Bianca's In Botswana!
Post by Bianca Herrera from the University of Illinois at Chicago
Hello everyone, or dumelang! Greetings from Gaborone, Botswana. It has been an amazing 6 weeks since I first set foot in this country. Since then I have slept in a hut, danced traditional dances, seen zebras, wildebeest, and rhinos, negotiated with local vendors (and got pretty good deals), rode combis, eaten Mopane worms, seen amazing landscapes, and much, much more!
I will start off by talking a little bit about my experience at the Bahurutse Cultural lodge. During this overnight trip, I was able to see traditional Setswana dances, eat traditional food, and climb up a hill. I enjoyed climbing up the hill during the Bahurutse excursion. It was difficult to climb with large jutting rocks everywhere (literally “rock climbing”), but when we got to the top, no one could deny that the view was amazing. I felt like I could stay up there for hours, but we had to come down so we could go back to the lodge and watch the traditional dances.
The dances were amazing to watch! What most struck me about them was how young the dancers were. It was very interesting to see young people keeping a part of their culture, despite the influences of western culture in Botswana.
After this I was able to sleep in a hut, which was, well, it was cold!!! CIEE was not lying when they said to bring a jacket because it gets cold at night, I would actually suggest bringing a scarf and hat too.
So I have talked about culture, but what about animals? There were so many animals on this trip that I saw both on safari and just walking around. On campus, there were always some cute cats and monkeys. Sometimes they would follow you, but most of the time they just kind of hung out. However, in Jwaneng, I witnessed baboons roaming the streets….that was SCARY (but only if you are afraid of baboons, as I am)! We went on two safaris, one during the day and one at night. I saw impala, antelope, wildebeest, spring hare, zebras, rhinos, and more!
The last thing that I will speak about is my experience in the markets. I loved going to the local shops and negotiating for things such as handmade beaded bracelets and necklaces, statues, figurines, and even a Botswana flag (because ke rata Botswana!). At the market, you will also find these interesting little snacks called Mopane worms.I was hesitant about it at first; I mean they are fat caterpillar-like critters. However, after I tried one, fed to me by one of the local vendors, I found that they were quite delicious! Fried and with the right seasoning, those little critters are a delicacy.Overall, I have had an amazing and different experience during my time here. I have learned so much about culture, people, and about myself as well. This trip has inspired me to travel other parts of the world as well. I would love to come back to visit; it wouldn’t be for a while but “ga go na mathata”, I’ll make it back someday!