Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
That's me sitting out on a rock at the top of Kgale Hill. The "hike" was more like a mountain climb. It was hot. It was sweaty. It was so worth it. Behind me you see a decent part of Gaborone and, again, the photo just doesn't do the view any justice whatsoever.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Alright folks - one of the most difficult things to contend with here in Gabs is the transportation that gets us from Point A to Point B and back again. Sunday was, by far, our most trying day yet. Before I get to Sunday, however, let me tell you about Friday night. There is a mall not too far from our house called Riverwalk. Typically, we walk there, but after dark it’s just a little too far and a little too dangerous for four white girls to be walking about. With that being the case, we walk out to the road, hail a taxi, get in, and start negotiating the price. First, he says he’s going to charge us 60 Pula (1 Pula = 7 CAD. You do the math; I’m an English major.) which is atrocious because we normally pay 30 Pula. So we just laugh at him, tell him no way and that we are only paying 30. After he agrees to that, the next thing out of his mouth (and this is no word of a lie) is ‘so, which one of you can I marry?’ Yes, friends, that is our life here in Gabs. Just to add some context and hopefully a few more laughs to your blog reading experience, I’ll give you a few more details of this particular cab ride. First, we ask him how many cows he has because, you see, Botswana still has a very traditional way of doing things meaning that dowries are still paid to the wife’s family. On average eight cows would be given to a local girl’s family and the number would go up the farther north the woman is from. Considering we are from Canada, we figured at least 150 cows would be required before any of us would agree to marry our cab driver. Cattle are also a traditional means of telling how wealthy a man is. This particular cab driver told us he owned about ten cows (honestly, I don’t think he owned any) and so we proceeded to tell him that wasn’t nearly enough to marry a Canadian girl. We’ve also been told in situations like this one to tell men that they wouldn’t like Canadian girls because we don’t like to cook or clean and we are very mouthy. We told our enamoured taxi driver all of these things at which point he pretty much stopped talking to us more so, in my opinion, because he likely thought we were crazy. Good story, right?!
Alright, on to Sunday. We heard about a Farmer’s Market happening at the #1 Ladies Opera House and Café (yes, named after the books) and were really looking forward to some homemade African wares. Once again, we hail a cab and ask him if he knows where the market is that is supposed to be at the Opera House which is near Game City. He says ‘yes, let’s go’. We arrive at Game City (the biggest mall in Gaborone) and as he is pulling into the parking lot we remind him that this is not where we want to go, where we want to go is the market. To this he responds, ‘market, what market?’ And, once again folks, this is my life in Gabs. Our driver proceeds to ask random people on the street where this place is to no avail. Apparently no one knows where this place is. Finally, we get directions from a friend and tell the driver only to have him ask, ‘are the directions from a Motswana (person from Botswana)?’ We respond with an annoyed ‘no’ and tell him where to drive. When we finally get there, we realise why no one knows that this market and Opera House/Café exist; everyone there is white. It is definitely a Farmers’ Market of the North American variety. We enjoyed it none-the-less until the point that we realised we needed to find a way back into the city somehow. Everyone else had their own cars and so commenced our walk. Luckily, in our few weeks here, we’ve made a few friends. We called one of them, asked them to get us a cab company number and waited. The next fun part of our adventure included trying to explain where we were so that we could actually be picked up. That, my dear readers, was an epic fail! Thankfully, a man in a jeep took pity on us and asked if we needed a ride somewhere. He was from Botswana, white though, had a South African accent, and had family that he was planning to visit very soon in Canada. He was legit, our saviour. Once we’d been so kindly dropped off at Game City, we met our taxi who was, in fact, waiting out in the middle of nowhere for us, but we just weren’t at the same spot in that same middle of nowhere. He’s annoyed and charges us more than we should have paid, but, at this point, we just want to get home. Home we get and decide to chalk this all up to an experience and a few lessons learned. The main lesson being, never assume a taxi driver knows where he is going!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
O my goodness...here we go!
