acacia blossoms

acacia blossoms

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Catfish dreaming

Well I am back from the lovely lively waters of the Okavango. Cruising on the Catfish Running on waters dark with crocodiles, yet reflecting bright skies of travelling thunderheads and graced with the flat leaves of waterlillies.

Night time star scapes of such bright audacity that bow and retreat as the full moon rises like a burning coal over the sea of papyrus and reeds. Driving through flooded plains tyre deep in bright waters. Long grasses swaying in the wake like mermaid hair. Tall lillies and yellow butterflies highlight the lush greenness of everything. After a long road, and hot sweaty day, bathtime by moonlight, in a tin bath filled with river water. The moon reflected in the smooth waters shone a double spotlight on the scene with showstopping brightness, making our candles look yellow and dull by comparison.

Waking to dawn light and a flock of open billed storks take off from their roosting spot in a tall riverine tree - filling the air with their broad wingbeats and whirling away out of sight for the day. Laser beams of sunlight pierce the tops of the reeds and papyrus heads; mares tails of cloud shapes pattern the broad blue sky.

Midday, we are motoring quietly between walls of papyrus, peeping over to secret islands of pheonix palm trees held aloft by grey termite mounds. The midday heat flattens us out, sapping energy. Behind us a rain curtain of dove grey steadily obscures islands and floodplains, moving swiftly towards us. We are slow to react and the rain catches us, splattering large cool droplets that increase in speed and intensity until we are rushing to pack away bedding, close windows and doors. We retreat downstairs where the rain pours in down the canvas sides, and through a strategic hole in the roof. We move into the side of the river and settle in with the papyrus fronds to wait out the storm.

Convection winds arrive, belting us sideways, tearing at canvas stays and angrily trying to free loose objects and steal them away - robber winds. Rivulets of water run over the floor. Papyrus bob at the doorway like nosy neighbours nodding , shaking their diamante bedecked heads knowingly.

The rain passes. The sun comes out and so does our soaked bedding - drip drying off the rails of the upper deck.

Then the phone rang - news from home. There was another armed robbery. Someone was shot. There was a roadblock by armed men in military uniforms, stealing money and cell phones from each car they stopped. It all comes rushing back like an ill wind. The river pushes steadily on. We are in a loophole on the river - all around there is crime and no punishment. We must return soon, but will carry the river in our dreams.


Angela said...

I wish you could have STAYED there! When I read your words it seems incredible that such places exist - it sounds like paradise to me, sudden rain included. And those storks, I wonder if they are the same ones that return to our meadows soon? Why return at all ...Take care, Val!!!

Lori ann said...

oh Val, It all sounds like a dream. The waterlilies and papyrus with crocodiles and butterflies,my imagination is running...i am so glad you had a respite on the river, and after hearing the phone call how you must have wanted just to stay.
you could charge for use of the tin bath in the moonlight, could that be any more romantic???!!
thank you for sharing this,
xxx lori

p.s geli! we were typing at the same time!

Anonymous said...

Oh what a wonderful description of a splendid place that I so dearly would love to visit. your magical description will do nicely for now.

Sorry about the bad news bringing you back to reality!

Anonymous said...

Aaaaaargh !!!!
(1) because I'm jealous of your fantastic writing!!!
(2) because I wish I'd been on the water!!!
(3) because crime it out of control!!!

All okay back in our real world ?

Stacy Hackenberg said...

Beautifully written, Val. You painted a real picture and while I will never see Africa, with your words I come close.

Kristin said...

Absolutely gorgeous, Val. Bittersweet but gorgeous.

tam said...




Val - a byaaoootiful post. And thanks for your wishes on mine. ;)

Val said...

Angela -it is heaven there - but we still have to earn our daily bread...we get european storks here too which i guess are the same as yours

Lori -yes it does feel like a dream now looking back. That bath was the best :-)

Rob - reality has a way of intruding but i suppose we need balance

Janet - hehe - all quiet on the eastern front now!

True Blue Texan - thanks - why not come to AFrica?

Kristin - hello - yes, so it goes i suppose

Tam - dreams are excellent things!

thanks all for your lovely comments xx

Val said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reya Mellicker said...

Better than most of us "civilized" folks, you really know how to become contiguous with the land. I so admire that, and feel humanized whenever I read your posts. Believing myself to be distinct from the landscape is not healthy. Thank you.

sorry, though, to hear about the armed robberies. Sending protective energy to you!

Anonymous said...

Lori ann took the words out of my mouth, sounds like a dream.

But such a worry for the victims of the robbery.

CJ xx

Rosaria Williams said...

Val, I'm new, from Angela's blog, actually. She mentions you often. Now I understand why: the imagery is immediate and forceful, the athmosphere builds with each description. You know how to transport and make the reader live the scene. Too bad we can't be there.

Sorry, you too had to return to the other world.

Barbara Martin said...

Val, your descriptions are beautiful and moving. I felt as if I was there right beside you.

Mike said...


Your blog has been recommended to us as a interviewee's favorite blog!

We would like to do an interview with you about your blog for . We'd like to give you the opportunity to
give us some insight on the "person behind the blog."

It would just take a few minutes of your time. The interview form can
be submitted online at

Best regards,

Mike Thomas

karen said...

dreaming, indeed! just exactly perfect, bathtub and all! :-)

Val said...

Reya - thanks for your wise words always - I feel honoured. Alas crime and no punishment is an epidemic we all have to live around here. I suppose it balances all the amazingly wonderful facets that also surround us.

CJ - yes so sad - he had a young family that witnessed it all.

Lakeviewer - thanks for stopping by. i am off to visit yours!

Barbara - thanks - i was certainly thinking of my blogging pals while on the river

Mike - thanks - i did it

Karen - nice to have you back!

thanks all xx