Sunday, February 28, 2010


I don't have much time but I wanted to post some of the interesting cultural differences I've been noting as I've been here. Things are great, my family is really neat and has been helping me with my Setswana, even though they mostly speak English. On Friday night a small group of us went to a music festival of sorts with all local bands that was awesome. We were the only makoa(white people) to stand up and dance and we actually got cheered on when we got up, it was great. Hope everyone is well!

-It is expected that we take 2 baths/showers a day, even if our families don't, because a stereotype of westerners is that we are very clean

-Almost all food is eaten with your hands, rice, corn, meat. My family still gives me a fork and knife but I'm the only one that is given them, so I haven't been using them.

-People are shocked when we are able to use even basic Setswana, which says a lot about the ex-pat population here. Some ex-pats even boast about the fact that they have managed to avoid learning the language, which is a bit disheartening

-children are expected to do all the serving when it comes to food, so at big parties, all the kids will make plates and take them to the parents before they are allowed to get food themselves, which def expedites the process when it comes to some of the large gatherings I've been to of 40+ people.

All for now. My family is buying pani worms, a Botswana favorite, which is actually a caterpillar about 5 inches in length that is braii-ed(barbequed) and eaten, so I'll def be updating about that experience!


Friday, February 19, 2010

A Picture!!!!

Back in Gabs!


Sorry for the long lapse in updates. I just arrived back into the capital of Botswana, Gaborone, after spending two weeks in homestay in a village about 45 minutes outside the city.

Although very tired, I am having a great time. Homestay was very cool, I spoke a ton of Setswana( my skills have greatly improved!), drank bush tea, played with goats, learned how to make bread from scratch(and several types at that!), listened to a lot of old school rap, learned how to use a pit latrine rather than a flush toilet, watched a ton of Generations (a South African soap opera that everyone here loves and follows religiously, dinner in my house was served every night to coincide with watching it as we ate.), and met a lot of new people. My host family was great, very supportive of my learning and willing to take me all the places of interest within the village. It's the summer here, so air con was def something I miss, seeing as how it was often 95 degrees in my room where I was sleeping at 1 or 2 am, but I got used to it.

We also have gone on a few excursions, where, among other things, we went on a game drive (where we saw giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, impala, and ostrich), learned how to track rhinos, and ended up getting within 40 feets of 3 fully grown, wild rhinos (very cool, granted a bit nerve wracking!), learned about natural products that come from the ecosystem, such as fruits, honey, etc., and finally climbed to the top of the hill that overlooks Gaborone, a humbling experience.

Botswana is amazing! The people are very friendly, especially if you make an attempt to speak Setswana with them. A few people have asked if I get nervous at all, and I'm getting more and more used to being the minority in every situation. People are always willing to help and show you the way or a lot of the time, walk you to your destination. Crime is very low and usually petty, so no worries there. As for food, nothing too weird yet, a lot of starches, sorghum, maize, and rice mostly, along with chicken and beef.

I'm in Gabs for the next 3 weeks, so more updates will come soon, maybe with another pic or two! I hope everyone is well!

Monday, February 1, 2010

African Crashcourse


I am loving it here so far, the people are very friendly, I'm with a great group of other students, and the country is beautiful. I'm having trouble uploading pictures, but I will try again when I have internet again. Our days have been spent in a combination of culture adjustment activities, Setswana language classes, and game drives/walks. The people here are all very friendly, as long as you are polite and present yourself well.

We are currently in the middle of our "drop off" activity, where myself and 2 of the other students were dropped off in a shopping center/market in the capital city of Gaborone with a set of objectives and a place that we must meet the group at the end of our time.

We have seen so much wildlife already, elephants, wildebeest, ostrich, impala, kudu, warthog, and hornbills. The pictures I'm sending will be of some of those. It's going to be very hard going back to normal school at UPS when here our classroom is outdoors and we regularly see kudu and families of warthogs grazing around our class, as it's happening!

Everyday it seems like we get several reminders of the fact that we are in Africa, and just visitors to the bush. Last night, we got back late from watching the Africa Cup Soccer finals in Gaborone, and one of the other guys walked into the bathroom, only to find a Spitting Cobra coiled in the middle of the floor. Needless to say we all rushed into the bathroom and watched the "snake guy" come and get it, not without it spitting several times at him and putting up a good fight. The Cobra is one of the most deadly snakes on the continent, and can spit up to 3 meters.

Today was had our first thunderstorm, but with only light rain. At the end of classes today, two people from the animal rehab center here at the nature reserve came and brought a Marsh owl, which I got to touch, an African Peregrine Falcon, which I got to hold, two Rock Boa Constrictors, the smaller of which I held, and a Puff Adder, one of the seven most deadly snakes in Africa.

I'm already beginning to see why people who come to Africa fall in love with it and don't want to leave. We start our first homestay on Wednesday, so I'm excited to start using my Setswana skills and learn what it's like to live in a small village (3,000 people).

I'll hopefully post pictures soon, it will be a while before I can post again since I'll be out of contact, but I'll try again soon. Hope everyone is doing well!

Go siame!