October 5, 2005

Botswana FlagWe slept so soundly last night that even though our tent was right next to the truck and the washrooms, we didn’t hear people moving around and talking. Breakfast this morning was at 7 am. Paul still wasn’t feeling any better despite drinking some oral rehydration therapy drink that had come from UNICEF.

The drive to Kasane, the last place in Botswana for us, was hot and tiring. The monotony was broken only once, when we stopped at a cattle disease control checkpoint and had to walk through a tray of disinfectant. Kasane is near Chobe National Park, where we were scheduled to have a game drive, and we started to see a lot of elephants.

In Kasane we did some shopping and bought bananas and orange juice. Paul tried to eat some bananas and drink some juice, but he threw it up almost immediately. At this point it was obvious that he was in no condition to go on a three-hour game drive in the sun, so Leon sent him to the private medical clinic just down the road.

At the medical clinic, Paul was seen by Dr. Umthlabisi Ndlovu—“My name means Elephant”, he said. He asked about his symptoms and whether he was taking any malaria medication (most of the symptoms of heat exhaustion are listed as possible side effects of Malarone).

The doctor also checked for pain in Paul’s internal organs. Finally he gave him an injection of antibiotic (yes, with a fresh needle from a fresh bottle) and dispensed some pills and some rehydration powder.

His office ladies ran off the bill on the computer, for a total of 250.71 pula. Paul didn’t have that much cash, so he walked slowly down the street to get it from the ATM. After that he dozed off in the waiting room for a couple of hours, until the truck came by at 5 pm to pick him up, and he heard about all the great animal sightings he had missed in Chobe National Park.

The drive to the gates of Chobe took about 15 minutes, and once there we stopped to use the washrooms. Our driver/guide was called Oliver and he was very good.

The first animals we encountered were baboons with their young. We sat and watched them for a while before carrying on toward the river. The variety of animals we saw on that drive was amazing: baboons, sable antelope, elephants, warthogs, kudu, impala, giraffes, crocodiles, hippos. The youngest elephant we saw was less than one week old and was able to walk under its mother’s stomach.

We asked Oliver what he thought the temperature was and he guessed 39 C. Way too hot! Before leaving Chobe, we all had to get our shoes disinfected as there was anthrax in the area. At Kasane we collected Paul from the medical clinic.

Our first stop after leaving Kasane was the Botswana border post, where got departure stamps in our passports, then we carried on a little bit further to the Zimbabwe border post to get our visas. We had been told that Zimbabwe visas were free for Canadians, but that rule had changed some time ago and we had to pay the same US$30 that everybody else did. At least we got a very nice sticker in our passports for that price.

It took about half an hour to process the whole group, but once done it only took about an hour to get to the Drifters Victoria Falls Inn. We were greeted by Leanne who gave us the keys to our room—we were lucky to have an ensuite bathroom! By this time the antibiotics had brought Paul’s temperature down and he was feeling a bit better, so he managed to eat some food.

Dinner tonight was put on by the Drifters Inn: salad, roast potatoes, rice, green beans, and carrots, plus yummy mango sauce over white cake. Between the soup and the main course we watched some traditional African dances, which were very well done but we would all rather have been eating. Once dinner was over, Leanne gave us a brief talk, then we went back to our room to write journals and have showers. The beds here are under mosquito nets, something we have not seen before on our trip.

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