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on the hunting trail

the leader of the group

Beautiful Beadwork

A few days in XAI - XAI..........Forget exotic fantasies about staying in traditional San dwellings! As the bugs came out for the evening, I knew I wanted a screened enclosure. The Bushmen, or correctly called the San people, at our campsite slept in traditional huts. And, to my delight, they wore their traditional clothes. But, in reality, the San had forsaken much of their traditional ways and moved to more modern villages. They only stayed at this camp when tourists came to see them. But, if this kind of tourism took off, at least some of their cultural heritage would be maintained. I would hate for that to ever be lost.

Five San men directed a hunt into the bush. I was told they frequently hunted kudu, a beautiful large antelope, but I was relieved that didn't happen. They did find some birds living in small holes in trees. The men had their bows and arrows but wore skins that provided almost no protection from the thorns that pulled at me. Their happiest moments of the hunt were when they took smoking breaks. They rubbed sticks together to start a fire and then smoked and laughed a lot. I wondered just what they were really smoking.

Another hike was supposed to be directed by the women sharing where and how they gathered food. Actually, all 12 women, 2 babies, 5 men, and 3 guides went - and it was a good thing. The men and guides were much more instructive than the women. The hike was long and deep into bushy areas. I had several scratches and on occasion was completely caught in bramble. We found Bushmen potatoes, some kind of a cherry, and a root to make you lucky. One guide, a Herrero man, didn't believe in its magical powers. He said, if it really made you lucky, why didn't they have jobs. Maybe they were lucky in love?

MARTIN MARTIN
Copyright 1998 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.