Kookerboom Forest

Today was an early wakeup day for everyone at 6:00 am. We have communal showers here, men on one side and women on the other. I showered last night, though the only people I would have had to share with would be Ron and Hans, but I avoided the rush. I appreciate my private time with a hot shower. We need to be on the road by 7:00. After traveling through the Kalahari, our first stop is the Kokerboom forest of strange trees, called the quiver trees ( http://www.encounter.co.za/article/88.html). The bushmen would cut through their hard bark and use the spongy inside for quivers for their arrows. For the trees to survive, they have to grow tall enough that animals cannot eat their leaves. If their leaves are eaten, the tree dies. Contradictorily, the tree is very slow growing, so it is almost impossible for the trees to survive, but some do. The trees we are walking amongst are 150 to 200 years old. It took us four hours to reach this forest, but it was pretty amazing. Within this forest, there was one bush that was delectable to butterflies. It was loaded with them, making the bush look like a Christmas tree with twinkle lights on it as the butterflies flapped their wings open and closed. They were white with a black streak on each wing. Interspersed were a couple of orange ones, but different from Monarch butterflies. John and Bruce found a slow leak on yet another tire and they tried getting the other spare off to replace it. We all stood by the bathrooms in the Quiver tree forest in the shade while they slaved away, but to no avail. The spare was rusted on and would not budge with all of their yanking, pulling, and banging. They even tried pouring a can of Coca-Cola on it since rumors have always said it will remove rust. It did not in our allotted time period, so either we are too impatient or it is indeed a myth. When the consensus was that the tire was not going to get fixed at this afternoon stop, we drove the next three hours at a slower speed, finally causing the tire to actually go flat. We pulled up to the side of the road and Bruce put up an overhang on the side of the truck giving some shade and he fixed lunch. When life gives you lemons, make lunch with them. We ate, the crew worked on the truck’s tire yet again. Regardless of their stamina, patience and ideas, the tire was not about to be removed after their constant struggles for an hour’s time. While this was happening, Doris started to develop some reactions to the Malaria medications and needed some medical attention. Bruce told us we would have to make a diversion to get her medical care, but none of us care about that, we were more concerned about Doris. We were forced to drive with one bad tire, but it sounded like John was having a difficult time getting the truck into first gear. We thought it would be about an hour to get to a clinic, but it was more like two with our impeded mobility due to the tire. We finally pulled up to a Wimpy’s service center, where we were dropped off. Bruce called the hospital and arranged a ride for Doris. While we were snacking and relaxing in air conditioning, the garage was able to fix the tire and Doris was driven back to meet us. It is now close to 5:00 and the overcast sky that we have had all day is getting darker, threatening an impending storm is nearby. There was a photo on the wall of Wimpy’s that showed the flood they had one year ago. Half of Wimpy’s was under water. We are supposedly only 20 km from our resting place for this evening. An hour and a half later, we were on the road again; we stopped in a small Namibian town with a Spar supermarket. This really surprised me that here in Africa, in this small village of 2,000 people, they would have a Spar with scanners at the check outs like in Budapest and other European cities. What was even more shocking was to see a restaurant with “Belaton Hungarian Take Away Food”. Our schedule has gone askew from the itinerary a bit due to the different circumstances that had not been planned for. We are at our accommodation near the dam, where we are again four to a cottage and we are sharing with Jean and Omo. We work well together and this is a good arrangement, hopefully for all of us, if we have to share at all. This cottage is really basic, though it has two bedrooms and each has two beds, the kitchen has no supplies at all. The bathroom is without toilet paper and none of us have any, so we had to yell for Bruce to come to our rescue. We seemed to be the unlucky ones; all the other cabins are supplied with it. Dinner was at Bruce’s cabin, where we sat around and talked for some time after dinner. When we walked back to our cabin, it was black out. It was difficult to see each other walking side by side. We had forgotten our flashlights in the suitcases, like forgetting an umbrella when rain is predicted. We minced our way back, taking small steps, not to trip and fall. As we were approaching our cabin, we heard rustling sounds followed by clomping. Our hearts beat faster, and Ron yelled “Hello”, but nothing responded back. The sounds continued and we forced our steps faster and faster to our door. As we put the key in the lock and were about to turn it, we heard “Have a good night” from the security guard who was walking by. Today’s mileage was 450 km totaling 1440 km thus far.