Wednesday, January 3, 2018
There was a beautiful full moon over the channel at Xakanaxa this morning.
After breakfast, we were taken to the airport for transport to Maun where we will reconnect with the South Africa DC-3 South Africa airplane and crew. This time, we were in a 12 passenger plane. We got some final views of the Moremi game reserve on the way, and saw a few herds of (what else?) impala.
We stopped at Kasane for a boat ride in Chobe National Park, on the Chobe River and channels that separate Botswana from Namibia. There is a large fluvial island that both countries were trying to claim – Sedudu. Representatives of the International Court of Justice came in 1999 to help settle the argument. They measured the channels on both sides – the deepest channel would be declared the border. Fortunately for Botswana, the decision was in their favor. Botswana put up a flag on the island just to remind the Namibians of who owns it. Sedudu is about two square miles in area, with no permanent residents, and it spends several months each year submerged by floods.
Chobe National Park is popular because of the large herds of elephants that come to feed, drink and play. We saw two large herds – there must have been more than 100 elephants here today. There were a few bulls, and many females as well as many young elephants of all ages. There would always be one or two larger elephants standing guard. At one point, we saw about three charge a rhino that dared to come near them.
The elephants were so much fun to watch. They played in the water, rolling, splashing, jumping on one another, locking trunks, even pushing each other into the water. We also got to witness them help others who were having difficulty getting back on shore.
There were warthogs, rhinos, waterbucks, crocodiles, impala and many water birds enjoying the water on this hot day. The water almost lulled us to sleep. Indeed, a few folks did take a nap.
The temperature when we returned to the airplane was about 105 degrees. The inside of the airplane was almost 115. It can’t be cooled until the airplane is in the air. Werner, our steward, had been in this sauna for an hour before we arrived, getting things ready for the flight. He was sweating profusely, but was diligent about getting cold water and cold wet washcloths to everyone. However, he soon began suffering from heat exhaustion. Fortunately, we have a couple of doctors in our group, and they went to work on him, pouring water over his head, applying cold bottles of water to his neck. Werner wasn’t the only one suffering. At least one other person was feeling poorly, but she recovered quickly. I thought I was OK, but after we landed, I started feeling it as well. I splashed cold water on my face, but still felt light headed and nauseous. I was close to heat stroke, in spite of the fact that I had been drinking plenty of water throughout the day. I was wheeled to the bus that took us to the hotel.
We did bring packets of G2 (a Gatorade product) on the trip, but had run out yesterday. I’ll be sure to pack more in the future. A fellow traveler had one left over and gave it to me, and I began to recover.
Needless to say, I skipped the afternoon activities in favor of a soak in a cool bath. I learned later that another member of our group spent the night throwing up – another sign of heat exhaustion. I’m so grateful for air conditioning.