Desert elephants have longer legs and bigger soles, but are otherwise exactly the same as the savanna elephants. There are much fewer of them, they have a shorter life span due to their poor diet and harsh conditions. Our guide found the family, about 10 or more of all ages. He drove right into the middle of the grazing animals, they totally ignored us because they are used to the vehicle from which they fear nothing. The guide specified that you cannot and should not attempt to get that close to an elephant in any other condition. It was marvellous, one little guy came right up and wrapped his trunk around the front grate of the jeep. Another seemed very interested in Mathieu, he stuck his trunk almost into his face which freaked him out - silently. It was very funny to see his face! The others went about their business feeding off the trees, and the young ones play- fighting. Of course the elephants are the stars, but then there are birds, there is the smell, the sounds, the feel of the grass and the thorns. We could experience all of that during the picnic breakfast, we were not allowed to go far, but for me it was enough to dream.
In the afternoon most of us went with the bus to a petrified forest. Again it was not so much the petrified pieces themselves that interested me the most but the opportunity to walk. We saw many Welwitschia flowers, they are endemic to the Namib desert and are believed to live up to 2000 years. The plant is not very pretty, two leaves undulating on the ground, but, it's something you can see nowhere else!
We stopped to visit a Damara family which Lindy knew personally. It was very moving to see a life so totally stripped of all but the bare necessities. For any of us bare necessity would mean an awful lot more than what we saw. "Aunti Maria", the mother, showed us the storage room, it was empty. I would panic if I had to feed all the children we saw outside with that empty pantry. She showed us the meager garden, the dirt floor sleeping quarters. But the children go to school, a thing their parents never could dream of. They have to go to boarding school because of the great distance and lack of transport. One woman worked on a hand driven Singer sewing machine, they had access to water with a hose, so they do not have to carry it on their heads so I guess this is progress. It is a life lesson to think of how much energy we waste by accumulating stuff.
In the evening, another sunset cocktail and a delicious meal. We eat a lot of local game, Kudu, Springbock, Oryx but other then that the food is very good but not exotic. I wondered if I could eat kudus seeing what beautiful splendid animals they are, but then I thought our poor chickens have a much more miserable life and would be more deserving of our pity. I am not ready to be vegetarian so I'll eat the pretty and the uglier ones sparingly.
Lives for 1500 years, flowers once a year