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07/09/2013

A Village called Kanye

IMG_7364Post by Sif Nave from St. Catherine University

Kanye is a HUGE village (47-49,000 people - I kept hearing different numbers, so there's a range) about an hour outside of Gabs.  The countryside is GORGEOUS there.  The village (which should be called a city) is nestled in the hills, where every sunrise and sunset is uniquely lovely.  There wasn't much to do there in all sincerity; or rather, there was plenty to do, but limited access to actually doing it.  The whole group was spread out throughout the village (which as I've said, is large) and we were dependent on one form of transportation (a hired combi driver who picked us up and dropped us off at our clinics and at home).

We were in Kanye from Sunday, June 23rd, to Sunday June 30th.  All of us were paired up with Kanye host families.  My host mom was called Gloria, and Gloria's granddaughter, Refilwe, lived with us.  She was 13 or 14, in junior high school; very pretty and kind of quiet.  I wish I'd gotten a chance to take a photo of her, but she went out of town before I left so I missed my opportunity!  However, I do have photos of Gloria, as well as Blondie, who I've determined to be my dog-away-from home.

IMG_6720"Domesticated" animals in Africa are nothing like pets in the U.S.  Most of the dogs and cats I see are strays, and very few of them have any interest whatsoever in engaging with humans (outside of digging through their garbage to salvage scraps).  I've seen and heard dog packs roaming at night, as well as heard potentially fatal dog fights.  And rabies is endemic in Botswana, so I wouldn't mosey around trying to pet every dog I see. BUT, Blondie is a lap dog.  Blondie is a jump-on-you-and-lick-your-face dog.  And therefore:  Blondie is the best.

Tabo (our awesome hired driver) picked us up in the mornings (often an hour later than he told us to be ready) and took us to our designated clinics.  Our clinic was pretty boring, to be quite frank.  There was a disproportionate medical staff to patient ratio, but it was converse to the ratio in most Gabs clinics.  In Gaborone, most of the clinics I've worked in have had a limited number of medical staff with vastly larger numbers of patients.  In Kanye, our clinic was practically (sometimes completely) empty. 

IMG_7630I helped out in consultation, maternity, and the dispensary, but it seemed like I was of little use no matter where I was. At one point, in maternity, I had three people hanging over my shoulder, telling me what to write down on a sheet of paper.  There were three staff members in the room, plus Vicki, myself, and the mother and child patient.  It was unnecessary, not to mention claustrophobic.  I only needed assistance from one individual.  But I digress:  I spent most of my time in the dispensary because it actually gave me tasks to accomplish.  I located and distributed medications to patients, as well as counted & organized pills into take-away packages.  Super exciting, no?  But I also got to know my clinical group a little better, and that was great.  Vicki and I had an hour-long conversation about books, for example.  AND, on the last day when there was nothing left to do, I got tested for HIV!

Let me reassure you:  There is absolutely no grounds for getting tested in my case.  I'd have no reason to be infected.  But, I wanted to see how the test works, and hey:  Being positive that you're NOT positive never hurts.  Well, actually, it does.  But it's just a finger prick, so you'll get over it. Basically, they prick your finger, they draw a little bit of blood, and they put it on a little plate which seems to be lined with some kind of litmus paper (or something like it).  Then they mix a buffer chemical with your blood and as the litmus sheet gets wet, red lines start to appear on the sheet.  If there's one red line:  Congrats, you're HIV negative!  If there's two:  Masepa, bro.  You best get treated. 

After clinicals, Tabo would pick us up and take us to Choppies/Chicken Licken to grab lunch.  My host mom usually sent me with a banana, and then I'd find a cheap meat pie or something at the grocery store.  There was a cute little cafe/bar just down the street from Choppies (okay, a teeny bit further than that, a few blocks) that a couple of us wandered into early on.  They had drinks on the cheaper side for Bots (liquor here is expensive!) and I tried a tasty Smirnoff wine cooler.  I also chased a cute feral kitten.  But I had no success in catching it.

