Entrance door to mz room
I was woken up at 8:30 AM by monkeys running over our roof after a cool night, feeling pretty relaxed and full of energy. I was warned before that the monkeys might wake me up. Judith had already left for the FES office and Francois was just getting up. After I showered and I took in the first smells of Botswana sun, which reminded me very much of Southern Europe, I can’t exactly say why. Francois explained to me where the FES office was, so I started out by foot (should have been a matter of 10 minutes). It turned out the Francois got the directions pretty messed up and by the time I arrived at FES (after having received some correct instructions by phone) it was 10 AM. The streets were easy to walk along, it took a couple of inner reminders to use the other side of the road though because they are driving on the left in Bots.
All looked quite tidy and green, the sand on the side tracks of a light reddish brown. I spotted a not so nice sight and that was a run over monkey, just like our cars run over rabbits and hogs…
View to bathroom
Gabi, Judith and I ventured out to the intern apartment where I picked up my stuff and then Gabi drove me to the office of the DED (Germany’s development agency). There I received keys to a room in their guest house which I will able to use until May 11 for a mere 7 euros a night. The house is on a compound with swimming pool and a gardener’s house in the back yard, having about 8 rooms, as well as a shared kitchen and living room area. We dropped off my stuff in a fine room with its own bathroom and then drove on to look at the area around here.
It is located right behind the Princess Marina Hospital and thus just 5 minutes by foot to Ditshwanelo, my place of work. A first visit there was quite fruitless, because the responsible people had left the office and a secretary did not even know about me. I decided to simply come back on Monday, although I was shocked by their office hours starting at 6:30 AM! The secretary told me 8 AM would be fine for me…at least!
Gabi dropped me off at the River Walk Mall, a mall just like any other mall one knows from the United States. That was quite a shock. Another sign that this city is probably not a typically African city.
I don’t know, but it really felt like I was somewhere in the US, also the cars ranged from S-class Mercedes to normal VWs. I bought a Botswana SIM-card for my cell phone with the provider Orange and now have a Botswana number. It was quite cheap, costing 1 euro and according to Judith an sms to Germany costs a mere 10 cents – that is if they can get that service to work for me. This will be my first test of Botswana efficiency: I can call Germany from this phone, but I cannot send text messages because the “Destination is not allowed”. The very helpful young man behind the counter sent an email to the help section at Orange hq and will get in touch with me once they got it fixed. We’ll see…Another thing I noticed is time: People seem to have more time here.
At counters and cashier desks you wait and wait while people take their time to find their money, clerks taking their time collecting the money. It is a bit unsettling at first, but I guess you get used to it.
Met at the pool
At the mall, I was able to check some prices and noticed vast differences: meat is indeed incredibly cheap, about 5 euros per kilo beef. Also, food at restaurants is cheaper: I paid 4 euros for a big sandwich and two coffees at a local store. Books however have European prices, with 12 euros for a paperback of African modern short stories. Shampoo and shower gel are bit cheaper than in Germany.
I took a combi back to the hospital. A combi is a minivan that takes about 8-10 people along a pre-defined route and costs 2,50 pula (about 20 cents). They don’t have the best reputation but I felt fine in there. The driving was adventurous but ok. He dropped me off and told me which direction to go and it was – how could it be different? – not the right direction. So I asked a passing lady the way and she told me she was headed for the same place. So, we chatted along the way, very friendly, very open. Once we reached familiar surroundings, we said farewell and I went to the apartment. There, I was presented with two adorable kids, Nina and Joey, aged 5 and 3, the children of a Japanese lady (whose name I must ask again tomorrow) and a German, who is working for Germany’s development agency in Francistown, about 6 hours by car from here. We talked and I was horsing around with the kids. We had a tremendous amount of fun, making faces at each other, eating pomgranades from our own tree in the garden and having a spitting contest with the seeds, then we played soccer for hours. It was so much fun. Their father, Lutz, arrived at about 7 PM and with him came another resident of the guest house, who is working for the Ministry of Education here, in the field of health. It’s an agreeable bunch and we had dinner together: Japanese. :)
Now, I am really growing tired. I don’t know exactly how to describe my first impressions. Just so much: It feels quite natural and normal to be here, not as exotic as I imagined it. It is a safe city and there is nothing much to be afraid of. The sun feels very much stronger than currently in Germany, so sunblocker is definitely on my shopping list for tomorrow. The nights are cold. I am anxious to start working at Ditshwanelo and hope they do have work for me.