Namibio Botswana and Zimbabwe

2022-01-03

After we booked tickets, Omicron was discovered, and Tigray conflict got worse. We tracked on wikipedia map to see how far the rebels were from Addis. Had to abandon Ethiopia plans because all domestic flights were shut down and they stopped processing tourist visas. Got vaccinations for yellow fever, hep B, dengue fever, xxx, and pills for malaria and travellers diarrhea.

2021/12/15 SFO had bad rain storm, ate Burger King, flight delayed an hour. Connecting flight in DC was also delayed because its previous flight from Dublin was also delayed. The manager said he would make sure they knew we needed to catch a connection. One young white guy said he was in same situation, and an older white guy made a big deal and said this always happens.

Got injera on the plane, delicious. Phone connected to a Telus cell tower over Newfoundland and got AT&T text "welcome to Canada, your roaming is now activated, $10/day". Joke's on them it's a corp phone.

Landed in Addis. Xray scanner found camera bag, they said we can keep the camera but need to leave the binoculars with them, what the heck.. Took cash out, didn't know how much 1 Birr was so just randomly guessed. Got directly shuttled to hotel, asked if we can leave the hotel and explore the city, "no", dang. Sat in lobby waiting, very smoky, they took our passports. White guy was there, transferring to Joburg for family xmas. We wanted to eat city restaurant food, tried to bribe someone to let us go explore but failed, he said even the hotel employees are stuck in the hotel because of covid. We found app Deliver Addis that said it had one restaurant that was open, one hotel guy let us use his phone to register. We tried to order kitfo, fitfit etc. We called because the app wasn't working, eventually got it to work. They called us to confirm the order and the extra injera request. Food took 90+ mins, finally delivered, tipped delivery driver 200 Birr, he was extremely happy, thank you sir! Tipped the hotel guy 100 and he seemed annoyed. Got plastic bag full of injera, turns out each order of injera is a full injera chopped up.

Your order from Dashen Traditional Restaurant Special kitfo Cooked: Raw 1 520.00 ETB Special Beef Tongue With Tripe 1 520.00 ETB Fish Kitfo 1 163.00 ETB Kik Alicha 1 118.00 ETB Tikel Gomen 1 221.00 ETB Kategna 1 170.00 ETB

Later that night we tried to bribe someone again, no luck. I went to the second floor for their free meal voucher, terrible microwaved pasta brick, water cap wasn't properly sealed. Next morning had delicious bfast, back to airport, after e went through security we realized the binoculars are way over in the domestic arrivals terminal, I went to get them, had to walk a weird path, lady asked me what I'm doing, then found me an escort to go get the binoculars from the luggage room, then had to be eacorted through a bunch pf security checkpoints back to international departures, then escorted to the front of the security line. I emptied my pockets but kept cash bills in pocket, security scanner detected something in my pocket, I pulled out wad of bills to show security guy, he said what's this, as if I was trying to bribe him. He asked what the cash is for, I wanted to say it's a souvenir but I blacked on the word so I said uhh uhhhhh uhhh and he mocked me uhh uhhhhh and that made me more nervous and finally I said it's for a memorial and he said memory eh, and made some kind of joke about put it in a museum, and I laughed and quickly left. We went to some shops, sarah wanted to buy little statues, we both forgot our hats so we bought hats for like $40 USD each, ended up paying half Birr half USD. Went to Ethiopia Airlines lounge, nice view, also good injera and fasting food.

