Sunday, August 26, 2007

The second day at Tau

We got a wakeup call at 6:30 am today for our second early morning game drive. The first thing we saw were these little vervet monkeys sitting right on our roof! They were pretty cute. During our gram drive, we spent most of the first part of the morning chasing after the mother lion and her 5 cubs, but it was so cold she probably had them hidden away. I was glad I brought all these warm clothes – it was pretty windy and chilly. Some of the other people didn’t realize how cold it was going to be (which I think is a little silly) and didn’t bring much warm stuff.

The first things we saw were more elephants – two more bulls traveling together. Hein also took us on a short walk to see to some elephant bones. This female elephant was one of the lucky ones and actually died of old age. They live about as long as humans do – up to 70 years. Even years after they die, the other elephants will drag their bones around and spread them around. Hein said this was a sign of respect. A few of us took pictures holding Hein’s gun next to the elephant bones – which was a little silly. Being medical people, we also spent some time trying to figure out exactly which bones were which - there were maybe 5 large pieces strewn about. The skull was easily identified of course (it has a huge nasal cavity!), but the rest of the pieces were a little tougher. We thought we identifed the hip bone and maybe a femur, but we were just guessing. Hein thought we were funny. :)

Then Hein took us to a fenced enclosure to see these 3 wild dogs that the park was releasing in a few weeks. They looked like they could be pretty savage animals – I’m glad they were fenced in. There’s already one pack of wild dogs in the reserve, and I think Hein said they were hoping that another pack would form. Hein said that the existing pack once took down a rhino! And they start eating it before it dies, and he said it was pretty brutal – it was several hours before the rhino finally died.

We finally also saw some zebras – there were 3 or 4 of them right next to the trail! They weren’t too scared of us – we stopped right next to them to take pictures and they didn’t run away. Kiona really liked these, and I thought they were cute, but nothing that great. We had a break where we had coffee and tea, and Kiona did some acrobatics. :) And finally, we saw some white rhinos in a pack. They were a little away from the dirt road, so Hein took us off-roading (which he’s not supposed to do) to get a little closer. They were pretty skittish and ran away a little bit when we drove up, but we still got pretty close to them. We saw a few other deer-like things, I think kudu, but they were mostly running away from us and we didn’t get a good look.

When we got back, breakfast ready! It was a huge buffet of eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausages, fruit, cereals, sautéed mushrooms, breads, breakfast pastries, and I’m sure a ton of other things I can’t remember. It was great, especially the sausages. I really can’t say enough good things about the sausages here. It was also somebody’s birthday and towards the end of breakfast, the entire staff came in dancing and singing, bearing a birthday cake! It was a pretty impressive scene and must have lasted close to 20 minutes. One song would end, and they would start another one. It’s amazing how well every single person can sing, and even harmonize.

Then it was time to leave… Goodbye Tau!

It was a super busy weekend already, but it was Steve’s last weekend in Botswana (although he will be coming back in six weeks) so Michael organized a Braai (barbecue) at ICC flats (where we live) and had Steve and Barry over. None of us were hungry, but we had a huge amount of meat again. And Steve made bananas foster, served with ice cream for dessert. He also made a little speech saying how well we were all doing, and how well we had adjusted to everything – I bet he gives a similar speech every time he leaves. :)

It’s actually very nice outdoors – our flats have a large outdoor area, which includes a pool, a large barbecue pit, along with smaller grills, tables and chairs, and shaded wood benches for sunbathers to lie on. It’s also very nicely landscaped, with all sorts of different flowers, plants and trees around. I think it takes quite a bit of water to keep it up, which is a commodity here in Botswana. It actually rained for about 5 minutes! I bet Motswanas were overjoyed for a split second. Apparently last summer they got a ridiculously low amount of rain, something like 3 cm. And they need the rain.

No comments: