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Jewel of Africa


Sitting here, trailing my fingers through the translucent water, I feel detached from the modern world. I can hear the voice of my Botswanan guide describing the surroundings as he deftly poles the mokoro through the winding reed passages and around the bushy tufts of grasses protruding from the wetlands of the Okavanga Delta.

It is so quiet here that his soft nasal voice comes to me as a whisper on the light breeze. He tells of flowers, plants, birds, animals indigenous to the area and of the ebb and flow of the delta itself. He talks of his family tradition of hand carving mokoros, a type of dugout canoe, from a single log into its long, narrow, low-sided shape.

He nudges the nose of the boat against a sandbar that arises from the shallow depths. He scans the area for signs of danger before stepping ashore then breaks out the refreshments packed for a sunset toast. As the sky changes to sunset colors, I can feel the temperature dropping. We return in the ever-deepening shadows immersed in the sounds of the night. I am greeted by a grinning lantern bearer who escorts me to my room. 

I enter a warm inviting area. Candles are burning casting flickering shadows against the canvas walls. White netting has been lowered draping gracefully around the sides of my bed lying bunched on the teak floor. Rose petals adorn the pillow. The clean white sheets are calling me from within the confines of the turned back covers. Who thought you would ever find such luxury in the African back-country. CRACK! I jump; the sound is quite near. I grab my flashlight and shine it through a narrow opening and into the eye of a huge elephant not six feet away! 

I slip between the covers but am still tense from the cracking and shuffling sounds. As fatigue overtakes me, the tense emotions of a busy day drift away and peaceful tranquility settles over me. My last thoughts before sleep are of my adventures in "Botswana, the Jewel of Africa".

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