Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Little Boetie’s Big Trip to the mighty Bush!

One of the many things that make my relationship with my one and only sibling remarkable is that we were both born on the 7th of July. Yet we are two years apart. My brother Tigue (hereafter referred to by my nickname for him, Tigger) was born on my second birthday, an event that our dad has always slyly referred to being as a result of “precision grinding”, but enough said about that! Although we share quite a chunk of astrology and numerology we have been described by those nearest to us as being like “chalk and cheese” because we are so different. Although I am the older of the two of us, Tigger towers above me and has a much beefier build to my rather more delicate frame. I am the all dancing all acting, writing, singing artiste with a BA to boot and he’s a qualified electro mechanical engineer who now works as a top end business consultant. In other words he is sorted and I am choice assorted. Well so I’ve always believed. He is a thoroughbred hetero and I am known to be a celebrated fruit. We are different but I would prefer to compare us to “wine and cheese” rather than the “chalk” because we are both gaining value in maturity and we share a sense of humour that would make a block of cheddar feel inadequate. I have always followed my passion for music and acting but have rarely known any security or sense of financial stability, having to be rescued by my family on some desperate occasions, whereas my boetie has diligently slogged for many hours crunching numbers and squinting at computer screens to afford what I deem to be the luxury of self-sufficiency and independence, yet at the cost of not enjoying himself for large parts of his day. Clearly we have a lot to learn from one another. We are both at a crossroads and what better to do at a crossroads than head off together on a road trip into the bush!

I want more stability and he wants more freedom and each is an expert on the opposite subject matter and so I knew in my gut I had to go when my brother unexpectedly asked me a few months ago to join him on what was supposed to be his solo trip on a motorbike through Botswana. He had bought and dismantled the bike and was in the process of preparing to restore it when out of the blue he asked me to come with. So he dumped the bike and we borrowed my dads Ford Ranger 4X4 and off we went, two boetie’s to the bush showered by much parental blessings.

I had no clue where we were headed other than the fact that it involved Botswana and Namibia, and on many of the mornings I would wake up with very little idea of where we were going that day. It was an adventure!
On the first night we camped on the banks of the Limpopo at Kwa Nokeng Lodge at Martin’s drift very close to the Botswana border. It was the only night we each constructed our own tents, thereafter we shared one that was roomy enough for both of us. It claimed to be a four man tent but I think that is only if you and your three friends, like the tent, were made in Taiwan. Next we went to the Khama Rhino sanctuary were we narrowly missed interrupting an excavating rhino not even 50 metres from our campsite and met some very enterprising Tswana women at the gate. The one lady loved telling us how much “Poo Lah!” every exorbitant item in her shop cost and the other lady offered us a business card with the words “Botsogo massage” neck/foot/back 80 Pula full body 160 Pula. Don’t “Pula” my leg! In the middle of the bush in Botswana it seemed you could find yourself a happy ending. What tickled me even more was that this masseuse (calling herself Larona) had like so many other strange women in the “beauty” industry deemed it necessary to remove her natural eyebrows and draw in her own. I wonder what she would do if caught in the rain? Demonstrate a washed-out frown I can only imagine.
One of the highlights was a strange place in the middle of the Makgadikgadi pans named Kubu island. It is an island in the middle of a huge dry white salt pan and although it was very windy, I was enchanted by the strange and interesting baobabs that littered the place. If hugging a tree is supposed to be energetically healing I assumed that hugging a baobab is like super duper amazingly wonderfully good for you, so I went around throwing my arms around the more interesting ones (I didn’t want to appear too desperate.) Tigger had a whale of a time driving maniacally all over the vast white terrain and even managed to get us stuck briefly in the swampy muck that lies only an inch under the crusty surface of the pans. Thankfully he let down the tyres and got us out before we had to slink sheepishly to a campsite to find someone to help us out. We went to Nxai Pan national park the next night where I saw an elephant that danced briefly through a veil of trees before slinking away as my brother returned from fetching firewood. The only elephant sighting we had the entire trip. Botswana is hot dry and vast as is Namibia and if you are looking for a perspective of your life and a place to stretch out your soul and breathe we were definitely in the right places. Every morning we would get up make coffee, eat, pack up the campsite and head off to our next fabulous destination. Our last night in Botswana was spent at a campsite close to Baines’s baobabs at the foot of another huge and mystical tree of the same species. In the afternoons we would nap on stretchers in the shade of a tree and at night we would lie in our tent reading by the white glow of these nifty little lights we wore as head bands looking like two casualties of a mining accident on our respective blown up mattresses. Life slowed down tremendously. We could take our time doing just about everything and that was mind blowing. That night we sat on the pan watching the sunset which was a techni-colour spectacle Hollywood will never be able to simulate. Then we took silly mid-flight photos of one another with the Wicks bubblegum pinks and fanta oranges of the sky as our backdrop.
Between Baines’s and Ghanzi I accidentally drove over a huge green and white cobra and felt really shit about it for ages thereafter. Watching it writhing in the rear view mirror as I drove away will haunt me for a long time. It took up most of the road it was so long and I wish I had managed to avoid it.

