Can you keep a secret?

The last two weeks have definitely been a challenge for me but even more so for my friend Chenai. The reason why? Secret preparations for a certain Zimbabwean boy’s 32nd birthday.

Saturday was Lawrence’s birthday and for the past couple of weeks, Chenai, Richard and I have been scheming, plotting, running around and organizing a surprise birthday party. Keeping it all a secret from the guest of honor, who is notorious for being suspicious. Keeping his nose out of his car’s trunk when it was full of groceries and supplies for his surprise party was no easy task. Explaining why Chenai and I needed to spend time together with out him even more

Talk about difficult! At least I didn’t have to live with him like Chenai does. Unfortunately, Mr. Cranky Pants did give her a hard time during the past week which caused me to have to give him a serious lecture on his birthday once we had surprised him. But in the end it was all worth while to organize a very special birthday celebration for someone who deserved it and has never even had a birthday cake before, let alone a party.


Lawrence and Chenai cutting the birthday cake
Lawrence and Chenai cutting the birthday cake

The secret was almost out several times during the week leading up to the big event. But somehow he didn’t clue in until Saturday morning that something was afoot. And the fault for that lies with no one else but me!

It turns out that a white chick getting off of a bus in Mochudi and walking along the main road stands out just a little…who would have figured?


And it was just my luck that as I was walking along the road after exiting the bus from Gaborone that a certain someone drove right by me! Talk about small communities! I really need to learn how to disguise myself better. Even when I wear African clothing, I still am like the Sesame Street song “One of things just doesn’t belong here”. I should have realized that it would be more difficult to sneak into Mochudi than I thought.

Richard had been given the difficult task of whisking the birthday boy away from his house so that Chenai, Sheila and I could prepare the salads, decorate and prepare for the surprise party. I still don’t know the full story that he and Chenai spun about why I was seen walking down the Mochudi road. And Lawrence confessed later in the day that he knew then that we are doing something for his birthday, he just didn’t know that it was a whole big party with as many of his friends there that we could round up. 

So while Richard kept the birthday boy away from the house, we started with the preparations and decorating.

Women's work is never done!
Women’s work is never done!

I was in charge of the decorating so once the salads were prepared it was to time to blow up balloons and make sure the house looked festive.

Dressed and ready for the party!
Dressed and ready for the party!

Now all we needed were for the guests to arrive so Richard could finally bring the birthday boy home…….


A Perfect Day!

Today was a very special day for me and I wasn’t going to post anything but I have to share with everyone how special the day has truly been for me!

Today I turned 48 years old and while I have had some wonderful birthdays in my life, including spending my 40th in Scotland and England, today has risen to the top only below my 23rd birthday spent living in Paris.

What made this birthday so special was lots of love and attention from those who are part of my life both here in Botswana and back home in Canada.

It started with the care package extraordinaire from my parents that arrived early (in record time) back the first of March. Not only did this care package contain the chocolate chips that made Buche’s birthday so special it also contained presents for me. I am not a real fan of presents as my family and close friends will tell you. In fact my present from my parents has sat on my desk here at home ever since it arrived more than two weeks ago. The card was opened immediately and prominently displayed so I could see it every day. The present was opened tonight and contained wonderful goodies. Just what I needed. And I have been feasting on my York Peppermint patties all last night and today too!

Best of all, my parents me an email that arrived shortly after midnight my time so they were the first to wish me happy birthday today…considering that they were both there when I came into the world 48 years was kind of nice!

My very good friend Mike Wedge has been emailing me wonderful (except for one very weird one!) YouTube clips all week of many different renditions of Happy Birthday. I wasn’t sure how he was going to beat the Darth Varder clip that he sent yesterday so I challenged him that the one he sent on my birthday had better be special! Well, he really out did himself!

If you have been reading this blog you know that I love to dance. Mike knows this fact well as he has had to accompany on many occasions as I danced my toes off even keeping him out way past his bedtime. Well the video that arrived in my inbox this morning was truly perfect – it was a dancing chicken! Here is the link is you want to watch it too –

I watched it at 5:45 am this morning and I swear that all my neighbours heard me  laughing as I did! It was wonderful!

Next came my morning ride with Buche! Well, lets just say that it was special even though my Mother had made me promise to stop tormenting him about the female traffic cop. In fact, he is laughing even harder at me trying to keep my mouth shut when we drive by her.

The next phase of festivities came when Lawrence and I had to go out to accomplish some tasks. The poor man knew that my birthday was some day this week but I would not for the life of me confess when. He has seen some the videos that Mike has been sending me so he was attempting to wrangle the truth out of me and today in the car, he finally did! He immediately sang me happy birthday as he was driving and then took me for a wonderful lunch. I still have my piece of carrot cake to eat.

It simply amazes me that I can very publicly beat this poor man and yet he is still not only willing but eager to go in public with me! As we drove today, we both remarked on how I walked into his office almost six months ago and he was this very quiet, hard working finance officer who barely laughed. Now he survives public humiliation and laughs about it. In fact we laugh all day long. He claims that the changes I have wrought in him was like changing him from a “pastor to a serial killer” – his words exactly. 

When I said that I didn’t think that I actually turned him into a murder, he simply stated that he was using such a huge contrast to show what a difference that I have made in him. He is my best friend here and I simply don’t know how I would cope with out him. And quiet frankly, you can’t hang out any amount of time with me without laughing and experiencing more than a little chaos or unconventional behaviour. He has risen to that challenge and actually seems to be thriving because of it.

