Maun n Surrounds

Kaziikini camp

Boteti River Bridge

Out on the Makalamabedi road south of Maun the Boteti river is flowing nicely. Three or four of the pipes have a swift current and the birds are loving it. And I only got two pictures, none of the lovely scene!

I Found Neil’s Slides!

I wrote a while ago how I found Neil. Well, now I found boxes of Neil’s old Kodak slides in a shoe box in Janet’s kist.

So now to digitise some of them for Janet. Here’s my quick and easy hack for doing it: Phone camera on macro setting, PC screen as a lit backdrop, juggle till you’re focused – make sure there’s nothing but white as a backdrop – and fire!

– with macro you go much closer –
– a macro shot – now you crop the pic using the cellphone software –

. . and here are a few of the results. I have posted a lot over at the Humphrey Family blog.

Here’s Neil’s kit:

At first the slides were 99% of cute little twin girls, but gradually as they grew up he started taking pics of other things! Eventually it was down to only 80% cute little twin girls:

Who knows what car that is? Click on the ferry pic and see if you can ID Neil’s car in the early 1960s. Probably a late 50s model? – Ah! Don Reid came up with the identification, thanks: A 1950s Peugeot 203. I love its lines!

This is a quick and easy method to digitise your slides NOW. I’m sure there are better ways, but getting round to it . . . . . well, procrastinators will know. This way they’re imperfectly saved, but they’re saved and available.

~~oo0oo~~

Botswana Flood

Back in the winter of 2020 we tracked the approaching Okavango flood. Now here’s news of the summer rains. Up in the North East of Botswana, Pandamatenga had over 200mm of rain in about one day! As with the flood footage, this comes from Janet in Maun, via her network up there. This time her friend who farms outside Panda.

– the road between Pandamatenga and Kasane –

This water has fallen in the Zambesi catchment, so it will run off to the NE, cross the Zimbabwe border north of Hwange game reserve, flow into the Matetsi river and then into the Zambezi below Vic Falls. The flood will benefit nature, but we will complain it has ruined our ventures. But floods like this are a normal occurrence, though possibly higher than usual as we are changing our climate faster than we can cope with.

Fascinating stuff! That area can be dry as anything, but periodically it can get inundated showing us what it is: A floodplain, a drainage course. This is clearer when looking at it from high above. See the google earth view. It looks like a lake now because of changes we have wrought, such as building up the road, effectively damming the drainage course.

– see the cultivated fields in the drainage course –

~~oo0oo~~

Here’s a pic taken by Janet’s Dad Neil out of a plane window of the kind of rain dump / cloudburst that can dump so much rain all at once:

Xudum in Okavango

(A re-post with added pictures, as I throw out paper photo albums after copying and uploading. Major un-cluttering happening as I prepare my home for the past sixteen years for sale. Next chapter about to begin!)

Another trip to the Delta!

Aitch and I flew from Maun to Xudum in August 2001 when Janet & Duncan were helping Landela Safaris run their show. We landed on the nearby bush strip. We had been before, in January 2000. This post has pictures from both trips.

– . . . in the Xudum area, east of the Sandveldt Tongue –
Xudum airstrip (2)
– Xudum landing strip in high water – a 2020 picture –

After a few days in camp they had business in Maun and we accompanied them on the drive out of the Delta to Maun in the Land Cruiser. Rickety bridges, deep water crossings with water washing over the bonnet onto the windscreen.

Xudum drift

On the drive back to camp after the day in the big smoke of the metropolis of Maun we entered a Tamboti grove and saw two leopard cubs in the road. They split and ran off to left and right, then ran alongside of us on either side for a minute calling to each other before we moved off and let them be.

We enjoyed mekoro trips, game drives & walks and afternoon boat trips stretching into evenings watching the sunset from the boat while fishing for silver catfish or silvertooth barbel – I forget what they called them. Later, wading in thigh-deep water sorting out the pumps, earning my keep as a guest of the lodge managers. Only afterwards did I think hmm, crocs.

Xudum (5)

Visited Rann’s camp for lunch where Keith and Angie Rowles were our hosts. That’s where we first heard the now-common salute before starting a meal: “Born Up a Tree.”

