Mokoroing we go!

Following an entire night long hippo party taking place in our front yard/lagoon – there was a herd of twenty of them who splashed, sang and frolicked all night long, thank you very much! If you have never heard hippos singing it is a sound not to be missed, although it will keep you awake at night. To be fair, there were lots of others guilty of violating the sound curfews including elephants, jackals, hyenas and big cats. But who wants to tell them to hold the noise down? Not me for sure!

Hippo Party Land
Hippo Party Land

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Following our wake up tea and coffee ensuite in our tent and gathering for a light breakfast in the main lodge, it was time to venture out into the site of last night’s party as the sun was coming up.

Our morning activity was to explore the water ways right off our camp site in the Okavango’s main mode of transportation, the Mokoro. The mokoro is a dugout canoe which is about  20 feet (6 meters) in length and normally crafted from the trunks of trees which have been hollowed out by hand. Although now the government is promoting the use of fibreglass Mekoros so that there is less strain on the tree population in the Delta.

Our transport awaits
Our transport awaits

Mekoros are used by many of the local people of the Okavango for traversing and fishing the channels. They are now one of the iconic symbols of the Delta and are a popular way for guests at camps to explore the Okavango while on safari. Traditionally the mokoro transports two people along with a poler. The poler stands at the back and uses a pole to propel the boat forward with a long pole called a ngashi. It is amazing how silent these boats move and how quickly! But one had to wonder who would get the right away if we encountered one of the “hung over” hippos among the reeds.

Getting settled for our Mokoro trip
Getting settled for our Mokoro trip
Heading out
Heading out

The beauty of being on the water among the lily pads and reeds was incredible!

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Lily pads and touch me nots
Lily pads and touch me nots
I think a hippo is hiding in there
Playing hide and seek among the reeds

I tried kissing this guy but he didn’t turn into my handsome prince but it was worth a shot!

My handsome prince
My handsome prince

The perspective from being so low down was amazing…

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Major who is poling needs to duck
Major who is poling needs to duck
Just one of the beautiful water lilies that we paddled by
Just one of the beautiful water lilies that we paddled by
Peek a boo!
Peek a boo!

 

Termite Island
Termite Island

After a couple of hours of silently or not so silently moving around the waterways with Major providing us with all of the fact about local flora, fauna and wildlife it was time to stop for a “comfort break” – a trip into the bushes to relieve full bladders and our mid morning snack! I told you it was an eating safari too!

We stopped on the other side of this termite mound and stretched our legs while the polers/trackers set up our morning tea/coffee break.

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Our morning stop also included some fun including posing with a giraffe skull

 

Giraffe skull
Giraffe skull

 

But soon it was time to get back in our mokoros and start the trek back to camp but first we paid a closer visit to a friend who joined us for our morning break.

Let's hope he likes having his picture taken
Let’s hope he likes having his picture taken

 

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A sea of water lilies
A sea of water lilies

 

Beautiful grasses waving above our heads
Beautiful grasses waving above our heads

 

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Heading home
Heading home

 

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Traffic jam on Hippo Highway
Traffic jam on Hippo Highway

 

Land in sight
Land in sight

 

Back at Camp Pom Pom
Back at Camp Pom Pom

Once we were safely back on land it was time to eat again! It was now just after 11 am and after being out on the water since before 7 am the amazing culinary staff of Camp Pom Pom had a wonderful brunch just waiting for our arrival.

With full bellies from brunch it was back to our tents and a couple of hours of relaxing before we headed back out for our afternoon game drive.

 

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Safari time at Camp Pom Pom

Safariing is hard work! Now granted all you have to do is get dressed properly, make sure that you have visited the loo and show up on time, it still really hard work.

I have been on numerous game drives since coming to Botswana last September but I have never actually been on safari before. Luckily, I had a wonderful introduction to it at Camp Pom Pom. As I mentioned before, we completely lucked out with our guide, Rams and tracker, Major.

The happy trio of Rams, me and Major relaxing during Sundowner time on Safari
The happy trio of Rams, me and Major relaxing during Sundowner time on Safari

Rams, as I noted earlier, was a sweetheart who shares many similarities with Buche, including driving styles and went where others feared to tread…including Buche, who was dismayed when I showed him these pictures,

Did I sign up for a water safari?
Did I sign up for a water safari?
Is this a Safari truck or a boat?
Is this a Safari truck or a boat?

