Yesterday here in Prince Edward Island it was Farm Day in the City.
This is a large street market which takes places as part of the month long Fall Flavours Festival. It is a celebration of our province’s rural roots. It was a spectacular sunny warm fall day, so of course I took to the streets with some friends to browse the stalls, buy some farm fresh produce, fresh bouquets of flowers and one very special item which is a surprise.
During our browsing we came across Sir John A MacDonald, the founding Father of Canada’s Confederation dressed in his farmer attire happily participating in the day’s events.
But my favorite find at the market were special pink pumpkins. This year as a special fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness, local producers are painting locally grown pumpkins pink. Guess who couldn’t resist purchasing one…thankfully my mom was only too happy it give it a home on her front step
Now you certainly wouldn’t find one of those in Africa!
Everyone keeps asking me if I am experiencing massive culture shock from returning to Canada after a year in Africa. The honest truth is not at all!
I am simply not the type of person who ever has an issue with this. Where ever I go seems to feel like home for me and once I move on to somewhere else, it simply assumes the same feeling of home for me. I guess this is a lucky thing for me as I seem to pack up and migrate to new places so often during the course of my life.
However, this week I did make myself laugh. During my first day back to work I eventually was in need of relieving my bladder. As I stood up from my desk I found myself patting my bra to ascertain if I had stored the obligatory stash of Kleenex there as back up in case there was no requisite toilet paper in the necessary…old habits die hard obviously.
As I chuckled to myself that since I am now back in Canada I no longer had to worry about always carrying an emergency stash of toilet paper. I also was deliriously happy thinking as I entered our area restrooms that each and every one of the toilet stalls would not only have toilet paper but would also have a functioning door and working lock! Wow, definitely my idea of heaven.
So I will enjoy the pleasures that a Canadian restroom brings but I will still be secretly longing for the chaos and adventure of African toilets. What can I say, I am a sucker for punishment 🙂
Well this week was certainly a whirlwind of activity.
After putting in an incredibly busy day on Monday, tending to car and apartment acquisitions, settling into my friend Alexa’s house as my temporary accommodations until I can move into my new place and liberate my belongings from storage, it was time to go back to work on Tuesday.
As I already noted in my previous blog, I could not have had a more welcoming reception by my friends and colleagues. While working in public service can be extremely stressful these days, I am incredibly lucky to work with a fantastic crew. The sense of team work, support and fun within my work section is amazing. While our Directorate tends to be one of the busiest in the department with often being tasked to handle urgent crises by the handful, we always conquer the impossible but working together and laughing whenever possible.
This week while sitting in my well decorated cubicle, I had a constant smile on my face as I listened to the familiar banter and good nature ribbing that takes place among our considerable smaller policy team. Although everyone was working under incredibly tight and stressful deadlines there was still time to laugh and affectionately abuse each other over our cubicle walls. I had truly missed the feeling of awesome teamwork and genuine friendship that our policy team is composed of. It actually feels wonderful to back as part of the team.
While I might have temporarily left Lawrence and Buche for greener pastures, I am reunited once again with my other favorite men, Andrew and Trevor. Long before I had Buche and Lawrence, Trevor and Andrew were enduring me on a daily basis. This week I proudly informed them that they had better get use to being blog fodder.
Trevor had promised to give me a week of grace before the torment started, sadly he didn’t make it. Let’s just say that when I first joined this work team four years ago, Trevor who is a lawyer along with a fellow coworker welcomed me by turning my cubicle into a crime scene. For anyone who knows me well, they can attest to the fact that I could not possible rest until I found out the guilty parties. My investigative talents can easily equal CSI when necessary. What has ensured over the subsequent years between Trevor and I has been a constant game of torment and one-up manship.
As for Andrew, he is such a great guy and so easy to torment. I spent a year as a his policy mentor when he was learning the ropes and it is hard to say whether the good that I taught him outweighs the evil. Although I am happy to note that he did turn out to be a great policy analyst! I also conditioned him to bribe me with my favorite york peppermint patties. Which somehow I end up having to pay forward to Trevor as a user fee for using his highly functional three hole punch. Oh, the office politics.
All of this to say, while I certainly miss Africa, Buche and Lawrence to name a few, I am happily back at home in the bosom of friends and colleagues who are equally capable of keeping my life interesting. No doubt the simple fact that I am now sitting in between these two guys will give me lots of opportunities for mayhem and fun.
While I had landed back on PEI last Thursday afternoon, it was today that I actually returned to my workplace at Veterans Affairs Canada. After days of running around moving my worldly possessions, car shopping and apartment hunting I was actually looking forward to sitting still for a few moments at my desk.
This morning after going through the signing in process that all Canadian federal government employees must endure to enter their secure work sites, I was taken to my new old work station where I was greeted by this wonderful thoughtful sight as my friends and colleagues had gone to considerable effort to welcome me back.