Other than wandering around the central vicinity of Choppies, I spent a lot of time just hanging with Muijj near my house.  We walked up the road one day and found this rocky overlook with a fantastic view of Kanye.  Honestly, there wasn't much to it, but it was special.  Definitely a spot worth returning to.  IMG_7847My host mom was very welcoming and generous.  She served Muijj dinner twice, and she didn't have to.  Not only that, but it was DELICIOUS.  Usually when there's a hunk of white stuff on your plate, it's pap.  Pap is kind of like grits (which I've never had, but people keep saying that's what it resembles).  My real mom calls it "pure carbohydrate."  But anyway, the point is Gloria put a hunk of white stuff on our plates, and it WAS NOT pap.  It was MASHED POTATOES.  And in honor of her name, they were GLORIOUS.  Serious. 

IMG_8173With the dry winter season in Botswana, water shortages can hit hard.  Gabs has been fine, but in Kanye sometimes the water was off for more than a day.  They had a water tank behind the house, but otherwise we'd stock up on water when it was turned on.  There were bottles full of it in the fridge, and if I wanted to bathe, Gloria would fill a bucket from the tank, boil it, and dump it in the bathtub.  I discovered that having access to full baths in Gabs was actually a luxury (honestly, when I got home from Kanye, I sat in the tub for like an hour letting the dirt flake off my skin!) and when I get home (to MN)  I'll probably find the shower to be the greatest luxury of all - next to the Internet. 

The final event in Kanye was a wedding, Saturday morning.  Liz's host mom invited all of us to come, and though it started off a bit awkward and slow for us makgoa foreigners, it was worth staying for.  Some of us sliced up cow innards, we all served up food to the guests and got to eat ourselves, and there was a DJ playing music that we all danced to.  Nitin swore he wouldn't dance in the beginning, but he ended up having a voracious old lady for a dance partner. IMG_8002

Lessons from a white African!

GratzPost by Kelsey Gratz from the University of Minnesota

Gaborone is my place. I swear I am an African born in a white person's body. Everybody is very relaxed and goes with the flow. The only exception is traffic- the rule here is: you don't let anybody in, not even if it’s your Mom. My knuckles are white from clutching the door handle so hard.

Here’s what I’ve learned about Gaborone so far:

1. There are absolutely no trashes cans anywhere. Therefore, I currently have been putting all of my wrappers, q-tips, etc. into a plastic bag and storing it in my suitcase so my host mom doesn't see it and ask me what I am doing. I'm still not sure what she and Bonno do with their trash.

2. Everything beeps. I am pretty sure there is a low battery beeping warning that occurs right outside of our classroom. And you would not believe that it has been going off for THREE days now. It drives me insane! The same is true for other types of beeping noises that happen for God knows what. Just an on-going beeping noise all the time in either cabs, school, etc.

3. The power goes out a couple times a week. There are power shortages in Gabs therefore the Power company (BPC) turns it off every Wednesday at the University from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. to try to reduce power demand. The first night I got here the power went out in the hotel so I met everyone in the dark, showered in the dark, and ate in the dark.

4. It isn’t weird to see several cattle roaming the streets on your way to the clinics, school, etc. Add chickens, donkeys and a couple hundred stray dogs to that list as well. I once asked William where the owner is of all these cows. He laughed at me. Nothing new there.

5. The goats here are pedestrians and they use the crosswalks. I am not even kidding you! They go to graze by themselves I guess and use the crosswalks along the way. I still don’t really get it but it’s true. I have witnessed it happening several times.

6. Roosters do not just crow when the sun rises, but all through the darn day!

7. There is a black market for hair. Everyone here buys hair and gets it woven into braids or dreads. Someone told me that my hair could sell for up to $150. I’m really considering it… In which case I would probably cut all my hair off. We’ll see though.

8. The music here is way better than anything you’ll find in the states.

This experience has been amazing so far and I am so honored to be a part of it. Not a lot has happened this week, as I am now more accustomed to using the transportation and figuring out my class schedule.

