acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Catfish Cruising

Off the road for a couple of days. Coming to the end of this mad schedule soon.
Just catching up now on sleep, laundry (beware the contamination bags!) emails messages and the rest – probably in that order!

Did a cool river trip this time. The boat we put together in Shakawe last month had to be moved to a better, safer, friendlier, mooring spot south of Sepupa.

Shakawe is a small friendly dustbowl of a town situated on the western panhandle of one of Africa’s most famous rivers – the Okavango. Spent a whole day here sourcing supplies and vital pieces of equipment for the trip. With only three jerry cans it took several trips to the fuel stop to load up 220 litres of fuel. Days end found us ready for a good sleep. Too tired to make food, we sat and sipped sundowners as darkness fell softly around us, and the river swirled on its tireless journey to the Delta.

Awake during the night to look at a sky full of stars. The amber smile of new moon had long since slipped below the horizon. Stars reflecting on the water made dashes of light – stars and stripes. Loud snapping noises punctuated the stillness. Crocodiles? The noises increased, and with the aid of a flashlight, we discovered that a barbel run had started. Barbel are the big catfish after which the boat is named. As the river levels start to drop, they force each other into the shallows and flip and slap around in a sort of mating ritual. Fishermen get excited by this.

Sunrise in Rasta colours over the dense reed beds. Mist rising off the water like golden smoke. Time to emerge from bedrolls, make a small fire for coffee and cast off to follow the mainstream down south. Birds taking flight in the cold air, and spiders webs laced with dew in glistening colonies.

Motored for ten hours downstream, passing lush palm islands, walls of papyrus and reeds. Lagoons filled with water lillies and secret channels enticed us to explore but not this time – until we knew how far and how much fuel we would need.

Pulled into a palm island just before sunset. A small opening on the bank on which to moor the boat. Inside the island a tall dark cathedral of ebony trees and monkey vines. One small window showed a sunlit grass plain on the other side. Made our cooking fire on the site of an old fireplace. Hammerkop and Eagle owls nest watched over the boat. Sleep to gentle shunting of boat on mooring ropes.

Morning mists and cold air cast off for Sepupa. Caught sight of town but still took several hours as horseshoe bends in the river took us first towards then away.
Fish eagles posing and skimmers on sandbanks, occasional crocodile slide into water and swim away in clear waters – African aquarium.

Arrived Sepupa midday having used only 60L of fuel! Well done Catfish.
Picked up rest of mob and continued on to island. Adventure over far too quickly but to be resumed – much exploring to be done as delta fans out into Kalahari sands.
Watch this space…


Chimera said...

Hi Val,
Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Love your blog! Really evocative and inspiringly engaging..i can feel and see through you! keep it up! (Watch out for them donkeys!)
Tanvi (Chimera)

Lori ann said...

god. i dont know what to say.your words. i have to go back to my life now, which is a good one i'll say. but this whole bloging business, it started with Janelles blog then i was led to Mirandas (your daughter?yes?)a few others, i am completly mesmerized by your words. really. and like i said i have a good life. i just want to be you right now. can you add some photos too val?
thanks for the mental images anyway, i will be back.

Spiny Marshmallow said...

Love yr blog and cant wait wait for pics, do pics.....

Spiny Marshmallow said...

Yay yay yay - at last a venue for yr lovely clever evokative words - I'm your first word fan remember??!!

Val said...

thanks guys for your very kind words and encouragement!!
Lori - Miranda is the daughter of my very great and inspirational friend Pam
I will try to put some pics if i can crack the code...
Chimera - keep those toes on show :-)

Val said...

Pamu - how could i ever forget!!

Angela said...

Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Val, I`ll dream of those ebony trees and the stars above and the amber moon tonight...

Val said...

thanks Geli - me too!