The Art of Not Picking Up

Guys really!!!!  Has no one ever told you how not to behave to attract a woman????

Sometimes you really just make me shake my head in disbelief. And let me be absolutely clear that this behavior is indicative of men world wide and not just reserved for the men that I am encountering here in Botswana. Although the men here, with the exception of a very few who have personally stolen their way into my heart, are the worst at picking up that I have ever seen in my middle aged life!

On a daily basis I encounter various and sundry attempts by men who I think actually believe that they have a change of picking me up. A simple trip across death highway from my apartment to the Game City Mall usually nets me one to five pick up attempts. My mind doesn’t even want to contemplate what they think that they are going to do with me once they have successful lured me in. Although occasionally for a nanosecond as I am lugging incredibly heavy bags of groceries, I luxuriate in the thought of how nice it would be to actually take a pro-offered ride home. Then reality sets in.

While I am an old hat at ignoring come ons there are moments when some unique attempts can’t help but stand out. Last night sparked one those moments and thus this posting.

Yes, I was out dancing again! Having had such a fantastic time at the Calabash night club last Saturday dancing and bootie shaking, my friend Sheila who was not with me insisted on a chance to enjoy as well.  How could I resist?

Once again, I was the first one of the dance floor and within moments, just like last week, I was not alone for long. With the dance floor rapidly filling up I was never at a lost for one or more dance partners. Guys who had been attendance last Saturday night seemed to be thrilled that I had returned for a repeat performance. In fact, I am now positive that several guys actually were convinced that my return was directly a result of my desire to be swept up in their arms.

Although I had done nothing but actually return to the site of one of the best dance floors and DJs in Gaborone, several testosterone filled men sincerely believed they were the reason for my return. Fortunately for me, Sheila and I had not come alone without male accompaniment of our own. Flanked attentively by my Zimbabwean gentlemen, luckily I had nothing to worry about as they allow no guy to get within a foot or closer of me for any length of time unless I signaled that I am okay with it. You have got to love a personal bodyguard detail for which I am continually grateful for. Especially one comprised of such handsome gentlemen who love to dance as much as I do.

However, even thoroughly surrounded by my personal protection detail there were more guys than I can count willing to run the gauntlet and attempt to capture the crazy white woman burning up the dance floor. Frankly, I think that I need to hire a camera crew to actually film one of these evenings because it would make for hilarious reality television. There are those guys who think that they are being cool and simply dance their way into our dance group.

They come in with their cool moves (which sometimes aren’t nearly so cool as I am sure they believe in their minds). These guys often have staying power, hanging in there dancing in a way that can only be viewed as a male bird preening to attract the attention of the mate they have set their eye on. They continue to dance tenaciously on in the periphery of our group hoping to attract my attention. I have to admit that I admire their determination at times. In fact, these guys are not that bad except that some just go a little too overboard if they actually get a chance to dance with me. Let’s just say that personal space gets totally invaded and dance moves go from good to down right disgusting. Fortunately my dancing protection detail are never far away and always attentive so I am always safe from unwanted groping.

Ah, but the worst and therefore most hilarious pick up attempts are made by those who aren’t even dancing. These guys simply come straight onto the dance floor (you got to admire their determination) as I never leave it. They wade through the dancing throngs, come and simply plant themselves directly in front of me, which I have to admit is not an easy task for when I am dancing it is nonstop movement and I don’t stick to one tiny spot on a dance floor. These guys crack me up because they actually think that by simply bringing themselves to my attention by appearing before me that I am going to fall at their feet swept up in their magnificent maleness. Last night I was actually presented with a trio of three men at once attempting this maneuver. They appeared to be friends and I am not sure if they intended to share me or would have competed individually for my undivided attention should I decide to bestow it. In fact, my mind is still trying to figure out exactly what they hoped to achieve by presenting themselves to me in a non-dancing trio on the dance floor.

Guys, are there not some tips out there that you could read up on? Are you completely oblivious to what attracts a woman? Do you actually think that you are such a spectacular specimen of maleness that  a woman simply can’t resist you if she lays eyes on you? All I can say is that thanks to my higher standards and a wonderful protection detail I am in absolutely no danger of being swept off my feet and carried off into the sunset even if I was seeking some romance. But I am seriously considering a new business venture “Charm School” and lessons in successfully asking a girl out! It could be huge money making venture as it is sadly needed in this marketplace.

