Out of Darkness
Joseph Conrad has nothing on me–I’ve been on a boat on the Chobe river in Namibia for four days. A boat with no internet, a phone that isn’t receiving text messages and a cell phone carrier that won’t recognize my ATT data package, so using the phone to check email is prohibitively expensive. Stanley searching for Livingstone (who was only about 50 miles from where we were) was no more cut off from civilization.
Of course, it was beautiful beyond words. Waking up to the sunrise and the sound of grunting hippos is pretty special.
We were on the Zambese Queen, which is more of a floating hotel than a river cruise boat. Since the navigable length of the Chobe is about 15 km, there isn’t much cruising to be done. Mostly, the boat sits moored and the tourists take speedboats to view the wildlife in the area.
We spent much of our time in immigration buildings. The boat is in Namibia. The plane lands in Botswana. You enter Botswana and get your passport stamped for entry, drive 3 miles to the immigration office and get it stamped again, for exit. Then you cross the river and get it stamped by Namibian immigration for entry. Because the ship is a Namibian company, you have to be in Namibia.
But the game park is in Botswana. So the day we went there we had to check out of Namibia and into Botswana, see the park, check out of Botswana and back into Namibia. Each time, there is a wait in line, a perfunctory look at the paperwork and passport, and some really vigorous stamping. WHACK! Hit the stamp into the ink pad. SMACK! Crash it into the passport. These bureaucrats make it look like they are working hard. It was worth it because we saw this beauty:
Gail and I were in Kenya 5 years ago, and we greatly impressed by the birds. People come to Africa to see the “big 5” animals–elephant, rhino, giraffe, hippo and leopard. Then you find out that there are 450 different species of bird here, each more elegant and beautiful than the next. Here is just one type of the local beauties:
After four days of gawking at the animals, fine dining and power napping, we checked out of Namibia, into and out of Botswana and finally into Zimbabwe, to see Victoria Falls. We’re in an elegant 1940’s styled hotel, aptly named the Victoria Falls Hotel, and will go see the falling water in the morning. Now I’m going to sleep–all this passport stamping has me worn out.