All reunited and damaged cars repaired, we headed out west towards the Namibian border, deep in the Kalahari. There are the ‘Gcwihaba Caves’, or easier pronounced ‘Drotsky Caves’, named after the first Caucasian to explore this underground labyrinth. The Italian convoy passed me while I loaded firewood on to Zimba’s roof, but we rejoined at the turn off track from the highway. It was lunchtime by then and all the cars were cuddled next to each other. I refilled my takeaway coffee cup and set off. Despite this being soft sand territory, the 120 km track was easily handled and much fun to drive. Not often do I reach 80 km on off-road trails. About 10 km before the caves, I noticed fresh lion prints on the sand track. I would really like to see a lion in the Kalahari. By late afternoon, we arrived at the ‘Drotsky Caves’.
Elephants vandalized the metal signpost, their footprints lined the area, but they were here a while ago. A large elephant skull was placed next to the cave entrance. A good sign?
I decided to venture into the caves early morning and instead enjoy the Kalahari sunset from a hill nearby. The Italian fortress had already been built, no one gets in, no one gets out. Camping out here sure is magical. It’s hard to describe, but the desert emptiness under clear skies is something to experience. Claudio’s son Eduardo was the bbq Masterchef tonight, grilling some tasty fillet steak on hot coals. I asked for medium rare, most people had well done. A Gin Tonic by the fire rounded the day off nicely.
Waking up early to explore the caves, I was almost shitting myself. Not because I heard a lion roar a few km out west, but because I had diarrhea. I should have eaten the meat well done too.
Armed with spotlight and camera, I ventured into the cave system.
Stalagmites covered these caves as expected, a lot off of them broken or humanly handled.
It was still incredibly hot and humid in these caves, despite the chilly air outside.
Thousands of tiny bats called this place their home, seemingly not disturbed by my appearance.
The light attracted millions of insects, taking photos was difficult.
For many reasons, I returned early through the lighting cave meanwhile entrance. Claudio and son Eduardo looked a bit uncomfortable as well, they had the same issue as I have.
We left out west and I followed Claudio’s Landrover. With so many veering tracks, this was a safer option to stay together. It wasn’t long until we halted. Giancarlo’s Landrover is loosing water and is on the verge to overheat.
That is definitely not something you want, driving in the Kalahari desert. Somehow, the issue was resolved and on we went out west.
When I arrived last in the little community of ‘Xai-Xai’, a happy gathering had already started.
Community locals surrounded the Italian caravan, watching in amazement what was going on.
The colourful older women were trying to sell homemade jewelry.
Necklaces, armbands, and other traditional items abounded. It appears, the more jewelry and more colourful appearance the women were wearing, the higher is their status within the community.
It seems to be a blessing for some.
Talking in their native klick sound language, this was a mind-blowing encounter. With so much going on, I just stood back with my OM-D in my hand.
The colours, faces, and expressions left my button finger out of control once more. Generally, life went on as usual for some.
Babies were breastfed right there and then, without a thought of sexual correctness.
Mostly stunned faces appeared, it seems like an encounter from another world. Which it was technically.
Homemade toys like this remotely controlled wagon are still used by kids. However, modern times caught up in the Kalahari as well.
Sunglasses, mobile phones, and fashionable hats didn’t add to my imaginative picture. Although, this one looked amusing.
One young male was trying hard to impress with modern dance to music from his stereo. Not really something I wanted to see.
There were many questionable faces on both sides.
I guess each side was wondering how the other party lived their daily lives. Which one would be happier.
Some of the native ladies were straightforward in approach. A bit too much for young Vittoria to handle.
The Italians gave a few presents out. Ball pens seem to circle around, even though I didn’t see any paper to write on.
Sweets for the kids, which is initially a nice gesture, but doesn’t help these kids in the long run.
Looking a bit closer, only a few faces had the characteristic Khoi San features.
Most of the locals were rather tall, butch and had more Bantu features. As the Germans invaded now called Namibia, confrontation with native clans was inevitable.
The Herero, until then the dominant clan in south-west Africa, suffered large losses in different battles, before being chased into the Kalahari desert.
Many, many died. The surviving Herero found refuge on the eastern edge of the Kalahari, in Botswana.
This was a good introduction to bushmen life in the Kalahari, but I hope to see traditional descendants from this nomadic, ancient hunters and gatherers at some stage on my journey.
More dust was spilled as we drove off.