September 21, 2005

Namibia FlagThe moon had been up most of the night, so it was very bright. We were awoken about 6:30 am by Hadeda Ibises flying over and squawking, but people only started to get up after 7. We had the usual breakfast and were on the river by 8:15 am.

Today we had 18 km to paddle, compared with yesterday’s 8 km, but this morning we were lucky and there was no wind. The riverside scenery was quite spectacular and we saw lots of birds, not to mention some cattle. We had mostly flat paddling with the occasional small rapid, and usually it was Christian and Leon who got hung up on the rocks, developing quite a reputation. Just before lunch we came to a more serious rapid. William showed us what to do, then nobody wanted to go first. “Send the Canadians!” someone shouted, so down we went. Rosemary was in the bow so she caught all the waves, but we made all the turns with no problems. So did everybody else except Mark and Richard (again), who came floating and spluttering down after their boat took on water.

The lunch spot was just around the corner, so people could sit in the sun and dry off. However it wasn’t uncomfortable to be wet because the temperature was quite warm. Lunch was sandwiches and fruit.

After lunch we continued for another 8 km. Along the way we saw a baboon family on the bank, and we watched the big male sitting at the river’s edge plucking grass. Carrying on down the river, we passed a section where the sandstone rocks were eroded into interesting shapes. As we got closer to the end of our journey, there were more and more rocks to steer around. Within sight of the end there was a last rocky section where, unfortunately, Christian and Leon’s canoe turned over. This time the cooler came open, so those of us down-stream paddled about fishing out squash, cucumbers, banana peels, and so on. Right by the pull-out place there was a family of vervet monkeys in the trees.

We unloaded all the canoes and loaded our gear onto the roof of the Felix Unite bus, while the staff loaded the canoes onto a trailer. The trip back was through an extremely dry and inhospitable desert area. Back at Felix Unite we unloaded the bus, then the buckets, then reorganized our gear that had been in the buckets. Everybody decided to sleep on the grass without tents, as the chance of rain and mosquitoes was basically zero. The showers were also greatly appreciated as there was sand and mud everywhere.

Dinner tonight was traditional African mielie meal (“pap”) with barbecued lamb chops, boerewors sausage, gem squash, and cabbage salad. Very good food. The mielie meal was rather tasteless (it looked and felt like Cream of Wheat) so it was dipped in a tomato-and-onion sauce; the gem squash was like a tiny pumpkin and you put creamed corn into the centre. After dinner we finished our journals for both today and yesterday.

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