I had never been to Namibia before and I was keen to get there because a week before Tigger and I left I met this really hot guy in Risque who said he was originally from there. I had this lame hope that his Namib brethren would be equally gorgeous and strewn all over the streets of Windhoek, but alas I was mistaken but, Joe’s beerhall with my brother will forever be a night to remember. Good Eisbein. Ja.
We climbed a big red dune numbered 45 and burnt the shit out of the souls of our feet because an evil little “tannie” at the foot of the dune told us it was better to climb it barefoot. We ate many cans of sweetcorn and fire roasted onions and discovered the deliciousness of Robert’s “Shisanyama” spice on just about anything. We baked beer laden “potbrood” on the coals and sang to the Beatles and the Rolling stones on the open road through the desert, my feet on the dashboard his hands on the wheel. My brother and me. Swakopmund, Sossusvlei and Sesriem so much fun. It didn’t really matter where we were because we were free. Often the cab of the 4x4 was crammed with laughter, foldaway map books and a handful of mosquitoes that managed to stow away with us the whole trip. We squashed “koringkrieks” (Parktown prawns on steroids) and then watched three others come to the funeral and enjoy a cannibalistic buffet. We overheard a Frenchman being bliksemed by his passionate girlfriend and then promptly reverse his rented bakkie into a thorn tree as she locked herself in the ablution block. We swam in Namaqua hot springs and made spooky echoes of our own voices through the incredible expanse of the Fish River canyon sharing a box of “Eet sum more’s” as the sun set. And of course we talked. I am still flattered and amazed that someone who has known me his entire life would so willingly invite me to share such an amazing and intimate experience in his life. I am forced to see myself in a very positive light because he is intelligent, “insightful”, generous and an absolute gentleman and I am honoured to have shared this time with him. We didn’t solve all our issues or create solutions to one another’s problems but sometimes in life it is enough, like I said, to have an adventure!

Coldplay Talk lyrics

Oh brother I can't, I can't get through
I've been trying hard to reach you, cause I don't know what to do
Oh brother I can't believe it's true
I'm so scared about the future and I wanna talk to you
Oh I wanna talk to you
You can take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that's never been done

Are you lost or incomplete?
Do you feel like a puzzle, you can't find your missing piece?
Tell me how do you feel?
Well I feel like they're talking in a language I don't speak
And they're talking it to me

So you take a picture of something you see
In the future where will I be?
You can climb a ladder up to the sun
Or a write a song nobody has sung
Or do something that's never been done
Do something that's never been done

1 comment:

  1. Namibia is one of the most special places in the world to me. It is truely where you can hear God speak to you. I am glad you had a good time with your brother, and I will get ALL the details later.

    Welcome Back