Today was a day of two firsts for me!

This morning a friend gave me the most unique compliment that I think that I have ever had! She told me that I was just like a chocolate bar, both good and bad! Pretty much sums me up I think.

The second ‘First’ of the day came when Lawrence took me to a completely new area of Gaborone that I had not been too. Although it is not that far away, I just have never gone…it was the BBS mall.

And of course, I left my very visible mark on the place within a span of less than 20 minutes including have a fight with Lawrence in the middle of a grocery store. See I was getting a few groceries while he was ordering and waiting for his lunch. Typical of me, I was carrying a basket on one arm that was full of heavy items while carrying a large jug of water in the other (made necessary by our nightly water cuts). Well Mr. Zimbabwe was attempting to be a gentleman and wanted to carry my basket for me. I literally fought him off! By-standers couldn’t understand what was going on.

Oh, by the way, he eventually won the battle and carried the damn basket. He claims that it was his best win over me! Score one for Lawrence!

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Happy Belated International Women’s Day!

Erin, Cheryl & Sheila
Erin, Cheryl & Sheila

International Women’s Day is one of my favourite days of the year! This year was no exception. Although the events that  I attended were held on Saturday, March 9 instead of Friday, March 8th it was no less of a celebration. As you can see from the picture above I also spent the day in the company of women who are both my friends and whom I admire very much!

The event that we participated in was organized by BONELA, The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS, which is a non-governmental organisation committed to integrating an ethical, legal and human rights approach into Botswana’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The focus of this year’s event was an International Celebration of Sex Workers Rights Day and International Women’s Day.

The objective of the event was to raise public awareness on issues that affect women who engage in commercial sex work and those who are involved in same sex relationships, ultimately empowering women on their Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. The event also promoted access to justice and healthy lifestyle among the vulnerable groups including HIV and STI Prevention. Out of all the International Women’s Day events that I had to choose from attending, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the one I wanted to celebrate.

The day began with a march at 6:00 am and followed with a full slate of activities up to about 1:00 pm. The main activities took place in a tent at Main Mall in the centre of Gaborone. Every one of the human rights events that I have attended since arriving in Gabs almost six months ago, which has been held in a tent at Main Mall has exceeded my expectations. Yesterday’s event was no different. The tent was packed with both women and men! There was music galore, dramatic performances by incredibly talented artists, moving and motivating speakers and a sense of celebration and unity which quite frankly I have never felt at similar events back home in Canada.

My friend Erin, who role in the Maatla Project is a combination of ODA (Organizational Development Advisor) and Gender Advocate performed during the event. She sang one of her own songs honouring women’s day and read/sang the following poem:

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou

All in all it was a perfect day!

I can’t even stay cranky!

Okay, it is rather annoying when you truly want to be cranky and two men in your life simply refuse to allow you to be. I started off the day very cranky and happy to be so. You see, it is very rare that I am actually truly cranky. On those rare occasions, I really like to savour the moments. Unfortunately, it was really hard to maintain a good crankiness today thanks to Buche and Lawrence.

Of course on the way to work, Buche just wouldn’t let me sit beside him without laughing. I tried not to but his sense of humor matches mine so well it was impossible not to laugh several times. Once at work, Lawrence who has never seen me truly cranky before could not stand it either. So while we were working on something that should have made me even crankier…it did…but he, of course, made me laugh too. His antics today included promising to equip me with an electronic sensor to censor me (see my earlier post today) and then this afternoon, getting lost on the campus of UB (University of Botswana, which a lovely but huge campus).

In fact, if I had my way, poor Lawrence would still be wandering around the campus lost. I had wanted to patiently wait in the car and savour my crankiness while Lawrence sought out the office of BONASO’s Vice Chair, who is a lecturer on campus. Instead, Lawrence insisted that I accompany him in what turned out to be a very long search for Block 321. The campus, of course is like the rest of Gaborone and not laid out in any logical manner making finding a specific building incredibly difficult. Having finally found the correct building, poor Lawrence never would have found his way back to the car if I wasn’t with him to show him the way. Fortunately I am blessed with the skill of having been somewhere once then able to find my way back. A very helpful skill to have here in Botswana. And one, that poor Lawrence is definitely not blessed with. In fact, at one point if I could have made a run for it, I would have left him wandering around 🙂 Perhaps if he had of worn his new safari hat it would have assisted him.

