February 22, 2011

The Okavango

The Okavango Delta is a place of beauty. Tucked away in the heart of Botswana, it is a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. We traveled to the island, where we would set up camp, in mokoros; hollowed out tree trunks which are punted through the shallow waters of the delta, keeping a leery eye out for hippopotamus. If we were thirsty we would dip a cup over the side of the canoe, and drank deeply, having been told that the water was pure.

Cape buffalo looked up as we passed by, water dripping from their mouths and elephants cautiously watched us, sniffing the air with their trunks.  It was exciting as well as very idyllic.

After we had set up camp under a Sausage tree that would occasionally drop an enormous torpedo-like pod to the ground, the men in the group went down to the water to fill the jerrycans, while we, women, watched.

A fisherman stood thigh-deep in the shallows, while he fanned out his hand-made net and threw it into the darkening waters. All was well with the world. But wait, what is that I see? What do the weights of his net resemble? Batteries, large flashlight batteries! I waded out to take a closer look and saw that the batteries had holes drilled right through to attach them to the net. In my mind's eye I could see the cadmium oozing out into the pure waters of the Okavango, that I had drunk so deeply and without a care.

That night, as I made my last stop behind a bush, I watched closely to see if my pee didn't glow in the dark, but was distracted by another enormous sausage whizzing past my ear to drop to the ground with a thud and hastily made my way back to my tent by the light beaming from my eyes.

I am cleaning out memorabilia, and found some wonderful old postcards that my family had sent each other while they lived in Africa. I used a card by C. Barry to draw this wonderful wise woman. I drew with pen and nib and Indian Ink without setting up a sketch first. Wanted to see if I could sketch without an eraser.


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