Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/196

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On the 4th we again set forward. The aspect of the country was still characterized by the greatest abundance, and the trees became even more numerous.

Nearly all produced edible fruit, though some were not yet ripe. The trees, moreover, were on a grander scale than heretofore. One kind in particular—that mentioned as bearing a fruit somewhat resembling an apple—attained to a most astonishing size. Indeed, the branches of one that we measured spread over a space of ground one hundred and forty-four feet in diameter, or four hundred and thirty-two in circumference!

The palms growing hereabout—the stems of which, before they began to branch out, often rose to fifty and sixty feet—were, to all appearance, of the same kind as that we had seen about two hundred miles to the southward; but the fruit proved very good. When slightly soaked in water—which, by-the-by, is the best way of eating it—it tasted precisely like gingerbread.

There appeared to be no roads of any description. Fortunately, however, the harvest had just been completed, or nearly so, and without damage to the owners we were therefore enabled to cross the fields as the crow flies.

Two different kinds of grain we found indigenous to this country, viz., the common Caffre-corn, said to resemble the Egyptian "doura," and another sort, very small grained, not unlike canary-seed, and akin, I believe, to the "badjera" of India. This is the more nutritious of the two, and, when well ground, produces excellent flour.

The stalk of both these kinds of grain is stout—the thickness of a sugar-cane—some eight or nine feet high, and juicy and sweet to the taste, which has no doubt given rise to a belief in the existence of the sugar-cane in many of the interior parts of Africa. When the grain is ripe the ear is cut off, and the remainder is left to the cattle, which devour it greedily.

Besides grain, the Ovambo cultivate calabashes, water-