Home Again

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.

Advertisements

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

 

016

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.

025

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.

 

 

 

 

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?

 

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? 😉

 

A day on the Gabs waterfront

Gaborone Waterfront
Gaborone Waterfront

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.

african_marketplace_fb (1)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.

Welcome to the African Market
Welcome to the African Market

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?

Sheila's funky African shoes
Sheila’s funky  new African shoes
Do you suppose a metal giraffe or zebra would fit in my luggage????
Do you suppose a metal giraffe or zebra would fit in my luggage????
There was lots of great music
There was lots of great music

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?

IMG_1684

There was even a wonderful cultural display set up describing the initiation of young women in Southern African cultures.

A traditional Southern African dress
A traditional Southern African dress and headdress
A more contemporary dress - I wondered if I could sneak away with it
A more contemporary dress – I wondered if I could sneak away with it because I love it!
A very modern dress with traditional beadwork and button work
A very modern dress with traditional beadwork and button work
up close view
up close view of the bead work

IMG_1679

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.

Perparing seswaa
preparing seswaa

IMG_1686

Oh, and not to be forgotten, evidence that the “crazy” cows had passed through

IMG_1687

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.

Buche’s crazy cow story

Well, the Saint has done it again!

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.

An example of wandering road warriors
An example of wandering road warriors

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? IMG_0864

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.

 

 

Buche and Cheryl tourist day out

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

Manyana
Outskirts of 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.

Our road
Our road

We soon saw some farmers harvesting their crops

Harvesting cabbages
Harvesting cabbages

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…

Who has the right of way?
Who has the right of way? I think the horns win….

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.

IMG_1631

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

2000 year old Rock painting of an antelope
2000 year old Rock painting of an antelope

Close by was another far more visible painting whose symbolism we were told still had not been identified by experts.

Look for the distinctive black dots
Look for the distinctive black dots

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.

Can you see the giraffes?
Can you see the giraffes?
Stick man
Stick man
Another stick man who is really well-endowed!
Another stick man who is really well-endowed!

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.

Entrance to a cave
Entrance to a cave

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!

IMG_1640

IMG_1641

Gemsboke painting
More rock paintings
More men!
More men!
Hunter carrying his kill
Hunter carrying his kill
A whole herd
A whole herd
View from half-way up the rock face
View from half-way up the rock face

IMG_1650

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.

IMG_1652

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

IMG_1653

IMG_1654

IMG_1655

IMG_1657

 

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. 

Pottery making in Gabane
Pottery making in Gabane

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?