Part of our daily ritual after Anj returns from work. The swimming, not the jumping with a slightly psychotic face that is.
Right, no apologies on taking so long to write again. Most of what's been going on has been day to day life. Just like I probably don't need to hear about your meetings, commutes and what you had for dinner, I don't expect anyone to want to know that about us, even if we are in Botswana.
But over the last month or so we have accumulated some more adventures worth writing about. I believe that Anj is now at the end of her rope when it comes to driving in this place. Each day she comes home railing on about how idiodic local drivers are. I tend to agree. So, rather than harp on about this, I have dedicated the title to the maniacal, half drunk, drivers here who do in fact run every red light, or stop sign available. In fact, I have come to believe that over here, if you see a light change from yellow to red, even if you are 50 metres away, someone will run it. To join in the fun, I keep a bottle of Jack Daniels in my glove compartment and often see how much I can finish before the light turns
Assume the position
Anj enjoying time at the Barcelo Rappaport Resort in Gaborone.
green again. I'm not quite sure what happens next as it's all a little blurry from there. Seriously though, a defensive driving program here, or at least cars made of rubber would go far. Enough about that though.
One of the highlights of the last little while was my trip to the National Stadium here in Gaborone, to watch the Botswana under 21 team battle Morrocco. Now, for most people, such a trip would be a lark, a fun day out in the sun with some mates, soaking up the atmosphere, which it was for me also, I just, um, did it with a twist. My partner in crime for this game was Dwillilane, one of the deaf guys from where Anj works. We managed to coordinate this by text messages and Anj dropped us off at the stadium, with us intending to buy some tickets at the gate. As luck would have it, they were sold out. We walked around the entire stadium, me practising my broken sign language along the way (which involves me often forgetting to actually face him when i am signing). Eventually, Dwillilane, shows me a laminated identity card with his picture on it,
Still life with aloe
Basically the only plant that stays alive 12 months a year.
allowing him into sporting events, buses and museums free due to his condition. He points to me, puts his hands on his ears, and shakes his head. He wants me to pretend I am deaf too.
So, that's what I do. Yes, in lieu of paying two dollars, which for many of the spectators is a lot of money, I lied my way in. I walk calmly to the ticket taker with Dwillilane, where he proceeds to show his card. They ask for my card, and I look around confused as if I am not sure what they are saying and they let me through. I would be going to hell if it were my idea, but Dwillilane gives me a wink and we find our seats. The game was brilliant. First it was scorching, then it pouring, causing the 30,000 strong crowd to yell PULA! (rain), which apparently is their mascot, for Botswana scored, and later added another to finish the game 2-0. There was dancing, whistles, flags flying and I am pretty sure Dwillilane picked up the girl beside us. On the way out, the celebrations continued, and I met many of Dwillilane's friends, some deaf, many
Flappin in the breeze
A very patriotic people. Unfortunately, I was mistaken for an opposition fan. Not sure if I look Moroccan enough though.
not, but all knowing sign language, often taught by D himself. I noticed though, that a lot of people were running up to me, cheering and screaming "we beat you!". I asked one what he meant and he was assuming that since I wasn't black, that I must be Moroccan. Being one of the only white people in the stadium that day, I guess I could understand it, but I am pretty sure I don't look very Moroccan. Anyways, by the end of the day, perhaps I had become the only deaf Moroccan at the game, and most likely in all of southern Africa as well. Well, at least there isn't a deep seeded hateful rivalry between Morocco and Botswana - about as far away from each other as you can get in Africa. Kind of like Canada and El Salvador having issues. But I digest.
In more recent news, Anj's work has been winding down these past few weeks and she now has two weeks off to enjoy a little bit of R&R away from her hectic schedule. We currently have Angela's great friend from Toronto, Jes, staying with us. Tomorrow we are off to the salt pans,
Rain cometh and the people cheer.
then travelling for another week throughout Botswana, plus a revisit to Victoria Falls in Zambia. Chrismas day will be spend having breakfast on a tiny island at the edge of the Falls, followed by an elephant back safari along the Zambezi Riverfront. Not being a fan of rushing water, heights, and especially elephants (close up), this should be a good challenge for me. Anj seems to like commemorating special dates by putting my life at risk. Remember, she had me swimming with whale sharks on my birthday, and I don't really swim too well. What's next, hippo wrestling on our anniversary? Romantic.
