Sunday, late afternoon and I just returned from having a drink (Malawi shanty â€“ a lemonade with water and ginger
ale, very refreshing!) with Regina
at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve Lodge in the sun. I did not anticipate this
weekend to end like this: gorgeous nature, blue sky, some puffy clouds,
comfortable chairs and the sun sending warm rays of sun onto my arms and faceâ€¦
started Friday, a day off since May 1st has been a holiday and the
president extended it to Friday. Fair enough. My plans of sleeping long were
quickly finished at 7 AM by a resounding alarm.
Our houseâ€™s alarm system had
gone off and in no time the security people were here. The others explained to
me that this had happened before, just false alarm. It was a bit scary,
especially since I only just now discovered the â€śEmergencyâ€ť-button in every
room in the house with which you can call the security. I had not felt I needed
that here so far and still do not consider this a dangerous placeâ€¦
Nina, Joey and I
Since I had
gotten up anyway I stayed awake and saw that the sky had turned to grey. No sun
to be seen at all. It was chilly and I realized that I must have forgotten my
favourite dark blue rugby sweater somewhere after the demonstration. I donâ€™t
believe one of my co-workers has it, so I suppose it is gone. Too bad, really.
So I wore the brown sweater in the photo instead.
I went to
an Internet cafĂ© where I posted my latest entries.
The people there are really
nice and I was very surprised when I listened in to their conversations (young
people mostly): They discussed the crisis in Zimbabwe which really is present
everywhere here in Southern Africa and they discussed why the president of
Botswana is not being elected by the people but rather by parliament (which,
whether by coincidence or not, is the case with Germanyâ€™s chancellor as well!).
They also shared fears of what the president will become: a true democrat or a
dictator (they did not phrase it that way). It is a discussion which I have
read about in the papers, too. Seretse Khama Ian Khama is a Lt. General and he
has surrounded himself with ex-generals or other military personnel once he
took office. I am in no position to give an opinion here, I witnessed him at
the workshop opening and he seemed alright to meâ€¦but that has nothing to say.
Many Batswana believe he will be a good president, mainly because he is the son
of the late Sir Seretse Khama, first president of independent Botswana.
At the bus terminal
will tell, I guess.
finished with my emails and posting, I took a combi to the River Walk Mall
where I had a cup of coffee in one of Gabsâ€™ few coffee places where you can get
decent coffee. I read the Naguib Mahfouz book that I mentioned earlier (a
terrific read!), sipped my coffee and relaxed. While the weather grew greyer
and colder, I hopped on another combi bus and made everyone laugh out loud
there. For the first time, this 10-seater bus (like a mini-van), was filled to
the last place. So the guy riding with it and collecting the 25 c it costs to
ride it waived me inside and pointed to the back of the bus. I only saw the
floor left. So, I sat on the floor. The whole bus started laughing and my
neighbour was friendly enough to point to the expandable chairs that were
attached to the benchesâ€¦I quickly moved up there and shared the laugh with
themâ€¦being another foreigner or white man who has no idea how things workâ€¦But I
am learning quickly!
just in time before the rain started and it never quite stopped.
I spent the
evening reading and talking with the other house guests. Yukiko and Regina and I sat until
late at night over some wine and discussed all sorts of issues from cultural
differences to living abroad. Reginaâ€™s
family will arrive in 1 Â˝ weeks and she is so excited to finally see her husband
and two daughters again. The daughters (16 and 14) will stay here for the two
years, her husband works as an independent doctor and therefore will return
after 3 weeks.
Cape Vulture info
tried to catch some sleep which is not so easy with a bad mattress in your bed
and two small children in the house, especially one of whom is prone to
screaming around and slamming the doors at 7 AM.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, I still
like these kids and they are really cute, as you can see from the photos, but
sometimes they can cause a headacheâ€¦I guess thatâ€™s kids.
See the diplomatic licence plate!
was a day full of rain. Regina and I had thought
about driving about 50 km south of Gabs to a village called Otse where you find
the highest hill in Botswana,
Otse Hill (almost 1500 m). The weather was so bad that we decided not to go.
