Saturday, February 19, 2005

Bushwalks and the Wonders of Dung

July 2004, Djuma Bush Camp, Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa:

"Pluck those leaves" said our tracker, Abel, as we dutifully did what we were told. "Now add some water" Placing just a few drops from our bottled water, we immediately saw the miracle unfolding before our very eyes -- soap suds!!!

"We call it Bush Shampoo!" Abel exclaimed as were were all struck dumb with wonder. The leaves somehow reacted with the water and out came a fresh, clean smelling substance which left our hands so soft and smooth. Apparently, the women use these leaves to clean their clothes and wash their bodies.

"What is that?" Abel asked the group, pointing to something that suspiciously resembled dung pellets. When nobody could give a specific answer, Abel told us that it was zebra dung and that his people (the Utah tribe who lived along the periphery of Kruger National Park), would gather all the zebra dung they could find and light a fire with it. The fumes from the smoke would instantly stop a nose bleed. He also told us that elephant dung could cure a very bad headache. Their children also play with impala dung -- they stick them in their mouths (and are apparently very clean) and spit them out. Whoever spits with the longest distance wins!

Ahhh...the wonders of dung! In Clinton Palanca's yet-to-be published book about his African safari with A to A, he tells of his guide extolling the vitues of elephant dung. Smoking it will get you really high -- similar to smoking marijuana -- but it's all perfectly legal. His travel companion found all the elephant dung she could find and brought them back home to Manila as "pasalubong" to her pot head buddies -- funny!!!

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