It is hard to believe that we are now one third of the way through our southern African journey. This translates as approximately 1700 k’s of walking and cycling through the varied and often spectacular landscapes of Namibia and now, the wooded and largely uninhabited region of western Botswana.
We have negotiated all manner of road surfaces from sand, shale, loose gravel, unfriendly corrugations, hard-baked calcite and bum-relieving tar. Ian and I have enjoyed many long conversations along some of the isolated roads as well as equally long periods of private silence. What a pleasure to be sharing this journey with him in this particular way. I can’t remember when last I paid such attention to my body, to the rhythm of my breathing, to the numbing pressure of the handle bars on my hands, to my legs and ageing joints. “Keep right on to the end of the road” is the tune that hovers and drifts into my mind. My father used to sing this song. I have been very mindful of him on this journey. Images of Sharon, my children and grandchildren fuel my sense of purpose.
And then there’s the back up crew, otherwise known as the ‘BUCS’ – Johnny, Anton , Mandla and Frank. I am very grateful for these men who, age-wise and including me, spread ourselves along a spectrum from twenty to seventy one. I would like to think that in this age spread we have an opportunity to demonstrate the importance and workability of inter-generational leadership. It is a good team, things are working and I believe, for one important reason – we all know what this journey is about and it is not about us. Yes, we have our different personality styles and that’s fine with me. The main thing is that we are working well together.
In this light, I am happy to report that I am recovering well from an acute gut infection that left me feeling decidedly drained and dog-tired. Thankfully, these past few days on the flat surfaces of Botswana have been fairly undemanding physically, and with good food, fluids and team support … all is well.
Finally, as you will have read in Ian’s blogs and tweets, we have met, interviewed and rubbed shoulders with some wonderful local people, conservationists and conservancy managers – Colgar, Chris Bakkes, Garth and Margie Owen-Smith, Boas, John Kaosona, the Danie Brand family, Kamisa, Kibbitz, San chief Bobo, Wayne Hutchinson, anthropologist Jenifer Hays, Eric from the Xai Xai community…and more.
What a privilege!