Bringing the Mystery Back Home

Bringing the Mystery Back Home

A Lesson from the Kalahari

By Jeffrey Kottler

July/August 2004

We were just about as far away from anything resembling civilization as you can get and still be on this planet. Along with two colleagues of mine, Jon Carlson and Brad Keeney, I'd flown to Johannesburg, and then on to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, in southwest Africa. From there, we chartered a plane to fly us into the Kalahari Desert, the world's most remote and forsaken place outside of the arctic poles. For the two hours we bounced around inside the little plane, buffeted by winds and thermal currents rising from the ground in the shimmering, 110-degree summer heat, we didn't see a single living thing, not even a dwelling.

Upon landing, I stumbled out into the blinding glare and staggered into the bushes to empty the contents of my stomach. It was a good thing, too, since it was another hour's drive over a track in the sand before we arrived at the Bushman village. This was a community of a few hundred people living a subsistence existence, the last remnants of an old culture. They still practice the healing traditions that their people have been following for countless years. They still dance in ceremonies that resemble the rock art found in ancient caves. And this is why we'd traveled so long, and so far--to learn more about their healing rituals, which seemed all but ignored by the rest of the world.

Once settled underneath the shade of a baobab tree, which would become our home for the next week, we greeted our neighbors in the adjoining village.…

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