The Truemans

I am very lucky to be living at “Peter’s Place”. Not only do I love my compact and cozy apartment which feels like home, but it also comes complete with numerous amenities like the pool, cats and a dog. Oh, and who can forget the two tortoises.

But I have to come to discover that it wonderful because of something much better then all of this. That something is Peter and Jetske, the landlord and lady. They are very special people and I feel so blessed to be living here.

In fact, one of the key reasons that I actually survived the last two immensely gruelling weeks is thanks to them. Here are a few examples of how wonderful they are:

Last Sunday afternoon when I arrived home from the Board Retreat I was in desperate need of groceries. It was an incredibly hot and sunny afternoon and before I made the “death walk” across the four lane highway to the mall, I wanted to be sure that the grocery store would actually be open when I got there.

So off I headed to the pool area where I knew I would Jetske (she had emailed me while I was in Kasane to say she was missing me in the pool as I hadn’t been home all week to join her) what time the Spar was open to. Her response was to get out of the pool, go into the house and get changed so she could drive me over to get groceries. Her reasoning was that the sooner I got groceries, the quicker I could join her in the pool. So thanks to Jetske, I was able to get fresh fruit and veggies for the week ahead and still have time to float in the pool. She even made me supper that night so I could focus on working at my laptop.

But her caring didn’t stop there. Every night this week when I was dragging my ass home late at night, I came home to my outside and inside lights turned on and curtains closed. I even came home to a delicious plate of supper sitting on my counter one night. And I am sorry that I caused her to worry about me the next night because I wasn’t home from work until midnight.

Peter, my Batswana curmudgeon (just when I thought that Mike Wedge was the only curmudgeon in my life) loves to build things. When he is not at working as the Chief Engineer designing the new Hospital located on the University of Botswana campus, he can be found in his workshop madly sawing or hammering away. In fact I have even found he working on constructing stuff in the carport. When he is not hammering, sawing or painting, he can be found watching the latest rugby match on tv or relaxing on the verandah with a drink and a book.

It is a pleasure to torment him and he is equally happy to participate. Born a Brit but now a citizen of Botswana, he always bring a fascinating perspective to any conversation including tons of sarcasm. You see I miss that sarcasm here in Botswana. The Batswana have no concept of sarcasm and any attempt at it soars completely over their head leaving a very awkward gap in the conversation. With Peter, I practice my skills with a more then capable opponent.

As you are all aware, I have been finding my height differential a bit of challenge here in the apartment. Both Peter and Jetske are tall so sometimes things are arranged a little out of my reach. The first mission of mercy that Peter provided was a step stool for me to stand on so I could actually reach the shelf on top of my clothes closet.

His second mission was to ensure that I could actually see what I am cooking on my cook top. As I noted before, when I am cooking on it the pan or pot is actually at my chin level. So while I was away last weekend Peter was examining my cooking area to come up with a fix. Because the cook top was on a shelving unit that is actually attached to a tiled area of the wall he couldn’t alter the actual unit without having to re-tile the whole area. Instead he came up with a nifty solution. So this week I came home to find this:

My stage!

So now I am able to see what I am cooking – thank you, Peter!  But I will never be as good of cook as you (He makes an incredible homemade Mac and Cheese).

These are just small examples of what they do and how welcome and spoiled I feel here everyday. It is a true blessing to be #2 (that is my apartment number) at Peter’s Place. Peter claims to not remember names and is feeling a little overwhelmed because for the first time, Peter’s Place has three females renting the accommodations. As the lone man in a compound of females, including Jetske, Tanyla, two female cats, a female dog and tortoise, he only has the gardener and a small male tortoise to rely on for male support. To torment us women, we are referred to as #1, #2 & #3. In fact, I tease Peter that I am going to become his wife #2. He shudders in distress….and I love it!

P.S.  I forgot to include a picture of his latest creation for me.  I was whining that I had no where to sit and stretch out once I got out of the pool so my swimsuit could dry off so Peter created this pool side area to please me, complete with astroturf and a table to put a book or laptop on. Isn’t he wonderful? 

A wonderful place to relax
Advertisements

I want to be Dolly

It is official, I want to change my name to Dolly and be cloned three times, please! Because it is not humanly possible to do everything as one person…being a cloned sheep is very appealing right now.

I am officially a Batswana!