Then this afternoon, Buche was not to be out done. As Lawrence and I had many errands to run after working straight through lunch, he decided to take me for lunch in his brand new (second-hand) car once I found it again for him on the UB campus. Now this is a lovely silver Mercedes and I have been teasing Buche about it since Lawrence got it last week. I have to admit that I have very expensive taste in cars. In fact, I love the really expensive sports cars and am always pointing them out on my drive with Buche telling him we need to get one. His Toyota Corolla has seen better days but still a good car. As we both like to drive a little faster than most, an upgrade would be nice. 

Given that our errand running was taking so long late this afternoon, I knew that I would not make it back to the office in time to meet Buche for 5 pm pick up. So Lawrence graciously offered to drive me home in the silver bullet as I call it. Of course I needed to text Buche to tell him not to pick me up. Well by the time our conversation was done I was laughing so hard that it was impossible to be cranky. It seems that I bring out a whole other side of the calm, quiet, religious Buche. Not even Lawrence could believe the messages that I was getting from the Saint.

Here is our conversation so you can laugh too:

Cheryl: Lawrence is taking me home in his nice car. Might refuse to ride in yours in the morning.

Buche: You ll walk

Cheryl: I’ll demand a refund

Buche: I’ll come & u refuse. No refund

Cheryl: Ha! Cheeky aren’t you. You would miss me.

Buche: If I want to see u i’ll come to your house or office

Cheryl: I will lock you out!

Buche: Which means u won’t miss me

Cheryl: Driving in his car now, much better than yours

Cheryl: ok, I will miss you [I just had to have the last word!]

Just what I need, a driver with attitude. And this was the calmest, quietest, Saintly man I had ever met when I first sat in his front seat five and 1/2 months ago. Where did that man, the Saint, go? Obviously, the Cheryl effect is having an impact. Poor man! I believe my friend Andrew said that Africa would never be the same…it certainly applies to Buche.

I am afraid of what tomorrow morning will bring so wish me luck. I have no idea what payback will come from the Saint:)

As you can see, it is rather hard to be cranky with two men who are so darn amusing and intent on making me laugh. I am still smiling and this morning I never would have thought that would be possible. Not even a power outage all evening and sweating in the dark could diminish my smile thanks to the antics of these two wonderful men! How does a girl get so lucky?

Lawrence has really done it this time!

My friend and colleague Lawrence is really in hot water this time!

This morning while discussing my trip home with him to Zimbabwe for Easter, he was telling me how he would even take me to meet his grannies in their rural village. Of course they do not speak English and I have no ability to converse with them other than through Lawrence or a translator.

Which according to Lawrence is a good thing! Otherwise he wants to get one of those electrical shock devices to attach to me so that when I say something that I shouldn’t, he can shock me and I will shut up!

Now to be fair, he has a point. None of you heard what I did on our road trip. Let’s just say that we picked up a passenger which I totally forgot was in the back seat of the truck and I made reference to part of my anatomy that polite Motswana girls wouldn’t. Oblivious to the passenger in the back seat I also could not see her reaction. Lawrence could! and still didn’t shut me up!

So this time around he is planning for all contingencies. At least he is still not only happy to travel with me but also introduce me to all of his family and his wonderful country, Zimbabwe. Guess I can’t be too mad at him!

And maybe he will even leave me in the bush in Zimbabwe! That would be something to look forward to….

 

Water Issues!

As the North American Continent moves towards Spring, those of us on the other side of world are heading into Autumn. The days are definitely getting shorter and the nights cooler.

Jetske has been tormenting me for two weeks that she will be closing up the pool very soon. Yesterday for the first time I actually got chilly by staying in the pool too long and the sun was disappearing so I can now see her point. However, I don’t know what I will do with my calming dips in the pool.

The rainy season is almost over….I haven’t even had the time to do another rain dance although Tabuche instructed me that I needed to do one every day! With the end of rainy season, comes the end of the possibility of the end to the drought we are currently experiencing.

Yesterday the Water Utilities Corporation delivered the following notice to residents:

The Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) would like to inform residents of Gaborone City, and surrounding areas (Mochudi, Gabane, Kumakwane, Mogoditshane, Tlokweng, Lobatse) and their surrounding areas that it is currently experiencing water supply challenges. Due to this, they will experience low pressure to no water at all indefinitely. 

