Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/481

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473
THE OMOKOANGA VAVARRA—HARDSHIPS.

distance, he was observed to throw himself on his back, as if startled at some object beneath him; but in another moment he was pursuing his course. When, however, he was about to lay his hands on the bird, his body was violently convulsed, and, throwing his arms on high, he uttered a most piercing shriek, after which he was seen to be gradually drawn under the surface, never to reappear!

On the ninth day after we had entered the Teoge we left the principal channel and passed into the Omoroanga (little river) Vavarra. This rivulet is merely one of the small branches of the main stream (formed by its overflowing its banks) so frequently met with, and which usually rejoin it after a day or two. The Omoroanga Vavarra is only navigable with canoes when the Teoge is at its greatest height, and even then the navigation is of the most intricate description. The boatmen, many of whom were born and bred in the neighborhood, constantly lose their way. We passed two nights on the Omoroanga, during which time we were exposed to much inconvenience and hardship.

Lecholètébè had placed two canoes at my disposal, but the rascally boatmen had by this time so filled them with their own things that no place was left for me. The consequence was, as the country was one succession of swamps, lakes, rivulets, and quagmires, I found myself early and late immersed in water, sometimes swimming, at others wading up to my neck. Indeed, from the time that I left my camp on the Zouga to my return to it, a period of about a month, I scarcely knew what it was to have a dry thread about me. The only time I could partially dry my clothes was at night along the bivouac-fire; but then I had to lie down wet. It would have been ruinous to any constitution not previously inured to hardships of all kinds.

But I was compensated for what I lost in comfort by the beauty of the surrounding scenery. Wherever the soil was raised a few feet above the surface of the water, it was covered by a rich and majestic vegetation.