We headed out of Maun first west and then north to cross into Namibia at a small out-of-the-way border post. This part of Botswana is a sparsely populated area with nothing but wild bush.it seemed that there were no villages, no animals and no people, but the occasional cow with a bell around its neck or a donkey feeding by the side of the road meant that there must have been people somewhere.
The border on the Botswana side was a tiny wooden hut with two uniformed men inside. Passports were presented and stamped, and our details were entered into big ledgers by hand- no computers here.
We were allowed through the gate, drove through a small section of no-man's land and through the next gate into Namibia. The border post on this side was a bigger affair - a prefab building of three or four rooms and more official people wandering around. There were more forms to be filled in and passports to be stamped as well as an inspection of our cars and a walk by all of us through a disinfectant-soaked pad so that we would not carry Foot and Mouth Disease into the country. This was the first of many stops over the following weeks where we had our fridges inspected, had meat, eggs or milk taken from us and where we had to disinfect our boots.
We spent the night at a campground run by a tribe of San Bushmen. The campground was lovely, part of a project run by the community. The other part was a cultural experience for tourists. In the morning, we were met by a young man called Erasmus, a San who was dressed in his traditional gear ie not much at all. In the cold morning air, his loincloth which covered only the front bits didn't do much to keep him warm and he shivered quite a bit. The tour consisted of a look at the traditional way of life of the Bushmen. The medicine man told stories and described the way they lived, what they ate, how they found water and what plants they used for medicine. Erasmus translated as he talked and he and the others often laughed at the old man's descriptions - the old guy was a real showman and very funny miming lots of his narrative making it quite clear what he was talking about. After the walk through the bush with Erasmus, the medicine man and a couple of the women also rather scantily dressed for the weather, it was time to try some traditional crafts. The men in our group made a small bow from scratch and completed making some arrows and then had to try their hand at shooting a wild animal made of straw. The arrows went surprisingly far but no-one hit the target. The women all sat down next to one of the women of the tribe to complete a necklace they were making out of bone, ostrich shell pieces and seeds threaded onto a thin natural twine. The bracelet we got for free but we paid for the necklace - not very much though. After a dance by the women and some singing of traditional songs with the medicine man joining in, it was time to head back out on the road.
In Grootfontein, we found a supermarket and replenished supplies - it seems to have been a long time since the last shop in Kasane. But with that over we headed for one of the big attractions of Namibia - Etosha National Park.