Zimbabwe here I come!

As my friend and former Veterans Affairs Canada work colleague Andrew McAulay would say, someone had better warn Zimbabwe that Cheryl is about to land because it is never going to be the same ever again!

The presents are bought, money exchanged, all I have to do is finishing packing (Tanyala is helping me chose suitable clothing) and wait for Lawrence to pick me up early this afternoon then we hit the road. i have been told by Lawrence that I will actually get to have my turn driving the Mercedes. Even Buche was jealous! He figured that I would make good time driving in that nice machine as he calls it. Plus if I am driving I can stop where ever I want to, poor Lawrence has so much to learn about women but I am teaching him slowly but surely. By the time I am finished with him some lovely Zimbabwean beauty going to have the perfect man, right Lawrence?

Of course, I am unbelievably excited about the trip for many reasons. However, I am not sure that the Dingwa household will ever be the same again. We will see after the weekend if they will ever open their doors to a crazy woman from Canada ever again ūüôā Thankfully I got most of my misbehaving out of my system last weekend. I should be able to practice some decorum and control but no doubt I will have my moments too. Hopefully they will be out of sight and hearing of the Dingwas.¬†

We are booked for the day at Antelope Park on Sunday so that I can play with the lions and accompany them on a bush walk, yippee! Hopefully I won’t get eaten or if I do that Lawrence will remain calm and take some great photos. There would be no better way for me to go! But alas, I have promised Buche that I would back so being eating by a lion is not an option for this trip. Perhaps another time.

So everyone have a great weekend! I promise that I will return next week with wonderful stories to tell.

 

 

 

Road Trip

Woo hooo!!! I am going on a road trip with Lawrence! I couldn’t be any more excited, can you tell?

Next week we are finally making the trip to Gweru, Zimbabwe to visit his family and give me a taste of life in Zimbabwe. We were suppose to make this trip at Easter time but a number of circumstances intervened to delay the trip. There is nothing going to stop us this time.

And unlike our road trip to Ghanti, I am bringing my own shampoo this time as I have come to accept that Lawrence simply doesn’t get the importance of shampooing my long flowing locks every day. How could he, he shaves his head and the only women that he knows well are African. While I am over the profound disappointment that I suffered at his hands when he failed as my Knight in Shining in Amour by not bringing me shampoo as requested; I learned a valuable packing lesson.

Although I had learned the lesson of packing for travel in Africa 25 years ago when I made my first foray to the continent with a couple rolls of toilet paper securely packed in my purse, it seems that I have become complacent. ¬†When traveling in African countries ensure that you bring with you any and all things required as the likelihood of you acquiring it easily where you are going is very slim or non-existent. But lessons learned, I am packing everything that I could possible need for this trip. Besides my suitcase will still be smaller and lighter than Mr. Zimbabwe’s – yes, Lawrence I am going to post the picture yet again! And now I know for sure that he will make me suffer but it is sooo worth it ……

Who says girls pack more than guys?????
Cheryl’s suitcase on the left, Mr Zimbabwe’s is the much bigger one on the right¬†

 

I figure that I might as well tease him as he is making horrible threats to me.

Are any of you familiar with the collars that dogs wear which give them an electric shock if they wander out of bounds?

Well, Lawrence is threatening to get something similar for me to wear when I meet his grannies and other family members. He figures that if he has the means to send me an electric jolt when I say something inappropriate that I will be on my best behavior. The poor boy still hasn’t figured out that nothing is capable of making me being on my best behavior other than if I make up my mind to be. Plus, I like the idea of making him sweat as to whether I will behave or not….after all the trip was his idea and I am an evil being.¬†¬†ūüôā

I can’t wait to see where he grew up and meet the rest of his family but the best part I am sure will be the travel there and back. I love being on the road with Lawrence laughing, singing and having lots of fun. Although I feel slightly sorry for Lawrence’s younger brother who will be stuck in the vehicle with us, I am certain that he will never have another trip like it!

My Saturday in Mochudi

Saturday was a fantastic and memorable day for me for several reasons. The first is that I got to spend the entire day and evening simply hanging out and having fun with my best buddy Lawrence.

Lawrence is now renting a house for him and his little brother in Mochudi which is about 35 kms from Gaborone. He has wanted to move out of Gaborone for a while now and this house was perfect for him. He just moved into it last weekend (Easter weekend) and has already become well established in the community…there will be more about that in a minute.