2021/12/18 Landed in Windhoek, 1 day late, had to rish to pick up 4x4 and then head to Sesriem. Found our ride guy Michael, took some cash out at ATM, bought some water and coke. He drove us to the garage, saw warthog and baboons. Met Jaco, quick tour of vehicle features, super rushed, filled up water tank, then we departed. Left hand drive. Rushed onto highway headed south. Quickly turned into dirt road. Drove with pedal to the medal for most of it, almost spun out once. Wanted to get there before dark because we were camping and we weren't sure if it was legal to drive after dark. Stuck behind a dusty truck for a while, Hit a locked gate in the middle of nowhere that google maps didn't know about, shit. I had offline map so we managed to find an alternative path. Sarah was counting down the google maps ETA as it got earler. Sunset 7:46, ETA 8:15. Managed to arrive at 7:42. We got in gate just before they closed it. They told us to go to site 44 but we couldn't find it. We went to restaurant first. Ate Oryx steak, delicious. Hunted for our campsite, Oryx was walking around, ended up picking a different one. Middle of night Sarah had to poop, got out, I kept lookout for animals while she pooped in plastic bag. I saw a jackal/ fox, then I saw two things that looked exactly like hyenas, wtf but I doubt there are hyenas here, told Sarah to finish quick because I see something watching us, then we quickly jumped back in the camper. Kept looking outside and seeing many animals roaming around, small fox thing.

2021/12/19 Morning we went to Sossusvlei, saw an ostrich, then a few more, so cool. Guy who operated shuttle suggested that we deflate our tires, beautiful dunes, another guy told us best path to hike Big Daddy, we were the first up it that day. Some people passed us, Sarah got tired, climbed down the side towards Deadvlei. I made it to the top, chatted with a guide who said business is suffering due to Omicron and he knows many people who moved to toronto for work. I ran down the dune past the french people and met up with Sarah. Sand made farting noise as I ran. She said she almost passed out, we still had 20+ minute walk across Deadvlei.

Back to car, other group from Belgium asked us if we made it to the top, turned on AC, drove back through the sand to the first parking lot. I was airing up the tires and a guy said he saw our truck's back hatch was open so he closed it for me. I said thanks, he said it would be nice to compensate him for helping us so much since otherwise people might have stolen some of our stuff, I gave him 200 or something, he seemed happy. Back to Sesriem, got gas, went to general store, got instant noodles and some drinks, drove to Solitaire, saw ground squirrels, most things closed except a cafe thing, we sat under a windy shedding tree and had our coffee and apple pie. Saw a mongoose, left for Desert Whisper. Nice check in process, lady brought us juice. We saw the famius namib desert livestream from youtube playing on a screen, lady said that water hole is a few km from here, cool! We cleaned up the car a bit, got jeeped out to Desert Whisper, guy was so proud of himself showing us the full fridge, pre-cooked food, wtf, oryx steak that we can cook ourselves. So much alcohol, too bad we don't drink. He showed us spa basket "for the ladies", told sarah he wants her to empty it. Showed us "whisky cart for the men". He left. Sarah showered, I set up telescope and saw zebras and horses and some antelope, then saw giraffes walking left. Excitedly told sarah to come look. Took some blurry photos through telescope, sent photo to Jeep guy Eddy via Whatsapp. I kept watching the giraffes as they walked far away. We set up gopro timelapse for sunset, took pool photos, I found the location of the livestream camera with binoculars. We cooked all the stuff, pretty tasty although tried not to eat anything raw.

2021/12/20 Next morning video chatted with mom and dad. Jeep back down the hill, jurassic park joke, then drove ourselves back to main area. Saw wildebeest and many oryx. Left for Walvis Bay. Took photo pf tropic of capricorn sign. Set up timelapse gopro windshield mount. Drove through valley of a thousand hills. So deserty. Saw ostrich in desolate hot desert running away from us, felt bad for it. Arrived in walvis bay, roundabouts are confusing on left hand drive, went to big Dunes Mall, christmas everywhere, fast food options Wimpy, Hungry Lion, Debonairs triple-decker stuffed crust pizza, Spur steak ranch, Roco Mamas, we got burgers from Steers, white girl cashier wearing Wimpy shirt. went to PEP and blight pillow for sarah, went to drug store looking for pepto bismol but they dont have it here, bunch of weird drugs we've never heard of. Drove to Lagoon Chalets, nice check in lady with glass eye, said campsite and chalet same price, 500, we've already paid 250 so we still owe 250 regardless of which one we pick, I wasn't thinking and said "ah ok, USD right?" she said hahaha no no, NAD. We all laughed. We switched to a chalet, nice clean room, tall ceiling, trouble charging gopro and laptop and phones.