And finally, here are a couple of pictures that I have taken from my time here in Gabs so far.

IMG_0321Some kids on their way home from school in the village of Molepolole where we attended a traditional wedding

IMG_0097Where I shower... keep in mind I wash my hair with the same bath water I wash my body with. Everything's "recycled."

IMG_0333My host mom, Wame

IMG_0319A man in the Molepolole village who asked me to take his picture!

Home Based Care

Image002Post by Nitin Agrawal from Rice University

This week, I worked at Block 9 clinic. The week, for the most part, went on relatively normally compared to the other weeks. Of course, normal in Africa is not the same normal as in back in the United States. However, on Wednesday of Week 4, I got to observe something unique and different: home based care. 

Image004Block 9 Clinic, also known as Julia Molefhe Clinic

A physiotherapist that I had met at another clinic invited me on a 5-hour journey that would become one of my most interesting clinical experiences. The physiotherapist, when he invited me on the trip, explained to me that he, a nurse and a driver go around every Wednesday to patients who cannot come to the clinics for various reasons. The three of them took a combi that had been converted into a makeshift vehicle to carry some medical supplies and 4 passengers.

Image007

I didn't take a picture of the actual combi we used but basically it looked like this with the two backseat rows taken out to make room for medical supplies 

We embarked from the Block 9 clinic at around 8:30am and would not come back until 1pm. During that time, we saw 8 patients in various locations including Extension 2, Block 8 and Mogoditshane. During my time at the clinics, it was disheartening to see that some of the nurses and doctors gave off a rather uncaring and apathetic attitude towards their patients. However, the nurse and physiotherapist I was with were very caring with the patients. For every patient, they greeted each person in the house and made small, ice breaker type conversation in order to make the patient more comfortable. I greatly welcomed the change in attitude I saw.  Image010

An example of some of what some of the house we went to looked like. Some were smaller while others were bigger than this. We went to patients of different socio-economic backgrounds.

I saw several stroke patients in different stages of their recovery. One patient, only 6 years old, was completely confined to a wheelchair and had very limited, if any, movement in the limbs. While it was heartbreaking to see a child in such a state, it was even more heart wrenching to hear the conversation between the physiotherapist and caretaker of the child stroke victim. It was evident that the caretaker had not been doing the recommended exercises for the child necessary to facilitate limb movement. The caretaker was simply negligent. Some patients seemed to have negligent caretakers while others had competent and genuinely concerned caretakers.  It was very sad to see the former because this meant the patient was not given the opportunity to recover as best as possible. One of the saddest cases I saw was a 3-year-old child with a head of 80 centimeters in diameter. Seeing the child but knowing nothing could be done to help her because of surgery complications was extremely heart wrenching. Image013

Another example of a type of house we went to during the journey

Overall, seeing the various patients in their homes was a different experience. I was very fortunate to learn a lot about the home based patient care system from the medical professionals during the 5 hour trip. The more I learned, the more hope I gained in the Botswana public health service. Even with low funds, the concept of going to patients’ homes to give care restored faith for me in the public health system.  

06/28/2013

Amazed by Art!

Image001Post by Katie Schmidt

Wow! These past four weeks have just flown by!

    Between safaris, trips to Victoria Falls and Serowe, clinicals, classes and exploring Gabs, I feel like I’ve hardly had a second to breathe! I’m absolutely loving Bots though. There is so much to do here! There’s shopping, volunteering, and eating phaphata (which deserves a post of its own because it is just that spectacular), so you can always find something to fill the few seconds that are free. Just this morning, I had the opportunity to visit an art exhibition just around the corner from the University of Botswana!

Image002The invitation

I headed out at about 9:30 with three of my friends to the Thapong Visual Arts Centre to check out the South East Art Teachers Association Regional Art Exhibition! We were on a mission – a portion of our Setswana grade depends on a cultural research project and we had chosen to look into Setswana art!  I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we were heading there, but I was excited to see what was waiting for us.

Image003Everyone checking out the sculptures!

