After our mokoro trip through the Delta, it was time to hit the road to D’Kar, a san village about 3 hours away from Maun. The original game plan was going to be to take the bus. However, this isn’t a Megabus from Chicago to Madison, these are generally 15-30 seat vans packed to the brim with people who have an affinity for closing the windows instead of opening them. So while I was hesitant to try hitch-hiking for the first time in the smack dab middle of Africa, it was a better option than having my insides showing themselves on a stranger’s lap (have I mentioned my knack for motion sickness?). Once Corey learned about this fun affliction, we headed to the hitchhiking outpost and Corey stuck his arm out and flapped his hand up and down (no hitchhiking thumbs here!).
After about 20 minutes of flailing, Corey nabbed us a car. Nearly 10 minutes in we hear this POP! which I know can’t be good. And, to make matters worse, it happened while we were trying to pass someone. We pull over and quickly learn we are down to 3 tires and we are getting nowhere fast. Luckily, the pickup truck we were attempting to pass pulled over. Within 30 seconds our bags were in the back of the pickup and we were back on the road but only going about halfway to where we needed to be.
After an uneventful (but very windy) hour and a half, we ended in Corey’s village of Sehithwa but only to stop at the hitchhiking post to get another ride. While there, the women at the post told us about their children and asked if we could take them back to America. We politely declined, but Corey informed me this is very common and he gets asked to take children home with him all the time in order to give them a life of more opportunity. He also gets heavily propositioned by the women there in hopes that he will propose and take them back to the states.
Mid-conversation a Choppies (grocery store chain) semi-truck pulls over and offers us a ride for $3 – for the both of us together. We hop on in and spend the next hour or two conversing about bride price, President Obama, life in Africa and working in the states. I would later learn that hitchhiking is okay by Peace Corps standards – with the exception of pickup and semi trucks. After a long, sweaty day we hop out and hike the rest of the way to Sarah’s, a Peace Corps volunteer we’ll be spending the next few days with.
Corey and Sarah tell me all about D’Kar which draws many parallels to how the Native Americans were/are treated in America. The village of D’Kar is home to a nomadic people with shelters made essentially of sticks and straw with very few possessions to their name as traditionally, they would move from place to place (hence, nomadic). However, the government stepped in, minimized the land available to the san people and began providing a monthly stipend for the land seizure. This causes many problems as severe weather wreaks havoc on the village forcing the people to rebuild from scratch or when the villagers only speak their native tongue and cannot gain employment due to the language barrier (although, for the first time this language has been written down thanks to a 30-year initiative called the Naro Language Project) or due to the depression and lack of access, citizens use their monthly stipends on libations at the local watering hole.
The village as come a very long way and creates beautiful works of art for revenue through the Kuru Art Project which celebrates the people’s history and the gorgeous museum highlighting traditions and also shining light on their burdensome past, but the village still has a long way to go.
We spend two nights at Dqae Qae San Lodge (there the proceeds go back to the local village) and one night at Sarah’s. Our days are filled with exploring the village of D’Kar and the city of Ghanzi, visiting all the local resorts on an impromptu “lodge crawl,” eating all of the game meat (kudu and eland for starters), inventing drinking games (“Bottle Craps” has now been trademarked) and soaking up each other’s company.
Together we road trip back to Maun in Sarah’s boyfriend Dale’s rental car and spend the night at backpackers because in the morning, Corey and I head out for our 3-day self-drive safari.
Source: my own (top to bottom: Corey hitchhiking, our sweet ride, Kuru Art Project, culture/history museum, Dqae Qae San Lodge)