 

My most embarrassing Wedding moment ever!

As soon as Chenia and her mother finished in the Masvingo police station getting a police report on the accident filed we quickly set off again to make it to the wedding.

This was an outdoor Zimbabwean Roman Catholic ceremony which was taking place in the lovely gardens of Peter’s Lodge.

A garden view from the reception area
A garden view from the reception area
Chenia and one of her nieces
Chenia and one of her nieces

As the wedding was already in progress when we arrived, we quickly were given seats so that we could watch the final twenty minutes or so of the ceremony.

The view from our seats of the ceremony
The view from our seats of the ceremony

IMG_0987

The Bridal Couple leaving the ceremony
The Bridal Couple leaving the ceremony

IMG_0993

While the bridal party left the site for a while to have pictures taken, the rest of us moved to the lawn where the reception tent was set up and I was continued to be introduced to all of the many family members, who seemed delighted that I was joining the festivities.

The reception tent
The reception tent

IMG_1000

I have to admit that the dining part of the reception was a little overwhelming for me. Or should I say, the buffet line was. Our table was right next to the Elders table and of course they proceeded everyone into the buffet line. I was escorted up following the elders by another one of the Aunts of the bride who was sitting on my right. She took masterful control of me (yes, I know an impossible task) and was determined that I have the best treatment possible at this wedding. So into the buffet line up we got along with her 7 year old granddaughter.

Well, the line up was positively claustrophobic for me as everyone was rushing to get into line behind the Elders and there was absolutely no room to even breath. My chaperon had a tight grip on me and was determined to not only keep me in front of her in the line up but to also not lose an inch of ground to anyone else.  So I was pushed, prodded, stepped on and feeling ready to jump out of line but knew that I couldn’t as it would offend. Luckily once we got up to the plates and buffet tables one of the Elder’s happily stood a side to let me in line ahead of him. With my meal secured I was able to retreat back to the safety of our table and enjoy the excellent food with Chenia’s family.

Mrs Hwehwe and her grandaughter
Mrs Hwehwe and her grandaughter

Mrs Hwehwe is a great “Gogo” (grandmother in Shona) and she is Gogo to both of the little girls in the picture in white dresses. The slightly older one just visible to the left of the picture gave me a new party trick to try out at the next formal event that I go to. As we were sitting eating our meal, which contained rice, I looked up at one point to respond to someone across the table from me. While looking up I noticed that the young lady in a beautiful white formal dress had her spoon down her top digging out rice from her chest area. I was totally in awe and can’t wait to practice that technique myself 🙂

Now I am sure that you are all on pins and needles waiting to hear about my most embarrassing moment. Well, I am definitely getting to the moment and it isn’t sticking a large spoon down my chest in search of food.

Following our meal the DJ started to play music and Chenia’s mom and aunt had promised to show me how to dance traditional African style. So up we got to boogie off our amazing meal. The tradition at weddings here is that the bridal party enters the reception dancing and are led in by a dancing female contingent. So here I was smack dab in the front of the tent and bridal walkway dancing away to the delight of those accompanying me. I know, I have no shame. But the worse was yet to come. Apparently my dancing antics where preventing the bridal party from making their grand entrance. It took the DJ several tries to drown out the antics of my own personal dance party to get us to move out of the way. Oh dear, but this still not the worst!

So my dance team made way and up the aisle came the bridal party

Bridal party waiting to make their dancing entrance
Bridal party waiting to make their dancing entrance

 

The beautiful bride
The beautiful bride

IMG_1009

 

The accompanying dancers to the bridal party
The accompanying dancers to the bridal party

The women who lead the bridal party in to the reception, not only dance, they do this wonderful sound that is hard to describe but the instant you hear it you know that it is a celebratory sound. It is what really distinguishes weddings here as African. And this sound is what really ended up being my most mortifying moment at this wedding.

