We are still rebuilding our itinerary and adjusting for Karen’s recovery (i.e. no wild camping for the moment). So I know that tomorrow we are heading up to Etosha (thanks Madeleine for getting us the bookings) via a night in Otjiwarongo area and then to the Caprivi where I have a few places lined up and a few holes to fill before heading into Botswana and Chobe.
Our injuries are on the mend and we can’t wait to get on the road again, goin’ place that we’ve never been. Karen is recovering well after her surgery, I picked up our Toyota Hilux (it’s not a Defender, for better or worse) and tomorrow we are heading out. We have spent the last week plus around Windhoek doing your normal everyday stuff – we played laser tag (kids beat me), visited a petting zoo/miniature golf place, participated in quiz night at Chameleon Lodge (it is always good to spend some time with the 20-something backpacker crowd to pretend you are still young – and it was nice to see my kids fit right in with them), saw Minions in 3d, all while living on the second floor of the mall. You know, just typical city life. It’s time to move on and get back to the bush. As Karen’s new shirt points out, Namibia is not for sissies and we aren’t the type to let a little setback keep us down. It was nice spending time reconnecting with our first safari leaders from Chameleon. They both noted that they don’t get to do trips like ours anymore (we tailor built a trip into more remote parks with more adventurous goals) – the tourists today don’t want to go out to the real African bush, they are looking for the Disneyfied version where the animals basically eat out of their hands on request. It’s a shame really, the entire industry builds its experiences around what the customers think they want and the customers end up less likely to experience and empathize with real Africa and the life of real Africans. It’s a double-edged sword in the service industry – how do you give the customer/client what they want and also ensure they get what they need. That said, we have had some great client service since our accident that provide great examples of a true customer service ethic as was drilled into me in my long time at CEB. Aside from Chameleon, where Jackie and Bossie have gone far beyond customer service into genuine friendship, there have been numerous examples: like NWR and Zimparks (Namibia and Zimbabwe’s national park management services) who – despite being government bureaucracies – have made exceptions to their refund/change policies to reapply our payments to new reservations, or Southern Cross Safaris who called multiple 4×4 rental companies on my behalf to find a vehicle after I accidentally wandered into their building looking for something else even though there was no remuneration in it for them, and the various camps I’ve reached out to looking for space on short notice who have offered us reduced pricing due to our situation. In fact, the only real negative client service interaction recently has been with our original rental company – not that I don’t understand their frustration, but at least they could live up to the contract we agreed to – but I haven’t written them off yet and still hope they come around and do the right thing.