Last year I spent a day with a young man named Rex out in a local village. This area is quite remote and settlements with people are few and far between. He was serving as the liaison for the wild dog project and the local people. One day he took me out to a village to give the village head some information. On our way out, he was told of a farmer’s dogs that had killed a cheetah. Apparently, the cheetah killed two goats. It is often difficult to determine the truth of these claims, but nonetheless, the cheetah was dead. These African herding dogs are mutts by all appearances but apparently, they are fierce defenders of their herds. Rex showed up in camp several days after we arrived. He looked me up and seemed genuinely happy to see me. He is now working on the anti-poaching team for the Tuli conservation area. Rex offered to take us, Lesley, Andy and me, to his village. It turned out to be quite an ordeal to get this to happen, but indeed it did. These are children from the village that I went to last year. We passed through on the way to Rex’s village. We stopped at the village head’s home for an introduction. It’s always important to make that visit when visitors have come.
On our way to the village, we stopped at the agricultural fence line. This is one of the places Rex finds himself when helping out his anti poaching staff. The panels are solar and generate electricity for the fence. I saw solar panels frequently in and around this area. Many of the homes also had solar panels. I was glad to see some positive first world technology has found a place in this area.
All the river beds are wide and flat like this and during the seasonal rains they often flood. Here, as in many places, the bridge structures don’t make it. This reconstruction is yet another attempt to make a bridge that can withstand the fast, furious waters that flow during the summer rains.
You can see the mixture of modern and traditional customs when traveling through the village.
Needless to say, there is no indoor plumbing.
These bricks are made from the red soil that is everywhere. It is dense and nearly indestructible if cured properly. They are used for most buildings.
All the wiring you see is newly installed although the village does not yet have reliable electricity. This electrical system is not yet active. And yet, notice the satellite dish. They really are the only way the people in these areas can communicate with the rest of the world. I have to say, however, that the simple life these people lead has its attractions for me.
Rex took us to the home of a woman who is a fabulous basket maker. Her years show. She took us to the room where she stores her baskets. So many shapes and sizes. She showed us her awards from various basket competitions in Botswana. She spoke no English so Rex interpreted for us. In spite of her notoriety in basket weaving, she lived in a home made of bricks, cooked outside with her goats meandering around the dusty yard. This is Rex trying on a hat he was buying for his sister. Just a little small on him…..
Rex made arrangements for us to go to the school. We were thrilled to be able to do this since both Lesley and I are teachers. While Rex was in the office, I tried to take pictures of the kids. Another perk of digital cameras: kids can see their picture immediately! I had a terrible time getting them to stand still so I could take their picture. They would line up quietly but as soon as I raised the camera to snap a picture, some of the little guys would scoot in front to be sure to be seen in the picture. Then another little guy would step in front until they were standing in front of me. But I did get this one that included all the children. They would surround me, fingers all over the lcd screen, finding themselves and their friends. I’ve included a couple of pictures I didn’t take just to show how excited the kids were to see their ‘portrait’.
He introduced us to the head master whose office had no computer, no copy machine, only a white board which you can see here.
After talking to this gracious man for a bit, we were escorted to the tree to watch the kids do their tribal dances. This was not planned but they do enjoy visitors to their school and are always willing to dress in their traditional clothes and perform their dances. Rex said that the dancing is one of the few traditions still practiced in the village and is part of their curriculum. Sadly, more and more tradition gives way to western influence.
After the dancing was over, we thanked everyone profusely, and left for the long drive back to camp. The ride home, stopping frequently to view spectacular scenery and wildlife, was beautiful. We stopped to watch the sunset and arrived home just in time for dinner. What a day!!!