Residents are advised to wisely use the little available water. 

So there you have it – on going power issues, no internet connection at my office for the past 7 days, and now limited or no water. Would I change coming here, definitely not! But the bush is looking more and more appealing every day!

 

 

Happy Birthday to Tabuche!

Today is my patron Saint’s birthday!

What does one give a Saint as a present? The planning for his birthday actually began a couple of months ago. Thanks to the wonderful assistance of my parents items that I needed to create a wonderful present for him were sent from Canada. All I needed was the cooperation of the “Gods” so that the parcel from Canada would arrive on time.

Both Tabuche and I eagerly awaited the arrival of this particular package as I disclosed to him about 6 weeks ago what I had planned as his very special birthday present. He was as excited about it as I was. So last week I had a flurry of mail arrive which in and of itself creates excitement in my life. Somehow there is nothing like getting mail, whether it is a simple card or a package containing some special gift. They are all wonderful to get and the notification that I have mail waiting sets off a wonderful feeling of anticipation and excitement to see just who it is from and what it is.

I digress. Sorry!

So last week I received three different notifications that I had mail waiting for me. Luckily one of those pieces of mail was the eagerly awaited care package from my parents. And what a goody bag it was. Not only did it contain the precious items needed to make my Saint’s birthday present but it also contained goodies for me! Along with a bag of the highly anticipated Chocolate Mint Rooibos tea from David’s Tea (it is so yummy and worth waiting for!!!) the package also contained my very favourite chocolate treat – York Peppermint Patties.

It was Lawrence who took me to the parcel outlet of the Gaborone post office to collect this oversize parcel. Having retrieved the said parcel while he was officially taking care of some business at FHI I retreated to our project truck to open it. Which was no mean feat as my mother had securely taped it shut so well that without scissors it took a whole lot of will power and determination to crack that sucker open. Never one to lack either of those attributes and a heavy dose of persistence, the box was eventually partially opened.

Shifting through the contents and a heady sense of exhilaration I first made sure that what I needed for Tabuche’s present was in fact inside. Then I just couldn’t resist….I just had to eat a york peppermint patty.  There was no waiting.  No sooner had I opened it and popped it into my mouth and was savouring every second of it melting in my mouth than I was caught red handed. Sitting in my seat, no doubt looking like the cat that swallowed the canary, Lawrence swung into the truck’s driver seat. One look at my face and he immediately knew that I was guilty of something! I had no choice but to disclose my source of addiction and ultimate pleasure…York Peppermint patties.

With my mouth still somewhat occupied, I attempted to explain to Lawrence my source of happiness. Well, there was nothing else that I could do but actually share one with him. Now this took a great deal of effort on my part. I absolutely love York Peppermint patties and they are no where to be found on the Continent of Africa so now that I have a small supply it actually took great charity on my part to share. However, I did ensure that Lawrence understood that he would get one and “one only”. My extent of sharing stopped at that! Unlike Tabuche, I am certainly not a Saint. So now Lawrence knows the secret to improving my mood (just feed me one peppermint patty and I am instantly happy) and that even my love and adoration has limits.

So what was the other contents of these wonderful care package that held the secret ingredients for Tabuche’s present! Well, it was chocolate chips of course. Another item that can not be found on the Continent of Africa. Thanks to my wonderful parents, I was able to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies last night. Tabuche has never in his life tasted chocolate chip cookies but he was been eagerly anticipating trying them for the past six weeks. I hope that he enjoys them as they were baked with lots of care,took the cooperation of people from two continents to make along with the use of Peter and Jetske’s kitchen.

So Happy Birthday Tabuche! You truly deserve a birthday present that took lots of planning, the luck of the “gods” and helping hands to make. It is my small way of saying thank you for taking such good care of me each and every day, including making me laugh on a daily basis even when you know that I am frustrated beyond belief. You make my drive to and from work along with other outings truly special times for me and no combie ride could ever replace my getting to sit next to you every day!

The Gods must be Crazy

If you enjoyed my posts about the bush, I have another treat for you. Peter has recommended this movie which you can watch on youtube. It is about a bushman in the Kalahari finding a coke bottle and the adventure that it brings.

