Bushmen

*** Updated with Eleanor’s favourite video 🙂 ***

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Today we had a very interesting morning at the living museum of San Bushmen. Mummy asked, and the man told us there are 450 people living in the village. But only 70 work in the living museum.

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The first thing the man did was make a fire. He used 2 sticks, not matches! First he put some sand in a hole in the first stick lying on some dry grass. Then he put the second stick on top. Then he rubbed the stick between his hands. He had to call out to the Gods, to make the fire come. It sounded like “koo, koo”. He rubbed his hands very fast and after a while the grass started to smoke. He blew on the grass and got flames. He used this to light stome sticks. It looked hard work!

Then we went for a walk. On the walk we saw some plants that the Bushmen use for medicine. There were some that you made tea from the leaves and some that you used the bark and some that you used the roots. If you had a headache then they cut your head and rubbed the cut with the root of a tree! Whatever ached, you would cut and rub with the root! One of the trees was used by the Shaman to go into a trance. A Shaman is like a witch doctor.

On the walk he showed us his quiver, which was made from the root of an Acacia tree. He called it his Bushmen’s Wallet, because he kept all his important things in it. He showed us a tree where they get their poison for the arrows. The poison comes from the larvae of the ladybird. The larvae is like little caterpillars. He also showed us a snare where they catch guinea fowl.

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When we got back, Mummy, Genevieve and I helped make some ostrich egg shell jewellery. They used seeds as well as the ostrich shell. It was fun and I got to keep my bracelet. Daddy also bought me a matching necklace.

Then Daddy and I helped to make a bow. We had to scrape the bark off some wood. Then he tied string to it. We saw them make the string too, by scraping a reed with a knife. Then we got to shoot the bow. It was very hard. We pretended to be a hunting party chasing an antelope. There were 4 of us. If one missed then hopefully someone else would hit the target. Daddy and I were very noisy in our hiking boots, the bushmen had bare feet and were very stealthy. Daddy shot over the target and my arrow landed before the target. But the bushmen were very good. Then we had to search for our arrows. It was very hard!

After that the women sang us some songs. The first song was about friends and they held hands and looped around each other. The second song was my favourite and was about the rain. They were hopping and had one foot lifted up and made a square with 4 people. The last song had a man come and pretend to be the Shaman in a trance.

I enjoyed it, but I would not like to be a bushman. It would be a hard life, as you have to hunt all your food.

Khaudum National Park

After the living museum we went to a massive Baobab tree. It was lying on its side and had smaller trees growing out the top. We climbed on top of it!

Then we went to the Khaudum National Park. The first night we stayed at an old campsite called Sikereti. We had a massive fire and toasted marshmellows. (But we haven’t found any chocolate digestives in Namibia) There was also a hornbill that came really close. Daddy gave him a bit of carrot.

In the night Mummy heard some elephants. In the morning we could see where they had pulled branches off a tree near our tent. First we drove to a waterhole. On the way there we saw 4 elephants. There were some antelope at the water hole too. We kept driving north, but the road got sandier and sandier. Daddy was not happy because the sand was really deep and then the exhaust fell off, (twice) so Daddy had to crawl under the car. Driving on sand is really slow. Mummy had to dig us out twice. But we did see a giraffe and we also saw a herd of about 30 elephants crossing the road in front of us! At the end there was a tiny baby elephant!

Daddy wanted to get out of the park so we camped just outside. We had a big fire. There was an animal lair right next to us. But we didn’t see anything go in it.

Then we had to drive to the main road. It was 40km of deep sand and took all morning. Now we are at a nice campsite on the Okavango River. There are 2 crocodiles opposite us in the river. There are lots of guinea fowl running around and one peacock. At night all the guinea fowl flew up into a tree. They looked funny. Daddy tried to catch a tiger fish. He said he had 4 touches but didn’t catch one.

Hoba Meterorite

After the Cheetah Conservation Fund, we went to a campsite called the Otavi Vineyard Restcamp. Mummy and Daddy had a bottle of their red wine to celebrate Mummy’s birthday. I made Mummy a grey wool bracelet.

Then we went to the Hoba Meteorite. It is the biggest meteorite in the world! It is massive, I estimated it as 2m by 2m by 1m. It is made of iron, and weighs about 60 tonnes. It didn’t leave a crater, so scientists think that it skipped across the earth’s atmosphere like a stone. You can see it is shiny where scientists have taken bits to study.

