Suitably refreshed, we continued eastwards to the Tsiknias River. There we sheltered from the sun and a stiff breeze in a hide to eat our packed lunches, then walked northwards along the river.
The next photo, a ridiculous one, is here just for the record. It is the best I could do of an entertaining bunch of European bee eaters – a very long way off!
By the turn round point, my hips were telling me they wanted to stop dawdling and to start walking properly so I did so, though quite slowly.
I crossed the village of Skala Kalloni again. There were many cats, healthy-looking ones, everywhere there was habitation. Many of them were ginger. I have learnt since my return that the Greek government pays people to look after stray cats, and I am aware of someone on Crete who receives such a subsidy. Later edit: Correction. Not the Greek government, who ‘couldn’t care less’, but an association.
I spent a pleasant half-hour just sitting on a bench a few minutes away from our hotel, watching the waves on the gulf. I thought the party might catch up, but heard later that the walk back had had many stops to see interesting things, and that a final stop had been made at the place we had taken refreshment in the morning!
It was a gentler day on Thursday 12th March. ‘Oh good’, thought I as I started this post, ‘Fewer photos to share.’ Fail!
It was back in the minibus today, as we headed off, making several stops as ever, to the Anti-Atlas mountains. An odd name, given by a couple of British geologists in the 19th century. The rock formation is extremely old, dating back 300 million years, linked with the Appalachian Mountains, but coming to the surface only some 80 million years ago as a result of the collisions of the African and European plates, and heavily weathered since.
Throughout the week, we saw far more than I was able to capture on ‘film’, but this time at our first stop I took:
Our next stop was for a drink at Ait Baha. ‘Ait’ means ‘tribe’ or ‘family’ in Berber, and appears in many town names. This one is best-known for shoe-making, and we wondered round a co-operative, some people buying. There was no aggressive hard-selling. I think this actually made one all the more likely to buy. The guilt I felt for not doing so would have been absent had I been pestered. (I would have bought if any of these lovely slippers and shoes had had supportive insteps.)
Moving on we saw, among other things:
We were heading for the hilltop village of Laatik, and its agadir. An agadir was originally a defensive grain store, but expanded its purpose to the storage of anything precious owned by villagers. Each family had one large cupboard/room in the agadir. This building was at least 600 years old, but there was apparently a more famous and larger one elsewhere dating back some 900 years. We were greeted by its guardian, though Mohamed gave most of the explanations.
It was intended that we should eat our packed lunch in that corridor, but in the event we had to beat a hasty retreat. Locals objected to our presence, for fear that we were bringing the coronavirus with us. At that point (I was keeping a very close eye on the national and international situation) only 2 cases had been declared in Morocco, each of those Moroccan residents in northern Italy, who had returned to Morocco for a visit. I don’t blame those local people in the least for wanting to be rid of us.
Our leaders found a lovely spot a few kilometres away on the way down for us to eat, including even a natural bench for those of us who couldn’t crouch on the ground. I was happy to be in the open air and not in that corridor.
We were then allowed 30 minutes to wander around at our will. I concentrated mainly on (those cactuses that weren’t cactuses, but) euphorbias. Hélène had told us the previous day that their local name was ‘Mother-in-law’s seat’. Some ‘humour’ is universal.
There were some beautiful trees as well.
Once we had moved on in the minibus, at last I managed to get a decent picture of a Barbary Ground Squirrel.
The sky had started clouding over as we had left the agadir, and we actually caught a glimpse of a shower in the distance at one point in the afternoon. This was the only hint of precipitation we saw all week.
Back to Ait Baha for afternoon refreshment. The kestrel was still there, but now on the windowsill.
The traditional method of building houses in Morocco is to plan for a next storey, should it prove desirable and affordable. So these houses are only unfinished in the sense that they may or may not grow in the future. Meanwhile, the floor of that next storey, with window spaces all ready, serves as a roof terrace.
These very modern apartment blocks on the outskirts of ever-expanding Agadir make no such provision.
Once we were back on the main dual carriageway towards Agadir, I was thrilled to see a woman in colourful dress driving a large colourful tractor, coming in the opposite direction. Unfortunately I had no time to capture the image.
Always good when our temporary hilltop home comes into sight.
Friday 1st March. Just before sunrise over the Okavango River from my ‘garden’ at the Kaisosi River Lodge.
A little while later, a fisherman was working from his dugout canoe opposite my room.
And just before we set off after breakfast, an African Pygmy-goose appeared.
We had been at the north of the Caprivi Strip, (that ‘handle’ at the north east of Namibia) and this morning were moving well towards the south of it but not much further east yet.
En route, we (they) couldn’t resist visiting the previous evening’s sewage works again. But before getting there we saw (among other things – it’s always among many, many other things, especially birds) ..
Tuesday 26th February. Today we were leaving Halali Camp and moving on to Mokuti Lodge at the eastern end of Etosha National Park in time for lunch, and to stay two nights. While we were waiting for our vehicles to collect us, some of us were amused to see a honey badger arrive at the row of bins opposite us, (all closed at that stage), sniff at each, and, clearly much practised, neatly flip open the lid of the end one – holding it open with its back leg to prevent it falling shut – go inside and take out this packet of meat, then calmly tear it open and eat the contents, slice by slice. It then proceeded to do exactly the same with a packet of cheese slices. Not the way you really want to observe wildlife, but a clear illustration of adaptation to human presence. They were there first!
We set off through the national park, taking our time, stopping at the roadside and waterholes, making for our new lodge.
I was in Jakes’s vehicle this day, and he was particularly excited to see this rhino. It is a White rhino, quite rare (and, as I discovered later, a reintroduction). ‘White’ is a corruption of, I believe, Dutch ‘wijd’, referring to its wide mouth. The White rhino also has a prominent neck hump. It is noticeably larger than the Black rhino. The Black rhino is also called the Browse rhino.
When we were only a few miles from or next lodge, we stopped at Namutoni Camp, a former German colonial fort, now another government-run lodge.
There was a small museum there, and a family of striped mongooses.
But our next lodge was privately run, and a distinct notch or four up on those we had already stayed at. After a leisurely lunch, and a siesta, we were due to go out, though this was put slightly in doubt by rain, the first of only two occasions when we wondered whether our plans might be affected in this way. But the storm was brief, nothing like enough to help do anything about the drought, and we went out at the planned time.