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San Bushmen of the Kalahari

October 13, 2016 | Margot Kalinowsky

What can one learn from walking in another’s shoes (or in this case, bare feet)? More than I could have ever imagined!!! When in the Deception Valley area of Botswana with my husband and our two teenage sons, we were fortunate enough to spend the day trekking through the Kalahari  Desert with a fascinating father and son team from the local indigenous San Tribe.

The San(Bushman) are the oldest indigenous habitants of Southern Africa. The tribes live nomadically, completely off of the land in harmony with nature.  The tribes are often known for their small stature and unique “clicking” vocabulary and language. The four of us felt like giants as we were all over 5ft 5in.   As we would find out when trekking, our height was a hindrance in this landscape! Weaving in and out of the bush (learning how to stalk an animal) was difficult when we would get caught on endless branches and twigs.

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What we learned in a day was remarkable! Since living off the land is a necessity for them, we learned how to build a fire without matches, hunt for small grubs and beetles, make spearheads and the incredibly complicated way the poison is made to put on the tips of the spearheads to kill their food. We also learned how to gather water that is falling off of the leaves from the morning dew into ostrich eggs, which are then buried in the sand and stored for later consumption.   When our fire was built we had an outdoor cooking class – how to cook an ostrich egg in the sand without getting it covered in sand. As one can imagine, not an easy task! FYI. An ostrich eggs is the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs.

As in many communities the men would go out for days and hunt. On their welcome return a feast shared by one and all would be enjoyed.

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So what did I learn in a day?   That we should all respect the land, the animals, mankind and most importantly the beautiful abundance of nature we have.  I wish that more people could live in harmony with land and nature.