I just got my passport back with the addition of my Republic of Botswana Permit allowing me to stay in this beautiful country until December 31, 2013. 

Now I feel re-energizer enough to get back to work, plus our food delivery for supper is on its way! Plus, Oscar says that he can’t do this with out me and I am a sucker for a smooth talking man. 

Olarato 

Never say Never

It is now almost 5:00 pm Gaborone time on Tuesday. I have been working for nine days straight now and we have exactly 36 hours to work through before the AGM is finally underway. I am now so tired that my brain is really starting to just refuse to work but Lawrence and I still have the final Financial reports to write before we can even contemplate leaving tonight. We are motivated to be finished by 8:30 as I have now gotten him hooked on my favorite tv show “Scandal”.

In spite of all of that, I am still able to laugh at myself because when I left the position of Executive Director of a Boys and Girls Club twelve years ago, I swore that I would never work for a non-profit organization ever again. Yet, here I sit working diligently away in order to resurrect a non-profit organization from the dead.  And the hilarious part is that I am not even getting paid.  But given my experiences working for non-profits in the past, I wasn’t always paid then either even though I was at least officially a paid employee.

Don’t get me wrong. I love what I am doing and would not trade any of this experience. I am simply learning the lesson “Never say Never” because it will always come back and bite you.

Departing Kasane

Well, it is Sunday morning and the board retreat has finished and I am sitting in the lobby waiting for my shuttle to the airport. We had a successful retreat. It is long and exhausting but everything was achieved that was necessary. The retreat got off to an interesting start when I was doing introductory remarks while we were sitting outside. As I introduced myself I actually had to stop mid-sentence. Yes, I was speechless! The reason was a rather large warthog had decided to run right up beside our table. It took me about a minute to regain my composure and than all  was well. Now perhaps I will take the sign that was posted in my room seriously….see photo below:

Warning in my room at Mowana

 

Chobe Sunset
Mowana Tree

 

 

This is a Mowana tree, for which the resort is named, growing in the middle of the resort complex. It is a spectacular sight and the residence of many exotic looking birds.

The sunset photograph was taking while we were on the river cruise and we stopped at an island to view an immense herd of water buffalo. Lucky for you that you could not experience the other sensory sensations that went with this setting. Let’s just say that such a huge herd of large animals on a tiny island can create a rather strong odour.

Swimming Hippos

Lest We Forget

 

Today marks Remembrance Day in many countries around the World. To me is a day that is significant for many reasons. The primary one is that it marks the armistice of what was dubbed the war to end all wars. Unfortunately this was not the case as devastating wars continue in countries around the world. But we still pause to remember on this day the brave sacrifices made by the men and women who left their homes and loved ones.

To me, the day holds special significance as my grandfather, Art Dalziel was one of those who rose to the challenge and fought on the battlefield in the Second World War. He rarely spoke about his experiences but he never missed attending the Remembrance Day ceremony as I was growing up. I was always proud to accompany him to the cenotaph to place his cross in remembrance of those never made it home. It was a solemn walk and one filled with emotion. He was always and still in my heart, a hero.

In his final years as aging was taking its toll on him, I would sit with him at night in his room at Whisper Wood Villa and calm him from his night terrors as he slipped into a time long past. I lived moments with him that had never been disclosed before. While he rarely spoke about his war experiences to his family and friends the horrors of war and the choices that came with it were always with him. As he aged those memories could no longer be repressed. Even a strong man needs comfort and to be told that everything is going to be okay. There were many evenings during the last years of his life that I sat beside his bed so that I could hold his hand and soothing him back to sleep. This was such a small way for me to honour all he had sacrificed and the price that he paid.

While many people complain about the weather that often occurs on November 11, cold and rain even snow are not uncommon. You will never hear a veteran of the First or Second World War complain about the weather as they honour their fallen comrades. Having lived in France, I personally know what the weather can be like in Northern Europe during the fall and winter. I can imagine the conditions that these men endured as they huddled in their trenches, sometimes chest deep in cold and muddy water. For our veterans who lived in extreme conditions and environments that the majority of us can not even begin to imagine, an hour or two on a November 11 is no hardship.