I know, holding the bridal party’s grand entrance up just wasn’t enough for me. It is truly a wonder that the bride didn’t have me forcibly removed from the premise. I guess the fact that her Aunts were the ones responsible for my behavior saved me.

So here is the description of my single most mortifying moment ever!!!!

Following the formalities of the reception there was more dancing. Of course twinkle toes just can’t get enough and Mrs. Hwehwe and her sisters/sister-in laws couldn’t wait to get me back on the dance floor. And back on the dance floor (grass) we went. I guess you could say that I truly got into the moment and was obliviously dancing away attempting to incorporate the traditional dance moves that I had been taught earlier. Somethings require your full concentration.

The next thing I know the reception had ground to halt and I am being fully surrounded in a full circle by virtually everyone in attendance. The women are making their celebratory noise, the men are clapping and shouting and there must have been a dozen camera phones out and filming a white girl who can’t dance! I truly just wanted to disappear in that moment!!!! But again, all of the cultural training I have been getting obviously is taking effect. I remained in the middle of the dance circle with my other partners in crime and prayed for the song to end. Which it eventually did but I was prevented from leaving the dance floor when I wanted to….

Yes, there are videos of this. Me in utter embarrassment.  No, I don’t have a copy yet but I am living in fear of a version showing up anytime on YouTube. Chenia has video of it but I have yet not received a copy from her. I am not sure that I want to see it! Nor am I sure what I will do with it if I do get a copy.

Yet somehow throughout all of my outrageous behavior, the bride didn’t hold my offences against me and actually thanked me for coming to her wedding. That is true class. And her aunts. They were utterly delighted with me and my behavior. Apparently so was the majority of the attendees. They were thrilled that I came and participated so enthusiastically. They were still talking about it the next day I was told. I was even given a gift by the family of 3 meters of traditional material  so that I can have a traditional dress made to attend other events. And yes, I was invited back!

the material I was given as a present
the material I was given as a present

Buche’s daughter, who is an expert seamstress is currently whipping up my new dress for me. I will be sure to show you a picture of it. However, after this escape I have sworn that I am never attending another wedding here in Sub-Sahara Africa, ever! Lawrence’s response to that was two-fold:

  1. He and I are invited to another wedding here in Botswana in July and he determined to make me attend with him
  2. He says that I have to come to his wedding.

Perhaps by then I will be over my mortification. Who knows? Not having the incriminating videos going viral on YouTube will help 🙂

 

 

Five signs that I had FUN last night!

Okay, first of all I am  putting my girlfriends back home on notice – at least one of you need to be prepared to go dancing with me when I return to the northern hemisphere.  My bets are on my friends Alexa and Linda, lets see if they are up to the challenge 🙂

Now to last night and this morning because it really was all the same thing.  The original plan for the evening was to meet and go to the new Tyler Perry movie (note: if you haven’t seen it don’t go!) and have a drink after. As the week progressed we got a tip on a great new spot to dance the night away from 11:30 onwards. Since it has been a couple of weekends since we have had a good dance outing there was simply no way to resist.

So the night started off with Buche delivering me to Riverwalk Mall where we were meeting up pre-movie. Last night was a gorgeous full moon and as we were driving I couldn’t help but ooh and awhhh as it was so huge and low in the sky at that point. Thus prompting a serious discussion on the moon including comparisons between how it looks in different areas of Africa and Canada. Here it comes up some nights as reddish or orange but the color only lasts for about 10 minutes. Whereas in Canada, particularly the East Coast we get very colorful moons in Autumn that last all night long. The other notable difference between moons here and there is that here as the moon rises it appears smaller and smaller. Back home in Canada it never seems to rise as high in the sky as it does here and appears to remain relatively the same size through the night.

Buche’s advice was that I check it out throughout what he knew would be my long night of escapades. So just like the good girl that I am, I did at 1o:30, 11:30 and 2:30 am! He was right of course, the higher it rose the smaller it seemed. What a smart man both for knowing about the moon and Cheryl’s tendency to be out and about long into the night having fun.

And how would you know that I had fun last night?

