This leg of my trip was a bit peculiar. It involved me living on a houseboat, on the Chobe River, for two days and two nights, and I can’t put a finger on exactly why it felt so weird but it did.
Alas, my sodding laptop charger broke shortly after boarding this, the Chobe Princess, so I was having withdrawal from my ‘husband’ – as my latest lodge called it.
They say this because I turn up to every meal entwined with it (my laptop), cradling it, clutching it, and then I sit down at a table-for-two and spend hours and hours there just tappety tap tap, and when other people try to talk to me, I just very politely get them to fuck off so I can get back to my writing.
So without my husband, it was very hard to record my experiences aboard the Chobe Princess with as much detail as usual. I wrote bits and bobs down on various scraps of paper like in the OLD DAYS, but that’s not the same.
And that, dear reader, was four paragraphs of justification as to why the following entry will be a bit short and lame.
So this houseboat, the Chobe Princess, is moored to a side bank between the borders of Botswana and Namibia, but it moves up and down the river periodically. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason as to its moving. You don’t go anywhere really, I think it’s just for the motion, which feels nice.
My cabin had two single beds in it and a bathroom, and a sliding window looking out onto the water. The window is set just above water level.
As with normal safaris, you have two ‘drives’ a day, except that here it’s on a little motorboat which departs twice daily from the main houseboat.
You get a different perspective from the river because you see elephants come down to drink, so you’re facing them, not watching their arses from the Land Rover on land.
Also, you see crocodiles, in all their prehistoric glory. Strange things.
You obviously only see crocodiles when they are sunbathing on the banks, not peddling around underneath you.
On the banks, they just stand there for hours and hours, barely blinking, with their jaws agape and their teeth on show.
They do this to regulate their body temperature. And it makes them look like statues, or corpses. Crocodiles are the most alive-dead creatures I’ve ever come across.
And then the hippos, which quite frankly scare the living shit out of me because I know for a fact, thanks to my extensive research, that they kill more humans than any other wild animal in Africa.
Sometimes a boat can just be plodding along, and a hippo will look at it sideways, develop an Issue with it, and then swim underneath it, rise its bulbous head, capsize the boat and bite its passengers in half. Honestly, it happens.
You can imagine my distress, therefore, every time we got anywhere remotely near one, armed, as I was, with my extensive research.
So in short, my days here were spent on this little motorboat, admiring the frankly astonishing skyscapes you appear to get on the Chobe, but also asking our guide Harris, persistently and nervously, “don’t you think we’re a bit close to that hippo? I’m not sure you spotted the other one yet…” (yes of course he had).
There was some comic relief in the English retirees I shared my voyage with; Peter and Pam.
Peter used to work in management for some sort of food giant (Maybe Nestle, I can’t remember) and was very, very passionate about it.
Pam used to be a nurse. Both of them are about as pure British Middle Class as you can get, and both are potty about birdwatching.
My favourite thing that Peter said during the course of our Chobe cruise was about four minutes after we were introduced to the French couple who had just arrived.
“Annabel,” he said to me in a hushed tone. “There are three sun loungers on that deck, and five of us now. I suggest we form an allegiance against France.”