Last month also saw I get some more visitors. Jes' brother David and his partner Susan made a last minute booking and flew to Botswana to see us and get some proper travelling in. They spent a weekend with us on the front end and we sent them off on the same trip we did with our friends in September - which they managed fully through public transport - very impressive. Unfortunately, even though we are volunteers, that does not make us roaming troubadors, able to leave the confines of our home whenever we choose to galavant
Dwillilane, my escort
I learned a lot of sign language that day...but apparently jumping up and down at a scored goal is the universal sign for woohoo!
around the country, singing poems and spreading joy. No, we actually have a limited number of weeks vacation, so our time together was limited to two weekends. Well, the first part isn't exactly true. Angela doesn't have an infinite number of weeks off. I do.
But that was more true before this last month, when my work has picked up again. I am helping to implement the marketing plan that I wrote earlier this year for the Bushmen organization and I will be starting my work on the Khama Rhino Sanctuary come the new year. The bushman project has already taken me to Johanesburg for some meetings and back up into the Okavango Delta for more meetings; by the riverfront of course. Johannesburg was fantastic once the meetings were done. I got to spend time with my mom's cousin Ruth, and her two children, Daniel and Joanne, who are me and my sister's age respectively. I finally got to meet Joanne's husband Dani, and they were nice enough to put me up and put up with me for a few days. We ate lots of steak and had a great Friday night dinner at their place, which Daniel and
Enjoying a nice cold Hansa after the game. My hands were tired from all the signing.
his wife Tanya also attended. On the Saturday, I saw my Uncle John visiting from Dallas and his daughter Daniela (so many versions of the name Daniel - making my head spin) and had a nice lunch with them and their family there. It was only too bad that Anj couldn't come.
OK, more about Botswana.; and what better way to give you a true sense of the place (if you haven't lost interest yet after 10 months) is to happily recount two days in the life of "the mad Canadian on the bus".
Yes, being the nice guy, or mensch that I am, I decided that flying up to the Delta for one day of meetings was too expensive for a non-profit to handle, so I took the bus. Both ways. Each 11 hours. One day in between. It was disconcerting to see the people I was meeting in Maun even look at me as if I were mad. But I did it and it will never happen again. Here are some observations from the bus ride, conveniently in bullet form. Enjoy.
- Old Batswana Men - The bus will stop in the middle of the
Our living room
Though I'd add this pic for the people asking what the inside of our house looks like.
bush - not a thing for miles - and emerging from the bush, like Shoeless Joe from A Field of Dreams - comes an old man - looking like a weather beaten Danny Glover wearing a time beaten outback hat, with the top almost off. This happened almost every half hour. Oh, and the Black Sox beat the Notwane Donkeys 5-4. Go the distance.
- Eating/Drinking - fried chicken at 8am - feeling like I had rubbed fried chicken on my face after 3 hours as the grease was lingering in the air. A man drank an entire litre carton of chocolate milk without opening the carton - he gnawed a small hole in a bottom corner and suckled it.
- Odours - a nice mix of campfire and urine that got in my nostrils until I was sure it was me that smelled - alas, it was, after about 5 hours
- Seat partners - a very large lady taking up two full seats and the aisle sweated on me for about an hour, until replaced by baggy pants guy, who sat in the middle of three seats with his knees wide, nodding off on my
shoulder. Finally, I was surrounded by kids, singing the most amazing songs - which I thouroughly enjoyed.
I took notes on this bus ride as I was sure there was no way I was going to remember all the little things. I did actually get into that "zone" on the trip where I convinced myself that nothing really bothered me and people here have to experience this all their lives and are completely uncomplaining. So I actually enjoyed all of this; thinking that this was a better alternative to wearing a thick winter coat and sweating with hundreds of others on the subway in Toronto. Yes, here I am the one white guy on the bus and people are offering me food, generally staring at me, and I am actually enjoying it. Viva la Botswana! Then the bus breaks down and reality sets in as I am sitting in a field 50kms from home with 60 other people all arguing in Setswana while I look on clueless and helpless with naught but a dairy milk bar and several Cokes in my stomach to show for 11 hours on the bus. I had had enough, flagged down a random combi
Attack of the hippo
Just scaring some little girls again.
heading my way and had them drop me anywhere in town close to home. Anj got me and I threw myself in the pool, which now probably smells of fried chicken, campfires and urine.
So here we are; about to head on another journey - this time in the comforts of our own car. We return and then Anj and I may be heading to Lesotho for 5 days over the New Years for some pony trekking in the mountains and lots of hiking. Should be a nice holidays, but we will be missing our family and friends this time of year (and what about the rest of the year?). Hoping everyone has a great and safe holidays.
Lots of love,
Bry & Anj
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