Monday, April 18, 2011

TdA Stage 74. Strange is Good.

182km. Nata to Dirt Road Camp.

We woke up to pouring rain, which had been coming down for three hours already. I was glad to be one of the fortunate souls who had rented one of the few rooms where we were staying.

A small gang of us waited out the rain and took a leisurely breakfast at the campground/hotel restaurant. Not great for race timing, but a whole lot more pleasant than starting out soaking wet.

One of the striking things about Botswana so far is the total absence of people hanging out at the side of the road. The landscape is pancake flat and alternates between savanna/bush and farmers fields. The difference with the fields here is that they are clearly machine farmed, whereas most of the fields up till Botswana seem to have been managed with manual labour.

As our decision to wait out the rain in the morning had essentially taken us out of race mode, we elected to take a break at the only sign of civilization along today's route. Planet Boabab. A funky little oasis situated a few kilometres off the road in the middle of the wild. The gigantic concrete ardvark at the side of the road served as our first sign that this would be a memorable stop.

Funky architecture resembling the boabab tree after which the stop was named, combined with zebra skin lounge chairs made this place a particularly unusual setting. I had gone in with an appetite for a burger, but ultimately opted for a bacon and banana sandwich. I figured that it wasn't something that I was going to see on a menu again. Now that I've tried it, I'm sure of that. Nevertheless, worth the experience. As my favourite stats teacher used to say, strange is good!

We eventually rolled into bush camp, which was a lightly used dirt road. The brush was a bit too thick to make camping off the road practical, so most of us set up tent as far to the side of the road as possible to avoid the traffic that was sporadically making its way along the road. One thing for certain is that this trip has made me realize that I can camp pretty much anywhere!


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