Week 2 has seen us hopping from Namibia to South Africa rafting down the Orange River. In between the rapids, we drifted down basking in the sun, our paddles unused, spotting pied kingfishers, darters and fish eagles (and for the lucky few a family of otters). The rapids became slightly more challenging as the days progressed – there was only one casualty as ‘Big Bunny’ claimed Willa on the way down. Afternoons were spent recovering from traumas and sore muscles, but the meals the guides managed to concoct made all the difference. This was accompanied by drinks and marshmallows around the fire and Heindrich pointing out constellations above us.
Having returned to camp, Monica and Ruth helped us in our efforts to prepare and eat some traditional Namibian dishes cooked on open fires. Our meal consisted of a poike (better known to some as Gemsbok stew) which simmered away for hours as the sun went down over camp. This was accompanied by pap, a maize porridge, which offered a slightly different taste sensation. The highlight was the handmaid bread, which we grilled over the fire and which went down a treat. Fortunately, this was all burnt off the following day as we filled sandbags, collected rocks and paved the way for a track to the river. Despite the intense effort, we only advanced ten metres but the car did manage to get through the narrow canyon.
It’s been a very ‘tough’ week!