Still beaming from the flight over the Okavango Delta, we make our way out of the airport and across the street to a short row of buildings. There were a number of food vendors set up here before we left but they area all gone now. Too bad, I’d wanted to sample some stuff. Not as many options for a post-flight beer around here as expected. There’s an Indian place with an outdoor beer garden style seating that should do the trick.
A girl places menus and we tell her we just want drinks. A couple St Louis Exports, a gin and dry lemon (quickly becoming the drink of the trip) and a Sauvignon Blanc, please.
“How’s the St Louis?”, “If you like Labatt’s Blue, you’ll love this”, “So it’s shit?”, “Shit indeed.” Mark’s wine comes out and it’s red. “No, a Sauv Blanc please”, “Yes, this is it”, Mark’s face haha, “No, the white, please”, “I’ll go check again, sorry. Do you want this?”, can’t let a perfectly good drink go to waste, “I’ll drink it.” It’s been spilled before getting to the table. Glass is all drippy with red wine. That’s definitely going on my white Panda shirt. The girl comes back and drops off Jamie’s drink and tells Mark, “No whites sir, sorry”, I hand the stain maker back to Mark. Jamie’s gin and dry lemon has no ice in it. “Ok, this place has no idea what the fuck they’re doing.”
Fairly obvious that we shouldn’t waste any more time here so we look up restaurants around. Not many good options open at the moment. Weird. Guess we’ll just scout out where the locals are eating and go there.
Peter reads a headline: Man’s plan to dump tons of LSD in the LA water supply thwarted by police. “Can you imagine?”, “That would be a riot”, “Literally”, “If you were home, had a glass of water and started tripping out, you’d probably be too freaked to leave the house”, “I’m picturing a dog drinking out of the toilet and totally losing it”, “Wait, is my dog speaking English?”, “Let’s take off this mask and see who the real villain is!”
We get back to Old Bridge and there is a truck, car and a tent in the camp space where we were originally. Did they drive through our clothes line? How did they get back there? The truck took our spot. Hmm, wonder if they thought we’d left and rented out our spot. Mark goes to the front and asks the desk cat what the scoop is.
Desk Cat says it’s a double plot. Ok. I think we can manage. We maneuver into the back space and hope everyone can get out. Little tight, but it’ll work.
Over to the bar and Onks is there working again with another girl. As soon as we sit down a roly-poly older gentleman at the end yells, “Look at these new faces. Miss P, jager shots!” Onks gives us the eyebrows, “Sure, why not?” and the other bartender, Miss P, gets the glasses and pours them out. The guy comes rushing over to join us with as much energy as the Hoover Dam. Upsie daisy, clink, and down the hatch, ahhh. He looks each of us in the eye to get our names and rips all of our arms out of their sockets with vigorous handshakes while clasping each of us on the shoulder and declaring his name is, “Tombob!”
Onks and Miss P definitely have a rapport with this live wire. You can tell from their half-amused / half-“Oh Fucking Tombob”, eye-rolling expressions that there’s some history here. He’s uber-German or maybe Austrian. Tombob is seemingly everywhere at once, darting in and out of conversations while simultaneously being part of every single one in the whole bar. It resembles a Keebler Elf on crack stuck in a pinball machine. Not sure where he keeps the coke-laced chocolates, but Tombob is super amped.
“Another round, Miss P! They’re on me!” With every syllable he speaks his upper torso seems to move into a different and weird angle while his feet remain planted in the same spot. It’s like talking to a Muppet. He also responds to most things he likes with a quick and firm, “Kickass!”, accentuated with a solid double-thumbs-up and eye’s wide, shit-eating grin. “Holy fack, what have found here?”, “Our new best friend I think.”
After the fourth round of Jager shots in as many minutes, Tombob’s giddiness skyrockets and he just gets right behind the bar to serve us yet another round of Jager shots. This draws some fire eyes from Onks for a split second, “Onks, Onks, it’s ok, it’s ok. Good lads, good lads. Bottom’s up!” I hand Miss P my phone and she shakes her head and snaps these Tombob beauties. “Kickass!”
Oh holy fuck, Kim is back! She sneaks up on Jamie with a tiger claw down the back which makes him cringe, thrust his chest out and step off his bar stool and shuffle to the side. “How’s Mr Sparkles and his unicorn friends?”, “Great. We’re having Jager shots every five seconds with that guy Tombob over there”, “That’s my cousin’s husband. He is an asshole!”, Tombob, being in every conversation at once, glides over and feeds her one right back, “Oh stay away from this one, boys. I’m warning you!” and Kim is slapping him away, “Shoo shoo you evil man!” The rest of us are just looking at each other not knowing what the hell to think.
“Miss P, Onks! More shots!”, they’re opening a new bottle of Jagermeister and looking up at us. We just shrug in return, “I don’t know what the fuck is going on?”, “Is he paying for all of this?”, “Are we getting Tombombed?”, “This is a silly pace to be doing jager shots”, “We’re all sleeping in the river tonight.”
Tombob is back over to chat us up. He’s calmed down a smidge and is now finding out everything there is to know about us while his buddy at the end of the bar relentlessly chirps him. “Don’t mind him, he’s just a lousy Scottish drunkard”, “Fuck you, you fat fuck!”, “We’re actually best friends”, “I can believe that.”