Normally you need to take a combi to travel back and forth between Gaborone and Mochudi, however, Lawrence always thinks of everything when it comes to me. He arranged for me to get a drive to Mochudi with his friend Richard, also from Zimbabwe. So after a very pleasant drive to Mochudi with Richard we pulled up to Lawrence’s gate which needed to be opened for us to drive through. Of course I was fully prepared to jump out and open the gate while Richard drove through….these Zimbabwe men are such pains as they are “mostly” gentlemen.

Richard was both shocked and appalled that I would even consider getting out to open the gate for him. So like a good girl I quietly (yes, I said quietly) sat there and didn’t protest. By this time Lawrence had heard our approach and came out on to his front porch. He had noted that it was Richard, not me, who had opened and closed the gate. That made him smile! But don’t worry, when we left the yard later on, he let me open and close the gate…small accomplishments for equality!

What can I say about Lawrence’s new home, other than it is perfect right down to the chickens running around in the yard. There are four houses located in the same yard. The view is fantastic and the house is truly a home. For someone who just moved in a week before it appeared like they had been living there for some time. He even has it beautifully decorated….I think that there is some¬†metro-sexual¬†in that boy! But that is to be expected of someone who can strut and preen with the best of them ūüėČ

The Dingwa Home
The Dingwa Home

There was a full slate of activities for the day, but none of which could come before feeding me. Lawrence had his little brother slaving over a hot stove in the morning preparing lunch for Richard and I. It was tasty and¬†delicious. Following lunch we all piled into Lawrence’s car. Picture one white chick and three Zimbabwe men cruising through the town of Mochudi sight seeing with the music turned up loud. From my vantage point in the back seat I began to feel a bit like the Queen waving at people as we passed. I am sure that the residents of Mochudi had never experienced such a sight. But I am happy to say that we left a trail of smiles and laughter every where we went.

After some sight seeing and exploration of Mochudi we were then off to attend the wedding of Mmoniemang ¬†& Keneilwe . ¬†Here in Botswana there is no such thing as one simple wedding ceremony. In fact, there can be up to four different ceremonies for a couple! The first is civil ceremony held at the District Commissioner’s office which is the legal ceremony. The next is the church ceremony followed by celebrations a week or so apart with first the Groom’s family and¬†neighbors¬†and then with the Bride’s. The¬†celebration we attended was the final one held at the Bride’s home.

Welcome to the Wedding
Welcome to the Wedding

Our invitation to attend came¬†curtsy¬†of ¬†one of the bridesmaids who in just a week had become completely smitten with Lawrence, and really, how couldn’t she? As for me, never a real fan of weddings I was eager to participate in one here in Botswana as I was told it is truly special. I have also never attended a wedding with three handsome dates before either – just another first for me ūüôā

The beautiful Lorraine
The Bridal Party
The Bride & Groom
The Bride & Groom

We arrived just as the wedding party was kicking of their heels in a dance down the red carpet runner laid out in front of the banqueting tents. The joy, laughter and sense of celebration was immediately evident! While we congregated under a large tree for shade to watch the festivities, a woman came and lead us to seats under the canopy with a great view of the celebration. Every special event here has specific colours associated with it, such as black & gold, blue and white, or yellow and green. The colours for Saturday were yellow & green. The bridesmaids were in yellow and green, the tents were festooned with yellow & green draping, etc.

The beautiful Lorraine
The beautiful Lorraine

Once seated with my three handsome escorts, I unrolled the yellow programme tied up with a yellow & green ribbon so that I could have an idea of what to expect. Here is the programme content:

Programme

Master of Cermonies

Welcoming Speech – MC

Opening Prayer – Bishop

Introduction of Families by Uncles

Uncle Daniel

Uncle Dintwe

Photo shooting

Music item x 2

Lunch

Music item x 2

Change

Groom and Bride Speeches

Music item x 2

Counselling of the Bride

Entertainment

I got slightly panicky when I saw that lunch was being served as I had just eaten not that long ago at Lawrence’s and knew that there was no way I could work my way through a big plate of traditional food. However, I was reassured that it would take hours before we actually got to the food. Assured, I sat back in my chair to enjoy the celebration. And by the way, the ribbons that my programme was tied in got braided into a¬†bracelet¬†for me to wear because I had noted to my companions that I wasn’t wearing either yellow or green! Problem solved thanks to quick thinking by Lawrence.

My goofy escorts
My goofy escorts – Lawrence & Richard

Unfortunately almost of the speeches and prayers were in Setswana so I could not understand everything but between my companions and seat mate quick translations were done to keep me up to speed. The introduction of the families was a spirited interlude where all family present was recognized and introduced to the crowd. All too quickly plates were being gathered up and heaped with food. Once again panic set in as I am truly not a big eater and I didn’t want to offend anyone. However, I had nothing to worry about.

