Monday, April 21, 2008

"I don't like spiders and snakes....."

The lyrics to Jim Staffords’s song from the 70’s is playing over and over in my head these days. As forewarned, snakes are getting ready to hibernate and April is an active month for them. One of the drillers brought by the dreaded Black Mumba that he had run over with his truck (twice – just to be sure he was dead) for me to see. Very big and very scary – even for a dead snake.

Then Roger came home from the drill saying there was a Cobra that was almost 2 meters in length killed beside the drill (above pic). I thought I was leading a charmed life by having only seen dead snakes – until I was sitting outside my tent one day and out of the corner of my eye, saw a yellow one swirl around just a foot away from me.

I reacted as I thought I would.....screamed like a girl and ran like hell! Obert couldn’t hear me as the generator is loud and he was across the road. But one of our drillers was in screaming distance and came to see what the commotion was about. A minute later, there were several of the workers looking for the snake – which slithered – I’m sure in fear – under our tent. Knowing there would be no sleeping if I thought he was still there, the guys took everything out of the tent – lifted it, and then killed the snake. It was only about 2 feet long – but it was my first encounter with a cobra in almost 3 months in Africa – and hopefully my last for awhile. I'm feeling executioner's remorse so decided not to post the picture of the 'little guy'.....

We recently saw huge vultures in a tree – and then saw why. A donkey must have been hit by a car or truck and was dead on the side of the road – giving the vultures and other birds a good meal. Then, on the way to Serowe yesterday for groceries, we saw a sign for the nearest “medi-clinic”....

Roger sees wildlife most days – mainly giraffes, ostriches, hartebeest and snakes – but one day a jackal ran along side of the truck and he was able to take its picture!

We’ve been inviting some of the workers for meals if they are in the neighbourhood and it’s given us a good chance to get to know them. Ask (seen in truck) and Moyo (eating with Obert) and are 2 truck drivers from Zimbabwe and are as polite, hardworking and knowledgeable as Obert and are very appreciative of the home cooking.

The black workers are given ration boxes (the size of 3 cereal boxes) each week and the contents (or lack thereof) leave us shaking our heads: First of all, there are no fruits, vegetables, milk, bread, toilet paper, toiletries etc. A typical box consists of: rice, maize, canned sardines, sometimes beef jerky, spaghetti, beans, soup, tea, coffee, powdered drink mix and packaged spices for casseroles – yet there is no meat to make a casserole. Oh yes...they seem to be getting a weekly can of shoe polish. Go figure.

The white drillers get the boxes too, but they also receive a food allowance and access to refrigeration. We are very aware that we have more than anyone else and although Roger and I can’t change company policy, we can at least help those around us eat a bit better and get treated with some dignity. Their life stories have made a profound impact on us and have given us a far better understanding of the real Africa.

Roger likes to make popcorn so we can eat it by the fire. Here’s a picture of Obert and me eating out of Roger’s ‘popcorn bowls’ which he made from water bottles! Obert used to be a landscaper in Gaborone – as you can see by the picture below, he put his gardening talents to good use in his ‘yard’ by his tent.
The ‘long drop’ is our outhouse, and on hot days it is like sitting in a sauna, so we’ll often keep the door open!

Brad and Anette’s “Magical Mystery Tour” of Africa begins on April 28th and we are very excited. Anyone who knows me will understand that it’s been excruciating keeping the itinerary a secret – but we think it’s going to make it even more fun for them as each day unfolds! After spending about 75 days camping in the Kalahari, I plan to wear sandals, take 2 showers a day, drink lots of cold, clean water and feel free to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night!
Sala sentle.

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