“When flooded turn back please” should have been the sign to greet us at the border when we crossed into Botswana… more than that, we should have listened. Old signs at the different accommodation stages that stated “Botswana is mostly a dry country going through a drought, please use water carefully” haven’t bothered to update humanity about the overwhelming amount of water that has fallen during the current and the last rainy season (although I believe establishment should remind customers that just because they are on holiday, doesn’t mean the water comes from thin air).
When my life had more Ocean in it, Fabia would always say “Rosso di sera, buon tempo si spera” (or the English version which I don’t find as nice to say: Red sky at night, sailor’s delight). Although I love water, I do not love rain. In fact, I hate it. It saddens me to the point of melancholy and it makes me ponder about everything I have ever done in my life and what could have been done differently. Because of this trait, during this trip I forced my optimism to see that tiny little tinge of red in the sky every sunset as a good omen, in hopes that it would be dry the next day… The optimism would last until sunrise upon being greeted with a stunning red sky, and then vanish as soon as the counterpart to Fabia’s saying came to mind: “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”.
Enthralled by the saying of older ages, we came to the conclusion that this was probably the best way to predict the weather. Sailors lives depend on the weather and rain patterns so it stands to reason that they probably know a thing or two about semi-predicting the weather (which I do not consider a science, as more often than not it’s wrong). The satellite map we were looking at was clearly wrong. In addition to these sayings we took to predicting approaching rain with the Coucal’s song. This is a bird known also as the “rain bird” and in many local communities it’s believed it only sings when the rain is coming – in our experience, they were always right.
Now that I think about it, the alternative name of this post should have been “Shut up Coucal” – Perhaps a bit more of dramatic flare there.
The deluge arrived on our second day, our game drive was cut short as we weren’t certain we would make it back to camp without getting stuck in the muddy tracks of the Delta. Upon our return, it was clear the rain would not subside so we took to one of the oldest “plans” ever made by campers in these areas: we took life to the ablution block. The bathroom area, being the only solid construction, provided our only escape to the rain. We moved our trusted camping kitchen underneath the safety of a thatched roof and we proceeded make a mean breakfast because, when you are sad and wet, what better cure than a hot cup of coffee and bacon and eggs wraps?!
Seeing life still felt miserable and hours later the sky didn’t show any will to become blue, we decided (in what felt like a very grown up moment) to go all out and “upgrade” to the newly built, raised, tented accommodation. A tent where we could stand in seemed like a luxury and made us feel infinitely better of the prospect of being stuck in the camp indefinitely. We moved in as we were just settling in, the sun shone brighter than ever before… After all that fuss, the storm did eventually pass. What an unwanted life analogy we received. We took it with laughter, happy that we could at least go out and look for the lions, my new Spanish neighbour had seen that morning. In the end, we didn’t find the lions or much else that afternoon, but we had a very unexpected sighting that sent us home with a huge smile.
Maybe we were just saving our luck for this, because few other animals would have had more meaning for us.
Although the rain put a damper on our plans (pun intended), we had the most beautifully dramatic sunrise and sunsets – for a dramatic Italian hart like mine, well.. it was a natural reflection of how I felt.