So while Rams navigated us around land, water, mud, airstrips and just about anywhere else you could throw in, Major spent his time amusing us and being on the look out for wildlife.

Major's winning smile
Major’s winning smile

Major also has other claims to fame. Check out his singing on this YouTube video posted by a previous camper http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHSvKoUFd0U

With these two capable gentlemen taking care of us and catering to all of our needs, we happily set out for our first game drive after a huge brunch and a siesta. They don’t call this an eating safari for nothing!

Shortly after leaving camp we crossed Pom Pom International Bridge and let’s just say that Cheryl almost made history and became famous

Pom Pom International Bridge
Pom Pom International Bridge

While this bridge is remarkable in its construction having been built by the staff of the Camp Pom Pom and capable of withstanding a huge heavy safari vehicle stopping mid way on it so that the wildlife and birds can be viewed, it is a bit of a rough ride. Being a short, round bouncy person, I found it a bit of a challenge to not bounce right out of the safari truck straight down into the swamps and wetlands joining the birds, crocs and fishes. When I queried Rams if he had ever lost a guest out of the truck, he prompted responded no but figured that I might be his first! In that case, I would become famous and perhaps they would even rename the bridge after me 🙂

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So with me still safely in the truck and Rams prepared to check his rearview mirror every so often to ensure that I was still on board, we set out to find some wildlife.

It didn’t take long to start spying lots of great game

Elephants galore
Elephants galore

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Even when there wasn’t any game in sight the scenery was beautiful

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Impala bum view
Impala bum view

 

In my opinion, ugly birds!
In my opinion, ugly birds!

 

up close and personal with the ugly bird family
up close and personal with the ugly bird family

During our drive, Rams and Major discovered very fresh leopard tracks so we were soon on the hunt for her.

Dedicated trackers checking the leopard tracks
Dedicated trackers checking the leopard tracks

 

What we did find were these beauties

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With the sun going down it was time for “sundowners”, an African term for drinks at sunset

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and heading back to camp for the evening where we spent the evening on an eating safari and relaxing around the campfire

our candle lit dining room
our candle lit dining room

With full bellies it was soon time to be escorted back to our tent for the night so that everyone could be well rested for the next day’s adventures. Once night had fallen on camp no guests were allowed to walk alone with out a guide or tracker to escort them as the likelihood of meeting an elephant on the pathway to the tents was incredibly high.

Elephant highway
Elephant highway

So safely escorted home it was time to put on the thermal underwear and climb into bed as the morning activities started bright and early with wake up at 6:00 am with the delivery of coffee and tea to the tent! Now that is service!

 

Land of the Giants????

My grandmother use to ask me when I was younger if I was a pygmy. Well I am not but……

I am only a couple of inches above 5 feet tall and proud of it!

However, I did feel a little shorter than usual at Camp Pom Pom thanks to my new friend Max:

Max and me

 

I have always been partial to tall men but let me tell you that I have never had one this tall before! And when Baloo came to join us for a picture, well I wasn’t sure if the camera would even capture me at all!

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Max is a guide at Camp Pom Pom and has become one of my new friends. He has even promised to come visit me here in Gabs so we can go dancing together. Although our blossoming friendship hit a few snags along the way which had nothing to do with our height differences.

It seems that animals aren’t the only ones who are territorial in this stretch of the wilderness.

Upon arrival at Camp Pom Pom, everyone is assigned a guide and tracker who serve as your own personal concierges for your entire stay. I was lucky (but maybe not for them) to be assigned to Rams as my guide and Major, as my tracker. Rams turned out to be my Bush equivalent of Buche. How does a girl get so lucky??? While I only had three days with him our friendship doesn’t end just because I had to come back to Gabs. I am positive that Rams and his family will be coming to visit me in Gabs where I can’t wait to introduce him to Buche. I also have an invitation to visit them at their home in Maun. He truly is a wonderful man and I am so glad that I got to spend time with him. You will be hearing a few Rams stories as I publish my swamp blogs.

Major, well he was something special that is hard to capture into mere words. Part charmer, part goof, part tracker/poler extraordinaire he certainly provided an amusement factor for the entire three days that we were in camp. The first afternoon that I met himMajor, I also met Max and enjoyed a serious amount of good nature flirting when I could catch his eye way up there. So while Max and I were having fun it seems that Major had other plans.

