Cindy Regales Us With Another Amazing Bush Tale From Jao

Aug 19, 2015 Trip Reviews
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"Lala kahle Maloome, ukubona kusasa wonke.” These are always my final words as I leave the upstairs kitchen after service – my greeting to my team for the night.

Lala Kahle from Jao

Spoken in Zulu – in Botswana – in an English-speaking concession.

However this is the way that we do it as one of our scullery assistants doesn't speak much English, and when I started here at Jao I didn't speak much Setswana. It is a habit that has stuck to the point where this is now a general greeting. He learnt to speak a version of Zulu when he worked on the mines in South Africa earlier in his life. We have some incredible people here at Jao, who, when you get to know them, have amazing stories to tell.

So I am off for the night after an amazing service where we did a table for 24 people and had to start the menu presentation with the ultimate in Jao tongue twisters, Sandy, Sydney, Cindy and Collin, which led to more than a single chuckle at the table as I almost messed that one up.

On my walk home in the evening, I mull over the day and sort things out in my head, and am privileged to see the most amazing star scape over Jao. Often too, I am amazed at the reflection of the Milky Way on the solar panel bank – there is certain rightness to this, that during the day the solar panels harness the power of the sun and at night reflect out the power and beauty of the millions of stars that are out there.

Usually as I walk home I am alone with my thoughts; however tonight this is not going to be a usual walk home… as I pass the Spa I hear a rustle in the bush, thinking that it's the baboons that hang out in the top branches of the palm tree I instantly shine my torch up only to see the rear ends of the baboons carefully balanced on the thorny branches of the fan palm.

Hmm… not good, the rustling is getting close. Suddenly there out of the thick bushes bursts a rather substantially sized hippo with her little one following close behind. As she sees me she freezes, only to have the little one bump straight into her, which makes me laugh, and earns me a dirty look from mom hippo. She sees that I am on the walk way, and walks directly under my feet! What an amazing experience, to have such a powerful animal that close to you - wow, the baby followed almost as a single unit. And they are off… back to the waters’ edge and their safe space.

Lala Kahle from Jao

As I get to the open area between Tents 2 and 3 I see what I think is a bush baby, but as far as I know there are none of those on the island. Must be a genet kitten, with springs on its feet and BIG eyes! Nope that’s a bush baby, and I watch following the glint of eyes as he bounces up and down through the trees to put some distance between us. WOW, now that is a first, bush babies at Jao! Well one bush baby at Jao…

A good night’s sleep is always made so much better when you know in your heart that you live in an incredible place that still has the ability to astound you.

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By Cindy Swart

Cindy is the Executive Chef of Jao Camp in the Okavango. She originally hails from Pietermaritzburg in Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa, but her profession has taken her to the Drakensburg Mountain Range in South Africa, the Savute in Botswana and to Oxfordshire in the UK. With more than a decade of experience in not only the culinary trade, Cindy boasts experience in all aspects of lodge management and has an Outdoor Adventure Instructor qualification to add even more excitement to lodge living. Cindy’s passion for wildlife and cuisine is evident when you are in her company and when served one of her masterpieces. Her particular fondness for birds has often led to Cindy's casual strolls around the lodge resulting in a trail of guests in pursuit. Her outlook on the Delta is refreshing and warm, and is ever apparent in her literary contributions to this blog.

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