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Casey And Melissa’s Travel Diary

Monday, 06 Mar 2006

Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana

MapFor those of you wondering what we have been up to lately, we have been busy taking local primary and private schools to the Elephant Outreach Program in the bush. They have been going quite well, and we have been filling a lot of our spare time with new programming ideas, and making new activities for the kids to enjoy, as well as to keep the program different for us.

We were in need of an adventure, seeing as the trips were going so well. There has been a lot of rain this year, the locals say the rains this year are like the rains that they experienced here in the 70’s. The bush tracks have been very wet, but passable... and we have only had to fly with one group. Since then, we have started driving again, and although the tracks are drying up a bit, they have deep ruts making the drive very slow-going.

The last trip we did went very well... great teachers, students, and a very fun program. Everything was going very well until we started the drive back to town. We were about an hour into our trip when there was a huge crack... oh boy, our back axle broke. The driver turned around to face us and he said “That is a BIG matata!”. What to do... we had a radio with us in case of emergency. Well this was an emergency, so the radio came out. Only our luck, there was no signal on the radio. Not even a little bit of fuzz when we held down the button. I climbed on top of the car in hopes of receiving a signal above the trees. No luck, just a funny pose like the Statue of Liberty. Casey and I decided that we had to start walking to see if we could find a better signal. We were 15km away from the buffalo fence, and if all else failed, they have a radio there that can reach town. It was already 2:30pm, and we were hoping to have the kids rescued by nightfall. Not only because of sleeping arrangements, but because only 2 kms before we broke down, we had a water crossing, and there was a HUGE Hippo living in it! When it gets dark, these beasts come onto land to look for food. The cute “Hungry Hungry Hippos” are not very cute and actually very dangerous.

We would not start walking without Mike, the local coordinator, as our body guard. We left the students, their teachers, and the driver with the truck as we started to walk... so happy that this was in the heat of the day on a sand track... now we were really in the bush! Only about 15 minutes up the road some dialogue started to come through on the radio. Casey stopped there and did not move again, until we were able to get through to Doug or Sandi (or anyone for that matter) for help. A few messages were sent about our matata, and then we received confirmation that there was a vehicle on its way to rescue us. Now it was just a matter of waiting... a little worrisome because waiting times in Africa are always unknown, and could last a LONG time!

This must have been a record fast waiting time... when you say there are kids stranded in the bush, people seem to move faster! By 5pm we were all loaded into another vehicle on our way to Maun. We finally arrived at 7pm to drop off the kids to their parents, only three hours late. Of course, they were ok with it once they realized that everyone was ok.

There are still a few groups to come, and some wrapping up work to do before we head home. The temperatures have dropped significantly, and it is quite hard to get the kids motivated to do anything away from the campfire. Hopefully it will warm up a bit, but not too much; we are enjoying the change... and no bugs!!!! When you think that things in Africa are getting a little boring, there is always an adventure waiting around the corner!