I opened our cabin door this morning to a remarkable breeze. Outside the perimeter of trees around the lodge, the wind brew miniature dust storms along the road. Doves cooed. The resident cat meowed.
This is Day 4 in Maun, Botswana. The heat when we arrived on January 1st almost took our breath away. We had to cancel our first lodging due to the combination corrugated iron roof and lack of air conditioning. The room was still 99 degrees at 9 pm. When would it cool down?
The answer is about 3 am.
We did enjoy the mosquito nets though! The kids had fun with those. And they do work. In the morning, the floor was littered with the carcasses of unfed mosquitoes. Thoughts of malaria drift through my head.
It should be the rainy season and malaria should be a real threat. But Maun is dry as a bone. The riverbed outside our lodge is dusty and sun-baked. The drought continues with record temperatures reaching 105 degrees F. It does mean swimsuits, towels, and laundered underwear dry quickly. A nice change from eastern Tennessee.
There is still water in the nearby Thamalakane River, which runs from the southern Okavango Delta and through Maun before heading south and then east across Botswana. The Thamalakane provides water to Maun, so my showers come from the Okavango. The water I send down the drain goes back out across Botswana.
One of my tasks here is to find out about the water. Water is so important here. It is the basis of the ecology, so it drives the economy. 40% of jobs in northern Botswana are directly linked to tourism, which is directly linked to wildlife, which are directly linked to water. And not any old crappy water. Only clean, clear, abundant water can support the vast diversity of the Okavango.
Over the next five months, there should be a slow flood of the Okavango from rains in Angola. This flood with sustain the Delta for another year. So, we wait for pula.
(Pula means “rain” in Setswana, the main language in Botswana. Pula is also the dollar in Botswana’s currency. So rain and money are literally considered the same thing in this dry country.)