  1. I almost forgot my shoes in Tshepo’s taxi at 3:00 am – thankfully I am blessed with him and Buche in my life here. While Buche ensures that I am safe and sound on his watch, Tshepo is equally consciousness. Always when he returns me home at night after a weekend late night outing he pulls completely into my yard and insists on waiting until I have made the walk to my door. Only once I have the door opened will he let me open the gate so he can back out where he waits again to ensure that the gate is safely completely closed with no intruders before he leaves. Last night I actually got out of the car and started the walk without my shoes. (I had worn wedge heels which are not the best for dancing in but were perfect with my dress).  Luckily, I have Tshepo looking out for me and I am not sure that bright pink wedge heels would look that good on him 🙂 I am also starting to think that that African saying of “it takes a village to raise a child” actually applies to me as well. “It takes a entire African community to take care of Cheryl”
  2. Those bright pink shoes once retrieved from Tshepo’s cab only made it as far as the chair on my terrace just outside my door where I found them at 5:30 am! I must have put them on the chair when I was unlocking my door and forgotten about them…what can I say it was 3:00 am. Also, I had a kitty waiting for me which also distracted me. Miss Gabby was either locked out of the main house or simply was waiting for me to finally come home so she could come in on my bed. That is why I also discovered my shoes at 5:30 am as she insisted on leaving the apartment then. Thankfully I found them before Peter did, not sure he would ever have let me live that one down.
  3.  The next sign that I really had fun was the trail of clothes from my front door through my apartment. Starting with the shoes outside the door. My purse just inside the door on my new desk. My pashima at the foot of my bed. My sweater dress in the kitchen and unmentionables in the bathroom. Now my Dad can tell you I have a long history of announcing my arrival home by a trail of clothing. Often when I was young you could mark my procession through our house by following the discarded trial of apparel. Let’s just say that some traits never totally disappear no matter how old you get. Although I seldom do that any more, last night proved to be a definite reoccurrence. Thankfully I live alone….my friend Kim back home in PEI who is slightly older than me had a similar experience about a year ago. She  only made it as far as her couch and her husband came down the next morning and discovered her jeans on top of her kitchen table….thankfully I have not achieved that yet! Sorry to out you, Kim!
  4. I am a very light sleeper and seldom ever sleep more than two consecutive hours at a time. Thanks to the amazing Jetske and the renovations, I now have beautiful and highly functional blinds on my windows. These blinds ensure that my rooms are sufficiently dark that I don’t automatically wake up now with the advent of dawn. Having expended so much energy dancing last night I was thankful to tumble into bed. If Miss Gabby hadn’t of woken me at 5ish to be let out I would have slept through dawn. In fact, I went back to sleep and even when somebody got the bright idea at Game City Mall to blast music at 7:oo am this morning, I simply rolled over and went back to sleep until almost 9 am.
  5. And the fifth sign that I really had fun last night….my twinkle toes are so raw and sore from dancing that today is definitely a barefoot day….which is good given that recent history has proven that I would likely just forget them somewhere anyways!

 

Dancing Queen

So I think that I have finally figured out one of the main reasons I love living in Africa so much!

Besides truly enjoying the weather, hands down it is the cultural love of dancing that makes me so happy. Here music and dancing are such a joyful part of life. I have simply not been able to dance this much since I was in under-grad university a long, long time ago.

Africans embrace dance in a way that I have not experienced any where else in the World that I have been lucky enough to travel to.  For me it is a match made in heaven.

Last night we headed out to a Dance Battle held at Alliance Francaise were we got to enjoy as spectators incredible dancers of all ages take on each other in various styles of dance to a wide variety of music. The contestants ranged from 9 or 10 years old to 40’s.  No one was considered too young or old to compete – you gotta love that attitude and spirit!

Sheila (heavy purse & all) and I arrived early enough to score excellent stage front seats which just happened to be behind the judges table. Of course before the event even started there was great music being played and we simply could not sit still. With the arrival of Erin, lets just say our urge to dance and maybe misbehave a little grew. So as we sat in our seats, singing alone, chair dancing and generally just laughing like crazy fools we no doubt drew a little attention.

In fact several times one of the judges turned around and told me that I should go enter my name as a dance battle contestant. Yay, that would have been something to watch! Me humiliating myself in front of a hundred people. I can see it now. Politely declining each time she mentioned it, I tried to sit still to no avail. And let me clarify here, I was not the only one of the trio who was acting like a silly fool. Spirits were definitely high among our trio.