Like the territorial beasts that he tracks, Major decided that he didn’t want Max encroaching on his territory. It didn’t matter that there was a certain young Australian member of our safari party that singularly caught his eye and attention. His on-going rivalry with “Mad Max” meant that Max wasn’t allowed to have any fun with me at all! Or so he thought….

I have it on good authority that a smack down took place in the employee quarters that first evening where, in Setswana, Max was told emphatically to leave me alone. Ah, someone should have warned Major that I have a mind of my own and no threats can convince me otherwise!  When I noticed that my new friend was keeping a wide berth when we were all in the main lodge it was pretty easy to figure out the problem. Let’s just say that Major was made to eat a little crow when all was said and done. However, he also earned my friendship and adoration so all is well that ends well.

It just goes to show that even in the middle of the bush I simply have a way of causing chaos. But it is nice to know that even bush men aren’t immune to my charm 😉

Camping in the Bush

Safariing is serious business in Botswana. Due to the vast expanse of wilderness and wildlife throughout the country it is a tourism industry’s dream. However, the government carefully and brilliantly regulates the industry so that it is eco-tourism at it’s best. The main aim of the industry is to provide limited access to the natural bounty that Botswana offers while providing employment and economic benefits to local communities.

Although Safari lodges are plentiful across the country giving you ready access to all of the main areas of natural beauty and wildlife, these lodges are built to prevent leaving any permanent impact on the eco-system they inhabit. Lodges never house more than 8 or 9 units for guests. All of the food is prepared on site using foods readily available where possible and I have yet to have a terrible meal in any of these places. Local residents fill the staff positions where possible. All in all I believe that the government has certainly gotten this sector of the industry right.

Camp Pom Pom certainly has gotten it right! Other than the Bushman Lodge in Ghantz nothing else can top my experience at this camp. Just when I think that I simply can not top my last wonderful experience along comes a whole new adventure that whisks me away to a land of happiness that I didn’t think was possible.

This camp is located on it’s own section of island in the middle of the Okavango Delta. It is a private concession camp which means that the land is leased from the government and all of the animals and wildlife who live there roam absolutely free. The camp is smack dab in the wetlands and is surrounded by flood planes, grasslands and huge tracts of desert. Truly a magnificent sight to behold.

Upon arrival at Camp Pom Pom, we were greeted by female staff members singing as we drove up! Talk about a warm welcome. But this was just the tip of the iceberg on the hospitality that awaited us at Camp Pom Pom.

After receiving the security briefing  by Baloo, the Camp Manager who advised us that we were smack dab in the middle of the wilderness with wild animals roaming at will through the lodge, we were escorted to our home away from home Bush Tent #6.

 

Our tent was #6 off of Elephant Highway
Our Bush tent was #6 off of Elephant Highway

The lodging at Camp Pom Pom consist of nine permanent tents and a central lodge area where the meals are served and the bar is always open. Truly it is ! You are allowed, actually encouraged to walk up to the bar and accompanying fridge to help yourself whenever you want.  Your package includes everything at Camp Pom Pom and it isn’t just a safari of wildlife. It is an eating and drinking safari as well. But much more on that later.

Welcome to #6
Welcome to #6
Our front door
Our front door

 

It was more like a tent in the trees
It was more like a tent in the trees

 

Our tree tent deck
Our tree tent deck

And we even had a welcoming party just off of our deck upon our arrival

The Elephant Welcome wagon
The Elephant Welcome wagon

 

The view to the left of our deck
The view to the left of our deck

I don’t know about you but my experience tenting certainly has never included all of the amenities that this camp offered. While the tents are canvas with permanent structures holding them up, what is contained inside was beyond what I expected. In fact, I could camp every day if I had a tent like this to do it in!

Our relaxation area
Our relaxation area complete with chairs and a lamp run by solar generator and batteries

 

Pom Pom beds

 

We even had our own loo so no going in the bushes with the hippos and elephants
We even had our own loo so no going in the bushes with the hippos and elephants

AND

Pom pom showerbush shower our very own outdoor shower so that we could shower under the stars at night if we wanted!