Then we went to a campsite called Roy’s. It had a cold swimming pool, but the best thing was the jungle gym!!

Cheetahs!

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Yesterday we went to the Cheetah Conservation Fund. We did a tour and saw cheetahs, but they were mostly lying down in the shade. Mummy was carrying Genevieve, and when Genevieve got down, one of the cheetahs was very interested and ran right up to the fence! It thought she was a small antelope! It was really close, and we could see its orange eyes and black tear marks.

We learnt lots of interesting things about cheetahs:
* Cheetahs hunt in the day time, so they don’t compete with leopards, lions and hyenas.
* Cheetahs get blamed for killing farm animals because they are the predators that the farmer sees.
* Cheetahs can see 5km!
* Cheetahs are the fastest land animal and can run about 110km/hr! They use their tail to steer, like a rudder on a boat.
* There are only about 7,500 cheetahs left in the world, with 3,000 in Namibia.
* When cubs are born they have long hair on their backs and it gives them a disguise, because they look like honey badgers.
* Cheetahs can’t roar, but they can purr.


At the moment there are 35 cheetahs that live there. They can’t go back to the wild because they don’t know how to look after themselves. They have 7 cheetahs that will be able to be released, and they have one cub that is only a few weeks old, though we didn’t see it.

We saw the cheetahs have their lunch. They eat old donkeys and horses, and the food has predator powder on it, to give them their vitamins. The cheetahs were waiting and rushed in to get their food. The food is given in a bowl, because in the wild, the cheetahs eat their prey from the inside out. So the skin is like a natural bowl. It was interesting because some of the cheetahs put their paws on their food, just like a dog. That means the cheetah was taken away from its Mum too early. In the wild the cheetahs have to always be ready to run because other animals steal their food, and they are not good at fighting.

At the Cheetah Conservation Fund they also raise Anatolian Shepherd Dogs. These dogs are brought up to protect all the farm animals. They get trained with goats and they think the goats are their family! The dogs are sold to farmers, so the farmers don’t shoot cheetahs.

I like Cheetahs. My favourite was one called Tiger Lily! There was also a Rainbow, Aurora, Hermonine, Harry and Ron. Like the Beautiful Gate orphanage in Lesotho, The Cheetah Conservation Fund runs on donations. It also gets money from visitors and from selling cheese it makes from its goat farm. It also has interns from all over the world, and maybe I could do that one day when I am older!

Windhoek

We spent a few days in Windhoek. We really liked Urban Camp, and made some friends. There was a swimming pool, and Daddy liked the bar. We had to stay because the car needed some new parts. We got a new brake hose, 4 new tyres and coils to replace the air bags.

In Windhoek we went to the national art gallery. It was different to other art galleries because the art was not just paintings. The artists were all local and used ‘mixed media’, like newspaper, nails, string, beads, animal horns and wood. The art was all for sale too. My favourite piece of art was called ‘The seed of identity’ and was of a twisted horn. (Sorry, no photo!) I also liked one called ‘Etosha’ which was a scene of cows, made of twigs tied with string. There was one room that was filled with different pictures of rhinos. It was very good.

After this we went to the Museum. It was interesting, but a bit run down. Some of the lights didn’t work. These are some of the things that we saw/learnt:

  • A house made by the Nama people, and made out of reed mats. It is the only one left as people now use modern materials.
  • Some people get their grain by breaking into ant nests and stealing it!
  • There was a wooden wagon with a canopy that early settlers used. The wheels were wooden with a metal rim to protect them. I think that this is the same sort of wagon that Laura and Mary used in ‘Little House on the Prairie’
  • There was a rhino skin, that was very thick and hard. Daddy said some people used it for armour.
  • There was a guano platform between Walvis Bay and Swakopmunda. People used to collect it and sell it for fertiliser! Guano is bird poo – I would not want that job!
  • We saw musical instruments. I liked the honey bird whistle. People hollowed out an apple, and used it to call the honey bird. The bird takes the people to a hive and they all get honey. There were reed flutes that they left in milk when they weren’t being used.
  • We learnt about growing and collecting Omahangu, which is millet. People turn into flour and then eat it as porridge.
  • We saw how they made ostrich egg shells into necklaces by breaking them into little pieces, then shaped them into circles and drill holes. They change the colour to brown or black by frying it!