent upon finding the elusive leopard and we headed out. During our search he also took us to view the bush fire from a safe distance.

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bush fire 2

 

bush fire 3

 

 

burned area

As we drove around the periphery of the bush fire it was amazing just how birds were viable and actively flying around. According to Rams, the birds are drawn to the site of fire in order to feast on the escaping insects that are driven from their homes.

I was able to capture this incredibly beautiful bird who seems to have all of the colors of the rainbow, the Lilac Breasted Roller

lilac breasted roller

 

While the leopard remained elusive, these lovely giraffes were only too happy to pose for us and bat their beautiful eyelashes.

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giraffes Pom Pom

 

Proving two heads are better than one!

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and finally, I was able to say good bye to my lovely hippo hostess

happy hippo

Safari time at Camp Pom Pom

Safariing is hard work! Now granted all you have to do is get dressed properly, make sure that you have visited the loo and show up on time, it still really hard work.

I have been on numerous game drives since coming to Botswana last September but I have never actually been on safari before. Luckily, I had a wonderful introduction to it at Camp Pom Pom. As I mentioned before, we completely lucked out with our guide, Rams and tracker, Major.

The happy trio of Rams, me and Major relaxing during Sundowner time on Safari
The happy trio of Rams, me and Major relaxing during Sundowner time on Safari

Rams, as I noted earlier, was a sweetheart who shares many similarities with Buche, including driving styles and went where others feared to tread…including Buche, who was dismayed when I showed him these pictures,

Did I sign up for a water safari?
Did I sign up for a water safari?
Is this a Safari truck or a boat?
Is this a Safari truck or a boat?

So while Rams navigated us around land, water, mud, airstrips and just about anywhere else you could throw in, Major spent his time amusing us and being on the look out for wildlife.

Major's winning smile
Major’s winning smile

Major also has other claims to fame. Check out his singing on this YouTube video posted by a previous camper http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHSvKoUFd0U

With these two capable gentlemen taking care of us and catering to all of our needs, we happily set out for our first game drive after a huge brunch and a siesta. They don’t call this an eating safari for nothing!

Shortly after leaving camp we crossed Pom Pom International Bridge and let’s just say that Cheryl almost made history and became famous

Pom Pom International Bridge
Pom Pom International Bridge

While this bridge is remarkable in its construction having been built by the staff of the Camp Pom Pom and capable of withstanding a huge heavy safari vehicle stopping mid way on it so that the wildlife and birds can be viewed, it is a bit of a rough ride. Being a short, round bouncy person, I found it a bit of a challenge to not bounce right out of the safari truck straight down into the swamps and wetlands joining the birds, crocs and fishes. When I queried Rams if he had ever lost a guest out of the truck, he prompted responded no but figured that I might be his first! In that case, I would become famous and perhaps they would even rename the bridge after me 🙂

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So with me still safely in the truck and Rams prepared to check his rearview mirror every so often to ensure that I was still on board, we set out to find some wildlife.

It didn’t take long to start spying lots of great game

Elephants galore
Elephants galore

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Even when there wasn’t any game in sight the scenery was beautiful

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Impala bum view
Impala bum view

 

In my opinion, ugly birds!
In my opinion, ugly birds!

 

up close and personal with the ugly bird family
up close and personal with the ugly bird family

During our drive, Rams and Major discovered very fresh leopard tracks so we were soon on the hunt for her.

Dedicated trackers checking the leopard tracks
Dedicated trackers checking the leopard tracks

 

What we did find were these beauties

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With the sun going down it was time for “sundowners”, an African term for drinks at sunset

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and heading back to camp for the evening where we spent the evening on an eating safari and relaxing around the campfire

our candle lit dining room
our candle lit dining room

With full bellies it was soon time to be escorted back to our tent for the night so that everyone could be well rested for the next day’s adventures. Once night had fallen on camp no guests were allowed to walk alone with out a guide or tracker to escort them as the likelihood of meeting an elephant on the pathway to the tents was incredibly high.

Elephant highway
Elephant highway

So safely escorted home it was time to put on the thermal underwear and climb into bed as the morning activities started bright and early with wake up at 6:00 am with the delivery of coffee and tea to the tent! Now that is service!

 

Land of the Giants????

My grandmother use to ask me when I was younger if I was a pygmy. Well I am not but……

I am only a couple of inches above 5 feet tall and proud of it!

However, I did feel a little shorter than usual at Camp Pom Pom thanks to my new friend Max:

Max and me

 

I have always been partial to tall men but let me tell you that I have never had one this tall before! And when Baloo came to join us for a picture, well I wasn’t sure if the camera would even capture me at all!

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Max is a guide at Camp Pom Pom and has become one of my new friends. He has even promised to come visit me here in Gabs so we can go dancing together. Although our blossoming friendship hit a few snags along the way which had nothing to do with our height differences.

It seems that animals aren’t the only ones who are territorial in this stretch of the wilderness.

Upon arrival at Camp Pom Pom, everyone is assigned a guide and tracker who serve as your own personal concierges for your entire stay. I was lucky (but maybe not for them) to be assigned to Rams as my guide and Major, as my tracker. Rams turned out to be my Bush equivalent of Buche. How does a girl get so lucky??? While I only had three days with him our friendship doesn’t end just because I had to come back to Gabs. I am positive that Rams and his family will be coming to visit me in Gabs where I can’t wait to introduce him to Buche. I also have an invitation to visit them at their home in Maun. He truly is a wonderful man and I am so glad that I got to spend time with him. You will be hearing a few Rams stories as I publish my swamp blogs.