2021/12/21 Legs sore from running down dune. Got breakfast and coffee from Slowtown coffee roasters, tasty bagel, sarah saw guy walking his cute lab retriever near ocean, went to wharf, guy helped me park and said hello, I thought he was part of the tour group, another guy asked our names, asked for clarification "sarah with an H?". turns out 1st guy wanted money to protect the car, ugh. we waited upstairs at the kayak office, toppled tribal women selling stuff, got into shuttle, two other families, so convenient to be able to chat in chinese so they can't snoop. drove to kayak area, stuffy covid masks on, saw flamingos, saw jackal, pipers , then many seals , dead babies. tons of sunscreen, fun kayaking, seals very playful. took underwater gopro video but it quickly died, I forgot that the 3rd party battery cover had a big hole for usb c port, oops. many seal pups because of season. saw dolphins, we tried to catch up to them but they swam away. afterwards had some sandwiches and tea, saw pup by itself just sitting there, guide chased seagull away from it, said the seagulls eat their eyes. on the drive back we saw two scientists sitting out with the seals, guide said one of them is doing her phd on mother pup vocalizations. saw more jackals, saw lighthouse hotel thing and old railroad line. scarlet red salt ponds and big pile of salt. back to walvis bay, second guy who asked our names had carved them into some palm nuts, had to buy them, that's why he asked if sarah had an h. quickly tried to leave, suddenly first guy appeared and asked for money, we said sorry we don't have any more cash, he looked very sad and shocked, we said well we have some ethiopian birr, he said he can't use that, we said you can take it to the bank and exchange it, he finally accepted. drove north to swakopmund. went to supermarket Spar I think, wow fancy, it even had a fresh sushi counter inside. got garbage bags, ice, ice cream bars, soups, noodles. wanted to buy another gopro, one person suggested toy store across street, nope only accessories. they suggested an outdoor shop in a mall north of town, they didn't have any in stock but they could have one couriered to etosha park gate for us, sarah bought new hat and exchanged whatsapp with her. I called a store called action cams , they don't have gopro but they have Akavo AK7000 in stock, ok cool. drove back into swakop, small solar panel store, bought ak7000 cash, its time lapse mode sucks but oh well, drove north into desert, got flat tire middle of nowhere, getting late, sarah tried contacting vingerklippe lodge but signal kept dropping, saw some thatch hut villages, old topless last ran out at us from the middle of nowhere with begging hands outstretched, freaked me out, had to drive fast but carefully because we didn't have a spare tire or cell signal, sun went down, got to tar road and aired up the tire pressure, cop stopped and asked if we're ok, saw animals on side of road at night, made it to vingerklipoe, wow so luxury, so many people, said we can eat down below it up at the top, lady suggested we eat at the top but then the chef radioed down and said the meat is getting dry and cold so should eat down below, amazing food, saw a genet, ate kudu and springbok, hooked up hill, went up half life 2 staircase on cliff wall, nice room by itself (eagle's nest?) but no water pressure, guy showed up out of the dark to turn on a pump, zebra rug on floor, saw lightning all night

