Sorry to leave on such a cliff hanger, but no worries! My computer is now back and stronger than ever! Thanks mom for all your help! I truly have no I idea where I would be without you much needed assistance.
So where was I?
Oh yes! Francistown.
So after a very long bus ride we arrive to Francistown. It’s late; we’re all tired and want nothing more but to grab some food, drop our bags, and celebrate the night away. And we did just that!
After a little patience and about twenty or so minutes; Skei and his 3 buddies arrived. Just a reminder, Skei is the best friend or the 24 year old uncle of one of the families my friend Kelsey is doing her home stay with.
We drove to the little one room house we would be crashing at for the night, dropped out bags, and headed off in search of food. We found it! We ordered five pizzas from one of my favorite Botswana restaurants and happily fed ourselves and our Francistown drivers.
With our hunger satisfied and the final few pieces of Mexican and Hawaiian pizza being licked from our fingers; we were ready for some fun.
We had heard that there was absolutely nothing to do in Francistown, but we were determined to find adventure wherever we could. Luckily, the adventure practically found us. To make a long story a little less long I will just say that by the end of the night (actually only around 11 since we were all already exhausted) we had been to a few local hang outs (a.k.a. parking lots where everyone breaks out their coolers and blasts their car stereos), hung at an army base and attempted a game of pool, and danced with a few local girls (who had way better moves then I ever will) while signing to Shakira at the top of our lungs. Oh yes, a night I will never forget.
That night as we all squeezed into bed we knew that we would only be able to grab a few hours of sleep while the rest we spent tossing and turning. We also knew we had just made lifelong memories.
The next morning we were up bright and early! We all packed our things quickly, picked up the room, and called our cab. The thing with cabs is they don’t like to carry more than four since they could get in trouble with the police. That being said, college students don’t like paying more money than they have to. So with a little convincing we manage to persuade the driver into taking us all to the bus renke. There was only one condition. One of us would have to stay out of sight. Being the shortest among the group of five and coincidently the last one in the cab, it was I who elected to stay out of sight.
Before we knew it we were on the bus headed for the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. As the bus drove on (3 hours to be exact) it began to become more and more crowded to the point where people were sharing seats and there was not even a place left to stand. An hour or so later we had reached our destination! In this case our destination was a giant aardvark statue by the side of the highway. We squeezed off the bus and waved goodbye at the side of the road as we appeared to be standing in the middle of nowhere. To add to the adventure we grabbed our bags and hiked the next kilometer in to our lodge.
Finally, after much walking, and even more sweating we reached the lodge. It was beautiful, that was clear from the very beginning. And after what seemed like quite a long journey; we were eager to relax. As we checked in we questioned the reception desk about the excursions available that weekend. In the most polite attitude she informed us that all the excursions were booked and there was no room left
What!!!!? I’m sorry!! Repeat! I know I did not just travel 8 hours on a bus to come to a lodge in the middle of nowhere only to be told that I couldn’t even see the very salt pans I sought.
With a smile on my face and some deep breathing I attempted to keep quiet, though I must admit my mind was on fire!
With a little good ol’ fashion American force from the girls, and some quality pray, we left the reception to chill in the bar and rest our feet while we let the staff work out the problem. As I sat back sipping my guava juice, now personally in good spirits and trusting the work of God, I was all too happy to hear the receptionist announce that room was available for as all on the all day quad excursion for the following day.
Amen. In fact we later found out that one of the tents we were to stay in was broken so they had to upgrade two of us to a Hut (a very luxuries hut). I believe this is where we say “God is good”
The rest of the day was spent checking into our accommodations, Lounging by the pool, sun bathing, and meeting an American Actress and getting two know her two young daughters and camera man Husband. That’s right! Anything is possible in Africa.
We all took hot showers that night as we tried to wash away the long journey. This time as we fell asleep in our own individual cozy beds dreamt of seeing the salt pans.
A new morning brought a heavy sun and new adventures. Around 7:30am, we all climbed into a safari car and began the 40 minute drive or so to reach the quad bikes. It took everything in me to contain my excitement. We reached a small camp where our quad bikes waited. Just before heading out our slightly sarcastic and very nice guide taught us all how to tie a properly where head scarves. You know like the one you see in Aladdin! Despite his quality teaching, he had to give us all a little extra help, but soon we were ready to go. We pulled out head scarves around and tucked the ends in to the opposite side. This was to help keep the dust off our faces and out of our eyes.
Two to a quad but there was an odd number of people so got my own. No complaints here!
As we began to ride out to the pans it once again hit me. I was in Africa. Botswana to be more specific. I was sitting on a ATV, revving the engine for all it was worth, and as the wind swept by me, my eyes took in what can only be considered one of the most beautiful sights on Earth.
The salt pans are beyond vast, similar to looking out onto the ocean and how it seems to go on forever. No wonder we once though the world was flat. There was nothing in sight for miles. The pictures don’t do it justice and I wish they did. I wish everyone could see what I had the privileged of viewing that day.
After a few hours exploring the pans and seeing what I assume is only a fraction of the whole; our minds were overwhelmed and how stomachs hungry. We headed back to a prepared meal and then back to the lodge.
As the day came to a close we spent our time watching the sunset hoping to see elephants by the watering hole. We sat atop a dusty safari car laughing with our new friends who we had just met the day before. Sleep came easy that night.
The next morning, it was time to head back. Our actress/camera man couple and now travel gurus were more than happy to cram us all into their small safari car and give us a lift to Francistown. We were all too willing to sit in cramped spaces if it meant no bus fair (life of a poor college student).
The journey back to the University seemed long and draining, but none of that really mattered. The events of the weekend played in all of our minds and was more than any of us could have anticipated.
Pictures to follow, I promise