Dear Meredyth,
Africa experienced a wonderful thing in July. A great happening that will be spoken about around the globe for many years to come. I am referring to the time that Ashleigh graced this continent with her presence. Not only did she travel here, along with the amazing Inese, but also she welcomed her 25th year of life right here in Botswana! Not since the discovery of diamonds in the Khalari has Botswana experienced such a happy thing.
Actually Ashleigh is easy to please on her birthday, all one needs to do is wake her up (not too early) with a plate of bacon for breakfast in bed. Unfortunately she was far away from me the morning of her birthday. Inese and Ashleigh flew from Johannesburg to Kasane on her birthday, which gave us only the evening to celebrate her greatness. We spent the afternoon on a sunset cruise, getting close (too close for her comfort sometimes) to hippos, elephnats, water buffalo, crocodiles, monkeys, many birds, and other exotic animals. After enjoying a beautiful sunset over the Chobe River, we went back to the lodge for a delicious dinner and birthday cake of course!
The next morning we arose early for a morning game drive in Chobe National Park. We drove around spotting even more animals. We were incredibly lucky to find a leopard! These cars are one of the hardest to spot animals and we found a baby happily eating a less fortunate impala.
That evening Jake wanted to treat Ashleigh and Inese to a great African tradition, a braai featuring a variety of game meats. A braai is similar to what Americans think as a barbecue, the grilling of meats outdoors. The braai experience is different though, the meat is not cooked over charcoal chunks not a gas grill, but firewood does the trick best. A braai feels right when camping, especially when one has to find rock or bricks to build a makeshift fire pit.
Jake and I invited the ladies to our camp site our last night in Kasane for a braai. Jake attended to the meats, while I prepared veggies and kept drinks full. On the menu for the evening was boerwors, “farmer sausage” in Afrikans, a spicy beef sausage; chicken wings, as a light option; and Kudu steaks, the feature presentation of the meal. Kudu makes a great steak, similar to venison; lean meat but still has great flavors. Jake is a great meat chef, not over cooked or over spiced so the integrity of the meaty flavors was not over shadowed.
It was a finger licking, seconds please, delicious meal that was consumed sitting around a fire in camp chairs. Desert was roasted strawberry and grape flavored marshmallows. I am sure that sounds terrible but I promise, these marshmallows are excellent. The best dessert was actually Amarula drinks, a sinfully good creamy liquor made from marula fruit.
Any night spent with Ashleigh is excellent, but this night in Africa, around a fire, with good food and great company, this was the best night I have spent in a long time.
All my love,
Julia

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