Janet moved us from camp to camp as guests arrive, filling in where there were gaps in other camps. We transferred by boat, mekoro or 4X4 vehicle. One night we stayed in a tree house in Little Xudum camp.

Okavango Xudum Camp

Lazy days in camp drinking G&T’s

Here’s Trish’s paper album – photographed and discarded:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Later Xudum was taken over by super-luxury company ‘&Beyond.’ OTT luxury, and R15 000 per person per night! Very different to the lovely rustic – but still luxurious – tented camp it was when we were there. Should ‘conservationists’ really be using miles of glass and wooden decking and flooring in the bush!? Methinks rich spoilt children are doing the designing for Daddy’s company and perspective has flown out the canvas-zip window and crashed into the plate glass floor-length picture window.

In May 2019 it burnt down. Had it been canvas there’d have been less pollution from the fire and the re-build.

~~~oo0oo~~~

A Breakfast Serial

Janet has started a breakfast offering in a friend’s restaurant! Have a magic brekker in Maun from 7am to 11am cooked by Janet and her ladies.

Presently sharing a kitchen, plans are afoot to move her into her own space outdoors. Good luck with this brave new venture!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Update: Janet’s got more staff! The people like her breakfasts!

– Helen, Goitseone and Kay – Janet’s breakfast team –

~~~oo0oo~~~

Who’s old enough and South African enough to remember Springbok Radio’s morning play – What was it called? The tagline was, ‘a breakfast serial in twelve parts’ – was it the one that had Evil Voomin in it? Chicken Man? No, I looked that up: That did appear on Springbok Radio, but it was American. The one I’m thinking of had marked Souf Effrican accents.

More on Springbok Radio for nostalgia buffs here and here.

Okavango Delta – the 2020 flood

Last year Maun received none of the floodwaters that usually arrive in winter. The summer rains in Angola 1000km to the north had been poor, and the flood just didn’t get right through the Okavango Delta to Maun; Well below average summer rainfall added to the drought. Rainy season is December to March in Angola and Botswana. So this winter, as word got out that the highlands in Angola had had good summer rain, and knowing that local rainfall had been above average, filling the pans and raising the underground water table, word got out that the flood was a big one and there was a lot of excitement in town.

Everybody who’s like me (!) followed the progress of the water flowing south with great interest. The levels are monitored as the mighty Okavango leaves Namibia and enters Botswana and spreads out into its beautiful delta in the Kalahari desert.

The highlands in central Angola is where the water is coming from – 1000km north as the crow flies. Rain that fell in January and February is reaching Maun in May. It travels the first 700km in about a month, then slows down as it spreads out in a fan in its dryland delta on the sands of the Kalahari.

– Maun is left (west) of the number 1 below the B of Botswana –

The focus of the townspeople of Maun was when the floodwaters would reach Old Bridge. My main focus was when it would reach little sis Janet’s home 13km further downstream. We started getting updates when the headwaters of the flood reached the Boro river, which flows into the Thamalakane.

– there’s Maun and its airstrip – the flood is about 21km from the Tamalakhane river confluence –

Monitoring the incoming flood was Hennie Rawlinson, a neighbour two doors down from Janet in Tsanakona ward. Janet’s lovely cottage on the river is the feature pic above. Hennie had the inspired idea to turn the event into a fundraiser for WoMen Against Rape and the Polokong center by allowing people to follow him daily as he tracked the headwaters. On average the flood moves about 2km per day, but that’s a huge variable, depending on the terrain, the foliage and the water table, the porousness of the sand its moving over, how much its channeled or spread out at that point, etc. Even in a river bed, where it moves quicker, it will reach a pool and have to fill that up before overflowing and moving on. So there can be long hours of ‘no progress’ – no forward progress, that is.

– watch the waters flowing steadily South Eastward in the Boro river towards the Tamalakhane river which flows South Westward towards Maun –

Hennie traveled into the Delta fringe to find the headwaters. Here’s one of his videos:

Then the water reached the confluence of the Boro and the Thamalakane! Great day! But wait! It headed NORTH East! It had to fill up a few pools and only then did it push South East towards Maun.

