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D70….Gathering

Blog — By on November 30, 2012 8:02 am

Yesterday we hunted, today we gathered. It was quite a different atmosphere. Whilst foraging is the domain of the women, today all the men joined the group. With the men yesterday the trek was quiet and focussed. We had a goal and all were committed to the hunt. Today was a noisy affair. The gaggle of women chatted and shouted and laughed as we meandered through the bush. (Why is this not surprising?) They picked leaves, collected nuts and twigs and dug for tubers. It was much less our thing than yesterday, but nevertheless fascinating. At one stage we chanced upon a puff adder on the path. It is deadly poisonous. It is so quick that it can strike a balloon twice before it pops! It didn’t move as we skirted carefully around its sinuous body. Also we chanced upon a tiny bushbaby in a tree. How on earth do these guys spot such things? George is suffering from a bad cold at present. Every few hundred metres one of the ladies would thrust some herbal remedy in his direction. They had him eating roots and leaves at every turn. He looked more like a herbivore that a biker! We await a miracle cure by close of day.

The highlight of the day, without question, has been the Bushmen Championship. We challenged them to a 5 km race on foot down a sandy track. There was no shortage of volunteers from the Bushmen, the mobile camp operators and the Brits. All lined up in monsoon like rain on the starting grid. There must have been 20 runners in assorted kit. Most wore no shoes and no tops. The Bushmen wore leather thongs, the camp guys in rolled up trousers. The start was called and they literally stampeded down the track. The pace was more Usain Bolt than Mo Farrar! I awaited the return expectantly with movie camera in hand, as my handicap prevented participation. And there they came. Well actually a lean, muscular Bushman who just ate up the ground in great bounding strides had shattered the field, and was the only one in sight. A big smile on his face. Shortly afterwards the cook and one of the camp guys rounded the final bend, followed by John who runs the camp, followed by George. Then Gregg, Sam, Nick, Tim, and Charles with a smattering of Bushmen inbetween. Who was last? Our very own Bushman Kane!! He is a little way off Comrades-fit at present! The Bushmen ladies cheered everyone in and there was general merriment all round. The young winner’s face was a picture when we presented him the winners prize, a brand new football. A great event which will be discussed over the campfires for awhile to come.

And then to top it all, we had a farewell evening in the Bushmens primitive camp. They danced around the campfire chanting and clapping. The Doctor, 88 years of age, went into a trance. He swayed around and several times had to be rescued from falling into the fire. Two other Bushmen collapsed and had to be carried off. The Doctor then began spiritual healing whilst in his trance. He came across and started chanting and stroking my foot. He was gentle but highly animated.

Eventually he started to emerge from his trance. His fellow Bushmen explained that this was a much more difficult process than normal because of the pain he had felt whilst administering to my foot. I am not at all surprised. It is bloody painful!!

We finished with some rock and roll guitar playing from Nick. They loved the beat. The jigged around and danced and clapped. They loved it and just asked for more when we came to the Africa100 song. Nick is bigger than the Vaccines in this part of the world. And how often do they get topless dancers?!

An evening we will never forget. And what lovely people are the Bushmen. J

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