2021/12/22 next morning good breakfast, saw "klip daisses" (should be rock hyrax). drove to outjo, went to tire repair shop, young white kid didn't speak much english but said our 120km/h shouldn't have caused the flat because they usually drive 140 on gravel. chairs were made of old tires. boy said biggest supermarket is Spar, got some supplies, people begging for food in parking lot, we went to Outjo Bakkery, very nice coffee shop, talked about starbucks global influence, drive north to etosha, got stopped at park gate, no plastic bags allowed , they took all of our bags except some we said were laundry bags, and the roll we bought and hid. saw giraffes crossing road, got to okaukuejo waterhole, set up camp, truck sun awning sucks, huge bird nest, saw 3 elephants walking towards waterhole, ran through grass to get a better view wearing motel slippers, got covered in burrs and spikes, signed up for tmr morning 5am safari drive, cooked durban curry noodles and a can of chakalaka, back to waterhole saw rhinos, sarah went to shower in the ablution building, I heard something dicking with our pot, jackal trying to eat our scraps, I shooed him away but he kept hanging around, could see his eyes with my head lamp always staring at me, saw jackal wearing a bone it stole from another camp's braai, we put the dirty pot into the camper for tonight, went to sleep, woke up heard something down by the foot of the tent, I told sarah shit bb wake up there's a baboon in the car, she said uh oh, then I realized it was her, trying to pee into a bag again, she said she was too scared to go out since it was lion territory.

2021/12/23 woke up pitch black, walked over to the vehicle area, so cold, 6 other ppl, smelled terrible BO, one guy only had tshirt and was freezing, last in front of sarah kept looking back at her, saw giraffes with red spotlight, saw lions mating, hyenas, saw mom and baby rhino running away from 2 big males trying to kill the baby, springbok, steenbok, oryx, impala, warthogs, jackals, zebras, back to camp, ate at restaurant, got gas, drove through etosha, saw lions right on side of road, they went under a tunnel thing, we sat on the thnnel for 5 mins but they stayed in there, awkwardly switched drivers without getting out of the car, saw huge herds of zebras etc, accidentlally drove past onguma, had to turn back, got there, so nice, had to ritual wash our hands, looks like botw gerudo town, golf carts to bring to our room because of safety. room key is a metal spike. showered outside by the animals, tasty dinner by waterhole, christmas tree ornament on table, jackals eating bugs by lights, other table had pilot from ZA flying them in a cessna grand caravan,

2021/12/24 covid testing available in Tsumeb until 11am, google maps said it would take us 90 mins but it was already 10, they said no problem it's only 45 mins, sped there, saw cop truck in front of us driving 150 so we followed him, he pulled off, we slowed down to pass him, joked about how now it's even less likely to encounter a cop unless this one radioes ahead, 5 mins later got caught by speed trap, 135 in a 120 zone even though I thought it was a 100 zone, fine was 1500 NAD or so, guy looked it up in a book of road rules, sarah said she thinks I got scammed. made it to taumeb, google maps directed us to middle of nowhere, maps.me found the hospital, tent in dirt field, another white ZA family said they saw us get speeding ticket, went inside to get photocopies, main hospital toilet had no sink or hand washing facility, got tested, drove into town, ate some kind of grilled meat at Steinbach Beergarden, ate some grilled meat and pap, when leaving the lady gave our plates to another customer who said "halleleujah" with goofy voice, lady said "they like the bones", we were horrified, went to Hoba Meteorite, drove through grootfontein, saw street market on road, sketchy, drove to rundu, many villages on side of road, cows, goats, donkeys, arrived in town, stop sign pointed the wrong way, hakusembe hotel, hotel lady kind of curt, said problem with our card, had to pay again, sarah said our room was wrong, hotel garden had pomegranates, lemons, many fruits, I met a guy down by parking lot named Ziggy who is in town with his gf, we drove into town to go to the big famous market but it was just closing, sarah wanted to buy drum, then we went to Grill Masters had amazing chicken strips, asked about mopane worm but they said it's not in season. had stoney ginger beer. everything closing because of christmas eve.