I certainly could not have felt more welcome or missed! It is nice to know that even though I was far away having an adventure of a life time that my friends and co-workers truly did miss me and welcome me home with open arms. How lucky can one person be? I know that I truly am. My coworkers even loved my bright purple and pink African jacket and had left a brand new mug along with a special package of David’s Tea.
As for culture shock, I am happy to report that I have not suffered even one twinge of it except to remember when I am driving which side of the road I really need to be on. The only shock around me is what I am causing in other people but that is just a normal every day occurrence for me 🙂
Last Wednesday I boarded a plane in Gaborone and traveled for 31 hours straight before landing on Prince Edward Island, the land of my birth. All in all it was a relatively uneventful trip.
Buche didn’t make me totally cry when we parted at the airport. I made all of my connections and Addis Ababa Airport was certainly an experience as a true African airport. I was only sorry that I could get my camera out and snap some shots but my hands were too full and too little time. I would definitely highly recommend Air Ethiopia as a great airline to fly from Africa to Toronto, Canada on.
Although 16 straight hours on an airplane can be slightly claustrophobic if you are in the window seat as I was. But I survived. It wasn’t until I hit Toronto Pearson Airport and Air Canada that I had any travel difficulties. Let’s just say that at one point I very loudly yelled at the Air Canada employees who were totally rude, disorganized and clueless that they needed to go learn a thing or two from African airports. 🙂
Once I had my feet back on Canadian soil, it was time for the whirling dervish to kick into full throttle mode. Who cares that I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours, after being in a land locked country for a year I simply needed to stick my feet in water that was not full of crocodiles, hippos and various or sundry dangerous wildlife. Fortunately, my parents live on the north shore of Prince Edward Island a simply five drive had me waterside with toes soaking in the salt water…who needs the Peter’s Place pool when you have the whole Atlantic Ocean? Fortunately, I arrived in PEI to Gab like weather as it was hot and sunny and perfect for swimming.
I really did miss the beautiful harbour and seaside
Not the least bit tired it was time to go for a nice drive to drink in the beauty of my homeland which is so green compared to Botswana.
Thanks to my amazing friend Sheila, who is now running up Kgale Hill three times a week and participating in a Botswana Defense Force exercise program at the top of hill, I can now show the view from Kgale Hill.
I love Kgale and the surrounding hills. Since arriving at Peter’s Place one year ago and developing an immediate love for the beauty of the hills, the love affair has only grown. Kgale Hill stands as my own personal beacon showing me the way home no matter where in the city I am. And as you get closer to the hill it’s beauty changes throughout the day from the glow of early morning sunrise through sunset and the dark of night.
I hope that you enjoy these pictures of Kgale Hill and beyond.
Saturday night was my last night of dancing here in Gabs before I board my plane back to Canada midweek. In the company of my closest friends I thoroughly enjoyed my dance party at Calabash, my favorite dance spot here.
Surrounded by people who love to dance as much as I do it was the perfect way to celebrate my time in Gabs. It was also the first time that my very diverse group of friends actually all got a chance to meet each other. I can happily report that everyone got along wonderfully and of course, I had no lack of dance partners.
In fact, as evidenced by the picture above the ubiquitous dance circle on the Calabash dance floor always formed around our group. While my group of friends was large many people we did not know continued to attach themselves to our group throughout the night at times causing lots of laughter and mayhem, right Naki?
Naki’s new friend tried throughout the night to impress her with his considerable dance moves but she wasn’t having it. She is a smart girl…although my friend Lawrence found it hard to believe that the girl on dance floor with me really is a chartered accountant. Naki is serious by day, a happy dancer at night! Any wonder we are such good friends. Fortunately fun was had by all!
As you can see fun was had by all with lots of dancing, laughter and fun. I couldn’t have had a better last Saturday night of booty shaking…it turns out that I have been twerking long before Miley Cyrus. Thanks Africa!
Pula is one of the most important words in Setswana. It is commonly known to be the name of the currency in Botswana.
However, it hold far greater significance. It literally means “rain” which in a desert country is critically important and why the term pula is often used as a toast and blessing.
Last night we experienced our first pula of the summer season. Sheila and I had just parted company after an incredibly enjoyable afternoon and evening together and the sky was lighting up with a wonderful display of lightning. All day Africans were saying that they could smell rain and sure enough the sky eventually opened up.
Gabby and I took this picture of the remaining puddles at 6:00 am this morning. Thanks to the storm, I did spend the night without power. A fact that made it a lot easier for me to clear out my fridge this morning in preparation for my departure back to Canada on Wednesday.
But the only benefits of the rain were not just for the trees, plants and general well-being…….it sparked the re-opening of the pool at Peter’s Place, yippee!!!!