Introducing the family
Introducing the family

The food was¬†delicious! In fact, the best traditional food that I have had so far. Even though my plate was heaped high with food that I couldn’t possible eat, the culture here is to share with others so what I couldn’t consume got quickly passed around the table and did not go to waste. Following the food were very romantic and poignant speeches by the Groom and Bride.

The Romantic Speeches
The Romantic Speeches

I, of course was holding out for the Counselling of the Bride listed on the programme. However a very smart and efficient Lawrence saw fit to remove me from the proceedings so that I would not be tempted to provide counselling of my own to the blushing bride ūüėČ Truthfully, he knows that I can only behave myself for so long and we had been there a couple of hours. So I was swept away for more sight seeing and meeting more handsome Zimbabwe gentlemen. ¬†A woman can never be surrounded by too many handsome men!

Silly boys!
Silly boys!

The rendezvous site was a local bar. ¬†Once again, I was the only light skinned person who was now accompanied by five men! To say that we attracted a little attention would be putting it mildly but as Lawrence has learned, accompanying me makes him far more appealing to women so my companions didn’t suffer. My only challenge came when I made a trip to the ladies room. Having left my purse in the trunk of the car I was ill prepared.

The much better behaved side of the table
The much better behaved side of the table

First of all as I learned during my first trip to Africa twenty five years ago it is always best to carry your own toilet paper just in case. With no purse, I had no tissues, oops!! Hoping for the best I entered the toilets. The other factor about women’s toilets in this part of Africa, ¬†users commonly do not close the door. I have not yet perfected the true nonchalance¬†required to ¬†stand outside of the wide open cubicles will the users calmly go about their business. There really is nothing else that you can do but graze adoringly at the floor hoping it will open up and swallow you. However, all was not so bad as the first lady to exit graciously shared her wad of toilet paper with me. I can tell you that I happily closed the door so that I could pee in private.

Following our interlude at the bar and my¬†traumatic¬†toilet break we returned to the wedding celebration for the dancing. As I noted earlier, my companions enjoy music as much…if not more than I do so we had been driving around all day with great music. Pulling up to the Bride’s home Lawrence’s MP3 began playing a song that seemed to send all of the male¬†inhabitants¬†of the vehicle into fits of soleful and dramatic singing along. No sooner than the car halted then they all spilled out and began singing and dancing to the song.

For once I sat firmly ensconced in the back seat laughing….you see the scene was very similar to one that I had participated in just a couple of weeks ago. When the outside dance party that I was attending with my friends Erin and Sheila got hit by rain, we only made it as far as Erin’s car where we then promptly danced to her stereo for about twenty minutes in the pouring rain. It seems that this¬†behavior¬†is not restricted to foolish women. My companions noted that I hadn’t joined them and there was no choice but to come out and join the insanity.

Richard teaching me dance moves!
Richard teaching me dance moves!

The rest of the evening was spent in singing and dancing until everyone piled back into Lawrence’s car so he could safely return me to Peter’s Place and the relative quiet of my apartment. After two nights out dancing I was finally ready to go home and chill out! But only after plans were made for a return trip to Mochudi!

POST SCRIPT: ¬†Please note that it was a guy taking the pictures so that is why I do not have one really good one of the bride! Oh well, Lawrence did takes lots of great pictures of one particular bridesmaid ūüėČ

I wonder who is his favorite?
I wonder who is his favorite?

Lawrence has really done it this time!

My friend and colleague Lawrence is really in hot water this time!

This morning while discussing my trip home with him to Zimbabwe for Easter, he was telling me how he would even take me to meet his grannies in their rural village. Of course they do not speak English and I have no ability to converse with them other than through Lawrence or a translator.

Which according to Lawrence is a good thing! Otherwise he wants to get one of those electrical shock devices to attach to me so that when I say something that I shouldn’t, he can shock me and I will shut up!

Now to be fair, he has a point. None of you heard what I did on our road trip. Let’s just say that we picked up a passenger which I totally forgot was in the back seat of the truck and I made reference to part of my anatomy that polite Motswana girls wouldn’t. Oblivious to the passenger in the back seat I also could not see her reaction. Lawrence could! and still didn’t shut me up!

So this time around he is planning for all¬†contingencies. At least he is still not only happy to travel with me but also introduce me to all of his family and his wonderful country, Zimbabwe. Guess I can’t be too mad at him!

And maybe he will even leave me in the bush in¬†Zimbabwe! That would be something to look forward to….