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Adventures Near and Afar

Death By Leopard: A Long Night Under the Black Moon

Photo Credit: Bonnie J. Fladung

I heard something brush against the outside tent flap, then soft breathing, like heavy sighs. Just a few inches from my sleepy head, an animal lay down. Fear gripped me and I started to panic-breathe.  The only thing that separated me from danger was a few millimeters of canvas secured by zippers.

 

I was luxury camping in Africa, which meant I had a canvas outhouse area attached to my tent. It housed a long drop toilet and a bucket shower, and was fastened together by Velcro so the staff could service it. I accessed it through the zippered door on the back of my tent. The creature had snuck in through an opening in the Velcro, and decided to spend the night on the mat near the zipper. Near my head.  Read More 

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Vote for Readers’ Choice Awards

Illustration Credit: Margo Gabrielle Damian

So honored! My book "The Elephant's Euphonium" has been nominated for a Readers' Choice Awards.

 

Vote now for "The Elephant's Euphonium" in the Children's Picture book category.

The NHWP Literary Awards are being announced at an event on Saturday, October 5 from 4 to 6 pm at St. Anselm College. It is now up to readers to cast their vote for the 2019 Readers' Choice Awards once in each category.

 

Thank you!

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Realm of the Ancestors

Photo Credit: Bonnie J. Fladung

Deep in the northwest corner of Botswana lie the Mountain of the Gods. Tsodilo Hills rise from the dusty sand and the eye is drawn to the multitude of colors reflecting from the craggy cliffs. As we approach from the east, the largest mountain called Male Hill is directly in front of us.

 

We have a day to explore the hills, lead by our guide Lopang. His ancestry is part river bushman, and his great grandfather accompanied Lauren van der Post here on his historic visit. Now he is guiding us along Rhino Path, where we can see the distinctive red paintings, some faded and some still vibrant. What is most striking is the accuracy of the drawings, there are no signs of erasures or sketch lines. The "paint" the ancients used was composed of sand and minerals combined with blood and urine. Somehow, they were able to perfect the ideal formula that would adhere to the rock for centuries.

 

Hiking along the Rhino Path, the first panel we see is a collage of animals - giraffe, eland, kudu, jackal, wild dog and zebra. Amidst the animals is a shamanic circle used in a ritual ceremony. Continuing along, we pass the famous van der Post panel.

 

The day is spent hiking, driving through deep sand and climbing rocks. Scrambling up into a sacred cave, Lopang asks us to imagine the ceremonies that have taken place there through the centuries. We are truly in the "Realm of the Ancestors."

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Bushman Time

Photo Credit: Bonnie J. Fladung

We are deep in the bush in the far west of Botswana near the village of Xai Xai, on bushman time. We are here to learn how the original inhabitants of the Kalahari survive in this hot dry area.

 

The bushmen know where to dig for tubers. Like dousers searching for water, they read the signs of the vegetation. Disappearing down a hole to search for porcupine, a meat prized for its fatty content, one lithe bushman comes up with hands empty but smiling. They are a happy people.

 

The bushmen sit in a semi circle facing us, as the elder begins his story in their expressive click language. He tells of going off on a hunt with his friend, when they come upon the fresh carcass of a kudu. Little did they know there was a lion nearby.

 

The lion attack was swift, and the bushman shows the scar where the flesh is missing. He only survived because his friend was with him. Deep in the desert, it is good to have friends.

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