– 8 May and the headwaters reach the confluence of the Boro with the Tamalakhane – that was quicker, mostly in a riverbed now –

Much excitement as the water past under the high new bridge across the Thamalakane and approached Old Bridge, a historic landmark with a backpackers and pub just downstream of it on the left bank; and the site Hennie had chosen for his ‘Finish Marker.’ Other denizens of Maun also awaited the flood:

Finally the time came when the pool before Old Bridge started filling up and Hennie decided the flood would flow under it that night. He and a few others got permits to be up all night on the bridge as Maun was under corona virus stay-at-home orders like most places.

– the late night vigil with friends and crocodiles –

They waited all night, along with a crocodile or two. The water took a couple hours longer, and arrived in the wee hours of the next morning:

The fundraiser: The Rawlinsons tallied up all the donations and announced: The final amount we have raised is: P50 511 – We will be handing the money over to WoMen Against Rape and the Polokong center this week. The winner who guessed the time the water would arrive was James Stenner and that couldn’t have been luckier, as he had pledged the prize – a chopper flight over the Delta – to three deserving people of his choice who are involved in research on the delta but have never flown over it! What a mensch! He runs luxury mobile safaris – have a look at his website.

– a few days after arrival, the pools above and below Old Bridge are filling up –
– the pool below Old Bridge even better –

Meantime, further downstream, here’s what the dry river bed looked like outside Janet’s front gate:

– the road and the river outside Janet’s front gate –

We had started our own little competition: When will Janet’s size three clogs get wet? So she went out in them to show us how dry the riverbed was . .

and then when the water started seeping into the grass, showed us the first time her clogs could get wet in many months – a year!

From the air you could see more: the flood was approaching. That’s ‘Wilmot Island’ in the riverbed in the distance – dry – water arriving – water filling up. Over the course of just three days. Janet’s home is in the lower left corner just out of picture.

Wilmot Island – Thamalakane river

On the ground her view changed from the one above to:

One of her neighbours in Tsanakona ward made a collage of the view from his gate:

In dry times the river is a road and many streets cross straight across it. When the flood arrives you have to cross at the three big bridges:

And so Maun celebrates and heaves a huge sigh of relief. Residents flocked to the waters, welcoming it and scooping up some from the very front of the headwaters to take home. Pula!! The waters have arrived!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Of course the water doesnt stop till it has evaporated, sunk into the Kalahari sand or been pumped out and used by us humans. It carries on! Onward towards the Boteti and Nhabe rivers, with their endpoints in Lake Xau and Lake Ngami respectively. There it does stop. Those are lowpoints and there’s nowhere else to go.

I may post on that. The headwaters have already reached the split where the Boteti flows SE and the Nhabe SW.

~~~oo0oo~~~

More:

Okavango Research Institute

Read how the Okavango may just be the site where humankind originated! Latest mitochondrial research moves the probable origin site of the direct ancestors of people alive today. Fascinating work by an Aussie scientist.

On Having Dof Friends

It’s a real challenge. This having to navigate the world surrounded by dof friends.

I wrote to my ‘friends’ – it might have been early one morning; they might not have been fully awake: -original message-
Subject: Where’s that?
From: Pete <pete@sheila.co.za>
Date: 06/06/2011

I was embarrassed that I had never heard of Sanya, a city that looked bigger than Durban, with huge bridges, high buildings, man-made islands and world-class resorts. It’s China’s southern-most city. Well, today I tested Midi Yan’s eyes and he and his brother had never heard of Sanya either! OK, they are from Tianjin in the North, which is thousands of km’s away, but it made me feel a little better that they also hadn’t heard of this city in their own country.

Bruce – after reading with one eye? – wrote: Pete I`ve been there with you IN A BOAT – Legend of the Sea = tHERE AFTER THE BOAT DOCKED IN VIETNAM AT HA LONG BAY WHERE WE WENT ASHORE AND DRANK BEER

Janet wrote: So, Pete, it’s just the memory that’s going…

Rita wrote: That too!

I tried to straighten them up: Don’t be dof, people, I was embarrassed THEN that I had never heard of it. When the “Chinas” came to visit me last week I told them I’d been there and THEY had never heard of it. THEY said ‘Where’s That?’ So I didn’t feel so bad about not having heard about Sanya BEFORE I went there. Get wif ve program.

Rita persisted: Well clearly, you were not clear.

Steve backed her: ‘Fraid thats the way I saw it too. Sharpen up Koos.  

Janet made things worse: Hair today gone tomorrow????

**** SIGH ****

confession: I may have tidied the language of my posts ever so slightly to make my point clearer here . . . in order to emphasise their dofness, see . .

She Spotted Janet. Or Did She?

I thought the nervous client had spotted Janet also looking at the scorpion and the puff adder in her room.

But it wasn’t like that; Janet wasn’t there.

scorpion, snake and - a 'Janet'?

The lucky, nervous – and ‘happy at the same time’ – client had spotted a scorpion, a puff adder AND a spotted genet like this one: All at once!

She had NOT spotted a Janet like this one:

Janet’s life in Botswana is seldom dull . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

So Janet wasn’t spotted. Some things are not spotted. In fact they’re STRIPED.

Later – Not-Spotted Janet sent a pic of another – or the same – puff adder visiting inside a chalet.

Beautiful, innit? Now, I know what you’re thinking: You’d shit your cotton undertrousers if you spotted a puff adder in your chalet, but think of the poor snake! It would shit its custom-made snake-skin undertrousers, seeing a 60kg murderous mammal towering over it. Poor thing is half a kg of innocence. Hundreds of them get bludgeoned for every human they bite – and only a few of those humans that get bitten actually croak. Give snakes a break.

