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Bigboy one of the three caracals

Chapter One.  Chance.
Our lives are governed by chance.   We take a chance every time we drive a car or fly in an aircraft.   Living as specks upon a speck in a violent, active universe puts us all at the mercy of chance.  And we live in fear of that mysterious force.
But chance is a force which can be harnessed for good things too.   People can take control and change their lives for the better by not being afraid to cast their fate to the wind.
And so it was in 1998 that a red Isuzu double-cab pick-up (bakkie) came swishing down the soft, fine sand road from Harnas Lion Farm, raising a plume of billowing white dust which must have been visible from space.  It came to a smooth halt at the main tar road from the Botswana border to Gobabis and Windhoek.  The dust cloud caught up with the now stationary vehicle, and settled upon it, silent and unwelcome.   The occupants, a man and a woman in their early fifties, looked left and right.   To the left lay Botswana and, two days drive further, were the lush green hills of Natal in South Africa.   To the right lay Gobabis in Eastern Namibia and south of that unprepossessing town, a thousand kilometres of gravel road led to the Rietvlei border post with the Northern Cape province of  South Africa.
The two destinations could not have been more different: the arid Kalahari semi-desert to the south, or the Eastern Transvaal mountains and bush veld to the east.  But which one to choose?
They decided to allow chance to make the decision of their lives, and tossed a coin.  Heads it was.  And on that unplanned – some would say irresponsible – basis, their fate was decided.   The Isuzu bakkie turned to the right and headed for the Kalahari.  Buoyed up by that elation one feels when truly living life for the present, the occupants had no idea what to expect.  What they got were the best seven years of their lives.   Also the hardest.

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