During a trip to the small community shop Helga, Adam and Megan run into a guide. The man seems eloquently and helpful and he has been working as a guide for DwesaNational Park for the last 6 years. They hire him for a walk through the mangroves where he will tell us about the flora and fauna and lead us through narrow hard to find tracks. We decide to start this later in the afternoon when the sun is past its highest point of the day. .
With our backpacks filled with water and sunscreen we wait for the guide’s arrival. Half an hour after the previously agreed time Vojany comes running into the campsite, shoes in his hands. He needs a moment to catch his breath. He introduces himself to me, but doesn’t look me in the eye. For a second I think I can smell alcohol on him, but the smell coming from his shoes takes over. We follow him and before we turn into a narrow path he starts a long speech about safety while we have a hard time understanding him. We get the impression that he was not wearing his shoes earlier, because he doesn’t really feel comfortable in them. He hops from one leg onto the other like he is standing on hot coals. He takes the first step into the forest and picks up a stick of about 60 cm. With this stick in front of him he starts to lead the way. Like a magician he waves the stick wildly around and his feet follow slowly behind. We follow his example without a wand and me as the last person. I have a hard time keeping my face straight. He stops at a plant that looks like a fern and starts his story: “ Before the dinosaurs in 1860, this was plant was everywhere”. This time he looks at us all.
We look back at him and he receives a bellow of laughter. He looks around the group dazed. I am now sure, the guide is drunk. I tell him I don’t want to walk around the mangroves with him if he’s drunk and that he should go back home and sleep. He nods at me, turns around and walks back to where we came from. Without his wand. We look at each other surprised, start to laugh again and decide to walk on without a guide. Pretty soon we find out that he actually taught us something useful: the wand is for cobwebs.