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06/06/2014

Dumelang borra le bomma, ke rata Botswana!

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Post by Abbey Kennedy from the University of Scranton

That basically means “Hey guys and girls, I love Botswana!” which is a really great sentence to sum up my first week here in Gaborone. It is completely insane how much you can learn and fall in love with a country in such a short amount of time, but Botswana just seems to have that effect on people.

When I landed in Gaborone, I met a few other people from the program as we waited to pick up our luggage….mine never came through. But everyone was super nice and loaned the 2 other kids who lost their luggage and I stuff to wear while the airline found ours. We got it back really quickly, but the whole "I survived 3 days in Africa with only my backpack" thing really made me realize I am way more tough and calm than I ever thought I could be, so part of me is almost glad that it happened.

SURVIVAL SETSWANA! The Motswana culture is very strong here and greeting everyone is essential to respecting that culture. We have been saying “Dumela mma/rra” (Hello madam/sir) to everyone we come in contact with, and even though people  giggle a little bit because of our strong American accents, they really appreciate that we are trying to learn their cultural language and are more than willing to help us out with anything we need. “Ke itumelela go go itse, go siame mma/rra” (It was nice to meet you, goodbye).”

FOOD!! We have eaten a lot of traditional African food, which is surprisingly very easy to live on even as a vegetarian. The meat eaters, however, cannot stop raving about how much better the meat is here versus back in the USA. I tried some Chakalaka today which is a staple canned food item here, and it was so good. Going out of my comfort zone in the food realm is proving to be such a good decision! I took a picture of one of my meals…

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It's (starting clockwise from noon) potato wedges, steamed veggies, a starch mash with some form of melon in it which was actually really good, rice with veggies and a tomato gravy which is awesome, and then some sort of steamed leaves which were not my personal favorite, but some people loved them. There was also ox tail and chicken at this meal for all the meat eaters. And it was followed by an apple pie-ish muffin with a warm cream poured over it; heavenly.

This weekend we had a lot of fun doing our “Combi Safari” where we went all around Gabs using public transportation and taking creative pictures at each stop on our scavenger hunt list. Some of the highlights were the art gallery, the station (where you go pretty much every day to get anywhere), main mall, and the pedestrian mall (a huge, super cool flea market). So that made me so much more comfortable navigating through the city on my own.

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A small group of friends and I also went to the Gaborone game reserve with one of the locals we met, and saw monkeys just hopping around and I wanted to steal one and keep it forever; they were adorable. But it was crazy because all the locals were so un-phased by them or they thought they were annoying. We also saw warthogs and kudu and antelope and ostriches and so many other cool animals. And then the sun set and we left, but you can’t hate an African sunset no matter how hard you try; they are perfect.

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