After an afternoon of numerous and wonderful birthday greeting rolling in from around the world on a slow and frustrating internet connection it was time to go home. When I told Buche that Lawrence was back in the lead in the contest to be my favourite man in Botswana, he calmly stated “Not for long”!

Never one to be outdone, he told me that we were going to his house before he took me home for my birthday present! So home I went with him. Once there he, his wife and daughter along with Princess presented me with my birthday presents which included a beautiful bouquet of flowers and Belgium chocolates which I promptly told him we were eating for breakfast in the car tomorrow morning.

My Birthday bouquet
My Beautiful Birthday bouquet


As he was dropping me off, Jetske was leaving a birthday present on the table on my patio. So of course I had to take it to the stoop and open it with her and Peter present. And then to my utter surprise came Tanalya, our wonderful housekeeper with a present for me as well. So you can only imagine how wonderful I feel! I got a wonderful tea pot with a filter to brew my David’s Tea in and Tanalya gave me Chinese Tea! Such wonderful thoughtful presents, I truly feel overwhelmed by it all.

Following a swim with Jetske, who remarked that only in Africa could I swim outside on my birthday at 6:00 pm in the evening, I joined Peter & Jetske for dinner after cramming in a call with my Mom.

So as you can see, I have had a truly remarkable birthday thanks to wonderful family and friends all around the World! Thank you to everyone who took the time to email me, send me special packages and remembered my birthday even though I am half way around the World from you! I am so touched by your thoughtfulness.

And to my new family here in Botswana and Tanzania! Thank you for giving me a birthday that I will remember for the rest of my life!



Happy Birthday to Tabuche!

Today is my patron Saint’s birthday!

What does one give a Saint as a present? The planning for his birthday actually began a couple of months ago. Thanks to the wonderful assistance of my parents items that I needed to create a wonderful present for him were sent from Canada. All I needed was the cooperation of the “Gods” so that the parcel from Canada would arrive on time.

Both Tabuche and I eagerly awaited the arrival of this particular package as I disclosed to him about 6 weeks ago what I had planned as his very special birthday present. He was as excited about it as I was. So last week I had a flurry of mail arrive which in and of itself creates excitement in my life. Somehow there is nothing like getting mail, whether it is a simple card or a package containing some special gift. They are all wonderful to get and the notification that I have mail waiting sets off a wonderful feeling of anticipation and excitement to see just who it is from and what it is.

I digress. Sorry!

So last week I received three different notifications that I had mail waiting for me. Luckily one of those pieces of mail was the eagerly awaited care package from my parents. And what a goody bag it was. Not only did it contain the precious items needed to make my Saint’s birthday present but it also contained goodies for me! Along with a bag of the highly anticipated Chocolate Mint Rooibos tea from David’s Tea (it is so yummy and worth waiting for!!!) the package also contained my very favourite chocolate treat – York Peppermint Patties.

It was Lawrence who took me to the parcel outlet of the Gaborone post office to collect this oversize parcel. Having retrieved the said parcel while he was officially taking care of some business at FHI I retreated to our project truck to open it. Which was no mean feat as my mother had securely taped it shut so well that without scissors it took a whole lot of will power and determination to crack that sucker open. Never one to lack either of those attributes and a heavy dose of persistence, the box was eventually partially opened.

Shifting through the contents and a heady sense of exhilaration I first made sure that what I needed for Tabuche’s present was in fact inside. Then I just couldn’t resist….I just had to eat a york peppermint patty.  There was no waiting.  No sooner had I opened it and popped it into my mouth and was savouring every second of it melting in my mouth than I was caught red handed. Sitting in my seat, no doubt looking like the cat that swallowed the canary, Lawrence swung into the truck’s driver seat. One look at my face and he immediately knew that I was guilty of something! I had no choice but to disclose my source of addiction and ultimate pleasure…York Peppermint patties.

With my mouth still somewhat occupied, I attempted to explain to Lawrence my source of happiness. Well, there was nothing else that I could do but actually share one with him. Now this took a great deal of effort on my part. I absolutely love York Peppermint patties and they are no where to be found on the Continent of Africa so now that I have a small supply it actually took great charity on my part to share. However, I did ensure that Lawrence understood that he would get one and “one only”. My extent of sharing stopped at that! Unlike Tabuche, I am certainly not a Saint. So now Lawrence knows the secret to improving my mood (just feed me one peppermint patty and I am instantly happy) and that even my love and adoration has limits.

So what was the other contents of these wonderful care package that held the secret ingredients for Tabuche’s present! Well, it was chocolate chips of course. Another item that can not be found on the Continent of Africa. Thanks to my wonderful parents, I was able to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies last night. Tabuche has never in his life tasted chocolate chip cookies but he was been eagerly anticipating trying them for the past six weeks. I hope that he enjoys them as they were baked with lots of care,took the cooperation of people from two continents to make along with the use of Peter and Jetske’s kitchen.

So Happy Birthday Tabuche! You truly deserve a birthday present that took lots of planning, the luck of the “gods” and helping hands to make. It is my small way of saying thank you for taking such good care of me each and every day, including making me laugh on a daily basis even when you know that I am frustrated beyond belief. You make my drive to and from work along with other outings truly special times for me and no combie ride could ever replace my getting to sit next to you every day!