Major, well he was something special that is hard to capture into mere words. Part charmer, part goof, part tracker/poler extraordinaire he certainly provided an amusement factor for the entire three days that we were in camp. The first afternoon that I met himMajor, I also met Max and enjoyed a serious amount of good nature flirting when I could catch his eye way up there. So while Max and I were having fun it seems that Major had other plans.

Like the territorial beasts that he tracks, Major decided that he didn’t want Max encroaching on his territory. It didn’t matter that there was a certain young Australian member of our safari party that singularly caught his eye and attention. His on-going rivalry with “Mad Max” meant that Max wasn’t allowed to have any fun with me at all! Or so he thought….

I have it on good authority that a smack down took place in the employee quarters that first evening where, in Setswana, Max was told emphatically to leave me alone. Ah, someone should have warned Major that I have a mind of my own and no threats can convince me otherwise!  When I noticed that my new friend was keeping a wide berth when we were all in the main lodge it was pretty easy to figure out the problem. Let’s just say that Major was made to eat a little crow when all was said and done. However, he also earned my friendship and adoration so all is well that ends well.

It just goes to show that even in the middle of the bush I simply have a way of causing chaos. But it is nice to know that even bush men aren’t immune to my charm 😉

The Art of Not Picking Up

Guys really!!!!  Has no one ever told you how not to behave to attract a woman????

Sometimes you really just make me shake my head in disbelief. And let me be absolutely clear that this behavior is indicative of men world wide and not just reserved for the men that I am encountering here in Botswana. Although the men here, with the exception of a very few who have personally stolen their way into my heart, are the worst at picking up that I have ever seen in my middle aged life!

On a daily basis I encounter various and sundry attempts by men who I think actually believe that they have a change of picking me up. A simple trip across death highway from my apartment to the Game City Mall usually nets me one to five pick up attempts. My mind doesn’t even want to contemplate what they think that they are going to do with me once they have successful lured me in. Although occasionally for a nanosecond as I am lugging incredibly heavy bags of groceries, I luxuriate in the thought of how nice it would be to actually take a pro-offered ride home. Then reality sets in.

While I am an old hat at ignoring come ons there are moments when some unique attempts can’t help but stand out. Last night sparked one those moments and thus this posting.

Yes, I was out dancing again! Having had such a fantastic time at the Calabash night club last Saturday dancing and bootie shaking, my friend Sheila who was not with me insisted on a chance to enjoy as well.  How could I resist?

Once again, I was the first one of the dance floor and within moments, just like last week, I was not alone for long. With the dance floor rapidly filling up I was never at a lost for one or more dance partners. Guys who had been attendance last Saturday night seemed to be thrilled that I had returned for a repeat performance. In fact, I am now positive that several guys actually were convinced that my return was directly a result of my desire to be swept up in their arms.

Although I had done nothing but actually return to the site of one of the best dance floors and DJs in Gaborone, several testosterone filled men sincerely believed they were the reason for my return. Fortunately for me, Sheila and I had not come alone without male accompaniment of our own. Flanked attentively by my Zimbabwean gentlemen, luckily I had nothing to worry about as they allow no guy to get within a foot or closer of me for any length of time unless I signaled that I am okay with it. You have got to love a personal bodyguard detail for which I am continually grateful for. Especially one comprised of such handsome gentlemen who love to dance as much as I do.

However, even thoroughly surrounded by my personal protection detail there were more guys than I can count willing to run the gauntlet and attempt to capture the crazy white woman burning up the dance floor. Frankly, I think that I need to hire a camera crew to actually film one of these evenings because it would make for hilarious reality television. There are those guys who think that they are being cool and simply dance their way into our dance group.

They come in with their cool moves (which sometimes aren’t nearly so cool as I am sure they believe in their minds). These guys often have staying power, hanging in there dancing in a way that can only be viewed as a male bird preening to attract the attention of the mate they have set their eye on. They continue to dance tenaciously on in the periphery of our group hoping to attract my attention. I have to admit that I admire their determination at times. In fact, these guys are not that bad except that some just go a little too overboard if they actually get a chance to dance with me. Let’s just say that personal space gets totally invaded and dance moves go from good to down right disgusting. Fortunately my dancing protection detail are never far away and always attentive so I am always safe from unwanted groping.

Ah, but the worst and therefore most hilarious pick up attempts are made by those who aren’t even dancing. These guys simply come straight onto the dance floor (you got to admire their determination) as I never leave it. They wade through the dancing throngs, come and simply plant themselves directly in front of me, which I have to admit is not an easy task for when I am dancing it is nonstop movement and I don’t stick to one tiny spot on a dance floor. These guys crack me up because they actually think that by simply bringing themselves to my attention by appearing before me that I am going to fall at their feet swept up in their magnificent maleness. Last night I was actually presented with a trio of three men at once attempting this maneuver. They appeared to be friends and I am not sure if they intended to share me or would have competed individually for my undivided attention should I decide to bestow it. In fact, my mind is still trying to figure out exactly what they hoped to achieve by presenting themselves to me in a non-dancing trio on the dance floor.

Guys, are there not some tips out there that you could read up on? Are you completely oblivious to what attracts a woman? Do you actually think that you are such a spectacular specimen of maleness that  a woman simply can’t resist you if she lays eyes on you? All I can say is that thanks to my higher standards and a wonderful protection detail I am in absolutely no danger of being swept off my feet and carried off into the sunset even if I was seeking some romance. But I am seriously considering a new business venture “Charm School” and lessons in successfully asking a girl out! It could be huge money making venture as it is sadly needed in this marketplace.