Monday – It’s like Christmas in Liuwa
25-12-2017, Christmas Day! We are making it special, Liuwa style!
Camp is quiet and only Anna, Kings, Daan, Teun (Daan’s friend from Holland) and I are remaining. Noeline from ‘next-door’ (the lodge) comes over. Christmas is my perfect excuse to spend a lot of time cooking nice (or so I hope) bush-food; the stuff that doesn’t need any complicated ingredients, just some time and love. So I’ve been making tomato soup and hummus and stuff. D is responsible for the ‘main course’ of braaied chicken and roasted vegetables.
We play games, eat chocolate and drink wine and Noeline and I prepare more food (garlic and herb flatbreads and lemon meringue (without the meringue) pie). While we are cooking the last flatbreads, D and T decide that they are too hungry to wait and so it happens that the braai is lit at 16.00. My comments that there’s a huge, I mean MASSIVE, pan of soup are to no avail. So about the same time that I finish the flatbreads, Daan takes the first chicken and butternut off the braai. And so we sit down at 16.30 and have dinner.
Disaster strikes when the monkeys see the food and declare it a self-service buffet. A group of 6 obnoxious individuals comes to claim some. One approaches the braai and while we remain seated, telling each other he ‘will never take something off that flaming hot braai’, he lashes a potato off the grill, frantically rolls it in the sand to cool it as much as possible before he is manically chased by D. D now stays with the braai but is still is approached by 4 other monkeys. One comes close and D chases it off. When he turns his back to chase one, another comes from behind and, with surprisingly fire-resistant paws, steals a piece of butternut. We see D run from left to right, hysterically waving around his braai tongs, chasing monkeys, while others steal food off the braai. Yes, we should have helped, but we couldn't, we were crippled by laughing.
We dip some rather uncooked potatoes in hot chilli sauce before putting them back on the braai. In for another laugh, we see a few brave monkeys approaching carefully, suspicious as to why we are making it so easy for them. They take the potatoes up into a tree where they rub them against the bark to take off the chilli and then eat them with what seems to be a big grin on their face.
Us. Bushpeople. Outsmarted by monkeys… Just when you think you’ve seen it all.
To process our defeat, we all climb in and on the Cruiser and drive to King’s Pool. The guys dive into the water, while we (the ladies) all remain seated on the Cruiser claiming it’s “waaaaaaayyyy too cold”. In our defence: it was really f**cking cold out there. Our exclamations about the cold are quickly changed into: “oh oh, look at that rain” and “oh oh, we might just get wet regardless” and then “GUYS LET’S GOOO”. Just when the first drops fall, we all get back in and on the car. Rain turns into waterfalls and drops turn into buckets. The guys have a second swim in the back of the pick-up while inside, we (again, the ladies) struggle to stay fairly dry in the not so watertight Cruiser. In states varying between ‘I didn’t stay dry’ to ‘drenched’ we get back to camp. Luckily Kings had been clever enough to make a fire before leaving, so a nice and hot shower awaits.
The rest of the night we sit under the kitchen-roof that keeps us fairly dry. We drink beer, wine and play more games. We eat the lemon meringue (without the meringue) but the soup remains untouched (hooray for freezers). What a beautiful Christmas!
Wednesday – Monkey business
More monkey stories as we enter the strange days between Christmas and New year’s. As I walk to the rain gauge to check this afternoon’s rainfall (a lot), Anna calls me over. “Disaster in the kitchen” she says. Don’t ask me how… But one monkey managed to get himself locked inside the kitchen. Best day of his life obviously. Out of the entire selection of onion, potatoes, pineapples and all kinds of other fruits and vegetables that were on offer to him, he chose bananas… All 8 of them. Then he got caught, pushed some stuff off the shelves and then left in what had just turned into the most stressful situation of his life. And ours.
Luckily there was little damage.
The revenge he takes for being chased out is sweet. The very next day him and his mates wreck the store-room. Of course they manage to open the box with the apples in it and leave chewed apple-sauce and poop everywhere as well as trashed shelves for us to clean.
Last but not least, the very same day, some smaller monkeys manage to open our tent. As there is nothing edible freely available from our tent, they settle for taking everything light and chewing on it as well as (of course) trashing the place. I love monkeys. Really. I do. But sometimes I don’t.
Thursday – 350 mm!!!
Lots of rain. About 350 mm in 4 days! Last night was crazy! It started bucketing down around 21.00 and didn’t stop until 9.00 this morning. A total of 120mm overnight! When I went to check the rain gauge it was almost overflowing. Now, that is some serious rain!
When rain falls on the plains, it floods them. A portion of the water (that doesn’t remain on the floodplains and in the pans) flows to streams, that flow to rivers, that flow to the Zambezi (eventually). That means that our good old Munde river gets a lot of water and it went from a place with some pools of water and the odd narrow stream, to a full-blown river. The water is now reaching the side of the bridge, the bridge that was resting on poles 2.5 m above dry soil until a few days ago. Water is everywhere and has us cut off from most of the park. As Matiamanene is a woodland on higher ground, you could almost say we live on an island now. The sand and water we have, all I'm missing is a coconut.
Our movements are limited, water is everywhere but it’s great to see the change it has brought along, water is life!