 

The Gods must be Crazy –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3iTMzLOATs

 

Movie Description:

Kalahari bushman Xi (played by genuine bushman N!xau) is as surprised as the rest of his tibe when a Coke bottle, thrown from a passing plane, lands in the middle of their village. This “gift from the gods” proves to be a mixed blessing when the tribesmen fight over it and eventually use it for a weapon. To keep peace in the village, Xi is assigned to take the bottle to “the end of the earth” (actually a lush valley) and throw it back to the gods. Meanwhile, back in urbanized South Africa, Kate Thompson (Sandra Prinsloo) leaves her office job in the city to take a job teaching Kalahari children; once in the wilderness, she finds herself constantly bumping into clumsy microbiologist Andrew Steyn (Marius Weyers). And meanwhile, maniacal Sam Boga (Louw Verwey) is leading a military coup against the government.

 

Kalahari Road Show Pictures

To end this series of posting here are a few other pictures from the Lawrence and Cheryl Road Show to the Bush! Hope you enjoy!

Which is the hunter????
Which is the hunter????
A Dung Beetle in Action
A Dung Beetle in Action
Beautiful view
Beautiful view

 

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Driving through the Kalahari
Driving through the Kalahari

 

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Almost Home
Almost Home

 

Thirsty?
Thirsty?

 

Hope you enjoyed the Kalahari road show!  

The Bush!

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Due to power failures, dodgy internet connections, extreme socializing and capacity building forces of nature have kept me from posting all of my photos from my time in the bush. So in a desperate bid to get them on line with still incredibly dodgy internet, here we go!

As I noted in an early blog, I was staying at the original Bush Man Lodge in Ghantsi (Ghantzi – take your pick). After two days of serious work my reward was a swim in the pool and after I was cooled off and relaxed my own private tour of the game reserve with the chief Bush Man.

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What an experience it turned out to be. Leaving the lodge at 4:30 in still sizzling heat, we set off to drive the reserve. My guide told me how 15 years ago he had personally overseen the cutting of the roads (pathways really) that we were traversing throughout the reserve. Although he had just driven almost of the reserve the day before he was constantly encountering crater like holes in his precious roads made over the past 24 hours by hungry aardvarks.

In their pursuit of bugs to eat, they are capable of digging incredibly large holes in a relatively short period of time. I was also told that once the aardvarks abandon their holes when the bug supply runs out, the cheetahs are quick to move in. These large holes and tunnels are the perfect place for the cheetahs to rest out of the blistering heat of the sun until sunset and time to prowl. Unfortunately, we did not actually encounter a cheetah although I prayed fervently to. My guide was quick to reassure me that in his more than 15 years of living on the reserve he has yet to actually see any of the cheetahs although others have had the delight of an unexpected glimpse.

For the sceptics out there who are questioning whether the cheetahs and leopards actually exist on the reserve, yes they do! If they are regularly seen how can they be sure? Well,I am sure because I could easily hear one at night. Plus, there is currently cheetah research taking place on the reserve and their pictures have been captured at night through the use of infra-red technology.

During the three hours and half hours that I spent during my own personal tour of the bush I didn’t actually see any other species of animals than I had already seen coming regularly to the watering hole outside of my room. Due to the incredible heat many of the more elusive animals such as the zebras, giraffes and others were seeking shade from the sun even though we were out past sunset. Even our visits to the two other watering holes located on the reserve didn’t turn up any new sights for me, which is typical of a game drive. Some days you see every animal imaginable. The very next day you might see zero. That is the joy of the wild. You (not even my expert tracker) can predict where or when the game will put in an appearance. It is what makes a sighting all the more sweet!

Solar power assist to keep the watering holes full.
Solar power assistance to keep the watering holes full.

But the highlight of my tour was getting to spend quality of time with a wise and wonderful bushman who was more than happy to answer every one of my fifty thousand questions. He even took me on my own personal bush walk explaining to me how the bush man can survive within this incredibly terrain. In fact, he proudly showed me how you can actually find everything that you need for survival within an incredibly small area.

Welcome to the Bush!
Welcome to the Bush!

 

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Our bush walk even included a tour of a bush man camp site – I really want to come and stay here for a few nights!

 

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Bush Hut
Bush Hut

 

Less rough bushman huts were also located very close to the lodge for those not willing to sleep so far away from any amenities although they are no more protected from wildlife visiting during the middle of the night.

 

 

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Bush hut with amenities
Bush hut with amenities

 

Not really roughing it
Not really roughing it

 

Inside the bush hut
Inside the bush hut

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