 

 

Now can you see why I could camp all of the time with these amenities?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on my lion friends at Antelope Park

In my support of Antelope Park in Zimbabwe and their lion program, I signed up for their monthly newsletter. I just received the newsletter for June which contained an article about the two lions, Ruvubu and Rusizi, who I joined on a bush walk.

It seems that their predatory skills continued to improve and they actually made their very first kill while on a bush walk with guests. I have to admit that I am glad that I was not there to actually witness it…I am a softy and would have found it distressing even though it is totally natural.

Here is the description of the kill that the Antelope Park newsletter provided:

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The “R” Cubs Make their First Kill

Our 11-month-old cubs, Ruvubu and Rusizi, have made their very first kill while on a walk with guests.  Rusizi had her sights set on a herd of impala early on in the walk, while Ruvubu seemed a bit disinterested and wandered off in a different direction.  It wasn’t long before the unmistakable sounds of an animal in distress were heard from the direction that Ruvubu had just gone.  The handlers raced over in the direction of the commotion and found that Ruvubu had brought down a baby impala.  His sister, Rusizi, quickly joined him and together they gained valuable experience in bringing down prey.  These daily lion walks are an imperative part of the cubs’ development and give them the opportunity for invaluable lessons such as these. This is an exciting time for any young lions and at Antelope Park we offer a unique opportunity to share in this experience.  Come join us on a lion walk to see for yourself how our cubs are progressing!

Getting to Camp Pom Pom in the “Swamps”

Early Friday morning, Buche took Risa (a fellow Canadian) and I to the airport for our 7:00 am flight from Gabs to Maun. From there we were to fly into the Delta on a tiny bush plane for the start of our adventures in the Swamps.

My thanks goes out to the amazing work of the Safari Specialists (http://www.safarispecialists.net/index.html) who were able to pull together an incredible Okavango Delta safari package at the very last minute for Risa and I. Their services are the best that I have ever dealt with.

They are located in Maun, which means they are incredibly tapped into what is happening in the Delta, all of the many camps located in the Delta & area and where the game sightings are most active at any given time. They handle all of your tour details and give you such personal service it is hard to believe. In my books, they rate as a Five Star ***** tourist company that I would highly recommend if you are even contemplating a safari in Botswana or Southern Africa region. They truly are that good!

So in the capable hands of the Safari Specialists who personally met us at the Maun airport when we landed, we were then escorted to our own private bush plane for our flight out over the vast expanse of the Delta to our first safari camp, Camp Pom Pom.

The Okavango Delta is in the upper left section of the map
The Okavango Delta is in the upper left section of the map
Map of the Central Okavango camps
Map of the Central Okavango camps – Camp Pom Pom is located in NG 27 on it’s own little island

Getting to Camp Pom Pom was a great flight on Mack Airways with our own personal pilot, Andres.

Andres and our plane
w Andres and our plane
Our Mack Air bush plane
Our Mack Air bush plane

 

The Okavango is a unique ecosystem, an inland delta situated in the middle of the largest stretch of continuous sand in the world – the Kalahari basin. This wetland lies like an oasis in an otherwise inhospitable landscape. Were land and delta meet, a mosaic of pans, grasslands, forests and lagoons provide an extremely rich and diverse habitat where a multitude of animals and birds flourish. This wetland is one of the natural wonders of the world, and is a fragile ecosystem that remains one of the world’s least spoilt and most beautiful wildernesses, and is home to various unique species e.g. sitatunga antelope and red lechwe.

Aerial view of the Delta
Aerial view of the Delta

 

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After a 45 minute flight that provided an incredible panoramic view of the expanse of the Delta swamp, flood planes and grasslands, we landed on the Camp Pom Pom air strip.

Pom Pom International Airport
Pom Pom International Airport
Pom Pom International First Aid Station
Pom Pom International First Aid Station

 

You have gotta love this type of health care on an airstrip!

Adventures in the Swamp

Sorry for the absence but for the past couple of weeks there have been major internet issues in Gaborone thanks to a faulty telecommunications line which made posting as well as emailing impossible.

Then last week I had an opportunity to take a very last minute trip to an amazing part of Botswana, the Okavanga Delta or also referred to as the “Swamps”.