2021/12/25 had continental buffet breakfast, saw big indian family, went kayaking in kavango river, had to carry kayak ourselves, tour boat guy held onto my shoes, said he saw a hippo earier, we kayaked over there, saw it, it snorted a bunch, we got scared, left right left right paddled away, paddled to angola side drove into town, everything closed, saw shop called beaver canoe toronto canada, left rundu, many people on side of road, herds of animals, many "tuck shops", got gas at Divundu, drove to a bar thing but they said they don't serve food, drove back to gas station and ate mexican pizza at Emms Cafe, matrix revolutions playing on tv, sarah ordered a stir fry, we saw the main guy cross the street and 5 mins later came back with raw chicken in a bag maybe for our food, drank a red bull, drove to Ngepi camp, many hippos in river, treehouse #10, so cool, started raining hard, rolled down the thatch rain screen and a mouse fell out and ran off, went swimming in cage in river with many children, I cannonballed in and they all screamed, some guy said he lost his glasses in there, wouldn't be able to find them because river was murky and cage had a bottom grille, later had nice dinner over the water, nobody else there, sarah got bit by mosquitoes, head lamps very useful for walking back

2021/12/26 breakfast by swimming cage, rained hard as we crossed into botswana at ngoma, saw many elephants on road, ate at nando's in kasane, got botswana cash out at as station, drove to quadripoint bridge into zambia, every guard was corrupt, asked for tips to help us, fuck off, stamped out of botswana, sarah needed a visa for zambia, shit, stamped back into botswana, had to go from window to window to window, stamp back into botswana, drove past the vehicle inspection station as usual and I made a joke about "don't look at them, just pretend we know what we're doing", almost out of the gate towards kasane and the guard got radioed, we have to go back to vehicle inspection, two ladies very angry that we didn't stop, went through whole vehicle, made us touch all of our shoes and sandals on a wet mat, finally let us go, had to rush to zimbabwe border before it closed, very confusing, one guy told us to park here, another guy said pull farther forward, then first guy get mad at that guy, then a third guy told us to park way farther forward to get out of the way of the big trucks, then the second guy who got yelled at told us we need to pay him for a zimbabwe road insurance, bla bla $10 + $10 + $30 USD, he wasn't government so I asked the govt guy, he said yeah it's true, guy said he can give me founle visa for zambia but can't give same visa to sarah, I tried to bribe him no luck, he said my visa is $70, canada is most expensive country for zimbabwe visa, I asked him how much double visa would be, he said $50 total, uhh okay give me the double one then. drive into zombabwe, weren't sure which side of road to drive on, cop checkpoint in middle of nowhere, a bit past that we saw 3 lions beside the road, many elephants, pregnant hyena drinking puddle, drove into vic falls, saw "Seven .. Eleven" on map, nope it's some fake shop that's closed, picked random hotel PheZulu, annoying check in lady, wanted to keep truck parked inside security gate so we walked out at night with head lamps, sarah scared, I put wad of botswana money in my shoe under my foot, walked to "Boma Restaurant", guy asked if we have reservation and if we want to rent fancy traditional clothes, awesome buffet, ate mopane worms and lots of things, then they passed out drums to everyone, fun drum show, took shuttle back, annoying check in lady said she's surprised we made the drum show since it starts earlier, I said I dunno maybe they have 2 per night, she said no.. big active spider in hotel room behind shampoo bottle, kept running around wouldn't sit still