~~~oo0oo~~~

More Books Coming!

Janet spoils me! She got me a beautiful book written by legendary Botswana character Cronje Wilmot back in the fifties – reprinted recently.

And now two more coming! One by legendary Botswana character Lloyd Wilmot – Cronje’s grandson:

– Lloyd Wilmot’s Book – Embers of a Campfire –

. . and yet another book by the amazing Veronica Roodt:

. . and here’s Janet the Humphrey herself, checking the dipstick of her 4X4 skorokoro as we left for Moremi. Soon after, it clicked over to 400 000km:

– Janet getting all mechanically-minded, while the odo is poised for 400 000km –

Update 6 November: They’re here! Safely shipped down from Botswana by Carla Bradfield and then Gail Bradfield to my door! Yay!!

~~~oo0oo~~~

Incidents follow Lloyd! – a scorpion in his luggage on a plane . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

2021: Lloyd has a second book out. See his website.

The Under-rated Metropolis of Maun

With all due respect to Moremi, Chobe and Makgadikgadi, the birds you can see in and around Maun rival them all. In fact, pound-for-pound or especially dollar-per-bird, Maun wins hands-down. Especially  when you’re staying in your little sis’ house, eating her food and driving her car!

So here’s a good recipe for Best Botswana Birding: Don’t just land in Maun and buzz off elsewhere! Rather stay in this lovely home:

Janet's Maun Home.jpg

Drive this superb 4X4. With 400 000km of all-Botswana roads experience on the clock, it didn’t even need much steering:

Janet's 1989 Toyota Hilux 4Y.jpg

and bird the immediate vicinity:

2018-03-027.jpg
– Janet’s lovely home on the Tamalakhane in the Tsanakona suburb of Maun –

Here are some of the birds seen in and around Janet’s home and along the Tamalakhane where she walks her dogs. Forty one shown, but there were more.

Temp birds-001.jpg

Added bonus: Visit the spots like The French Connection, Miguel’s Place, Tshilli Cafe, Island Safari Lodge along the river – and Ann’s CinemaMultiPlex for breakfast. Wonderful food and they all serve alcohol! What more could you want?

But the best and best-value meals are found here: Janet’s cottage in the salubrious Tsanakona suburb and Bev’s cottage in the salubrious, upmarket and fashionable Disaneng suburb. Neither had vegetarian-only or no-alcohol policies. Um, actually quite the contrary!

On a drive out towards the Boro River Janet and I stopped at a flooded grassland and watched a bird party frolicking on three little acacia trees, dropping down to drink clear water in some tyre tracks. Here’s the spot: Most of the action was in that small acacia dead-centre, behind the foxglove (help me here) stem.

Maun Boro Trip (9).jpg

Twenty three species within half an hour! It got quite “Shu’ Up! Another One?” Here are fourteen of them (Lee Ouzman pics mostly).

Temp Bots Birds.jpg

These two black birds were mingling with the unsuspecting colourful hosts that they parasitise! Like, your spouse’s lover has come to supper . .

Temp Bots Birds-001.jpg
– Longtailed Paradise Whydah / Green-backed Pytilia – – – – – Purple Indigobird / Jameson’s Firefinch –

The Indigobird was a LIFER for me! Long time since I nailed a lifer.

– turquoise marks the spot –

Here’s some other stuff as we searched for the Boro – and there’s the lily to prove that we found it. How’s the height of that termitarium? Janet is not tall, but that’s still some structure!

Maun Trip Boro River.jpg
– little things – and a termitarium –

Yet another advantage to having a little sis who’s a nineteen-year Maun veteran is she can sweet-talk curmudgeons into showing you their patch. So we ended up one morning walking the Tamalakhane flood plains in Disaneng guided by an old bullet with a long lens after drinking free coffee here:

20180321_Lee's Home Disaneng Maun.jpg
– Ouzman hideaway – rich in biodiversity . . and some rooms –

Imagine if he got a wife how she’d make him smarten up that stoep, nê!? Despite the low-key decor, the coffee’s top-notch.

We saw three of these birds plus a bat hawk flying. These are his pics, but from his website. His lovebirds he shot in Namibia, but we saw a few in his garden that morning! Escapees? Or had they followed him home?

Janet Home Maun

Read about the history of Maun here where Lee Ouzman has more old photos like the one on top of Maun ca1985 when I first visited this Kalahari metropolis.

From Maun we ventured North-east to Mogotlho and back to Maun; then south-west to Khumaga and back to Maun. Both trips in that fine Toyota skorokoro 4X4.

