When asked about the reasons for remarrying Elisabeth Taylor, just 16 months after they divorced after 10 years of married life, Richard Burton replied, "You can't hit two sticks of dynamite against each other without hoping they don't burst."
The couple chose a place few wary Americans would remember, as the explosive civil war then raged in Rhodesia, a state enacted by minority white settlers to prevent the direct handover of power from Britain to indigenous leaders. A state not recognized by most of the international community.
They then crossed to Botswana. They celebrated their second wedding ceremony in Kasane, a city as unlikely as it is used to coexisting with unions.
Kasane is situated on the Four Corners of Africa, at the confluence of the Chobe and Zambezi. The actors' honeymoon was spent at the Chobe Game Lodge, on the bank of the homonymous river.
Aware of the natural beauty of their land and the number of times Taylor has been divorced, the tswanas from those places reiterate that the diva “was much better at choosing places than husbands”.
The Riverside Convenience of Chobe Lodge
We were on our way to that same hostel. Botswana's dignified roads proved to us the economic gap between the sparsely inhabited but heavily populated nation. diamond of the tswanas and the duo Zim-Zam to the north. They allowed us to advance at amazing speeds. It wouldn't be long before we heard the joke too.
The Chobe Lodge opened in 1974. It welcomed the couple in October 1975. A few years later, it was closed due to the spread of the already long Liberation War in Zimbabwe.
For seven years, it kept its doors sealed, its gardens given over to the bush and the elephants that trampled them on their way to the river.
With the end of the conflict, two young South Africans bought him, recovered the tradition of the famous wedding and propelled him to an inevitable world star.
The river that gave meaning to its construction and success flowed over the decades, indifferent to military skirmishes and the covers of society magazines, dependent only on the capricious weather of the region.
The Chobe River Meteorological Fluctuations
The Chobe is supplied by several perennial water sources. Even so, its flow volume fluctuates drastically from the dry season (usually from May to October) to the rainy season.
Animals try to adjust as best they can, but as we've seen and seen again in countless television documentaries, overall, the quality of their lives declines as the blazing sun intensifies the drought and the river shrinks.
No species has to reason out there to avoid the suffocating heat that sets in from mid-morning onwards. Most of the animals carefully approach the banks by the fresh air.
Accordingly, the river trips carried out by the lodge are either early risers or – like the first one we took part in – at the end of the afternoon.
Embarkation for a Glorious River Safari
The vessel sets sail from the small dock. He immerses himself in the river under the scrutinizing gaze of an osprey atop a dead log. We follow close to the water.
Moments later, we are confronted by herds of buffalo and elephant grazing fresh grass. Unexpectedly, the river bank rises.
In a flash, we started to admire them from the bottom up. Some specimens take measurements from the grassed pedestal.
As do, from the opposite side, curious elephants, kings and lords of small green islands from which intimidated crocodiles hurl themselves.
The ferry continues its long trail between Botswana and Namíbia, meanwhile under a magenta sky that reflects off the water and stains large colonies of almost submerged hippopotamuses.
We can only see their ears and eyes outside, strangely pink with the coming twilight and the time to return to the harbor.
And Chobe's Complementary Game Drive
With the next dawn, we board a jeep instead of the ferry. Overland, we explore a vast riverside area covered by gazelles and some predators, part of a game drives – that's what the English-speakers call it – that didn't bring big news.
In the meantime, we return to Kasane with the primary objective of crossing the Chobe and the border to Namibia, through the unusual Caprivi strip, a kind of cartographic spear that the Germans speared in Africa, during the colonial era.
At the end of the XNUMXth century, the territory we approached as we crossed the Chobe was integrated into Bechuanaland, the modern-day Botswana.
After several diplomatic trials, the British agreed to cede Caprivi and to give the Germans direct access to the Zambezi River. In return, they preserved Zanzibar and seized Heligoland, another remote island in the North Sea.
We settled at Chobe Savanna Lodge. There, the river sceneries are similar to those at Chobe Lodge.
The great novelty and emotion to match takes place when, during a new river safari, the raft invades the territory of some hippos and one of them storms furiously against the vessel.
The attack makes us lose our balance. It forces the skipper to move away using the maximum power of the engines. Luckily, it doesn't last long. Once the danger is past, it feeds countless opportunistic jokes.
A Chobe's Unexpected But Deserved Scare
Already in full disembarkation, at sunset and in an exaggerated photographic mode, we follow the line of passengers, when we observe the beauty of a dead tree against the sunset.
For a moment, we lose awareness of where we are. We left the line and walked a few dozen meters in the direction of that tree, always by the river.
Faced with the subject, we couldn't resist approaching the water and crouching down, in order to make the branches stand out against the sky. We are involved in this framing process when we notice several pairs of rounded sparkles in the water.
At a glance, we are caught up in the dramatic return of reason. We were a mere meter and a half, two meters at all, from crocodiles that could be both juvenile and the largest to inhabit the Chobe.
We take a measured step backwards. Recovered the safety of greater distance and vertical posture. We retreated shivering into the fortified interior of Chobe Lodge. We had survived that moment of unexpected madness.
The next one might not go so well.