Karen's Blog

Let's take a walk through a brand new day.

Part 11: African Adventure 2022

Maun, Botswana

When we arrived at the Maun Airport, we were greeted by a driver who took us on a quick tour of town and then whisked us away to the Cresta Maun hotel. 

We had the afternoon free to rest or explore. David and I did neither. As we chatted with two of the guests on our tour, Ashley and Shaun, we realized that there was more to be seen before we left Africa. We had witnessed four of the Big Five in the wild but we still had not seen the rhino. Our safari seemed incomplete. We originally planned to go to the Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge in Sabi Sands(a private reserve right outside of Kruger National Park). At the last minute, in the interest of time and money, we had chosen to leave that portion of our trip for another time. But, now that we were here, it seemed as though things were unfinished. So, David and I made the last minute decision to change our flight back home to 3 days later and spend 3 days in Sabi Sands looking for the elusive Rhino. It took us quite some time to find a lodge with availability and rearrange our flights, but we managed to get it done. 

We still had one last night with our group and we would spend it in Maun with a native family who would cook dinner for us and engage us in stories of Botswana.The lady who offered her home for this experience was raised in Maun but left to go to the United States where she was educated. She came back to her native land and pledged to help the children learn that there was a way out of poverty. So, she bought some land, made it her home and started a mission. The land became a place where children could come to learn. She encourages them to bring anything they can find on the side of the road, in their home, on the street, in the trash etc. and then she teaches them how to up-cycle it or make something from it.  Examples: The chairs we sat on were old tires with woven rope seating and a homemade cushion to make them comfortable.  A stick on the side of the road became a beautiful cooking spoon (which I bought). Old magazines became necklaces. Soda can tabs became coasters and hot mats. The children then sell their wares at the site they are made. Visitors have dinner, hear stories of Botswana, browse the goods for sale and the money goes directly to the children. Genius!

Old useless tires converted to campfire seating

The stories told this evening were of Botswana cultural norms, mores, and beliefs. She shares these stories with visitors and locals so that the heritage can be preserved and passed to the younger generation.

David was chosen as a character in one of her stories.

The food we were served had different names but was somewhat similar to what we might have in the south. Something like collard greens, something like rice, something like black eyed peas, chicken, barbecue pork, butternut squash and their staple, Pap or Ugali. Pap is a fluffy porridge made from maize meal (coarsely ground maize). Depending on how it’s cooked, it can be runny, soft, or stiff and almost flavorless. It is the sustenance of Africa and is made so that it can be eaten with the hands in most homes. Ugali eating etiquette requires that the Ugali be placed on a plate in the center of the table where everyone takes a small amount, forms it into a ball, depresses a hole in the center and uses it to dip the stew. Ugali is on the bottom right of this photo.

Should have taken a picture before I started eating

Before the night ended we received drumming lessons and for a minute we all sounded pretty good with all the different types of drums in symphony! Drums were originally used by tribes as a form of communication. Today, drums are still an important part of African culture and are used in celebrating ceremonial events and rituals within a community.

We all played a different style of drum

It was a sad evening as our group had become very close on our Safari adventures and this was our last night as a group. Experiencing a meal with a local family was the perfect way to say to goodbye to Botswana together.


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