Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Local Scene

Terri (in the bed) and Emma doing what they do best.
There are three roads that lead out of Maun, and we've travelled each many times. Yesterday we spent some time exploring locally.


Out on the northern end of town, just past the northern round-about (where we found goats galore the other day), is a place called Motsana. The architecture is curious, but the people are welcoming. The folks who own this place have really made it into a quiet haven for all things social. There is a restaurant here where we have our boring Coke-Lite and tea with milk to start the day. The spa provides our weekly massages. The travel agent (our noble host for this visit owns it) Liquid Giraffe has their office here. There is room upstairs used for morning exercise for a group of folks, led the owner. The souvenir shop sells some very nice things. And, of course, the stage on one end provides the setting for the community theater and the Thursday movie nights.

This morning cows were wandering in and out of the restaurant seating area. It is, after all, Botswana and it is near a road.

We spent some time driving down roads that we had no idea where they'd lead just to see what we'd find. Down one road is this house with a a pretty traditional fence around it. It seems a bit odd to see such a modern and large (by local standards) house with what must be a labour-intensive but otherwise inexpensive fence around it.

We see all sorts of fences around houses - some are impressive solid brick and mortar walls, others are metal fences with pointy bits at the top, others are chainlink fences with barbed or razor wire at the top, still others are traditional, similar to the one above, or are simply a fence with no apparent security measures taken. It is hard to tell exactly what the deal is on fences here. In South Africa, it is clear that security is the paramount feature. Here, it seems that often it is to indicate property boundaries, keeps animals in (or out), or simply keep people from wandering where they don't need to be. Surely security is important and part of each kind of fence, but it seems more to discourage the opportunist rather than the determined assault.

While there must be properties that have alarms and armed responses, this is not, as far as we can tell, the norm here. Rather, everyone opts for dogs. Certainly, in Glen's neighborhood, everyone has dogs, plural, just as he does. One neighbor has at least 10 very vicious-sounding dogs on their very large property. This place is surrounded on three sides my high cement walls with one side open facing the river with an imposing metal fence with pointy bits on top. A secure place to be sure. Also very intimidating to walk dogs past even if you believe the ones on the inside can't get out.

One road we took led us down to and across the Thamalakane River. As you can see in the photo, the river (due to drought) really is just a string of unconnected pools. Our drive across the river was via a land bridge of sand, not a real bridge of any sort. Yesterday was the first day of autumn here, and the transition from wet to dry season is in full swing. In another three months, any hint of the river must be gone in most places.

Near the Okavango River Lodge (in the distance) we finally found a route to a portion of the river that actually has water in it with having to pay for food or drink to sit for spell. This fellow came down with his 10 liter container and filled it in the river by wading out with the dog and the local donkeys to fill it. Here, he is carrying it back home full. You and I would not drink the water from the river like this, but apparently it is safe enough for those accustomed to whatever microscopic life is found there.

Maun is the only town I've visited where the airport is downtown. Across from the entrance to the airport is the Bon Arrive restaurant where we go sometimes for a cider and to read. The traffic at the corner is always fun to watch. Here is a safari truck passing by with paying clients aboard. Across the street is a row of tuck shops selling food mostly.

The images above are all from inside Maun town limits or very close to it. Maun is still a frontier town in many ways. The "city" part is small. Much of what you'd call "downtown" is a series of government ministry offices (transport and commercialization, water, veterinary safety, etc.) alongside the Choppies and Spar groceries (we've been to all of these). There is a large bus station, reminiscent of those found outside Victoria or Waterloo Stations in London. Only here, it is all dirt, no pavement, and it surrounded by people setting up tables to sell their wares under the trees. Next door is a Choppies and there is lots of foot traffic. It is a busy, dusty (or muddy, depending on the weather) place filled with life.

We drive out of town to see the country and the wildlife. But there is adventure everywhere.