~~~oo0oo~~~

While I was there I was covered by these good people, thanks to Janet! For a very small fee you can buy air rescue cover for a whole year.

Makgadikgadi Pans, Khumaga Gate

The Tamalakhane River runs south-west out of Maun and when it turns east it’s called the Boteti. After a while it runs southward forming the western boundary of the huge Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park.

At Kumagha village there’s a gate into the park. When the river has water in it a ferryman carries you across, one vehicle at a time.

20180321_Khumaga Gate Tiaan's Camp (23)
– our ferryman is Tiaan, Kalahari character –

We were guests at Tiaan’s Camp as Tiaan is looking for someone to help him start a new admin system and Janet’s just the person to do that. I got lucky as they decided she needed to visit him to check out the camp and discuss how Janet’s consultancy could run the project for him. Tiaan is a character. He was once a diplomat although you would never guess that in a game of Twenty Questions. Nor in game of One Hundred and Twenty Questions.

Map Makgadigadi Park.JPG

Tiaan has run mobile safaris in Zambia, Botswana and Zululand among many other places. He has been involved in lodges on the Delta panhandle and has now settled in Khumaga village in a camp he built himself with comfy chalets, lovely campsites, a crystal-clear swimming pool and a huge central building housing an open dining area, an open raised deck overlooking the Boteti where 22 elephants came to bathe the afternoon we arrived.

AND he operates a cool bar run on the honour system. You know, gooi and skryf.

Makgadigadi Pans view from Tiaans.jpg
– gin n tonic n eles –

He has a delightful accent, a mischievous laugh, speaks three languages well, and has an amazing store of tales from brain surgery to government service to building in Botswana and Jakobsbaai on the Cape West Coast; to safaris, interesting guests, religion, Land Rovers (he’s afflicted with six of them), philosophy and fascinating animal stories. Maybe he does have a diplomatic side, but he keeps it well-camouflaged.

He took us on a game drive in one of his Land Rovers – and we didn’t even break down – so he could show us his knowledge of and love for his patch, the very southern end of the great Okavango Delta, just before the waters from Angola sink into the Kalahari sand for the very last time at Lake Xau.

Makgadigadi Pans Kumagha Gate
20180321_Khumaga Gate Tiaan's Camp (30).jpg

The next day Janet and I took her old Toyota – now well over 400 000km on the clock – into the park along the green Boteti river valley. The water was dropping so the ferryman had me move the Toyota forward a couple metres, then back a couple metres on the ferry to rock it across the shallows. We found plenty of interesting little things to photograph, and only got stuck in the deep sand once.

