Monday, January 24, 2011

A leaping and a hopping over Kubu Island


Kubu Island, situated in the Magkadigkadi pans, somewhere near the center of Botswana is a strange place. You could almost imagine you were on another planet. It’s an island populated with baobab trees that eke out an existence between the white boulders and rocks. Standing out in the white expanse of the salt pan while gazing at the island, it’s easy to imagine waves crashing on the rocky shores of Kubu Island, while hundreds of noisy sea birds gathered on the rocks. Today the only reminder of that much wetter period is the smooth pebbles around the base of the island and the rocks that are stained white by bird guano. Equally interesting is the evidence that man once lived here, stone walls are found, clearly evident, some with small window holes that look out across the never ending white salt pans. If you look carefully in some areas, you might be fortunate as I was to find bits of broken pottery and ostrich egg shell beads hidden among the dust .As little as 50 or 100 years ago boys would be leaping and playing among the rocks.Women and girls might have spent time making necklaces of ostrich egg shells, while the men could have been returning from a hunt carrying the meat of some antelope over their shoulders.
My visit to this strange island was not without excitement…
1st, I was very sick when I arrived, the worst I had been in seven years. (Which I think was caused by the Bully beef sandwiches and some crème of tartar that I ate from a baobab tree).
2nd it rained that night and then the following day after exploring and taking photos of the island we (my friend Dean, and I) decide to take a new route across the salt pans to a village called Letlakane and then the start of a tar road.
This turned out to be on of the most exiting and at times scariest trip I have ever been on. Although we knew never to cross the pans during the rainy season we didn’t think twice since it was the dry season .However we quickly realized that the unseasonal and little rain we had during the night had been much more over the open pans. What started off as just a few centimeters of rainwater on the surface of the pans soon changed to a couple of feet, with a very mushy feeling beneath the wheels when we slowed down.
Looking at the map I realized that it would be 32 km before we reached solid land .It was comforting to note that there wasn’t even a tree in sight that we could attach the winch to if we did get stuck. Instead as far as the eye could see, it was just water, sparkling in the sun. Stories started to flash through my head of whole vehicle getting stuck and then slowly sinking down until they disappeared leaving the occupants to walk for hours and in some cases when lost ,for days before they found help.
We soon found that we had a couple challenges, first we had to keep the land rover racing along at 60 km an hour, slower and you could feel the vehicle start sinking. Second the faint track that we were following at times disappeared and was extremely difficult to see which way we should go, third the water at places would abruptly become deeper causing the land rover to slow down almost to the point of stalling and in turn coming closer to getting stuck. White knuckled and on the edge of our seats we urged the land rover on until 32 km later we drove up out of the pans onto solid ground. The Landover was covered with white mud and the only clean bit was where the windscreen wipers had kept cleaned. Half an hour later we pulled up into a typical village car wash at Letlakane where the land rover was attacked with water, soap and not a little elbow grease.
Despite having spent only a few hours on and around Kubu Island I came away with more than just a few photos .I took back with me good memories, an urge to captured Kubu Island with brush and paint, and a desire to return again


Gary Keimig said...

great paintings and blog Roger. Loved the commentary. Seems as though I have had a number of adventures that I was sure glad when they were over. LOL
Thanks for the comment on my blog.

Roger Brown My Botswana Art said...

Thanks Gary I enjoyed your blog as well, the country where you stay looks really wild and beautiful.I would love to read about some of those adventures of yours on your blog.

Gary said...

Roger your work is awe inspiring. What a fabulous world that you live in. I love what you got going here - great blog! G.

Roger Brown My Botswana Art said...

Thanks Gary I really appreciate all the comments.Just had another look at your works and love your water color painting titled (A late summer morning),its just exquisite.

Meowlissa said...

Always a pleasure to see your talents displayed :)

Rebekah said...

wow this is sipmly amazing. unbelievebly good and i it truly is and i am not just saying wow. definately my favourite.
it is really good.
keep up the great work.
i knew u were good but wow!

Julia Ruffles | wildlife animal artist said...

WOW I am stunned! your artworks are amazing, and I am compelled by your detailed observations and stories - I think one of the most interesting blogs I have come across :) I look forward to reading and watching in the future! Jules