The Okavanaga Delta is one of the world’s largest inland deltas and it is considered to be one of the most beautiful places to visit in Botswana. It is a delta formed by the inflow of the Okavango River, (or the Kavango River as it is known in Namibia), into the arid sands of the Kalahari Desert. The Okavango River originates on the Benguela Plateua in the highlands of Angola, and the river flows through Namibia entering Botswana at the village of Mohembo. Within Botswana, the river follows a well-defined channel formed by two parallel faults ‘the Panhandle’ for a distance of ninety-five kilometres before fanning out to create a vast network of perennial swamps and floodplains.

Part of the Okavanga River system from the air
Part of the Okavanga River system from the air

Delta

The final decision to make a five day visit to the Delta took place Tuesday afternoon and we left bright and early Friday morning for fives days and four nights in the Swamps.

It was a trip, experience and adventures of a life time so hang on because I have a ton of pictures and stories to post now that I am back. I hope that you enjoy them!

The Art of Not Picking Up

Guys really!!!!  Has no one ever told you how not to behave to attract a woman????

Sometimes you really just make me shake my head in disbelief. And let me be absolutely clear that this behavior is indicative of men world wide and not just reserved for the men that I am encountering here in Botswana. Although the men here, with the exception of a very few who have personally stolen their way into my heart, are the worst at picking up that I have ever seen in my middle aged life!

On a daily basis I encounter various and sundry attempts by men who I think actually believe that they have a change of picking me up. A simple trip across death highway from my apartment to the Game City Mall usually nets me one to five pick up attempts. My mind doesn’t even want to contemplate what they think that they are going to do with me once they have successful lured me in. Although occasionally for a nanosecond as I am lugging incredibly heavy bags of groceries, I luxuriate in the thought of how nice it would be to actually take a pro-offered ride home. Then reality sets in.

While I am an old hat at ignoring come ons there are moments when some unique attempts can’t help but stand out. Last night sparked one those moments and thus this posting.

Yes, I was out dancing again! Having had such a fantastic time at the Calabash night club last Saturday dancing and bootie shaking, my friend Sheila who was not with me insisted on a chance to enjoy as well.  How could I resist?

Once again, I was the first one of the dance floor and within moments, just like last week, I was not alone for long. With the dance floor rapidly filling up I was never at a lost for one or more dance partners. Guys who had been attendance last Saturday night seemed to be thrilled that I had returned for a repeat performance. In fact, I am now positive that several guys actually were convinced that my return was directly a result of my desire to be swept up in their arms.

Although I had done nothing but actually return to the site of one of the best dance floors and DJs in Gaborone, several testosterone filled men sincerely believed they were the reason for my return. Fortunately for me, Sheila and I had not come alone without male accompaniment of our own. Flanked attentively by my Zimbabwean gentlemen, luckily I had nothing to worry about as they allow no guy to get within a foot or closer of me for any length of time unless I signaled that I am okay with it. You have got to love a personal bodyguard detail for which I am continually grateful for. Especially one comprised of such handsome gentlemen who love to dance as much as I do.

However, even thoroughly surrounded by my personal protection detail there were more guys than I can count willing to run the gauntlet and attempt to capture the crazy white woman burning up the dance floor. Frankly, I think that I need to hire a camera crew to actually film one of these evenings because it would make for hilarious reality television. There are those guys who think that they are being cool and simply dance their way into our dance group.

They come in with their cool moves (which sometimes aren’t nearly so cool as I am sure they believe in their minds). These guys often have staying power, hanging in there dancing in a way that can only be viewed as a male bird preening to attract the attention of the mate they have set their eye on. They continue to dance tenaciously on in the periphery of our group hoping to attract my attention. I have to admit that I admire their determination at times. In fact, these guys are not that bad except that some just go a little too overboard if they actually get a chance to dance with me. Let’s just say that personal space gets totally invaded and dance moves go from good to down right disgusting. Fortunately my dancing protection detail are never far away and always attentive so I am always safe from unwanted groping.