2018-03-28.jpg

In between all this there were the gin n tonics, whiskies, beers and Tiaan’s home-made absinthe, generously dispensed – the absinthe gratis on the wonderful Tiaan system of “Have another and listen to this . . . !”

Interesting birds included Double-banded Sandgrouse, Acacia Pied Barbet, Hoopoe, Crimson-breasted Boubou, a young Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, Pin-tailed and Shaft-tailed Whydahs, Red-faced Mousebird, Bateleur, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Blue-cheeked, European and Little Bee-eaters, Meyers Parrot, Goliath Heron and a Grey-backed Cameroptera who clacked at me fourteen times! Here in KwaZulu Natal they usually clack five to seven times. Here are some Lee Ouzman pics from his website:

Makgadigadi Pans Kumagha Gate-001 (2)
– Lee Ouzman pics –

Before this leg of the trip we had been to Mogotlhong.

~~~oo0oo~~~

gooi and skryf – honour system in a bar: pour your dop and write it down, you’ll be billed later

dop – grog

Mogotlho Lodge on the Mabibi River

Ten days in a verdant green Botswana in the ‘off-season’ – or ‘out-of-season’. What bliss. Here’s my lil sis Janet doing our pre-trip inspection of her trusty 1989 Toyota Hilux which clicked over to 400 000km on our way to the community trust area we visited in the Khwai river area near where Moremi and Chobe game reserves share a boundary.

Mogothlo Lodge.jpg
Janet Toyota Speedo Maun.jpg

We thought of “getting out and pushing it a mile” ala John Denver “back in 1958, we drove an old V8” but we thought, nah, let’s just sing about it!

It was this green:

20180318_Mogotlho Lodge (250)

In places it was muddy:

20180318_Mogotlho Lodge (148).jpg

Knee-high grass and lots of water meant the animals were sparsely scattered all over. Even the Mababe Depression was wet. The first time I saw it was 1985 and it was bone-dry. That was also the last time I had been there overland. In-between I have visited Maun and the Delta often, and flown to Kasane, Savuti, Chobe river and Hwange.

20180318_Mogotlho Lodge (230)

Janet organised it all along with outback trader, photographer and established curmudgeon Lee Ouzman; also with keen wildlife enthusiasts and expert 4X4 drivers Bev and Ash Norton, all hard-drinking Maun locals. I had to smack back the gin to keep up. I’ll add a random few photos taken from Lee’s website (not taken on this trip). His website is worth a visit! Do go and check it out.

Mogotlho Lodge Khwai River.jpg

What a wonderful trip. Peaceful and fun with lovely laidback folk and cold beers and gin n tonics! We had all of my kind of good weather: showers, sunshine and massive thunderheads, and especially: no wind; lots of animals; plenty of good birding. My specials included Allen’s Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen, African Marsh Harrier, Rufous-bellied Heron, Kori Bustard.

Night sounds included Pearl-spotted Owlet, White-faced Owl, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, African Scops Owl, hyenas, lions and elephants. We also saw three lions, lots of eles, hippo, croc, kudu, waterbuck, impala, zebra, buffalo, slender mongoose, dwarf mongoose, tree squirrels, baboons, a hover fly and one ear-fly.

20180318_Mogotlho Lodge Ear Fly.jpg
The red represents swear-words

We were here: (click to enlarge)

Map Mogothlo.jpg
Map Moremi_Chobe border
in the yellow circle

Back to the metropolis of Maun, and then on to Khumaga after a few days.

DIY Bush Wedding

I don’t do DIY. I was going to say except for our wedding, but on reflection, I also did that the way I do everything: Stand back and watch as others do it all, encouraging and applauding while trying to save money.

So Andre Hawarden did the invites:

What I did do was buy the booze and fill Mike Lello’s Isuzu Trooper and trailer with it and drive it out to Barry and Lyn’s farm Game Valley Estates at the foot of the well-known Hella Hella on the Friday. Lots of rain, muddy roads. It had been a wet summer following the huge September 1987 flood.

Wedding Hella Hella Isuzu Trooper.jpg

Like most bachelors when they do fall, I headed off cheerfully to meet my fate, all my own advice forgotten, marching singing to the gallows!

