Dancing the night away

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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 and her new admirer
Naki and her new admirer

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!

Naki and Moira (the brat ;)
Naki and Moira (the brat 😉

 

Agatha the Dance Queen
Agatha the Dance Queen

 

Richard, Lawrence and guess who?
Richard, Lawrence and guess who?

 

Erin and Segale
Erin and Segale

 

Lawrence and Sheila
Lawrence and Sheila

 

Go Richard
Go Richard

 

Sheila, Lawrence and Noelene
Sheila, Lawrence and Noelene

 

Aren't Segale and Richard handsome?
Aren’t Segale and Richard handsome?

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pula

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.

Evidence of the first rain
Evidence of the first rain at Peter’s Place

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!!!!

Pool time!!!
Pool time!!!

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!

Don’t Bug me!

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!

 

 

Excuse me, is that your bosom ringing?

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.

my phone
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

 

 

 

Rugby at Mokolodi

Jetske and Peter
Jetske and Peter in their Blue Bulls attire enjoying a drink before we hopped into the safari vehicles to take us to the Boma

Saturday I got to spend a lovely day with the Truemans when they extended the invitation for me to join them in attending a rugby event at the Mokolodi Game Reserve. Only in Africa can you watch international rugby matches on a big screen tv in a Boma in the middle of the bush. Talk about adventure. Rugby players might be considered tough predators so traveling through African bush & wildlife to watch a game some how doesn’t seem so strange after all. Perhaps I have been in Africa too long now and have simply adjusted to a new normal.

The Boma at Mokolodi
The Boma at Mokolodi

While Peter’s favorite team, the South African Blue Bulls were not playing, an excellent match was on tap between the South African team, the Springboks against the Australian Wallabies. Personally, my favorite rugby team are the Welsh Dragons whose home is the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. And I will be honest, my preference is based solely on the fact that some members of the team graciously dropped their pants for me one evening as they were returning to the Stadium from a run and a love affair was born….but that is a whole other story!

So the day began with arrival at the reception area of Mokolodi where we needed to sign in and wait for other participants to arrive. 014

 

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Shortly before we were hustled into the safari trucks for our trip to the Boma we were treated to juice or mimosa. Great, just what I need alcohol before climbing tiny steps into a safari vehicle! Fortunately, we only had a few minutes in which to imbibe so there was no chance to risk a swinging from the side of a safari truck on this adventure.

The Boma is located in a restricted area within the center of the preserve  and it is an enjoyable dusty bouncing ride to get there.

On our way to the Boma
On our way to the Boma

When we arrived at the Boma, the big screen tv was on and one of my  other favorite rugby teams was playing, the New Zealand All Blacks. Now that is a tough team! So while others were mingling and drinking curtsy of the bar, I got to watch the final 30 minutes of that game.

Then we got down to the serious business of eating brunch before the featured game of the Springboks and Wallabies came on.

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With full bellies it was soon time to settle in our chairs in front of the massive screen to watch the game

Springbok Captain during the national anthem
Springbok Captain during the national anthem

 

The Wallabies
The Wallabies

As the trouble maker that I am I had earlier decided to cheer for the Wallabies as pretty much everyone else in the Boma were firmly supporting the Springboks. While the Wallabies were considered to be the underdogs. Sadly, the Wallabies did not win but it was a good game with some great offensive and defensive playing. While there was plenty of rough stuff on the screen, there certainly wasn’t any blood spilled in the Boma.

All in all it was a great game and a wonderful day spent in the company of the Truemans. We even had some animal sightings on the drive back to reception area proving that somehow giraffes and rugby do go together here in the Southern region of Africa.

 

 

 

 

Progress

Yesterday was a historic day!

An international convention enters into effect on Thursday that could eventually extend labour rights to as many as 100 million domestic workers across the globe, a constituency that has historically been bypassed by national laws.

The new Domestic Workers Convention, a binding agreement passed under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2011, has thus far been ratified by nine countries. Those governments will now be tasked with ensuring that their national labour legislation both extends to domestic workers and ensures those workers a decent work environment.

 Such positions include maids, nannies, in-house cooks, caregivers and other labour in private homes – workers that have long been considered to be among the most exploited anywhere in the world. Proponents are not only lauding the convention’s specifics but also suggesting that the accord will do much to solidify the social and official understanding of domestic work as on par with any other employment.”  The full press release can be found at http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/09/domestic-workers-emerge-from-the-shadows/

While these conventions do not automatically guarantee rights or better treatment for the millions of domestic workers who have been traditionally a very marginalized group; it does give them a better platform on which to raise the significant issues that they face. One can hope that more than the current nine countries (Bolivia, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the Philippines, South Africa and Uruguay) will ratify this convention and begin to accord this sector with appropriate labour laws and protection from abuse.

