Sunday, July 5, 2009
After cleared and answered several questions of curious Bastwana immigration workers concerning the cycling expedition. In particularly, one of the them, a traditional African built woman as described by Mc in his books “Tradition Tea Time”, come out of the office and asked more questions as we walk out side. At the end she said "I wish I was you". I was near to bust big laughter I did my best to omit itbecause she was real serious, I fell very sorry for her when I look her over size body ,I wonder which kind of saddle can feat her big buttock.
I cycled out of the border post gate painted Botswana flag color’s this get deep ito my mind now I was cycling in the country I have heard very little negative than positive, rarely heard it in the world leading medial.
Under leadership of Sir Seretse Khama (1966-80),Ketumile Masire (1980-98), Fetus Mogae and today son of Seretse Khama, Botswana has beenthe Cinderella story of postcolonial Africa. In 1966, the country emerged from 80 years of British colonialism as one of 10 poorest county in the world with annually per capital income of $69. Yet over the subsequent years, the nation’s economy has grown at an average annual rate of 11%, one of the world’s highest. At independent the country had no paved road but today infrastructure had been created and social services expanded such growth has translated into improving standards of living for most Botswana citizens. However, the gap between the small but growing middle class( and few truly wealth)and the majority who remain poor is also widening, resulting in social tension.
Botswana’s economic success has come in the context of its unbroken post independence commitment to political pluralism, respect for human rights, and racial and ethnic tolerance. Freedom of speech and association have been upheld, the time I visited the country was in about 9th successful multipart election. Most of Botswana’s people share Setswana as their first language a tongue that is commonly spoken in much of South Africa. There also exist a number of sizable minority communities Kalanga, Herero, Khalagari, Khoisan groups, and others but contemporary ethnic conflict is relatively modest. In nineteenth century, most f Botswana was incorporated into five Tswana states, each centering around a large settlement. These states, which incorporated non Tswana communities, survived through agropastotalism, hunting, and their control of trade route linking Southern and Central Africa. Lucrative dealing in ivory and ostrich feathers allowed local rulers to build up their arsenals and thus deter the aggressive designs of South Africa whites. An attempt by white settlers to seize control of southern Botswana was defeated in an 1853-53 war. However, European missionaries and traders were welcomed, leading to growth of Christian education and the consumption of industrial goods.
Economic growth since independence has been largely fueled by the rapid expansion of mining activity. Botswana has become one of the world’s leading producers of diamonds which typically account 80% of it export earnings. Local production is managed by Debswana Corporation, an even partnership between the Botswana government and DeBeers, a South Africa-based global corporation; DeBeers’ Central Selling Organization has a near monopoly on diamond sales world wide.
From Chobe I cycled towards south Passed the road junction which heading west to Kasani town. Kasani is a tourist town situated in the river bank, Kasai river join Zambezi river. Here is the get way to Chobe National Park, Caprivi Strip to North Namibia. I cycled towards south further interior of almost dry country.
Botswana has a sparsely population. The population is estimated to be 2 million people mostly based in urban areas which left the large arable part of the county inhabited. I entered the country in the north-east from Zimbabwe, Kazingula border. I rode for about 2km and stopped at Chobe the junction to Kasane town. The road to east is heading to Capriv Strip.
I kept on cycling from the Chobe as I took the main road which heading to Francis town via Nata and then to the capital city, Gaborone. I had several punch (a flat tire) because of the sharp thorn in the road. I had crazy ideal of over inflate the tires so to avoid shape thorns but, ironic, this lead to the tire bust. It was afternoon, very hot. I get more tired maybe because I was tried to ride very fast to find the village to re full the water bottles but four hours without success. After had a bust I decide to look for a shade and have a rest. As I was lied myself under the tree and enjoy the gentle, cool breeze accompanied with beautiful birds songs. The vehicles drivers who were passing by hon and shout something which I could not hear. I come to understand what they were meant when I reached certain farm house 60km from Chobe. It was near to 18hrs. I stopped in the house to ask for water and then to continue to Pandamatenga where I planed to overnight according to the map. After long calling one woman who latter introduce to me as Emelida come out and greeting out and great in Setswana language. She told me it is not possible to reach Pandamatenga which is 20km from here farm because there is a lot of lions in the plain. She add that; I will witness myself after dark fall when the Lions will start roaring and roaming around the house. Emelida said she was from Kasane and she passed me some where in the road, she wondered if I was aware that this was wild life areas. Here I got incite of what those vehicles drivers were shouting. Probably, they were said; "What is hell are you doing here! You are going to be special dinner of lions! etc, etc. Emelida offer me a room to sleep and in top of that there was strong dinner for me. (a stiff porridge, you know this is African meal. Here they call it "Papa" In Zambia "Nshima" and Tanzania Swahili is "Ugali"). Emalida was true, around 20hrs I could hear lions roaring, she told me don’t dare to get out during the night because hear lions are like strayed dogs in towns"
In next day, after breakfast which usually it include vegetable soup to worm up then cup of coffee which contain Milo and poured milk this goes together with 4 slices of loaf and corn flack. Or sometime like those time in Zambia I boiled sweet potatoes which were plenty. This is a strong breakfast which used to take me up to 13hrs when I stop for what I used to call simple lunch this is; bread which I smelt margarine and peanut butter sometime together with fresh fruits but very occasion. I don't find lot of fruits compere to East Africa.
