While on my final night at Elephant Sands, I got to know the owner’s son in law, a heavy, gray haired man named Willem. He spoke with a think Afrikaans accent, even though he is a Botswanan native.
We spent the wee hours of the light drinking beer and talking about life in Botswana and his perspective on the world. Willem chain smoked the entire night, opening beer after beer, and pulling beers out of the bar’s fridge for me as well.
He asked what my plans were, and I told him I was on my way to Windhoek, Namibia the following day. He replied, “My father-in-law and I are going camping in Swakupmund and we leave tomorrow. Come camping with us. You’ll get a free ride over there!” I could hardly turn that offer down, so I agreed. Willem told me that they would be heading out around noon or 1:00 the following day.
I turned in for the night (or, morning, as it was now 2:30 am), and fell into an immediate drunken stupor, having been plied with too much beer by Willem
I woke at 10:00, showered and arrived at the front desk, ready for my journey. According to the woman at the front desk, Willem and Ben were still packing, so I settled in for a wait on the viewing deck, watching the elephants come and go to the watering hole.
Around 1:00, I checked in again and was advised that the guys were still packing. I idled for another couple hours until the owner, Mike, came up to me and said, “Why are you still here?” I replied that I was waiting for Willem to finish packing. Mike then said, “My friend, they already left without you.” When I told him that Willem had promised me a number of times the previous night that he would include me in his trip, Mike said, “My friend, never trust a drunk man.”
I learned that lesson a long time ago, and had already made alternate plans in the event Willem flaked on me. Mike and I had a good laugh, and then I hitched a ride with his wife, who was heading the two and a half hours to Francistown for provisions for the resort. She dropped me off at Nata, a thirty minute drive south of Elephant Sands, at which point she continued east and I picked up a westward bound public bus to Maun.
The coach was sitting in a gas station parking lot with a sign reading “Maun” in the front window. I climbed aboard, found a seat and for 68 Pula (about $6.00 US) was on my way the four hours to Maun.
I arrived in Maun just before sunset and was solicited by a very nice taxi driver named KB. He took me to the Senthaga Guesthouse, a nice, clean, well-run establishment. The girl behind the desk showed me to my room and said goodnight by giving me a hug. That was a first for me in the world of the hospitality industry.
A backpacker lodge named “The Old Bridge” was booked for the night, but I called KB and he took me over there anyway so I could check out the social scene. The place was full of loud, boisterous people, and I ended up running into Patrick, the Mauritian gentleman that Sarah and I had earlier run into in Zimbabwe.
It was a nice reunion. Patrick is a good-looking guy with a bald pate, a clean shaven beard and a twinkle in his eye. His accent sounds British, but he is African. He had continued south through Zimbabwe after we parted ways and I followed a more westerly route.
One of the fantastic things about backpacking is you never know who you will run into again.
We had a great chance to catch up, and by the end of the night we fully expected to run into each other again in Namibia (though we made no formal plans).
I called my new, dear friend KB for a ride back to Senthaga and a well deserved night of sleep.