Ah, but the worst and therefore most hilarious pick up attempts are made by those who aren’t even dancing. These guys simply come straight onto the dance floor (you got to admire their determination) as I never leave it. They wade through the dancing throngs, come and simply plant themselves directly in front of me, which I have to admit is not an easy task for when I am dancing it is nonstop movement and I don’t stick to one tiny spot on a dance floor. These guys crack me up because they actually think that by simply bringing themselves to my attention by appearing before me that I am going to fall at their feet swept up in their magnificent maleness. Last night I was actually presented with a trio of three men at once attempting this maneuver. They appeared to be friends and I am not sure if they intended to share me or would have competed individually for my undivided attention should I decide to bestow it. In fact, my mind is still trying to figure out exactly what they hoped to achieve by presenting themselves to me in a non-dancing trio on the dance floor.

Guys, are there not some tips out there that you could read up on? Are you completely oblivious to what attracts a woman? Do you actually think that you are such a spectacular specimen of maleness that  a woman simply can’t resist you if she lays eyes on you? All I can say is that thanks to my higher standards and a wonderful protection detail I am in absolutely no danger of being swept off my feet and carried off into the sunset even if I was seeking some romance. But I am seriously considering a new business venture “Charm School” and lessons in successfully asking a girl out! It could be huge money making venture as it is sadly needed in this marketplace.

 

The pursuit of dance happiness

Well, I have done it again! And I really have achieved happiness

After swearing that I wasn’t going dancing this weekend, I went dancing Saturday night. And let’s just say that it was my second best night dancing here in Gaborone.

The afternoon started with a visit poolside with the Dingwa brothers, Lawrence & Lesley, and Chenai. The plan was concocted to attend the Alliance Française of Gaborone’s la Fête de la Musique, which was taking place that afternoon and evening at Botswanacraft.

The afternoon started with a visit poolside with the Dingwa brothers and Chenai. Once we had officially concocted our plans for attending the Fête de la Musique, I did a quick change into dancing outside suitable clothing. Our first stop was at Railpark Mall for Chenai to pick up jeans and top to wear as well.

Let me just say that shopping with the Dingwa brothers is certainly an experience. As one of those females that is does not enjoy shopping I tend to only hit the malls when I have a purpose/need to. However, as Lawrence always seems to manage with me,  my perspective has changed. Lesley deserves credit too! Both of these brothers have impeccable style but don’t tell them I said so.

While waiting for Chenai as she browsed and tried on jeans, I alternated between dancing around the aisles with Lesley to the music playing overhead to them selecting items that they thought would suit me. Truthfully I haven’t had this much fun shopping in a long while. Other than being caught enthusiastically dancing between the racks  in the Jet store no serious harm was done. And I had the delightful experience of being blinged out by the Dingwa brothers who chose and purchased a sparkly silver, feather and rhinestone necklace and silver bracelets to adorn me. Now I really was ready for a late afternoon and night of dancing!

But we had one more stop to make. Chenai needed to change into her new outfit so we made a quick pit stop in Block 9 at a fellow Zimbabwean’s house for her to change. And yet again, I left my distinctive trademark on the neighborhood. Our hosts were outside with great music playing on their car stereo. You guessed it, Cheryl just had to get the ball rolling with a dance pre-party. While that was not such a bad thing….the problem was that this house was situated at the end of the street in what would be considered an African cul-de-sac. Directly across from the yard that we were in were two Combi vehicles, their drivers and other men just hanging out. Guess who got a perfect view of the performance?

Once again I can only marvel at Lawrence’s continued commitment to be seen in public with me, let alone introducing me to his friends and families. Talk about a sucker for punishment.

But the night was just getting started. Off to Botswanacraft and the promise of 30 different musicians, bands and DJs awaited. Upon arrival we met by one of my favorite dance partner’s Richard (remember my dance fest at the wedding in Mochudi? https://cheryljdalziel.com/2013/04/11/my-saturday-in-mochudi/). Richard makes the perfect dance companion that is for sure! and he was about to earn a gold star for his efforts that night.

While la Fête de la Musique was great after several hours we were inspired to move on for more serious dancing leaving the crowd of hundreds behind for a more manageable dance floor. My hero Richard knew just the place, a little club near Broadhurst that truly delivered.

I can only say that my pursuit of happiness was answered a hundredfold. As Richard promised, the place was clean (even the toilets thank heavens!), the music was fantastic and a dance floor made for dancing. I was barely up the stairs when I burst onto the dance floor in full rocking mode – yes, the music was that good! Although I was the first person on the dance floor, I was by no means the only one. I was quickly joined by the other members of our gang.