Luckily Saturday cleared up. I always sing ‘The robots change when I go thru, the clouds dissolve and the skies turn blue, and EVERYBODY loves me baby – – – what’s the matter with you!?

And the clouds did dissolve . . It got Sunny. Then Hot. Then Scorching, Humid, Sultry. It felt like all the rain of the big flood was trying to get back up into the clouds.

Wedding Hella Hella (4)

Barry’s big old 4X4 Ford F150 gave people a tug up slippery Hella Hella Pass so they could get to their lodgings at the nearby Qunu Falls Lodge. The Brauers, the du Plessis, the Reeds, the Schoemans, the Stoutes, the Stewarts. The Hills live nearby. Family stayed in the concrete A-frame lodge on the farm.

Wedding Hella Hella.jpg

The sauna was pitched on the lawn under the Hella Hella mountain.

The beautiful Hella Hella Kop

The Porters were linked up to ESKOM but just because ESKOM has arrived does not mean that when you throw a switch with a flourish that anything will happen. And so it was on our wedding day that ESKOM was feeling a bit off that day and we were without krag, power, lights and fridges.

Enter David Hurle Hill !! He roared off in his bakkie and fetched a huge diesel generator on a trailer. David is a Drrrillerr and will drill you a borehole. In fact his company motto is ‘On The Hole Our Work Is Boring.’ He linked up and threw a switch with a flourish and nothing happened.

She was not wekking, as David Hurle Hill would say.

Enter Enea Spaggiari !! All the way from Italy via Kenya and Petit outside Benoni. He climbed up onto and over and under the trailer and fiddled with wires and threw a switch with a flourish and Let There Be Light! Music! and Cold Beers! That’s Italian vernuf for ya!

Wedding Hella Hella (3)

Iona coaches her daughter: Make all the big decisions, but make him think he made them . . . Aitch: Ha Ha I already do that . . .

Wedding Hella Hella (7).jpg
– plotting –

Then the usual stuff, the ominous music from Jaws: Tun Tun Ta Da!; Tun Tun Ta Da! What? Oh, the wedding march. The father of the bride looks like he’s having having second thoughts; Guys are thinking hm hm hm who’d a thunk this day would arrive?; Ladies are smiling – they seem to enjoy weddings; Aitch saying – ‘Honour? OK; – Obey? Are you mad!?’ and so on. The usual kak.

Wedding Hella Hella-001.jpg

Then the cake, made by Lyn’s talented friend with a green frog couple in tux and wedding dress – probly a strongylopus and an arthtroleptis. In the heat they keeled over. We should have got a pic, but something like this, just green frogs and not from alcohol – from heat fatigue:

Then The Lies! You just can’t trust some people. Ten years prior to this I had done a very good job being his best man and if he had paid attention he’d have learned something. Like, to stick to the flattering truth and not tell scurrilous alternative truths that nobody wants to hear. At least nobody called the object of your attentions wants to hear them . . .

Brauer spinning yarns

Followed by The Truth!, plain and unvarnished:

Wedding 1988 speech.jpg

At last, we could change into shorts and relax and party.

Later came The Getaway:

Wedding Hella Hella Getaway Car.jpg

Which took a while, handicapped as we were. We wore getaway kit appropriate for our intrepid honeymoon. We were headed for Deepest Darkest America.

~~~oo0oo~~~

On the Monday friend Allie Peter flew over Hella Hella in a helicopter and took pics of Rapid No.5&6 looking downstream and then back upstream:

~~~oo0oo~~~

Twenty Five Years Later – 28 Feb 2013 – I wrote to friends:

Crazy, innit! 25yrs ago today Aitch and I got hitched down in the Hella Hella valley in a fun DIY game farm wedding.
She made it to 23yrs of married bliss (OK, she might have had something to say at this point . . ) and one month short of 26yrs together. We celebrated that 25yrs-together milestone in August 2010.

Thinking of all you good peeps that made our wedding so memorable – that’s the bachelor days before, the day itself, and the 25yrs since!

Cheers!

Lotsa love – Pete – and now Jessica & Tommy!

BTW, Lyn and Barry Porter of Hella Hella also died in 2011:
Lyn in January – also breast cancer; Barry in April – hospital infection; And then Aitch in July.