I left the Emelida's house which boarded with other two neighborhood houses but scatted 07"15hrs. These houses are only houses found in the distance of 100km from Chobe to Pandamatenda. About 5km from the houses I could not believe my eyes when I saw two males lions walking slowly to the bush. The grass was long which made me not to see them from far. The distance was very close and I was in the speed. In my mind there was no replay of what I should do but thanks to my feet which were still pedaling in unimaginable speed. My heart get boosted hence heart rate and respiration, muscles get tensed and body fall in the general alert level. The lions were kept on walking to the bush probably, they were avoiding me. Even after passed them still I could not believe. I was still felt they were running after me so as my mind produce such kind of picture my feet accelerate the speed. Unfortunately, I didn't remember to have a look on my speed meter to record that speed. When I reached Pandamatenga just a small town, I stopped at the only fuel station where there is also take away kiosk. I was sweating, and felt unusual. No matter how hard I tried to put myself in the normal condition but the tension lived for some time. I entered in the take away kiosk without knowing what I was going to buy. I find out all of the people who were inside and other outside was looking on me. I don't know they were wonder after long bicycle traveler as most does or; my tension or; when I told the servant I want coffee. The servant asked "coffee!". Then I felt like work up and replayed to her "Yes cup of coffee''. As I was drink the coffee looking at the road tried to repeat the picture of what happen. I laugh myself.
One man come and seat beside me after Setswana greeting;"Dumela Rra" I replayed "Dumela Rra". The interview started as usual, then other people join and in few minutes I was in the middle of crowd. It become so common whenever I stopped people come and start asking questions and form little crowd. Unfortunately, some speak others do not speak English they do speak local languages so they usual don't enjoy the conversation. From Pandamatenga to Nata 200km I hitch hike as the information was the same 'wildlife areas’.
I reached Nata 18hrs.Nata is a small town just found along side the road and junction of the road from west(Maun), from North (Kasani) and from south (Francis town). The lodge I found around was expensive not affordable for such cyclist travel. I asked the truck driver to pitch my tent in the trailer. Here there were so many tracks packing. When I asked them WHY, they said it's Botswana law that during the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) the tracks shouldn't travel during the nights. They should stop when it reaches 18:00hrs up to the next day. They said this is to avoid the accidents which are in the high rate here. Tswana (Batswana) drink very heavy.
In the next I work up feel strong compare to the last day. During the night and morning it was very cold 5c. After having a breakfast I cycled towards west despite the fact that the situation was the same just like where I come from in the north. The body get worm but the air was heavy whereby I can't breathe through noise only. I use mouth breath.
I passed though farms and few villages. I stopped at the picnic site for lunch. The picnic sites are found mostly after 30km or so in most of southern Africa reads. I reached Gweta village 100km from Nata. After having a cup coffee in the take away kiosk I kept on cycling. In the evening 50km from Gweta I hitch hike to Maun.
Maun a delta town, get way to Okavanga Delta.
The pace where the water meet the desert. Here I overnight two night at Old bridge backpackers. I left Maun 10:00hrs after coming back from boat trip which I had been invited with friends. Cycled towards south west through semi-desert, passed few villages. In this semi-desert night and morning is very cold sometime up to -3C. During the day time the sun is very bright which rise the temperature up to 30C. The strong wind which blew from west to east/ south west to north east hinder my speed. I reach Toteng 14:30 my body was so exhausted plus headache. I hitch hike from Toteng to the next town Lake Ngami.The area is low land which coursed the Lake Ngami, the area surrounding the Lake its relative dry. I overnight at Lake Ngami and start the fever (Malaria)tables. In the next day I was felt bet stronger. I left Lake Ngami small town which is characterized by the indigenous paternalists early in the morning. I cycled towards North West. The wind was so strong. In the after noon when I reached Kuke village/check point. I could felt the pain of my back. The whole back born was real pain, this is the sign of high fever. From Kuke I hitch hike to Ghanzi town where I overnight at the wide deserted campsite. The camping ground offered free to me by the Kwaha Safari lodge. The night was very long. I only manage to sleep for few hours. I thought maybe is because of the Malaria dose which I was undertaking or because of the night cold. In the following day I decide to have a rest, I went for the walk in Ghanzi town. In this town it's where I found a lot of Basarwa, the San (Bush man of Kalahari). Here there are those who tried to copy the modern life as the Botswana government forces them. In the real fact from the few I observed and who I talked with it's real had to change their mode of life. Some are living in the tents and old houses which provided by government. There is nothing real for them to do as their not enough able to engage in the hand and heavy work. Most of them they are high substance abuser. Nearby the town there are the lodges which provide some Basarwa/San place to live. Here travelers come and have a chance to learn more about the life of this fist people to live in Kalahari Desert. Around the town the restaurant and bars were full and people (most of them are youth) are having fun. I remember the trucks drivers who said during the weekend in Botswana is only about drinking. In the after noon I returned to the camp. The fever was still high, the body was very hot. In the evening I had the companion of two gays who was over landing by hitch hiking from Britain to South Africa. We shared the time charting around the fire. The next day I left Kwaha safari lodge cycling slowly towards south west. In the late evening I manage to cover 100km.
I camp at the bush man village. Here I shared the meal with the bush man. The meal was two ostrich eggs and some boiled ground plant which I could not recognize. The next day early in the morning I left the village, I was bet strong maybe because of Ostrich eggs meal. I managed to cycle about 120km. In the evening I crossed the Trans Kalahari border post to Namibia.