After last nights excitement we’re pumped for another day, the wet mess that was our adventure into Chobe is slowly sinking away into the sands of Moremi. We now have the environment and atmosphere that we were searching for all this time, it’s just not quite where we expected it to be. Beautiful environments we now have yet the big ticket animals evade us, the rain sending them far and wide without the necessity to congregate around scant sources of precious water. A short hour game drive in the morning shows more marshlands with barely an animal in sight, this area has a grace all it’s own to explore so we wrestle ourselves to appreciate it for what it is. We let go of the goal of seeing big cats but the question remains, can we truly free ourselves from some shred of anticipant hope?
From the wistful romantic plateau that we find our minds wandering we are drawn back to the task at hand. Sunlight dancing off swaying reeds and open vistas that go on forever seem so far from murky sodden water and mud that swallows our legs half way to the knee. Mentioning the word bogged seems inappropriate, so much is this a part of driving here it barely seems a notable occurrence, again an unavoidable pool swallows our battler of a car that is punching above its weight. This time there are no guardian angels in sight so it’s shovelling muck out and wedging branches in under the wheels; does it even count as being bogged if we get ourselves out? The roads here really do need another name, they’re bush tracks and we balance the sense of truth that comes with genuinely venturing into the wild with the frustrating annoyance of battling so hard just to get anywhere.
On a mission not to get slowed down again we regularly venture out of the car to wade through muck testing out the best route through pools that we’re now never taking for granted, this really is the only way. Twice in these little swimming excursions we are stopped in our tracks by patterns in the mud. We take a minute to think, we ponder the patterns, the size, the glistening squelch of wet mud that is far from drying to a crust: lions. We mentally scan through the list of animals that don’t have cloven hooves, lion or leopard possibly, it’s a big cat either way and it was right at our feet in less time previous than it takes for a sliver of water to sink into sand. Is it watching us now? We’d released ourselves of expectation but it seems the jungle will not allow us to be rid of it entirely. We drive on pretending that we’re only taking in the scenery desperate not to make our whole experience about seeing big cats.
The drive evens out, there’s no further dramas for us today beyond the wrangling that is the otherwise simple act of driving in these parts. A stop by some hippo pools makes for a great deviation, the big beasts are joined by a host of birds much to Charlie’s excitement. Elephants and giraffe still warrant an appreciative look but it’s really the cats we want to see now despite our internal protestations. This internal wrangling is aided by our arrival at third bridge campsite, somewhat similar to yesterdays camp in that we now perch before a field of reeds masking water beneath, this time boasting an even more open view.
In the difficult two days that was our sodden experience in Chobe we had little else to focus on other than animals, the wonders of the environment remained largely hidden behind a screen of vegetation too formidable for our eyes. It’s in this shrouded environment that our fervour for animal sightings grew such was our desperation for a highlight to mark this much anticipated place of deflated expectation. The big cats remain an elusive goal we aim to let go of but are yet unable to, we can’t help but hope. Without the active chase to sight animals we are more able appreciate the place we’re now in, a headspace shift required to manage our over placed expectation. We’re living an African lesson appropriate to anywhere; like the forest for the trees we must not look if we wish to be able to see.