Of All the Things I Loved About Botswana, Time With You Was My Favourite

April 2017. Seba Camp, Wilderness Safaris. Okavango Delta, Botswana. All images by Elizabeth Erasmus / Lubella Photography.

Of all the wondrous things we saw, the big cats, the elephants, the hyena cub, the birds, oh the birds, the waterways of the delta from a helicopter and closer, by mokoro… the time we got to spend together, as a family, was the best of all. I turned on the out-of-office message on my work e-mail and together with friends (framily), our little trio headed off to one of our favourite places on the African continent. Botswana. More importantly, the Okavango Delta.

I’m sure the setting had much to do with it. WiFi was slim to none; our eyes were on each other. Our thoughts not pulled away by a faraway place or person. We were exactly where we wanted to be. Together, in the wild. Sometimes families need this. A regroup. It has been a year of great change – and it’s only April. We set up a second home in Cape Town and soon the boys will start school, after many, many wild and free months living on the banks of the Zambezi, reading, drawing, playing Monopoly, but mostly fishing and sunset cruising. We needed an adventure before the classroom called. We needed, even more importantly, time together. Time with loved ones.

In the wilderness, that’s exactly what you get. You can’t stop the emotions either. The wild cuts right to your heart and soul, with the very first whiff of the bush in the morning. The intensity of the sunrises and sets, the realness of a lion’s roar and an elephant’s flapping ears. The fear, the excitement all sort of wells up inside and sometimes you get those emotions confused. Sometimes they’re really just a conduit for those deeper feelings you’ve been sitting on and not let out. My eldest let them out. Just for one night. A child’s tears are never nice to see, but I’d rather see them than have them hidden. His tears were about not having a father to play with him and Renzi. This is when single parenting gets tough. Mostly, you can’t tell that he is at all affected by it, but I put this down to the effect of the wild. To the releasing that happens when we start to relax.

One of our larger tribe, our framily, my friend, Hillock, said “Carlos, don’t worry about not having a dad who plays with you. You’ve got a mum who does and chicks are way cooler. That’s why I’m a lesbian!” I cried laughing and that was the end of that. Back to the game drives, mokoro trips, and sunset river cruises while fishing.

The people at Seba Camp completed the family. In terms of service, they have all the heart and soul you could ask for. They are beyond all praise and dance together in perfect harmony. To be surrounded by the dearest of friends along with this incredible team made me realise that we may be single parents, on paper, but in life, we have all the support we need, if we just learn to acknowledge and accept it.

What I want you to know, though, my dear boys, is that you can always show me your tears, for you have shown me more strength than I could have expected of you. And as often as we adventure, head to new places and meet new faces, it is you, Carlos and Renzi, that I need most. That I want most. It is time with you that matters most to me, whether we’re on a boat in the Delta or the Zambezi, or under the covers in bed at home, together, all for one and one for all, teary, sleepy, giggly or still. You are the greatest adventure.