More than couple times during the battle rounds we were in fits of laughter so hard our cheeks and bellies hurt! One particular episode was the results of two male dancers who faced off against each other both wearing bright red shoes. One was the guy in his 40’s, the other a young guy in his early 20’s. It was definitely one of the rounds that will be stuck in all of our memories for a while to come and I will not disclose the reasons for our mirth in order to protect the pride of those involved. Let’s just say that the red shoes were definitely compensation for lacking in other areas….;)

The other most memorable dancer was a 10 year boy from France who definitely had his own unique style. Who says that “White Boys can’t dance”? He actually made it to the semi-final round after having a nap stretched out in his mother’s lap. And just like any typical man who is sound asleep and hears his name, he immediately sprang into action. Causing our trio who was sitting next to him and his parents to explode with laughter.

Following the conclusion of the dance battle the dance floor was opened up for all to enjoy. I don’t think that I need to mention that our trio couldn’t wait to hit the dance floor. My first dance partner was the professional dancer and judge who had been encouraging me to join the competition. Let’s just say that once the shoes came off there was more than a little bit of bootie shaking as I am trying to perfect my African dancing style. Following an hour and half of solid dancing I was desperately thirsty and that was the one thing that was not contained in Sheila’s meal time purse.

So as I was heading inside of the Alliance Francaise building (the dance floor was outside in the courtyard) I was stopped on the step several times by individuals that I didn’t even know. Their comments were all similar: ” you are really enjoying yourself aren’t you?” or ” I have been watching you all evening having a great time”.

As my friends put it, I am leaving a legacy here in Africa and it has nothing to do with my volunteer work. I am leaving a wake of mayhem, smiles, laughter and my own individual style of dance that seems to make everyone smile. So maybe I will never win a Noble Peace Prize but maybe next time I will enter the dance competition and come out as the Dancing Queen.

 

What is in your purse?

Okay, I am outing a friend but she has been duly warned before hand!

I truly love my friend Sheila who is originally from Kenya. She is incredibly brilliant, funny, caring and as addicted to dancing as I am. And that is where this story begins.

You see, she and I find a way to dance almost every weekend. The last couple we haven’t for one reason or another. So it was a given that we just needed to dance this weekend. Thanks to our other dance co-conspirator, Erin we found out about a Dance Battle taking place at Alliance Francaise. After what had been an incredibly busy and stressful week for all of us we were eagerly looking forward to it.

Sheila and I had planned to meet for dinner before hand so we could have some time chatting and destressing before heading to Alliance Francaise for the main event.  After what was an enjoyable visit we decided to walk to the event from the News Cafe where we had eaten.  As it is not that far we decided to walk it instead.

Less than two minutes into the walk, Sheila fessed up. Like me, she is tends to carry a very large purse with a multitude of items within. So I really can’t be judgmental but in this case I definitely am, or at least highly amused.

As I mentioned before Sheila is from Kenya which is an African country like many others that has gone through tough economic times. In fact, Sheila through her employment is able to send significant sums of money home to assist her family. She is highly budget conscious and a genuinely caring person. Oh, can I also add as a tiny woman, she loves to eat. In fact, when she comes for lunch or dinner at my  place she almost always leaves with leftover for her to enjoy at a later time.

So as we were walking she started to complain about how heavy her purse was. Knowing that she had not gone home after work I suspected that her purse was full of work items. Oh, so not true!

Here is  a sample of what she was carrying in her purse:

  • a couple cobbs of cooked sweet corn
  • diphaphatha (flat cakes) 
  • chocolate cookies which I had baked for her early in the week
  • shower soap
  • lotion

No wonder it was heavy! Needless to say that I abused her all evening by telling her that we need not have paid for supper we could have just eaten it from her purse 🙂 And if we got hungry during the dance battle and dancing afterward, no problem.  We had ready access to food.

So women, what do you carry in purse? I know that we all are guilty of carrying bizarre items in there at some time or other. But I am still giggling because I discovered my friend Sheila is always prepared with a meal in her’s!