For today, I am simply happy to know that finally this sector of vulnerable workers have achieved some degree of recognition and support. The fight for basic human rights must start somewhere and this at least is a significant step forward!

Boundaries

One of the things that I am most looking forward to with being back in Canada is the return of personal space boundaries. Or at least ones that are marginally more like I am use to!

Although I absolutely love living in Africa, one of the things that has been the most challenging for me is the incredible lack of personal space.  For a vast country and continent which has ample space for all, the notion of personal space is almost nonexistent. While I am incredibly lucky living at Peter’s Place where I have all of the privacy and space that I could want, as soon as I step outside of the gates it all evaporates.

The moment you crawl inside a combi or bus, enter a store, walk in public or god forbid enter a public restroom the facade of personal space disappears completely. There is no possible way to describe just how little regard there is for anyone’s personal space, not just foreigners. In a combi or bus you are literally crawling over the top of others or vice versa. When trying to steady yourself you will grab a hold of what ever you can and should it happen to be a body part, no big deal.

Then there is the actual groping that takes place. I am now refusing to travel on buses because I am simply tired of having body parts groped that I didn’t even know that I had! The first time you could laugh off, the second and beyond it just isn’t funny anymore.

Shopping takes it to a whole new level and it is just isn’t other shoppers blocking aisles or cutting into line ups but the employees are equally guilty. They completely block aisles with their bodies, merchandise and other various sundries. Sometimes you have no choice but to simply turn around and go a long way around. Saying excuse me politely just falls on deaf ears. In fact, you quickly learn to not even bother.

And don’t make me even talk about using public restrooms again. I am sure that I have talked about that enough in this blog. Doors open and full on conversation, need I say more? Thought not 🙂

All of my life I have valued my personal space and I didn’t realize just how much until living here in Africa. Although I have also learned that I have much more open boundaries than I ever considered possible. It is all part of living somewhere new and challenging. When being immersed in a totally new and different culture, you learn what you can live with and what you can’t. I feel like my personal adapting skills have definitely improved in my year in Botswana.

I discover this interesting article the other day on the CBC website http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/08/28/bc-personal-space-closeness.html  It certainly made me feel better that I had even been grappling with this cultural adaptation. It seems that I am pretty normal after all.

Tell me, what are your personal space boundaries? Could you live in Africa?

Springtime in Gabs

I love springtime in Gabs!!!!

Although it is very different from springtime in Canada you can definitely see the change in seasons. Many of the trees are dropping their dry dead leaves while others are bursting with blooms and blossoms. The orange tree outside of my apartment on my private terrace is now fully in bloom!

Orange blossoms outside my door
Orange blossoms outside my door

Every time I am outside and take in a deep breath, I can smell the surrounding citrus trees in blossom which is a heavenly scent to me. It actually reminds of being in Morocco during blossom time. While Gabs still has a way to go before it is the sensory overload that you experience in Morocco where all of your senses truly come alive, it is making me so happy to experience. It is nice that my final weeks in Gabs will be filled with things that make me happy and glad to be living here.

Every where you look are blossoms of varying bright colors of deep pink, purple, white and yellow. The other day when Buche was driving me downtown and we passed by some trees in full bloom in the center of the road I asked him what kind of trees were they? His response, he didn’t know. “They were foreign trees that don’t grow here”. Of course, I proceeded to argue with him that they were in fact growing here as I could physically see them with my eyes, ha! As the man with an answer for everything, he succinctly replied that “foreigners had planted them and they did not grow here naturally. As a foreigner I threatened to bring back a native tree from Canada to plant here too just so I could torment him about it.

But for now, I have given up trying to identify the different species of trees and shrubs in bloom…I have so little time left with Buche that I don’t want to spend it arguing over tree identification. I can think of much better things to disagree on 😉 I am focused on making sure that my final couple of weeks with him are not boring so if he crys when he takes me to the airport it will be from relief that I am finally gone, not from heartbreak as he is threatening me.

So spring has finally come to Gabs and with it beauty and warmer temperatures. I am happy to be out and about, breathing in the amazing scents (and even experiencing the stuffy nose that goes with it) and enjoying the eye candy of gorgeous blooms ever where I look. And enjoying the 30 degree temperatures before I head back to an equally beautiful Canadian fall and much cooler temperatures. I am truly blessed because I will get to experience both! How much better could life get than that?