What contributed to making this such a spectacular evening was the fact that I never once danced alone. In fact, I had the fun of multiple dance partners and let me tell you competition was fierce. What woman wouldn’t enjoy dancing with two or more handsome men at once. And dance I did. For an old white chick I held my own lasting on the dance floor as long as or longer than my dance partners who were mostly twenty and thirty year olds.

This night was also an epiphany for me. I will never again say that I am not a good dancer. My dance abilities have obviously improved vastly since my arrival in Botswana almost nine months ago. I am now confident that I can hold my own on the dance floor with my African friends. Several of my male dance partners complimented my dance abilities and coached me on new (and I might add sexy) dance moves. I was also complimented by several women who said they wanted to become my friend because I was so awesome. I also secretly enjoyed the moves of one woman in particular whose jealousy of me getting the attention of dancing with three or more young handsome men at once caused her to move in on our territory. Sadly for her she came up empty handed.

Never satisfied, I can’t wait to plan my next dance outing, which will have to include my usual dance companions Sheila and Erin, who sadly were not part of this weekend’s outing. Don’t worry ladies, there is more where that came from! The pursuit of dance happiness will never be completed but every moment is to be enjoyed!!! And now I know a good place to start the party…..

Happy Canada Day!

I was able to start my Canada Day celebration in Botswana with a steaming mug of “Oh Canada!” David’s Tea curtsy of my very thoughtful friend Mike. It is a little taste of Canada because it is rooibos tea that has been sweetened with maple syrup and sprinkled with delicious maple leaf candies. He included it in a wonderful care package that I received months ago so I had planned on saving some specially for today. Nothing says Canada like maple syrup!

While I might be far away from Canada and loving living in Africa, I will always be a Canadian. A former premier of Prince Edward Island, the land of my birth coined this phrase “I am an Islander first, Maritimer second and then a Canadian”.  And now I can add in an adopted African as well.

While my plans for Canada Day in Botswana are relatively quiet for me and involving relaxing in the afternoon sun poolside, today is also a holiday for some in Botswana as it is Sir Seretse Khama Day.

July 1 is the birthday of Sir Seretse Khama, the man who led the nation of Botswana out of colonialism and laid the foundation for a modern democracy in his country. Khama was born in 1921, when Botswana was still known as Bechuanaland, a British protectorate. He was the eldest son of Khama III, the kgosi or king of the Bamangwato people. Upon his father’s death, Seretse Khama became kgosi at the age of four, with his uncle, Tshekedi Khama, acting as his guardian and regent. Khama was educated at boarding schools in South Africa and began college there, but finished his education in England. It was there he met and married Ruth Williams, a white Englishwoman. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his home country with his wife.
The interracial marriage caused an outcry both among tribal leaders and the pro-apartheid leadership of Bechuanaland’s powerful neighbor, South Africa. Khama was able to win his own people over, but South African authorities were profoundly threatened by the marriage of a black tribal leader to a white woman. They stirred up a dispute with England regarding the legitimacy of Khama’s claims to chieftancy. Due to this pressure from South Africa, Khama and his wife were exiled to England in 1951, and the following year, this exile was declared permanent. By 1956, however, public outcry about the way they had been treated resulted in the couple’s return to Bechuanaland.
Khama formed the Bechuanaland Democratic Party and became the last colonial prime minister of Bechuanaland, serving in that post from 1965-66. He was also honored with knighthood in 1966. On September 30, 1966, Bechuanaland became the independent country of Botswana, with Khama as its president. He held this post until his death in 1980. When Botswana became independent, it was widely assumed the country would have to be dependent on one of its wealthier neighbors, for Botswana was so poor that its tax base seemed too small to support the country. Yet through Khama’s initiatives, Botswana was able to develop an independent, export-based economy.
Sir Seretse Khama Day is a national holiday, honored across Botswana as a day to remember Khama’s contributions to his homeland. In celebrations in Serowe, which is Botswana’s capital as well as Khama’s birthplace, people proceed from various points to the main town center, where musical and religious groups have gathered. Traditional dances, such as the tsutsube, are performed. Speeches and ceremonies are made at the city’s statue honoring Khama, and a wreath is laid at his grave in the royal cemetery.” taken from http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Botswana+Sir+Seretse+Khama+Day

So Happy Canada Day and Sir Seretse Khama Day everyone!