~~~oo0oo~~~

Dave Hill: I remember it well – I ‘nipped’ home to fetch my generator when the power went off.

Pete Stoute: Remember the week-end like yesterday! Struggling up the other side of Hella Hella to the Qunu Falls hotel in the mud and rain – Dave Hill saving the day with a BIG generator. Will have an extra glass of vino this evening – great mates and good times.

Sheila Swanepoel: Those pics are great. What a wonderful record of a very special day.
I remember the incredible heat and how you, Pierre and Pete sneaked off and changed into shorts straight after the ceremony. And how the phone kept ringing in the middle of the ceremony in the house.
Linda was flower girl, Robbie was so proud of his brand new red “tight”

Wedding 1988 Linda Robbie (1).jpg

. . and Jeff kept putting off going to change, saying that he was charge of the antelope on the spit – he dithered for so long that there was no time to change and that pleased him no end.
Bess & I sneaked down to the pool for a kaalgat swim and found Iona had beaten us to it!

Steve Reed: Will always remember the weekend; a great occasion. I think it was thanks to Mike and Yvonne in the 4×4 that we traveled safely back through the mud to our lodgings. Fond memories – raising a glass tonight to all of you!

I remember Brauer chasing a tight deadline speech writing – wise.

Pete Brauer: Damn. Been holding my breath during this stroll thru memory lane hoping that no-one noticed at the time or that no-one would still remember that poor last-minute effort.

Terry Brauer: Steve nothing has changed! PB has his own website called lastminute.com

Steve Reed: Speech was excellent. Not many can compose a wedding speech while putting on a tie with the other hand. Besides, Swannie probably tasked Brauer with the job as he was getting dressed himself.

Terry Brauer: Yip Brauer remains an orator of note and Swanepoel continues to notify me he is coming to stay usually on the day when he lands in Pretoria – 😀 Those old dogs ain’t gonna learn new tricks but love them both! T

Pete Swanie: I had prepared well in advance.

Wedding Hella Hella Groom scribbles truth.jpg

Brauer procrastinated and ignored my two rules: Keep it short; and NO LIES.

Wedding Hella Hella Brauer scribbles lies.jpg

Pete Brauer: If I stuck to the latter rule the first would have fallen into place quite easily.

Tanza Crouch: Thinking of you, Aitch, Tommy and Jessy at this time. My spider days at Hella Hella are very special to me and Aitch, Barry and Lyn were very special people.

~~~oo0oo~~~

The old paper album has been scrapped, but here it is in pixels:

vernuf – skill; expertise; competenza!

Do It Now

doitnow

=========ooo000ooo=========

Straight after posting this I got a gotcha! email from Janet in Maun: Ha! Now I’ve got you! Stop procrastinating and VISIT!

So I have booked to go to Botswana in March after years of procrastinating. That is, Janet’s friend Bronwyn arranged a great price and booked. The 14th of March.

YES! Can’t wait!

——-ooo000ooo——-

Later: And what a trip it was! See here and here and here.

Makololo 1997

Makololo (1).jpg

Aitch’s twin sister Janet and her partner Duncan were running Makololo camp in the wonderful Hwange Reserve in Zimbabwe. Duncan had just recently built the camp for Wilderness Safaris and now they were the camp managers. And they invited us to stay! We flew in to Vic Falls, they picked us up and we had a long slow ‘game drive’ to the village of Hwange; then into the park and a real game drive to the camp in the south-east corner of the huge reserve.

makololo-2

The camp that Duncan built – stunning wood and thatch comfort with only the four of us in residence. One night a woodland dormouse fell into the soup, poor little bugger! He seemed alright.

– pic from wikipedia – thanks –

Sylvester the grumpy lion chased after us with seeming intent! We didn’t stick around to ask him what was bugging him! We accelerated away from his waterhole.

Saw two firsts, there – two lifers! A Red-necked Falcon and a Caspian Plover.

~~~~oo0oo~~~~