We arrived at Kasane Airport, a small airport outside Chobe National Park in Botswana, yesterday, and when we stepped outside the airport that is when our trip really began. A driver from the resort met us, a dark-skinned black woman wearing a navy medium weight coat and wool beanie hat despite 80-plus degree heat. We loaded aboard our vehicle, which was not the shuttle bus I’d expected, but rather a flatbed truck with high sides and padded bench seats. She drove us about 40 minutes, almost entirely on the park’s rutted dirt roads, to our home for the next three nights, the Chobe Game Lodge inside the park, which is a vast nature preserve on the Chobe River. We had a few minutes to settle in and then we had tea and snacks, then a game cruise on the river, on a flat pontoon boat with about a dozen people. This small group and our guide, a dark-skinned black woman named RB, would be with us the three days of our stay. RB is also the boat pilot, sole deckhand, and bartender.
I’m currently enjoying jet lag at 4:34 am. Wake up call for river cruise in 25 minutes! An hour or two ago I heard an animal roar or growl or trumpet outside the lodge. It sounded big and possibly carnivorous and not a bit anti-Semitic in its food preferences.
Note from 2020: Up until the point we got in that open-air tour bus, the trip to Africa had been very ordinary, just like flying between any two major metropolitan airports anywhere in the world. But when we got on that tour bus, it was a different world. We stopped on the side of the road and looked and wildlife, including elephants. Elephants! Right there on the side of the road! We saw a lot of that over the next few weeks, but it never felt ordinary.