I am in Gabs and finally have decent access to the internet. With that said, here, my wonderful followers, is my first blog post from
I arrived in Gabs minus one suitcase (as was to be expected). Of course, it was the one with all of my clothing, but perhaps that was better than it being the one full of school supplies. You see, when I finally got my bag (only a day later) the lock was missing and it was clear that the suitcase had been rummaged through. Luckily, no one wanted any of my belongings. Had it been
the suitcase full of supplies, I may have had a different story to tell. On a semi-related note, everything I have read has said that the people of Gabs are pleasant and most willing to help when asked. On the contrary, when I had to report my bag missing, the woman was far from pleasant. In fact, I am pretty sure she was making fun of me with her colleague. The reason I say ‘pretty sure’ is because she was speaking Setswana, but even though that was the case, I understood the gist of what she was saying. Needless to say, my first experience with a Batswana was not welcoming at all. It may very well have had something to do with the fact that she had a lot of difficulty with the man in front of me, so much difficulty, in fact, that she threatened to call the police. Fun stuff upon my arrival in Bots!
On to the house…which is wonderful. It’s likely one of the nicest houses in Gabs, living room, dining room, kitchen, 2 ½ bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, hot running water, fully functioning electricity, and…
an electric fence complete with barbed wire all around the premises. Security is a real issue here. Robbery and petty theft are the main worries here. With that said, we have the electric fence I mentioned in addition to a solid iron security gate and solid cement wall that surrounds the yard just below the electric part of the fence. We have to keep the blinds closed so people cannot see in and most importantly, never use our laptops in clear view of anyone. When out and about in the city, it’s very important to keep cameras, cell phones, laptops secured and unadvertised (as in not walking around like a tourist with a fancy camera hanging from my neck). If I let people know I have it, they’re likely going to find a way to steal it. Other than that though, Gabs is really quite safe. Serious crime is not an issue and the punishment for burglary is quite harsh. Basically, as we were told by the Botswana Police, ‘security starts with us’. So, I won’t be stupid, I’ll pay attention, and hopefully won’t have anything stolen. J I’m living in the house with 2 other Canadians who have different placements in Gabs. So far, so great! I think the next 3+ months will be wonderful.
Events thus far…
I’ve been in orientation until today. Monday was get-myself-legally-entitled-to-be-in-the-country day. The first step was the Police Station for passport authentification and then on to Immigration for an Exemption Permit. Now, I am official allowed to be here until August 18th.
In the afternoon, the group of us went to Mokolodi Game Reserve for lunch, a tour of the reptile gardens, and a mini-safari! It was incredible. Doug (the dreamy reptile handler from
Tuesday was really just training all day. We had a session where we learned a bit of basic Setswana and a session on Gender and Development in the country. Both were great; however, I would have liked to spend a lot more time learning the language. Tuesday afternoon was a lesson in public transit, and let me tell ya, it’s interesting. Combis are small buses that carry about 12 people. They are packed, hot, and cheap. Public taxis are not as packed, just as hot, but not quite as cheap. It’s really quite difficult to explain, but with time, we’ll have it all figured out. One thing I do know for sure is that the private taxi drivers (the ones we’ve used twice now to take us home from one of the malls) are really quite rude, that and they never know where they are going unless you can explain it to them. Things are just so different here, but it’s all about the experience and I’m just taking it all in! Wednesday we had a general session about the economics, culture, and geography of
As for today, Thursday, it is my first day of work. I don’t have a lot to do right now because the staff just finished one major part of the application process with the students. On Monday, I will hopefully be able to meet most of them and assist them with their study permit applications. First step for me, fill out an application so that I know what I’m talking about! There are potentially 47 students who will be traveling to Canadian schools this fall, all studying some form of Engineering, all sponsored by the Botswana government. It’s impeccable that here education is free for every Batswana all the way up until the end of their undergraduate degrees. If only education was as important to every government!
In conclusion (finally) Gabs is great. Not quite as developed as I envisioned, but really a nice city. I can buy pretty much anything here that I can buy in
On one last note, I just found out that Friday is only a half day, meaning I finish work at 12:00 noon! I work 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every other day of the week so that is how I manage to work only 8:00 a.m. to noon on Friday! Score! I also just found out that I have to assist on a presentation to WUSC National Board Members who are visiting us tomorrow. Tossed right in and lovin’ it!
Go Siame for now!