So today I hope that you will stop to pause and mark Remembrance Day. And I ask you to not complain about the weather or having to take the time to do so as so many men and women answered the call and sacrificed their lives so we can surely sacrifice at least two minutes to pay them respect. There will be no ceremony for me to attend in Botswana but as I always do on Remembrance Day regardless of where I am, I stop and remember at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the sacrifices made by so many that allow me to enjoy the peace, security and freedom that I do today.

 

Remembrance photos curtsy of Mike Wedge

All work, no play!

I am so happy to be back at the Mowana Resort in Kasane. To be greeted by familiar faces and this time, I have the luxury of a king size bed with mosquito  netting all around it. However, as become our mantra around the office, you have to choose air conditioning or internet because you can’t have both unless you are lucky Lawrence. Neither Oscar nor I can access internet from our rooms. My room is located at the very end of the resort complex (it takes me about 6 minutes to walk from the centre complex to it). The view is even more spectacular then from my room during my previous stay. Because I am at the far end, I am almost on the Chobe river and surrounded by trees. Last night I slept so soundly it was great! So peaceful and quiet as there is no people or car traffic anywhere near my room. So for that I will give up access to the internet.

So as I am having difficulty connecting for email and posting I want to use this time to say a very Happy Birthday to my best friend Noelle. Her birthday is tomorrow, Nov 10. I wish everyone could know her and how wonderful she is. We have been friends for more than 30 years. How we have done it I will never know. She is incredibly beautiful, intelligent, athletic, strong, loyal, reserved and even a little anal (even more obsessive compulsive then me). Whereas I am the quintessential free-spirit. Yet somehow our friendship has  thrived and grown stronger through the years. She fostered my shopping addiction for Shoppers Drug Mart (it is so much more than a drug store) during the time she was in final year of law school at York and let me sleep on her residence floor (I had an air mattress) while I sought work at Queens Park Legislature and then saved to afford my own apartment. She worked at Shoppers to help pay her way through law school and let me come shopping there to buy what ever I needed on her discount. To this day, when ever we shop together I love it even though I am not a shopper by nature. There is so much more that I could say about her but I simply want to say Happy Birthday! And I am sorry that I am not in Toronto so I can bake you a homemade carrot cake for your birthday cake!

Mowana Resort here I come (again!!!!)

Today has had a good start except for a six inch long bug dropping on to my arm in the car – nothing like a good scare and laugh to start the day. After a very long, incredibly busy and stressful days, I am having an easier start to my day. I am sitting here typing as I wait for my flight to Kasane to board. The every faithful and patience Tabuche not only delivered me to the airport on time. He also brought my luggage in and kept me company as I waited for check in. The only rebuke he gave me was that I walk to fast for a Batswana. Now I think that I have actually slowed down the pace that I move at but both Lawrence and Tabuche have pointed out that I am still walking way too fast. Not sure if I can slow down anymore than I have…even though 41 degree heat does make you want to constantly nap.

Given Oscar’s and my performance last time at check in and security,  I figured that it would be better for everyone if I proceeded through before he arrived. I had a non-eventful check in this time. The first question that I asked the check in attendant was how big was the plane? She reassured me that it was not going to be a repeat of our last flight. Yippee!! She even gave me a front row seat with lots of leg room to make up for the last flight to Kasane on the tiny plane.

Oscar has just called me and he is about to go through security. He made a trip to the office this morning to print his presentation. I on the other hand refused to leave the office last night until I had completed everything that I needed for facilitating the Board Retreat, printed the materials and made the Board Members packages.  By the time I got home last night all I had the energy for was to send a couple more work emails, pack my suitcase and scramble an egg to eat before I fell into bed. In fact, I was so exhausted that I even forgot to lock my door. Luckily I remembered about an hour after I got into bed and got up to lock it.

It is almost time to board so I will complete this post. I am not sure if I will have any opportunities to sit and write another post this weekend. When I am not facilitating the retreat, I will be in my room writing the Executive Reports to be printed and delivered at the AGM. Absolutely no rest for the wicked I say. Although I will get to relax some tomorrow evening as we are taking the board members for a cruise on the Chobe River so I will post photos if I get any good ones.

Have a great day everyone! While you are experience frost and cooler temperatures, I had  to remembered to pack only dresses and skirts for my return trip to Kasane where the forecast is sunny and 42 degrees.   Perhaps I can bottle some heat and send home to Canada!