Instead we went in her new car (the former French ambassadorâ€™s private
Mitsubishi Pajero) to a bike shop where she had her bike adjusted and the
Pagenstecher family with Nina and Joey were also coming in their car. The bike
place was located at the bus station and the poverty there strikes you.
many small vending stations and people offering whatever they have. It has been
the first time in Bots that I have noticed it so strongly. It is in stark
contrast to the glittery glass palaces along the main roads. It is a shame to
see in such a rich countryâ€¦
Tree in rocks
my ride with the Pagenstechers and we went to one of the malls at the
outskirts, Game City Mall. It never stopped rainingâ€¦I went to look at the book
shops there and I did find them. Their selection was very poor though and I was
extremely disappointed. I am a book lover and I wanted to get myself some more
reading material from the region. I might eventually end up buying
â€śConstitutional Law of Botswanaâ€ť (of which they had 10 copies), but I was much
more interested in fiction from the region. Not much to be had there.
the book shop at River Walk Mall, which I thought has a small selection, has
the best variety of them allâ€¦from there we went to â€śLiquoramaâ€ť, a liquor store
where I bought a cider that I had gotten to know through Sandra: â€śSavannah Dryâ€ť
from Stellenbosch in South Africa. It is available for 50 c per bottle and very
refreshing if you stick a lemon slice from our lemon tree into it. I also
bought a bottle of South African Shiraz to share; the wineryâ€™s name is
â€śAllesverlorenâ€ť, which translates into â€śLost everythingâ€ť. We had the wine in
the evening and it was good.
I did some
writing and reading (finished Mahfouz and started Muhammad Yunusâ€™
autobiography) during the rest of the day, not being able to leave the house
because of the rain. It was very frustrating and depressing, too.
really nothing you can do when it rains and you donâ€™t have a car. After dinner
I watched the 9 oâ€™clock news and to my surprise I was on national telly for 5
seconds when they showed some clips from the Access to Justice workshop. Right
after they had interviewed my boss, they showed some attendants and there I
was, looking concentrated and scribbling something (I bet it wasnâ€™t connected
to the speeches I listened to!). WOW. That made my day. Ha.
Otse Hill with a donkey cart
was awful, it rained so heavily and the thunder was so loud and rolling, I had
never heard anything like that before. Check out the video to see the rain
stream down the roof at 4 AM in the morning. I really feared it would rain
through the roof (which must have happened before according to the house
mates). It seems like our constant shouting of â€śPULA!â€ť (rain) at the assemblies had had its
I fell back asleep when the rain diminished, but was woken up by
screaming Joey at 7:30â€¦sometimesâ€¦itâ€™s hard to contain myselfâ€¦
stopped raining, but the sky was grey and it was chilly. Regina suggested that we go to the Gaborone
Yacht Club right at the Gaborone Dam. The dam stores enough water for the city
and the yacht club was a nice place she said. So we went there and were lucky
to have her 4x4 car because the way was pretty muddy. The place really is nice,
reminded me of a lake in Italy
and weâ€™ll return with her family for a picknick once they arrived. There is one
thing that is bothering me, though. On the way there, we passed one of the
poorest quarters of Gabs.
People there really live in shacks. These single-roomed
shacks made of simple bricks with a toilet brick shack in the court, often
without windows, start right beside ministerial glass palaces and the entrance
to the yacht club is right across the street. I donâ€™t know how a rich country like
can tolerate that! The contrasts of rich and poor are enormous in this country.
Donkey in Otse
to take the risk and drive to Otse today, because there was some sun peeking
out of the sky by noon and also little patches of blue. It was well worth the
ride! The sky became blue with a few clouds, the sun warmed us and we arrived
there in no time. We saw Otse Hill (at least we think the one on the photo is
it) and then continued to Manyelanong Game Reserve, a tiny reserve that
harbours the Cape
Vulture, a rare bird.
From 300 in the 1960s the group has diminished to about 80. You see them
circling around the Manyelanong Hills (which literally translate to â€śplace of
excrementing vulturesâ€ť). The hillsâ€™ original reddish colour had indeed been
whitened by the bird excrements, but it made it look even more interesting. We
saw the majestic birds circling above our heads and felt like being in the real
bush. It was very nice. Just the right thing after these two depressing days of
rain. We looked at Otse, too, many poor houses, just a village but cleaner than
Gabsâ€™ run down quarters. Like I mentioned before, the poverty is striking and
it makes me sad. There is so much to be done.
returned to the capital via the Mokolodi Nature Reserveâ€¦it was an intense day,
with positives and negatives. I still feel much better prepared to go back to
work tomorrow than I did this morning.
of the day: Batswana are very friendly and almost everyone greets you on the
way. Handshakes last much longer than our short European handshakes: You keep your
counterpartsâ€™ hand in your hand for quite a bit while you continue talking. Also,
with quite some Batswana there are some strange hand movements involved,
turning the hand upwards around the thumbs and then downwards again. Hard to
explain. At first it is startling, now I have already grown to like it.