Our journey began with an unforgettable night at the Mongena Game Reserve, where we had the pleasure of meeting Waldo, an old friend of Dean's, from the University of Pretoria.
We were there for a board meeting with the two LiC teams based in Pretoria. After a review of how the year had gone so far, in typical LiC style the meeting ended with a team-building game drive.
We returned to the Lodge for a family dinner before heading off early to bed.
The following day, we kicked off with a 4 a.m. start for a long drive to Meno a Kwena.
Despite the early hour, our excitement fueled us for the journey ahead. As we approached the border, we were pleased to find ourselves there in good time.
After what can only be described as a shocking attempt at parking by Dean, we hopped out and headed to the immigration desk.
In no time we were through and back in Kili. Botswana had welcomed us with open arms.
A quick stop for a subpar coffee and an extra hot Nandos at 10:30 was to be lunch for the day.
We found an empty stretch of road and sat down in the middle of it to eat.
We were there for about 20 minutes and only saw three cars go past, Bots was an amazing country to drive in.
Our route took us across the salt pans, a unique and otherworldly landscape that left us in awe of Bots. It was at this point,
Dean decided to take a nap, leaving Rhino to take the wheel. The long hours in the car made us a bit stir-crazy, leading to a barrage of inappropriate jokes from Rhino, some were actually quite funny but these were few and far between.
Arriving at Meno a Kwena, we faced a serious challenge trying to open the gate. Emma stepped up confidently to take control of the situation, aggressively sliding the gate to the right.
After a couple more failed attempts she realized it slides to the left.
Meno gates 1, Badgers 0.
We bumbled on for a few more minutes before, shock horror, another gate.
This time it was my turn, I pushed forcefully, it was a pull, Meno gates 2, Badgers 0. Finally getting into Meno, we were welcomed by Seka, the camp manager, who gave us a quick tour of the camp.
It reminded me of our family Lodge in Liwonde in so many ways. Emma and I felt as if we were at home.
We quickly headed to the room to change and jumped in the pool to watch the sunset. After 13 hours in the car this was the best way to unwind.
Dinner was an opportunity for interesting conversations with the other guests and guides as we sat down at one very long table.
It was however another early night, as we had a big morning of teaching the next day. The following morning, we met Mpapi, a guide from Meno who would be assisting us with our teaching and translation.
We set off for Moreomaoto to meet Chief Rapula Madima, where we discussed our plans for teaching.
After our discussion with the Chief, we drove across the road to the school we were teaching.
The head teacher, Cisco, was enthusiastic and looking forward to joining for the lessons to see what LiC was all about.
Divided into four groups, we spent a total of six hours teaching children in grades 4 to 7.
It was a pleasure to have Mpapi by our side, as he shared our passion for teaching and made the experience that little bit more special.
Despite a minor mishap with my drone shot, our time at the school was fantastic, the lessons ran smoothly and kids were engaged every step of the way.
When it was time to say goodbye, our hearts were heavy, but we knew we had made a positive impact and set up links that will last long into the future. It was the start of something bigger.
Returning to Meno for lunch, we had the opportunity to deliver a Lessons in Conservation presentation to Khoi-san bushmen and a few of the camp staff, which was very well received, Dean even received an invite to stay with the Bushman next time he is back in Bots to teach in their communities.
As the day came to a close, we enjoyed a sunset by the pool again, followed by drinks around the fire.
An early departure the next day was slightly delayed due to complications in paying Emma and I’s “massive” bar bill, but it was a very small price to pay for the time we’d had.
Our journey continued as we pulled into Maun, where we met old family friends of Mum and Dad Angie and Robin at the Dusty Donkey cafe.
They shared stories of the good old days and filled us in on how things were going.
It was a moment of reflection for Emma and I, feeling proud of our parents' legacy that had remained in Bots long after they left in 1987.
With our hearts full of gratitude and determination, we put our foot forward for Negpi, ready to tackle the next leg of the journey, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia.