Well I have finally done it! I have pushed the Saint beyond his limits. But it was so much fun!
What have I done now to the Saint?
I tread where others fear to go…..an African father’s view on his daughter’s love life.
What this adventure confirmed for me that fathers are the same around the world.
Yesterday I was teasing the father/daughter Buche duo about how alike they really are. For the past few weeks, I have been threatening Buche with enrolling him in my friend Erin’s yoga class so that he can learn the benefits of deep breathing and patience. While I sincerely believe that he saves his road rants especially for me it is equally fun to make him practice deep breathing while we are driving. I just love to torment the man, sorry Mom I know I promised not too.
Well, yesterday I discovered that his daughter had a lot more in common with her father than I realized. We had arranged to meet and I must have received five text messages from her pre-our arrival to meet her. The last one coming just as we were pulling in the parking lot to which her father told me to not respond to her. So Nancy inherited her un-Saint like lack of patience from her father, as her mother is one of the nicest most serene women I know.
As the trouble maker that I am, I couldn’t resist having fun teasing both of them. And boy was it fun 🙂
But I really struck gold when Nancy and I were talking about her impending weekend trip to Kasane with a girlfriend – she is getting to stay at my favorite resort, the Mowana. I, of course had to give her the names of some of my male friends in the area. Then I explained to her father how they were all nice young men who would love to take his beautiful daughter out on a date. Pay dirt!!!!!
It seems that Saint Papa prefers for his little girl to stay a little girl for just a while longer. While Nancy giggled and absorbed her father’s reactions, I worked poor Buche into such a lather until he firmly declared that if his twenty year old daughter was going to start dating now, he was going to move to his house in the village. End of story! No, actually the Saint’s last word was that she would be only allowed to date and consider getting married once she turns 25.
All in all, it was amazingly entertaining time. I didn’t know that I could get his blood pressure to rise so high. Now I know for certain that he is counting down the days until he delivers me to the airport even though he declares not. But who could blame him? 😉
For living in a totally land locked country and being a water lover, I seem to have the inordinate luck of spending lots of quality time along side of bodies of water here in Botswana.
Saturday was one of those days were I spent pretty much the whole day and evening at Gaborone’s waterfront. Although whether you can entirely describe it as a waterfront or not is open for debate.
A couple of weeks ago, Erin informed Sheila and I that there was going to be an African Market on the Gaborone waterfront. My initial response was great! but does Gaborone have a waterfront and where is it? Not even Buche had heard of an area in Gabs called the waterfront.
Being a professional taxi driver you would think that he would immediately know where it was and how to get there. After all makes a living driving confused foreigners around Gabs. In fact his rather dry reply to my query about the location of the waterfront netted this response from Buche, “you are always on the go, know everybody and find out about events and places I have never heard of”. Gee, thanks Buche! I think?
So with both my curiosity peaked and my competitive nature setting in so that I could discover exactly where the waterfront in question was before Buche, I set out to beat the Saint Buche in uncovering the location. Fortunately, my friend Erin made it painfully easy for me but gave me lots of opportunity to lord it over Buche 🙂 She was able to forward me this poster advertising the event which provide the exact location of our destination.
So having beat the Saint in figuring out the exact location I got very excited about visiting the waterfront and the African market. However there was a slight moment of trepidation following our conversation on Friday afternoon as the waterfront looked to be smack dab in the middle of “crazy” cow country. But after a moment rational thought took over and I felt confident that as a long resident on a dairy farm I could confidently handle a “crazy” cow if I needed to.
So bright and early Saturday morning Buche came to pick me up to deliver me to the Bojanala Water Front and the African market. Might I also add that he was also the recipient of homemade blueberry muffins which were suppose to be his family’s snack for Church on Sunday. Although later in the day when I saw him, I found out that the muffins had no chance of making it to church as all family members had rapidly consumed them. At least the Saint had actually shared them with his wife and daughter or he would have been in big trouble.
Now back to the waterfront….as we drove into the bush as Buche calls it…something that we do argue about. He defines the bush as no city lights or noise. I define the bush as remote, wild and full of wild animals, “crazy” cows don’t count 🙂
As we drove past Sanitas, the garden center and restaurant that I frequent as sense of excitement grew. I always loving discovering new places, especially ones on the water. However, I was slightly disappointed once I actually arrived. Just like it is pictured above the waterfront is simply a man made body of water that is so closely located to Riverwalk Mall as the crow flies you really can’t call it either bush or waterfront.
However the African Market was far from disappointing.
It was jammed packed with fantastic stalls featuring colourful African art, clothing, footwear, various and sundry other items. And of course, yummy food and produce. Better yet it was an enjoyable time spent with my girlfriends with everyone making at least one purchase. Do you like Sheila’s new shoes?
I am happy to admit that the kids weren’t the only ones dancing to the musical entertainment. Did you really think that I could hear great music and not shake my booty?
There was even a wonderful cultural display set up describing the initiation of young women in Southern African cultures.
Besides the great displays and stalls full of jewelry, art, pottery, and clothing, there was also yummy food and fresh produce for sale.
They were also hard at work preparing seswaa, a very popular traditional meat dish made for most special occasions. The stew is made by boiling meat with onion and pepper. It is cooked in a three-legged iron pot, simmered until soft. The meat stew is served over thick polenta or pap.
Oh, and not to be forgotten, evidence that the “crazy” cows had passed through
The lovely girl time continued after leaving the waterfront when we went to Sanitas for lunch. Erin and I concluded the day by going to the Gaborone Dam to watch the sunset and spend the evening dancing there outside under the stars. All in all a truly lovely day on by the water in Gabs.
The man never ceases to amaze me in many ways and when you have almost daily contact with someone for a year you really get to know them well….yet, he can still surprise me!
Today we were making our regular trip to Riverwalk Mall on a Friday afternoon. I like to spend a couple of hours at this mall every few weeks as it has three major grocery stores (Pick n Pay; Super Spar; and a Woolies). All which carry different items that I like. Plus the mall has my hairdresser, a fantastic book and magazine store and other great shops I occasionally visit. I also love having Buche take me there and pick me up as it gives me a chance to purchase heavy grocery items which I don’t have to lug across Death Highway’s four lanes of speeding traffic.
Like any trip with Buche and I, you can only wish to be a passenger in the back seat to enjoy the hilarious conversations that we have. Today proved once again that I really do need my own reality tv show and camera crew following me around. I am sure that I could hit ratings gold with my own show as I simply end up in situations and conversations that no one else ever seems to have the privilege of.
As we took our regular route to Riverwalk which is a back road shortcut which takes you through a non-developed area which is on the fringe of the Village of Tlokweng. As this land is comprised mostly of open spaces containing some grasslands and shrubs, it is a frequent hangout of cows, bulls, donkeys and goats all roaming free in search of grass to graze on.
I always love seeing the cows as the dairy princess in me refuses to die 😉 So today when we were about half way through that stretch of road, I noted that there weren’t any cows visible. Well, I couldn’t have triggered a funnier conversation….
Buche’s explanation for the missing cows was an amazing fact that I have not heard in my year here in Gaborone.
It is a natural part of life here in Gabs to have all manner of livestock wandering the streets, alleys and parking lots of downtown Gaborone. I frequently have to navigate through roaming livestock on my way home from Game City Mall while carrying groceries.
Due to this country being mostly desert and the lack of rainfall, livestock are regularly set free by their owners to roam and graze keeping themselves alive on what ever they can find to eat. This particular stretch of road and area is often a favorite grazing spot and it is not uncommon to see large herds of cattle on the side of the road or crossing nonchalantly in front of you.
With the distinct lack of presence of them today, Buche informed me that sometimes the cows act “crazy” and need to be rounded up by certain people in the nearby village of Tlokweng. Okay, first no matter how hard I tried to get him to explain what he meant by “crazy” I couldn’t get a clear explanation! I can only picture some cows drunk off of the many abandoned alcohol bottles littering the landscape across Gaborone after each weekend. Or perhaps, like me they are out dancing around kicking a cloud of dust with their dancing antics.
Clearly, he couldn’t be referring to mad cow disease…..,
So eventually I moved on from giggling and trying to get him to explain “crazy cows” to where do you actually take a crazy cow?
This was more easily explained. Apparently there are people in the village of Tlokweng ( a world all of its own I think) that actually fence in a small area and then go on the hunt for cattle who are roaming and acting “crazy”. Apparently the acting crazy bit is the key to all of this as somehow those cows are more of a nuisance and need to be taken off the streets. Are we talking cows or street kids here????
Once crazy cows are identified, they are walked to the enclosures where they are sized up for their beef content. Now this where Buche was very clear. While the rescuers (or thieves) of these cows are eyeing them up for a nice meal or two, their – up to this point inattentive owners – suddenly appear out of nowhere to claim them back. Apparently cow owners here in Gabs have psychic powers and know exactly when their cows have been kidnapped for being crazy! Okay, those are my words, not Buche’s. And would actually be fun to around when the face off over the ownership of the crazy cows take place 🙂
So there is your glimpse into just a tiny portion of my conversation with Buche today…you really need to plant a bug on us so you too can enjoy our wild and wacky but totally serious conversations too.
With my final weeks ticking down before I leave Gaborone and Botswana to return to life as I know it in Canada, I am doing all that I can to make the most of my remaining time.
Today, I got to have a perfect day out with Buche. A couple of weeks ago Buche and I were discussing my leaving. During our conversation I told him that although I have seen a large majority of the country, I have not been so good about exploring closer to home. He quickly rhymed off a long list of places surrounding Gaborone that I could only tell him that I hadn’t visited.
So I issued him a challenge – when he was able to arrange his schedule I wanted him to take me out for a sightseeing tour. Not so much of challenge you might say but of course I complicated it. No visiting any tourist sites that he normally takes anyone else! I wanted him to take me somewhere special that he truly wanted me to see as an important part of Botswana.
All I can say is that he certainly didn’t disappoint me and we truly had the perfect outing!
Where did he take me? Well, the list included a few places.
The first destination on our itinerary was the village of Manyana
The village of Manyana is located about an hour south west of Gaborone. It is famous for being the home of rock paintings which date back over 2000 years.
Finding the site was a little bit of a challenge however! Along our drive Buche, ever the gentleman, spied an older woman by the side of the road looking for a drive. He stopped and picked her up as she was heading towards the village of Manyana too to attend a funeral. During the twenty minute drive the rest of the way to the village, I am happy to note that I completely behaved myself and didn’t embarrass Buche even once 🙂
Once we arrived in the village, Buche stopped to ask directions….I know! Amazing! And he actually stopped and asked directions a few different times. I made sure to tell him on our way home that men in North America seldom ever stop and ask for directions. He was completely surprised and wondered how anyone found where they were going? Oh, the culturally differences.
Back to our adventure, following our first set of directions Buche easily found the base of the hill we were heading for and where our guest needed to be dropped off coincidentally. Saying goodbye to her, Buche then asked for directions again to ensure that we found the entrance to the heritage site.
Following this set of directions we set off down a clay and sand track around the base of the hill.
We soon saw some farmers harvesting their crops
As we continued down the track, Buche began to seriously question if we were heading in the right direction. Stopping again when we came across a goat herder and his feisty adorable herd, it was time to ask directions again! and of course Buche’s instinct was right on. We had been given bad directions.
So we turned around and headed back the way that we came with me still thoroughly enjoying the view. Although we were soon caught up in a traffic jam as we got back to the outskirts of the village…
It soon became apparent that our ultimate destination was closer than we thought. Had we simply turned left exactly where we had dropped off our former passenger we would have been right where we needed to be. Fortunately, Buche’s perseverance paid off and we arrived at our destination.
The site of the rock paintings is a 8 meter high rock. The paintings are spread out over five separate areas of the rock cliff face. On site is a government guide whose job it is to protect the heritage site and provide you with a guided historical tour of the site. Honestly, without the guide you would never have been able to find the rock paintings on your own as they are so faint and far apart.
However, the guide we had was so incredible at his job. He proudly informed us that these paintings were done by Bushmen over 2000 years ago as they migrated through the area hunting. Part of the ceremony after a good hunting kill was an elaborate ritual involving the spiritual leader and the men of the tribe. As the spiritual leader entered into a trance and the men danced visions would come to him which he described. Part of the visions resulted in the creation of the paintings using a combination of minerals, animal blood and rocks.
The first paintings he showed us – Buche was seeing them for the first time too! – was a painting of an antelope. See if you can pick it out in the photo
Close by was another far more visible painting whose symbolism we were told still had not been identified by experts.
The next hour was spent climbing around the rock face visiting all of the painting sites and learning the history of the rocks and caves.
The guide quizzed me on this stick figure asking me if I thought it was female or male? He was proud to show me that African men were really well endowed even 2000 years ago – or at least in their imagination they were.
This is the entrance to what is called Mma Kgosi cave, a histrocial site thought to be the cave where the Kwena Queen mother hid during the battle of Dimawe in 1852 while her husband and tribesmen fought against the Boers. Getting into these caves is definitely a tight squeeze and you are not allowed to enter for preservation reasons. I was glad that I didn’t have to go in!
Once I made it safely back to flat ground with the assistance of Buche and waving good bye to the crowd of Rock Dassies who live on the rock but are too shy to be photographed, the guide joined us in Buche’s car to make the trip to another interesting site. A tree.
This enormous fig tree is now a protected heritage site because it was the historical site of where David Livingstone converted local tribes to Christianity and practiced western medicine. As I told you about in December when I visited Zanzibar, Livingstone was a medical missionary who also worked tirelessly to abolish slavery in Africa.
Under this very tree, Livingstone preached to convert locals to Christianity while he also doled out western medicines. I loved this tree and could have happily moved into it
What a tree! Buche looks so tiny standing next to it.
After leaving Manyana, Buche continued our driving tour of Western Bots, we drove through the entire western districts on our way back to Gaborone. But Buche had one more surprise up his sleeve.
A visit to the famous village of Gabane, which is known for its pottery. Let’s just say that I love pottery and Buche proved exactly how patient he truly is as he patiently roamed the shop with me as I picked out my purchases and asked a million questions. We even got the chance to visit the back rooms and watch the pottery makers in action.
So Buche earns a gold star! He not only rose to my challenge, he absolutely exceeded it. Since he did so well, I have now challenged him to do it again, only better! I bet he can. What do you think?
It is Fringe Festival time on PEI. So there will be lots of great theater to take in this coming weekend. And I can highly recommend one of the plays in particular.
While I am still firmly ensconced in Botswana enjoying my final weeks in Africa (for now) and tormenting Buche, it is show time for my Mom and her production of “I Am What I Am”.
Her award winning play is based on the true story of Lydia Brooks Blake Campbell, a Metis woman from Labrador in the 1800’s. The play is a wonderful one woman show in which Lydia, played by Marisa Boudreault, tells her story in her own words. It is a brilliant piece of play writing if you ask me. My absolute favorite of the plays that my mom, Marjorie Hooper Dalziel has written…and there have been a few.
This play is also featuring a very special touch – the very godlike voice of my friend, Mike Wedge, who truly does think he is God sometimes. No doubt he will have a very swelled head after this weekend as he becomes a shining star for providing the voice of the Deer God. Let’s hope that fame doesn’t ruin him 😉
You can catch performances of “I Am What I Am” during the Island Fringe Festival running August 29 to 31 in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Performances will be Thursday, August 29th @ 6pm; Friday, August 30th @ 5pm and Saturday, August 31st @ 3:30pm. All performances will take place at Confederation Landing alongside the water. So you can grab a Cow’s Ice Cream and enjoy the show!
While the landlady is away, the landlord comes out to play. As the always classy and regal Honorary Consul is jetting off to visit family in far off lands, there is no one here to keep evil prankster Peter in line.
Although Jetske had only be gone for a total of 24 hours yesterday afternoon, I returned to my apartment to find my private terraced adorned with the sign pictured above. One can only conjecture what the true intent for its temporary placement was. Previous experience with the prankster makes me believe that it was an indication that anyone entering Bird Cottage (Apartment #2) needed to beware of the evil beast that lives within 🙂
Because Dottie could never be considered to be the evil beast, although the other night she threw herself at my closed door with such force I thought that I was being visited by a baboon.
Clearly, I need to reciprocate Peter’s efforts and don’t worry as I have plenty of time to do so as Jetske is out of country for another week. I am sure that the next week will be full of one up-manship and there are no safe bets as to who the winner might be.
Having Jetske away also means that I have even more constant companionship from my four legged friends. As noted above, Dottie has been forcibly knocking on my door in the evening. My friend Gabby also believes in lots of togetherness as evidenced by this picture.
Let’s hope that whoever takes up residence in Bird Cottage after me won’t mind sharing the tiny space….perhaps I need to leave a note instructing them when I depart Peter’s Place to never leave the windows open as intruders have been known to sneak through very tiny cracks.
As I began my African journey a year ago, one of the most important goal I had hoped to achieve was to help make a positive difference in at least one woman’s life here in Botswana.
I am really happy to announce mission accomplished!
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you will be familiar with Sadie. Sadie was the cleaner at BONASO who showed incredible promise and desire to improve her opportunities in life. For many months I spent my lunch hour with Sadie giving her assignments, correcting homework and teaching her so that she could learn how to become a receptionist.
As a cleaner, she earns (when her boss decides to pay her which is not a given) the grand total of 800 pula a month (the grand total of $100 Canadian dollars) on which she supports herself and 8 year old son. As a receptionist, she will have the chance to earn up to 2,000 or 2,5000 Pula a month (up to $300 Canadian). And hopefully work for a boss who actually pays her salary every month.
For the past four months she has shown the personal commitment to come to my apartment once a week for intensive tutoring and recently she successfully completed her certificate in Office Management Training and Skill Acquisition. Here she is proudly displaying her brand new certificate which we are getting framed!
I am so proud of her and her dedication to improve not only her life but that of her son as well. He is a handsome young man who shows that he is just as smart as his mom. Sadie worked incredibly hard to achieve this certificate and I am so happy that I could help her in this small way.
Being her cheerleader and supporting her learning has given me a true feeling of accomplishment. While I may have developed even stronger opinions than I came with about the many negative impacts of development work, Sadie’s success can not be ignored.
Had I not been here in Botswana and working in the same place as her, Sadie would never have achieved this certification. So that makes my time here in Botswana a success for both Sadie and me!
During my last day on Safari in the Delta we were instructed in a common game here in Botswana – Impala Poop Spitting!
Yes, you read that correctly!!!!
Impala Poop Spitting
Impala poop consists of tiny perfectly formed round balls. Which apparently are perfect for spitting. Why anyone would want to is totally beyond me. But apparently as they only consist of digested grass it is not unhygienic to actually handle the poo balls and putting them in your mouth is not an issue……ya, right!
All judgments aside here is a pictorial primer on how to play the “Impala Poop Spitting” game:
As Bale demonstrates in the photo above, you take an impala poop ball and either place it between your lips. Pursing your lips to hold it in place and then you blow it up and out as far as you can. Or you can place it directly on your tongue (yuck!!!) and use a combination of your tongue and blowing to launch the poop ball as far as you can.
Once you have successfully launched the poop missile, it is then necessary to keep a close watch to determine where the tiny ball of poop actually lands.
So once the demonstration was concluded it was time to begin the contest. Let’s just say that not all of us were stupid enough to participate 🙂 but there were several takers.
First up was Dave, an Australian Bio-chemical engineer who currently lives on a tiny Russian island. He proved to have excellent technique and actually outperformed Bale.
My, what poop spitting form!
So then the challenge was on! Beat that distance anyone? Dave’s wife stand next to him decided to hold on to her poop balls and not participate. However, ……
My travel mate, Risa decided to rise to the challenge
After so serious coaching from Bale, she was ready for her first attempt
Way to go Risa!
But the undisputed winner was Dave with him impressive technique and distance. Although he was firmly informed by his wife that there would be absolutely no kissing until his lips and mouth were thoroughly disinfected. So much for their romantic safari getaway 😉
I actually consider myself a winner as well because I was smart enough not participate. For once I simply enjoyed a spectator role even though Bale and PD threatened to send me back to camp in another safari truck or on foot because I wouldn’t play. Let me tell you, I have handled my share of poop during my life time. My African adventures didn’t need impala poop spitting to make them complete 🙂
Ok, perhaps I did not make myself as clear as I could have yesterday in my post about returning to Canada. So let’s set the record straight as I have been inundated with emails.
Cheryl’s African Adventure is continuing and will continue for many years to come! I am simply returning to Canada for a period of time to spend some much needed time with loved ones there and yes, earn some more income to supplement my nomadic ways.
As for this blog, it will certainly continue while I am residing in Canada as there is no doubt that my newly acquired African ways will cause some grand moments of hilarity as I readjust to life in Canada and tiny PEI. Plus, I have a very strong suspicion that part of Africa will be making the adjustment to Canadian life with me.
Buche says he is coming with me if I can teach him how to drive on winter roads and get him a job as a truck driver. His daughter Nancy also wants to come to Canada which means Buche’s wife is going to be left all alone here in Botswana holding down the fort.
Lawrence has been planning for months on coming back to Canada with me although I am trying to convince him that it is not the land of milk and honey that he thinks it is. Plus, he would never survive the cold or the food!
But he and Chenai have concocted a plan to officially adopt me….I am not exactly sure how that will work out…I am 48 years old; Lawrence is 32 and Chenai is in her twenties. Maybe it will be the start of a new African adopt a Canadian senior program 🙂 Regardless, I have to be back in Zimbabwe for their wedding (oops! hope I haven’t ruined the surprise!) as I will be Lawrence’s Best Man and godmother when the time comes.
As for Sheila, she would handcuff me here if at all possible. Whether she remains here in Botswana, returns to Kenya or some other African country we will have annual dance dates no matter where she is. Plus she is going to continue to feed my Kanga addiction.
No doubt Peter and Jetske will be happy for a return to peace & quiet at Peter’s Place. I hopefully I will be able to plan my trips back far enough in advance that I can reserve Bird Cottage for my return stays. This place truly is home for me and if you saw the way that I take over Jetske’s kitchen you would understand. Peter don’t take my Cheryl sign down yet! Plus who ever lives here next is going to have Gabby the cat constantly at their window and doors. Apartment 2 is now Gabby’s permanent napping spot.
As for Tanyala, she is insisting that I stay right here. She doesn’t want a new resident in #2. I have been trying to lure her to come with me. I am not sure that I can live life with out her to clean up after my messes or sleep at night without her making my bed so perfectly. Unfortunately I think that I blew it because a few weeks ago I showed her pictures of polar bears (she had never seen them before) and that pretty much sealed the deal that she had no desire to put up with a Canadian winter. Sorry Mom! I thought I had the perfect housekeeper to share between us. If only Canada wasn’t so cold and snowy.
And these are only a small number of reasons why my life in Africa is in no danger of coming to an end just because I am temporarily returning to Canada. So calm down everyone! Cheryl’s African adventures are here to stay just I will be covering a lot more territory.
I have decided to return to Canada and my position with Veterans Affairs a little ahead of schedule. Beware work colleagues, I will back at my desk September 24th, the one year anniversary of my exit from VAC.
My, how the year has flown by and no doubt the DJM building in downtown Charlottetown has relished the utter peace and calm of having me absent. Enjoy the final six weeks while you can!
But just because I have booked a plane ticket and started the paperwork to return to my day job, it doesn’t mean that the fun and adventure in Africa is finished. In fact, I have lots of adventures planned for the next few weeks so don’t think that my life is going to become dull.
My life is never dull but Africa certainly provides for lots of interesting opportunities for adventure. Let’s see how much trouble I can get into in five weeks!