Eighties Overland: Part 3

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Words and Images Peter Middleton

We crossed into Botswana at Paars Halt without incident, relieved that our forged paperwork had passed its first test. It was good to be back in Botswana, and we relaxed.

The drive up was fine, although the Landy did seem to lean to the passenger side. “Oi! You been putting on weight?”

“It’s where the cupboards are,” Mandi huffed.

We were quiet and introspective locked in our mobile oven, and we knew it would take a little time to become used to this new life.

We made it to the Makgadikgadi Pans, and looked for a camp on the white, salty ground. Rain threatened
in the distance – a real threat, as it turned the surface into a thin piecrust with bottomless pudding underneath. It could be a vehicle trap… and there were a few heartstoppers as the heavy old truck sank, then clawed its way out. But then our fears were realised, as the distant storm caught up with us and it became a frightening test for the vehicle and ourselves as we battled through to higher ground in the unforgiving white slush. Higher ground is where we should have gone immediately…

“We have a lot to learn, grasshopper.”

“What? Who TF is grasshopper?”

I swung the steering wheel from side to side, looking for traction as the wheels spun, the low-range box sang, and the Landy became covered in the white mud. Then, with inevitability it slowed, slewed, and sat on its chassis in an attempt to push planet Earth. Stuck.

Nothing we could do in that storm, so it was up with the awning, which I tied down to anything heavy I could find. We elected to wait until the rain had stopped before trying to extricate the overweight hippo. No dancing now. Wet and cold, we made supper and found dry clothes before clambering in the back to sleep.

It was early morning before the storm had passed and we were able to inspect our situation, at which time our boots became rapidly more heavily-laden with the mud until we looked like two flamingos in the salt lake.

 

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