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Botswana: The Proof is in the Pudding

BOTSWANA | Tuesday, 19 May 2015 | Views [355] | Scholarship Entry

In the middle of southern Africa, amidst lions, giraffes, several species of ape, and a rather exuberant local named Phillip, hides a pudding recipe so divine I can only assume it is guarded by an army of men and one of those giant boulders that squashes thieves any less cunning than Indiana Jones, but more on that later.

Outside of Maun, Botswanna- roughly a hop, skip, and a makoro ride away- is the Okavango Delta. Its canals of fresh water and tall river grass exist in shades of blue and green so vibrant it comes as no surprise that several species of animals chose to live under its expansive, very possibly endless, sky. Were I able to speak crocodile, I'd have asked one the housing prices because I expect it to be some of the most expensive real estate around.

A trip to Okavango is so homely and modest and wonderful you will wonder why you were ever enticed by a trip to Europe or a fancy hotel room. Once you make your way to its banks, you are greeted by the people of the Delta- infinitely lucky souls as full of life as the wilderness around them. They bring with them makoros, small, canoe-like waifs of lumber, that provide a most-relaxing form of transportation down the rivers to your campsite. It will be the most beautiful two hours of your life (until the pudding, but again, more on that later). For the duration of your stay there, usually five days, the locals take care of you. They sing songs, hunt down zebras and elephants for safari, bravely swim amongst the hippos, provide rather wonderful company, and most amazingly, they cook.

With nothing but a campfire, a few pots and pans (perhaps a large utensil), they make meals- nay feasts- for 20-30. And for dessert, they make pudding.

Malva pudding, to be exact, and as I watched it sit atop the fire that first night- quiet, beautiful, its lumps of banana and bread soaking into it's depths-I knew. I knew the first time I tasted it that I would be having seconds, thirds, millions. And I knew I'd never have anything like it, anywhere else in the world again. It is, with no exaggeration, the most beautiful thing about that damn magnificent Delta- and that, is saying something.

To sit under a sky of stars, warmed by a campfire, humming along to the croaks of hippos and the grumblings of whatever is watching you from the bushes, and enjoy warm one-of-a-kind African pudding is to live like a local. It is to travel.

But go ahead, take that trip to Europe. More pudding for me.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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