Although I had been praying fervently that the pool would not be uncovered and ready for action before I left, as I was afraid that it would make my leaving that much more difficult, I am thrilled now. After a morning of baking to use up my remaining chocolate chips and pre-packing organization I was hot and sweaty now that summer is officially here. The day time temperatures are now in the 30’s range 🙂
Drawn to the action poolside and the contradictory comments of my landlords….Peter said I couldn’t swim yet; Jetske said I could! before I knew it I had my toes in, then my legs. And now I have my swimsuit on as I type and as soon as I finish this post I am diving in.
I figure what better way to spend the afternoon then in the pool as it will relax me and help me limber up for my final night of dancing in Gabs for now. In the company of my girlfriends, Erin, Sheila, Naki, Agatha, Nancy, and a few of my guy friends we are planning on spending the entire night on the dance floor. My toes and booty will be ready after an afternoon poolside 🙂
And I won’t worry about leaving on Wednesday yet….it might be Buche’s and Jetske’s job to haul me away from the pool so that I make my flight back to Canada on time or not! Right now the pool is beckoning me and I can’t say no!
For someone who can hug a lion, wear a snake around their neck, facilitate a meeting with ostriches, warthogs or baboons in the room and not miss a beat, you would think that I am a pretty cool calm person.
Well you would be wrong!
Last night, I had an encounter that was so horrific if I hadn’t of already had my plane ticket booked, I would have been in a huge hurry to do so. What could make me want to leave Africa so rapidly????
A very close encounter with a cockroach the size of a north american mouse!
After spending a very pleasant evening with my friend Sheila, I was getting ready for bed and didn’t turn on the overhead light in that area. As I turned the corner I noticed something big scuttling across the floor. Because my apartment door had been opened earlier with the lights on inside there were a couple of moths and preying mantis flying around which don’t bother me in the least. Except when I took another step the reality of the size of the dark shape on the floor hit me with a shriek.
The shrieks grew louder and longer once I had flipped the overhead light on and I truly saw the trespasser. Grabbing for the ever handy can of Doom, I proceeded to spray at least half a can full at the biggest bug I have ever seen in my life! As it scurried for cover I ruthlessly followed it spraying, removing obstacles in my path all the while shrieking. Yes, I am a wimp! I am surprised that Tanyala did hear me as her apartment is right next to mine on that side of the building.
After a sleepless night, I checked under my kitchen sink this morning in the light of day and could see the obviously dead body of the offender. Feeling somewhat relieved, I asked One to come identify the body as I wasn’t certain what it was. She calmly looked at it and told me it was a cockroach. She then even more calmly proceeded to remove the offender from its final resting place. Then the little imp tortured me with it. And even though the bugger was dead, just the sight of it was enough to send me into another fit of shrieking. After a good half hour of torture and laughter by all members of the staff here at Peter’s Place life returned to normal with Tanyala giving my floors an extra good cleaning so no more cockroaches would be tempted to a repeat performance.
I never thought that I would say this but I am happy to be getting on a plane in a week’s time heading somewhere that doesn’t have jumbo size cockroaches! Predators I can handle….bugs I can’t!
All right, I will admit that I have picked up a habit or two in Africa that will be difficult to eliminate once I am back in Canada and will no doubt establish my uniqueness.
There is one habit in particular that is now deeply ingrained and It certainly causing some eyebrow raising here along with chuckles and jokes.
What is this habit?
It is simply that I use my African purse to the best possible advantage. No, not my handcrafted African purse but the other African purse that rural and market women generally use, my bra!
As Peter, my landlord puts it, because of my generous bust size there is room for a million pulas in there if I wanted. However, what I carry there most is my phone.
And let me state that I have a definite love-hate relationship with this phone. I hate it but I need it to function on a day to day basis but it is a total pain in the butt to use. Airtime here is incredibly expense compared to the cell phone plans you can get back in Canada. It takes me forever to type out a text message on the stupid keyboard. I desperately miss my blackberry and the ease of which I can email, text or bbm. Yes, I am a Princess and proud of it now thanks to Buche!
As for my Nokia Torch phone, I am notorious for losing it, forgetting it or simply just leaving it behind. The only time that I ever appreciate it is when the power goes out and I need to use the flashlight on it to light my way.
In an effort to ensure that I stop misplacing it, sometimes for a couple of days at a time, I now carry it in my bra. Generally it fits there well making it accessible exactly when I need it and I haven’t lost it once since I developed this habit.
However, it does create moments of hilarity – or at least I think that they are funny – when it beeps or rings while hidden from view in my bosom and I am out in public. And let me tell you, it has rung in some very funny places, not just the grocery store, Buche’s car or the like. Again, just another reason why a reality camera following me around would yield footage fit for the Canadian show “Just for Laughs”.
I am eagerly anticipating my reunion with my blackberry in a week’s time. However, I am providing advance warning to my family, friends and co-workers – please do not be the slightest bit surprised if you are standing by me when my bosom rings. It is just Africa calling