The Caprivi Strip

We traveled from Etosha NP back to Grootfontein, Namibia, where we stopped so that Henry could resupply from the market and grocery stores there. While Henry, Mambo, and John were occupied, we were turned loose to find lunch in the village and do whatever shopping we might want.

The parking lot was the scene of the open air market, on the right, and the gas station on the left. Beyond that were some shops and a Pick N Pay grocery, and a small shopping mall that held ATMs. The two young ladies below were monitoring the restrooms and collecting the coins – there was a small fee. I asked if I could take their photo. I thought just a snapshot, but they decided they would pose!

Our destination for these two nights was Roy’s Rest Camp, several kilometers outside of the village of Grootfontein. It was a relaxed place, a combination of tent camping and cottages. Gail, Lilia, and I opted to upgrade and share a cottage rather than struggle with the tents.

Roy’s had a pool, which everyone enjoyed, complete with a fountain at one end, made from an old bathtub, and a bar, which everyone also enjoyed. The cottages all looked as if they had been designed by the Seven Dwarfs, with winding paths that contributed to the effect.

Two of our group, Jack and Ry, had birthdays while we were there, and it was celebrated after dinner that evening, with cake and candles. Henry and John organized us into celebrating “Kenya style,” with dancing and chanting, while Mambo improvised drumming on an upside-down bucket.

While we were at Roy’s, we took a day trip out to a “Living Museum” dedicated to preserving and showing how a bush tribe lived. These are the San people, whose cave drawings can be found all around southern Africa.

This man is the shaman or medicine man of the tribe. If you have pain, sadness, or even malaria, this is the tribal member you would seek out. As we walked through the area around their village, he would show us the plants that they used to care for his patients.

Dancing was an important part of tribal life. Various dances by both men and women helped strengthen the ties among the members – celebrations, deaths, prayers to the ancestors for wisdom were all expressed through dancing. We were able to join for a dance of unity among the women.

They showed us how to start a fire with a stick, tinder, and a piece of flat wood. They made it look easy, of course, but I am probably better off with waterproof matches!

This young man is making an arrow from a porcupine quill. The quills are sharp, and are attached to a straight stick. The guide/translator behind him is holding a finished arrow. They are not very long, and the bows are not very powerful, and probably would not kill an animal just by being shot. The San people poison the arrow tips, the quills, with worms that eat the sap of a tree. All the arrow has to do is to deliver the poison. After the animal is hit, the San hunter tracks the animal until it dies. Experience has taught the people that the poison remains in the body, but concentrated in one place, and so they can eat the rest without harm. You have to wonder how much “experience” that took!

Water is scarce here – we are still in Namibia – and San people would leave a “straw” in a tree that collected rainwater in the pool between two branches.

Here, they are teaching Joe how to set a snare for small game. Missing an eye was a common condition among the men in the tribe, so Joe is leaning away from the snare as he sets it.

The children of the tribe were ahead of us on the path heading back toward the entrance, and a good thing, too — there was a puff adder (poisonous) in the grass growing in the path! They came back to warn us.

I certainly wouldn’t have seen it. Most of it is hidden in the photo, but the head is visible, barely, at the edge of the shadow, on the right side of the grass patch.

The shaman is calling upon the ancestors’ spirits, asking them to visit and help them find a cure for a member of the tribe who is sick, and for whom the usual remedies are not helping. It is a trance-like attempt at communication, supported by chants and clapping from the other members, mainly women. One woman comes out from the line to help encourage the spirits.

The oldest member of the tribe. They don’t keep track of birthdays, so no one knew how old she is.

Caryl organized the kids for a group photo with her selfie-stick. The kids were delighted to join in, and to see the results.

Our truck, back at Roy’s Rest Camp.

The back of Mambo’s tee shirt. Some of the people in our group were going all the way to Nairobi with Mambo and the crew, but others of us were stopping in Victoria Falls, which was getting closer.

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