next day annoying checkin lady said boma restaurant came looking for us, they accidentally charged us 200 ZWL or some local currency, and we actually only got charged $1 USD instead of 200. we went to get covid tested, saw family of warthogs in dirt parking lot, saw dung deedle, saw old school ww1 truck, then drove to lookout cafe, edge tables were reserved but we asked nicely and promised to be done by 2pm. we play fought over who gets the nice view of the falls. ostrich bbq skewers, baobab mousse, nice view, I downloaded some botw ost music on youtube on their wifi. then we went to find a helicopter company, found mjAir, signed up for bungee and rafting, they didnt have cc swipe machine so we drove with the lady to another random house to use theirs, theirs was down, we said we'll come back later to pay it, went to boma to pay the bill, picked up covid results, checked into shearwater adventure lodge, had to wait for room to be ready, goofy gayish guy showed us room, went to little market Elephants Walk, so empty, sellers so desperate, sarah haggled like crazy, bought drum, some figurines and some trillion dollar bills, sellers wanted to trade me for my shoes or shirt, went to shearwater adventure center to pay for everything, bad bathroom, then drove to bridge to bungee, walked out, I got scared, went to zambia side to finish signing up, guy told us only 1% of people chicken out, saw cute family of monkeys at cliff edge, I got suited up, small crowd gathered, young guy was also jumping, I asked him to go first, then I chickened out, felt terrible walking back with sarah, we rode rickshaw, winds getting stormy, we got shuttled to helicopter airport, feels like we're their first customers or something, fun helicopter ride, low water season, turns out the conpany opened 11 days prior, heli only had 26 hours on hobbs meter. back to town, ate at Three Monkeys, kept changing tables, power went out a bunch of times, got delicious bacon banana/smoked salmon pizza, sarah got rare sliders, nachos, bunny chow peri peri chicken livers

woke up early nice breakfast, lots of sunscreen, we were only 2 customers for rafting but they had 2 trainees going with us, they filmed everything, bus back to lookout cafe, put valuables in lock box, count all money, walk down super rickety ladder and steps, got in boat, wow we sit right on the edge wtf, captain was mr lee, he moved me to the front because I was paddling harder, ok then we started, guy behind me fell out on second rapid, I kept looking back to make sure sarah was safe, big rapid coming up rapid #8 "midnight diner" but he pronounced it dinner, 50% chance of tipping if we choose the center lane, they asked me I asked sarah, sarah said sure yolo lets do it, just before it hit I jokingly said "I love you sarah" everyone laughed, we capsized, very scary, I popped up under the inverted boat, thank god sarah popped up with me, I grabbed her collar held her out of the water, nothing to hold on to though, there were more rapids and stuff but we couldn't see anything so we kept getting jostled and going under water, knew we needed to get to outer edge of boat, one bad bump we were both underwater again I decided fuck it, pulled sarah with me and heaved myself outwards, we popped up outside, mr lee brought sarah onto boat, then me, I was hoping everyone else was accounted for and they weren't just prioritizing the white foreign customers. turns out we were the last to reappear. sarah and I kept looking at each other like "holy fuck we almost died, I love you", we had to walk boat past rapid 9 "commercial suicide", three ugly sisters, the washing machine holy fuck that's scary, felt my right knee getting sunburn, sarah's finger got smashed and she couldn't paddle anymore, loong walk up the hill, sarah thought she would die, barefoot porters going up and down the hill, finally at the top, nice lunch with everyone, ate some pap, coke, they offered us beer but we gave it to them, we saw they gave our food scraps to the porters, back to shearwater, shower in the weird building, no towels, I insisted we go to hospital for sarah's swollen pinky, they said not broken, then we tried to find tweezers, OK supermarket said try the other OK supermarket, that supermarket said try the salon, salon said try the drug store, drugstore had it, super nice gay clerk, also got sarah's pinky painkiller prescription, got food from weird bulk supermarket with discount for using foreign currency but weird line system, pain in the ass, then drove back to botswana, saw cute shy elephant drinking puddle, got threatened by another elephant, sarah got scared said 快走快走快走 very fast, more border bs, ok back in botswana, got gas in kasane, ate triple decker pizza at debonairs, drove to lions roar lodge, wrong turn, drove past Lesoma Memorial where 15 botswana soldiers were killed by Rhodesian guerilla fighters, got to lions roar lodge, ants everywhere holy crap, checked in, ankles being bit, they gave us mosquito coil and matches, room on stilts, ants absolutely everywhere outside. room door had big gaps, room toilet leaked, mosquito net tons of holes, finally got to sleep.

next day went back out to car, ants inside car, kept finding them on our legs, leftover debonairs pizza,