Where in the World is Cheryl?

I know, it has been awhile but once again I am on the move finding adventure, new friends and living life to the fullest. A friend recently told me that she is always waiting for an email or new blog posting from me as she is never certain but always eager to know where on earth I will exactly turn up.

Well this time around I have made Paris the destination of choice. The city of classic architecture, grand and petite parks, pain chocolate and pompiers (those oh so good looking men eager to provide first aid that you are almost tempted to have a heart palpation just by looking at them).

While my heart still belongs firmly with Africa, Paris also feels like home to me. I lived here 27 years ago while completing my Masters in International Relations. And in a typical Cheryl fashion when I received an invitation for a Champagne launch of an International Relations Academic Journal in June it seemed like the universe’s serendipitous lure me back into the world. A month later I had officially ended my career as a Canadian federal public servant (thank god!!!!) and on my way to a Paris studio apartment located in the Latin quarter five minutes away from the banks of the Seine.

My Paris apartment
My Paris apartment

I have contemplated changing my blog’s name but knowing that eventually I will make my way home to one of the glorious 55 African countries is seems right to keep it. What makes it all the better is how, when and where I will go before I do. So I hope that you enjoy following my adventures where ever they take me!

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A Cheryl Moment

First of all I have to acknowledge that I am truly back in the land of snow and ice. This week I have been walking to work in fluttering snow flurries, bone chilling winds (-6 degrees) and icy sidewalks. Oh how I long for the warmth and sunshine of Africa. Let’s just say that neither my body or psyche are adjusting well to cold Canadian weather.

Now on to my Cheryl moment of the day….while I may be back at work with the federal government of Canada taking on serious policy work that will make a difference in lives, I remain the typical Cheryl disaster just waiting to happen.

Today, I took a couple of hours out of my incredibly busy work schedule to accompany my dad to a medical appointment. My adventure in the doctor’s office proved that you might be able to dress me up but you can’t take me anywhere and I seriously don’t know if my dad will let me accompany him to any more medical appointments.

While I looked the part of a serious professional caring daughter, I am really nothing but a complete doofus 🙂

After patiently waiting in the outer waiting room we were escorted into the inner exam rooms and I quietly waited while the very professional healthcare worker did her thing and properly recorded all of dad’s very important vitals. Once she exited and we were waiting for the doctor I grew a little tired of remaining standing. Dad was in the only chair in the exam room so my options were to either hop up on the examination table (thank heavens it was minus stirrups) or the little round stool that the doctor sits on.

Well, like a good policy analyst, I seriously weighed my options and chose to avail myself of the doctor’s stool until he entered the room and required it. Did I happen to mention that this stool was on very well oiled wheels? Yes, you can only imagine as I backed up to sit down on it, the stool decided to do its own thing and rolled half way across the room without me.

Picture this me with my professionally dressed bum more than half down to the ground hovering in a position that could only resemble break dancing….I guess with my departure from Africa and no longer being able to participate in weekly dancing a girl has to do what she can. While the stool rolled, I gyrated and somehow managed to prevent my tailbone from making a sudden and painful connection to the very hard floor.

Fortunately both the stool and me were restored to respectful positions before the doctor entered the room saving me from having to seek my own medical attention for what would have been an incredibly sore tailbone had I made impact.

Thankfully it provided a moment of levity for my dad which fortunately wasn’t witnessed by anyone else and I returned to work with no one any wiser to my rolling debacle in the doctor’s office.

Cheryl’s not in Africa anymore!

This morning was a very rude reminder that I am no longer living the good life in the desert of Botswana.

I woke up to an outside temperature of -5 degrees. Brrrr is all that I can say.

So as I was getting dressed for the walk to work (it is only two blocks) and the day, instead of reaching for my usual wardrobe of dresses or skirts, only dress pants would do thanks to the below freezing temperatures. My short walk to work was brisk but lovely and I arrived with frozen hands as I forgot to grab a pair of gloves to wear.

Oh the joys of Canadian weather. While fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year with it’s sunny days, brightly colored leaves, crisp mornings, the smell of wood fires in the air and who can forget my favorite holiday, Halloween, this year my body and soul are not quite so enthusiastic. I guess you could say that I am truly missing not only my friends and family in Botswana but the sunshine and heat as well. But I am Canadian through and through and unlike my good friend, Buche I don’t need to bundle up too much against the colder temperatures. I just need to adjust my perspective….Jetske, can I meet you in the pool????

 

Potty Training

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 🙂

 

The Many Faces of Kgale Hill

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.

A view from the top of Kgale hill
A view from the top of Kgale hill
The quarry
The quarry

 

 

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The top of Kgale Hill
The top of Kgale Hill

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

A Success Story

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!

Sadie and her certificate
Sadie and her certificate

 

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!