It was really hard for me to leave Camp Pom Pom. Not only because of the beauty of the place and magnificent wild animals. The hardest part was saying good bye to my new friends, particularly Rams and Major who had been my constant companions for three full days.
And I wasn’t the only one wishing I didn’t have to go. During our morning game drive Rams threatened several times that he was going to get lost and we wouldn’t make it back in time for our flight out to Kwando Camp Lagoon. I would just have to stick for another day or two! It was certainly nice to feel wanted.
In fact, that morning before we headed out on our game drive I went to join all the guides, trackers and polers who were huddled around the fire for warmth to say a quick goodbye. It took me ten minutes and I couldn’t depart without giving each of them a hug. It seems that I had left an impression on each and every one of them. I guess you could never call me a wall-flower. In fact, one member of the staff called me “a bouncing bundle of joy”!
But alas the time finally came when we needed to head out to the air strip and ensure that Pom Pom International run way was clear of wildlife so that it was safe for the plane to land. This inspection involves driving from one end of the run way to the other ensuring that there were no beasts lurking either on the run way or in the bushes down it’s sides. Once we had completed our inspection, Rams parked the truck and we got out to stretch our legs.
Well, you know me, one thing lead to another and before you know it Rams, Major and I are having our own private farewell dance party on the air strip! Proving that I really can dance any where!
Let’s just say that I left my unique mark on Camp Pom Pom and I simply can’t wait to go back 😉
After a very long and full day attending the wedding in Masvingo and visiting Great Zimbabwe it was after 9 pm before I arrived back at the Dingwa household. I was welcomed with open arms and it seems that my arrival had been patiently waited for many several of the household occupants. First of all, Mr. T (Tim) would not go to bed until he saw me and had a chance to hang out. And Mrs Dingwa and Yolanda had a special meal ready to prepare for me.
During our visit the night before, Mrs Dingwa asked me many questions about Canada, my life there and what I enjoyed eating. I had casually mentioned that I missed seafood the most as it is not plentiful here in Botswana. I also told them that I really enjoyed brown rice. So guess what was prepared for me to eat that night at 9:30? Yes, seafood and brown rice.
I swear that I gained at least 5 kilos while staying with the Dingwas! I feel like I did nothing more than eat which is an important part of African culture. In fact, here it is one of the primary ways of extending hospitality and it is incredibly rude to not eat or clean your plate! So for my visit I was a good guest and ate everything that was put in front of me except as a small eater I did commit the unpardonably offence of not always cleaning my plate. It was rather funny at times as both Mrs Dingwa and Yolanda would sound just like my mother telling me to finish my food 🙂
They were able to forgive however after I made Lawrence explain to them that when ever we dined together he always finishing my food for me! So at least they knew that I was willing to try all of the Zimbabwean dishes including Kapenta, a tiny dried fish that is served whole fried with onions and tomatoes. They are eaten with traditional staple meal called Isitshwala/sadza.
Interestingly enough when I described some of my favorite foods there was almost complete agreement among the Dingwas’ that they rather not try them. But I suspect if they visit Canada they will show the same respect for trying new foods as I did.
After being so thoroughly spoiled with meals being prepared for me even when I arrived home late, I think I need to find someone to cook for me more often 🙂
One of the cultural adaptations that I have found to be most difficult is letting go of my Canadian social graces and graciously accepting African hospitality.
The weekend with the Dingwas was a case in point…one that Jetske & Peter and Buche are also constantly battling.
It is my nature to not only be infernally independent but also extremely uncomfortable with what I perceive to be inconveniencing anyone. While I have many faults, these two are the most problematic for me here in African. But now they are causing me to change and adapt in ways that I did not know were possible. There are moments when I think that even Buche is proud of the progress that I am making!
Part of my problem is that I do not want to be perceived as a white princess expecting special treatment due to my skin color and gender. So unfortunately I take my resistance to an extreme level, i.e. beating up Lawrence in public when he wants carry my groceries for me as one case in point. However, what Buche, Jetske & Peter, Lawrence and many others are teaching me is that my resistance is an even worse offence and not culturally acceptable.
So I am endeavoring to take deep breaths and learn how to be gracious. The weekend in the Dingwa house was a real challenge and accomplishment for me on this level. As I noted in a previous post, the three bedroom house was jammed packed with visitors the weekend that I was there. My initial instincts were to book a hotel room for myself so that I would not be a burden or inconvenience. Mrs Dingwa would not hear of that notion so I knew that I needed to be gracious and accept the hospitality being shown to me.
There was a lot riding on this visit:
- my very important, if sometimes exasperating, friendship with Lawrence
- cultural respect
- being the first ever “white” and “female” friend that Lawrence has ever brought home to meet and visit with his family and neighbors
to name a few.
Even arriving at the house at 3:00 am on Friday morning pushed my limits. I felt incredibly bad that not only were we arriving in the middle of the night but that the Dingwa housekeeper and Lawrence’s brother-in-law were waiting up to greet us. There was no quietly sneaking in but an official welcoming party when both Yolanda and Tafadzwa needed to be up in a few short hours for a long day. Her to prepare the house and food (without electricity and ready access to water) for the return of the family and his to write a crucial exam. I am sure you can see how distressing I found this. However, I sucked it up and behaved myself. Unbelievable I know!
The next challenge came when I found out that while I would have a bed and bedroom to myself, others would be sleeping on cushions and blankets on the floor including Lawrence’s mother. I can not begin to tell you what knots this tied me up into. The African tradition is that all are welcome and room is made for all visitors regardless of house size and population. It is also tradition that guests are given beds to themselves while family members sleep where necessary. Accepting this fact and tradition was beyond a shadow of doubt one of my most difficult challenges since moving to Africa. But accept it I did as I had absolutely no choice or I would be unacceptable rude.
However, Saturday morning I was able to assert my Canadian sensibilities by declining Yolanda’s offer of heating water outside on the open fire for me to use to wash in. She had more than enough to do and many other people to heat water for. The look of shock on all members of the household’s face when I actually completed my freshening up in a cold bucket of water was worth it! I simply had to prove that Canadians are tougher than they look.