Post Script:  Now I am sitting poolside at the Mowana while our rooms are being ready. We had a good flight on a non-tiny plane and I was dressed in a long sun dress so I was ready for the wave of heat that would hit me when I disembarked from the plane. The long sun dress and pata patas (slip on sandals) on my feet made it a little difficult getting into and out of the Safari vehicle that transported us from the airport to the Mowana Resort. We did have our choice of van or safari vehicle and it was lovely to be sitting out in the open with the wind in my hair. Okay, now I have to get back to work. I have press releases to review and lots of other work to do.

 

On the move!

Government enclave parking

Yesterday morning after our team meeting was spent on the move. Nono and I headed out to tackle as many items on our to-do list for the BONASO Annual General Meeting as possible. Time is quickly passing and there is so much to do.

Nono is my miracle. She knows the media and she can get the entry into government that I am use to doing back home in Canada. Proof of her exceptional powers are in the picture above which I had to take without anyone seeing me do it. We were parked in the Ministerial Parking lot at the Government Enclave during the President’s State of Nation Address. Cheeky aren’t we?  This parking lot is definitely not open to the commoner, yet Nono was able to drive right in and park so that we could gain access to the Minister of Health, HIV/AIDS and Poverty, Minister Dr Gloria Somolokae. There were at least 8 police officers just to my right when I took this photo from the car. And as the picture shows the Minister’s vehicles are lined up just waiting for them to emerge and be whisked away. Just like Parliament Hill except the majority of the Minister’s cars here are white, not black.

And today, I took a picture of one of my favourite sights in Gaborone! I can drive by this sign without erupting into giggles and neither can anyone else who happens to be driving with me. In fact, Tabuche has even gone out of his way just to drive by it and giggles almost as much as I do:

I could never take lessons here!!!!!

We never see anyone but the instructors here, maybe nobody is quiet enough to take their lessons here 😉

 

How I spent the weekend!

Well, it is late on Sunday afternoon and I just came out of the pool where I spent a relaxing hour floating around sipping the drink that Jetske prepared for me. Now before you jump to the conclusion that I have been lazing around all weekend think again!!!! I actually went into the office early this morning to work and did not get home until 3 pm so there ;-

As we lead up to the Board Retreat later on this week in Kasane and then the Annual General Meeting November 15 and 16 I am on overdrive. In fact I am right back into old habits of going to bed to sleep for a couple of hours and than getting up and working during the wee hours of the morning. There is so much to be done that if I actually stop to think about it, I will feel totally overwhelmed. But luckily Oscar and Lawrence, my knight in shining armour have come through for me once again. On Friday, Nono (Nothando) was hired to help pull the AGM together. She is amazing and I thank my lucky stars for her. She is a consultant and specializes in organizing events and communications so she not only understands when I ask for something specific but she can also make it happen, which I can’t yet! The media and protocol system is very different here and although I know exactly what I want I am clueless as to how to make it happen. Nono (don’t you love her name..wish it was mine) does!

Also on Friday, Oscar and I did a little road trip to Mochudi, a large village about 45 minutes drive north of Gaborone to visit the District Aids Coordination office.

Downtown Mochudi
A vibrant downtown

I loved this village and while we were there we met some interesting American Peace Core volunteers…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday morning I headed out bright and early to be picked up by Tabuche to be dropped off downtown at Main Mall for the launch of the UNFPA 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. My new friend Neo is a survivor and was part of the program which included a hiphop singer, poetry, testimonials, drama productions. The theme of the day was eye opening because the statistics are that two out of every three women in Botswana have experienced GBV – that is mind boggling.

Following this event I was off to meet Stephanie, another ODA WUSC volunteer who is also on leave from the Federal Government – Dept of Health. We had a lovely lunch together at Riverwalk Mall than I went off to grocery shop before Tabuche picked me up again. The whirlwind continued as I came home and immediately began to prepare dessert for our Peter’s Place weekly Saturday evening gathering. Peter, himself prepared our main meal, I made an apple crisp and we finished off toasting marshmallows soaked in a cream liquor over a fire off of the verandah.  Yummy!!

So after a social day it was okay to head off to the office this morning knowing that I would try to be home in time to jump in the pool for a swim and a float on the inflatable. Now it is time to head inside to fix my supper and prepare for the insanely busy week ahead of me. Please be patient if I am not posting often over the next two weeks but there is no rest for the wicked!