Turns out Tombob is a wealth of information and super engaging and easy to talk to. He fills us in on his long term residency in Maun and love of the country and animals while his dog politely humps his leg. “Ahhh your dog, dude”, “Oh yeah, get, get you.” The dog wanders over to a lonely looking girl on the couch who is initially charmed until it starts up on her leg too.
We ask him for some dinner tips and he tells us to hit up the Riverlodge for bunny chow and chips, “Ask for Tombob!” He says the stalls by the airport have a bunch of goodies too. “Sounds great. What about the butchers in town?”, “Kalahari and the Delta deli. Both awesome!” Tombob’s buddy keeps chirping him from across the bar. “You drink too much! Oh, we should drink more, Miss P!” And there’s the eighth round of jager down the hatch. Onks holds up the empty bottle. “Oh no, no. We’re not done yet. I’ve got another one in the car! Here boys, hold my drink.” And Tombob floats away through the mix into the dark and returns a moment later behind the bar again, loading up another round.
Tombob waves the bottle at his Scottish buddy who goes sour face and waves back no. “See that lads. That’s the universal sign for more!”, “That’s the universal signal for Fuck OFF! You old cunt!”, “He’s really quite pleasant. He is, he is.” And Tombob throws another jager in front of him. Now he’s also coming over to lock up the piss with us and see what Tombob finds so fun over here. He’s got my hair in his gnarled mitts, “Fucking Grisly Adams. Grisly Adams over here doing the… Adams Grisly thing”, “He’s right, you are quite pleasant”, “Oh you’re funny Grisly. You two should go shag by the river.”
I get the attention of Miss P to order up some dindin, “So what’s the P stand for?”, “It’s Pulvea, actually”, “Oh Pulvea is nice”, “Yes. How is your evening?”, “Bit of a Tombob storm”, “He’s like the Mayor here”, “Oh yeah?”, “Yes, he fixes everyone’s computers. He’s the only one that knows. Now he knows everyone in town from it. He’s the mayor”, “He’s a personable guy for sure. I think we’ll get some dinner”, “This late?”, “Gotta eat some time.”
Tombob makes his way around the whole bar again and comes back, “Oh you’re eating. Kick ass! I will leave you.” A few minutes later and he’s back over, “Still eating? There’s jager to drink, friends.” I think this encourages us to take an extra long time chewing. A minute later and he’s back to badger Mark, “Are you eating that slow or eating that much?”, he looks up and fixes on Tombob, “I’m enjoying what I’m eating”, “Ohhh I love that answer.”
Tombob is over to Jamie now who is mowing down some fresh Bream that they caught from the river earlier in the day. Apparently it is fantastic. Tombob is pantomiming up some fishing while Jamie is eating, “Get a line. Put bacon on it and drop it in the water. Catch a Bream. Works every time!”
As soon as everyone finishes, Tombob is right there with another round of Jager. “Jesus Tombob, I’ve lost count!”, “Good, good. We’re almost there then.”
He’s back behind the bar getting more glasses and Pulvea is giving him a hard time, “Get out of here. You don’t work here Tombob”, “Miss P, when are you going to be a misses?”, “I’m a free spirit”, Tombob shakes her hand, “Stay a free spirit. That’s good. Very good. Ready guys? This is the last bottle of Jagermeister!” and he empties it in our cups. “Ok ok ok, alright, alright, alright, what’s next?”, “We’ll get 32 Underburgs, Onks”, “Oh yes yes! You know. I don’t think they have that. What’s next, what’s next?!”
We take a well earned Tombob break. Kim introduces me to another cousin of hers and we shake hands, “Sorry about the chaos”, “It’s nice, it’s fun.” I grab a beer and vacate the whole bar area for some air. Sheeesh Jager nuked. I go over to the bonfire on the side. Peter joins me. We end up talking to a pair of hitch hikers. An Algerian girl named Karima and a Swiss French dude named Arthur Cook. “Arthur Cook? That’s the most English name a Frenchman’s ever had”, “I know, I know. Very strange”, super thick French accent.
These two launch into a number of amazing stories of their travels and people going out of their way to help them out. they’re all stories of graciousness and gratitude, this is a nice change of pace. Winston the cat comes to sit on my lap and listen in too.
When Arthur takes a pee break Karima tells us that he’s too modest, he was almost a pro soccer player. Turned into a boxer instead and now teaches psychology. Interesting mix. Suddenly all the power goes out as far as we can see. “Kick ass! Botswanan eclipse!”
Arthur comes back and Peter gets into it with him about the World Cup. “In 2038 I will eat my hat if France wins the World Cup!”
Arthur is a good story teller, good pacing. He launches into a doozy about getting malaria around Vic Falls and had to stay there for a week. There were a couple of other people in the room with him too. He’s not sure what they had, but they were suffering. A bunch of family came to visit one of the guys in there and Arthur just saw his eyes roll back. “He just died, right there like that. Right in front of me”, obviously this really affected him, sounds recent, “Family screaming ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”, “Damn dude, that’s intense”, “It was, it was.” He senses that there’s really no where for the conversation to go after this, “Not intense enough for this guy I guess”, and he points at Peter passed out by the fire with Desk Cat. Whelp, we’re doing this again.. “Alright Peter, let’s go”, “Kickass!!”