 

Finding culture in Molepolole

Molepolole is the largest village in Botswana and is located about 50 kms west of Gabs in the South East district of Kweneng. It is known as the home of the Bakwena tribe. And yesterday it was the site of the Dithubaruba Cultural Festival which is held to promote the understanding and appreciation of Kweneng cultural heritage.

The cultural festival included a full line of activities ranging from traditional song and dance (mmino le dipina tsa setso), a traditional harvest festival (dikgafela), poetry (lobebe lwa poko), traditional games and riddles (metshameko ya setso) and Setapa (tribal dancing) until the early hours of Sunday . The actual site of the festival in Molepolole was the   Kwa-ga-Makgosi or ko Ntsweng (Ntsweng Heritage Site).

Buche was conscripted to transport Sheila and I to and from the festival which was about an hour’s drive either way. Let’s just say that for once given the distance and my recent teasing of Buche, he and Sheila took full advantage of having me in a confined space to inflict some reciprocal teasing torture 🙂 Their favorite topic was to taunt me into trying to pronounce the local village names as we passed through and then make fun of my pronunciation. Fortunately I am far more stubborn than either one of them and I refused to participate.

One of the great things about traveling with Buche is his knowledge of local areas, culture, history and facts. The man is like a walking cultural encyclopedia. And he is only to happy to answer my fifty thousand questions about everything. So other than pretending deafness to teasing taunts it was an incredibly enjoyable trip to and from Molepolole.

We arrive at the cultural festival mid-day after a couple of stops in Gaborone to accomplish some tasks. Just as we were being dropped off by our chauffeur the traditional harvest festival was beginning. As a Canadian, harvest festivals, primarily thanksgiving are important celebrations which are held in the fall. Seeing a spring harvest festival was definitely a new adventure for me.

The ladies dressed in their traditional outfits preparing to begin the Harvest Festival
The ladies dressed in their traditional outfits preparing to begin the Harvest Festival
Beginning the festivities
Beginning the festivities

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During the dance Sheila and I decided to try to find a seat so that we could sit and enjoy the celebrations. As it turned out the only seats readily available were in the VIP tent. Deciding that we qualified as VIPs in our own minds if nobody else’s, we nonchalantly strolled over and claimed two front row chairs from which to enjoy the dance! Golly aren’t we?

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I wish that I had the balance to carry pots on my head!
I wish that I had the balance to carry pots on my head!
The District Elders graciously sharing their seats with us
The District Elders graciously sharing their seats with us

Although it was easy for anyone in the VIP tent to discern that we really didn’t belong there, not one person chased us out or made us feel unwelcome. In fact, I was the recipient of many smiles and welcomes. Talk about hospitality.

Following the hour long harvest celebration we were then treated to incredible musical performances by local musicians who literally had everyone cheering, dancing and thoroughly enjoying their performances.

A local musician
A local musician

I loved this performer! So did everyone else – he literally brought almost everyone to their feet

Happy fans!
Happy fans!

I was so tempted to go join these captivated dancers but decided that I was better off keeping my VIP seat which gave me a front row seat and protect from the sun and wind.

Tiny dancers
Tiny dancers

It was a true miracle that I stayed seated because every where I looked there was some one dancing enthusiastically to the excellent music. I particularly loved watching this elder relish the music

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He was soon joined by the most charismatic woman in danceIMG_1716

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These two incredibly energetic dancers outlasted two different performers. And the urge to dance was definitely contagious

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The final performer for this section of the program was certainly playing a unique instrument and had an equally compelling voice.

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Following these musical performances it was time for the VIPs sans Sheila and Cheryl to exit the VIP tent and head for the tent where they were being feed traditional foods for lunch. For everyone else it was time to line up at the traditional cook area for their plates of traditional food.

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During the lunch break Sheila and I took the opportunity to explore the many stalls set up containing local art and crafts.

Local pottery decorated with pumpkin seeds
Local pottery decorated with pumpkin seeds

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The art displays were great showing just how much local talent there really is. This really was a cultural festival displaying remarkable musical talent, dancing, arts, crafts and without a doubt incredible fashion every where you looked. Both Sheila and I saw at least a dozen different dresses made in traditional styles in German print that we wanted. Even the men got into the fashion fun of the day.

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Don't you love his tail?
Don’t you love his tail?

Following the lunch break it time for the festivities to begin again with traditional chanting and dancing

More traditional dancing
More traditional dancing

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Soon it was time to say goodbye and return to Gabs having thoroughly enjoyed the portion of the Dithubaruba Cultural Festival that we attended.

The Saint’s Blood pressure and me

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? 😉