When we got there, we noticed a ton of children there in their school uniforms. I thought it was really cool that there were all there on a Saturday morning to look at the art! We went around back and found a group of kids preforming some sort of musical or play. I couldn’t tell what they were saying at all because it was all in Setswana. It must’ve been pretty funny though because the audience was laughing at every other word. But even though I had no idea what was going on, I loved being able to watch it and see everyone light up at their performance. And listening to the songs they sang was so incredible and breathtaking. They represented their culture beautifully.

After that, we decided to walk around outside and check out some of the sculptures. They had everything there – sculptures of people, animals, and places. Someone had carved out a little seat from a tree stump. It even had its own cupholder!

Image004A kgosi (chief) by the kgotla (community meeting area)

Image005Gotta love the attention to detail!

One of the art teachers took us inside the main building and showed us the drawings and paintings inside. He informed us that all of the artwork was done by children in Forms 1-5 (the equivalent of 8th-12th grade). I finally realized that’s what the kids were doing there – they were the stars of the show! All schools in Gaborone have art as an elective for kids in Standards 1-7 and Forms 1-5. And dang, were these kids good! I have zero artistic ability so I was in awe of some of the artwork there. I can’t even begin to describe it, so I’ll just show you some pictures.

Image006This was done by someone in Form 1 (8th grade!)

Image007A painting of a traditional village

Image008An amazing sketch of the wildlife!

All in all it was one of the coolest cultural experiences I’ve had here! I may even have to go back and see if I can purchase one of the paintings to bring back to the States. The world deserves to see these amazing artists! If you’re ever in Gabs, make sure to check these guys out!

06/20/2013

Settling into life in Botswana

1040168_10201430158301974_804899591_oPost by Salpi Apkarian

Week 2 of our adventure in Gaborone had everyone settling in with their living situations, getting to know each other better, and figuring out what life in Botswana is all about.  The first week of our clinicals was sandwiched by trips to the Mokolodi Game Reserve and Victoria Falls, both of which were beautiful trips into the nature surrounding a city.  Besides those, each group also participated in a Combi Safari that involved trekking all over Gaborone on public transportation and getting to know the sites as well as the members of our group.  All in all, it has been a great introduction to the city and life here overall. DSC05315

Victoria Falls

Seeing the first week of clinics in action has been eye-opening for all, especially for me. In one of the smaller clinics in Gaborone, known as the Phase II Clinic, there should be eight nurses working there each day, but instead only four or five showed up each day that we were there.  Thus, they were extremely short on manpower and this problem was not helped by their lack of supplies in general.  These two issues were clearly the most pressing problem that nurses and patients were dealing with, and all the other challenges facing the clinic stemmed from a lack of these two basics.  I learned a lot about the healthcare system as a whole from working with the nurses, and although several of them pointed out problems with patients and the government, they were all very supportive of the child vaccination and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programs run by the government.  I saw both of these programs in action in the Maternal Child Health ward at Phase II, and from what I saw the patients who come in are treated thoroughly and efficiently. IMG_5069

Besides the clinics, we also started classes last week.  Our Setswana Language and Culture is taught by teachers of Peace Corps volunteers, and they all know how to teach to Setswana to Americans who are doing almost exactly what we are doing.  Our Community Public Health Practicum involves lectures on public health and Botswana health systems as well as group discussions and reflections on our morning clinic work.  We are forced to share our stories with each other and our professor in a productive, fun way, and reflect on the implications of what we see in the clinics.  Our Public and Environmental Health lecture class is yet another opportunity to lean more about the challenges facing the Botswana health system and the involvement of environment in health, as well as interventions that take place in an attempt to improve both components. IMG_5149

As we settle into a routine of clinic work, classes, and weekend excursions, everyone is learning more about the culture, infrastructure, and day-to-day life of Botswana in the best way possible – through complete immersion.  Especially for those of us in homestay families, there is no escape from the Batswana people and their way of life.  As I am realizing more and more, there are infinitely more similarities than differences among us, and I look forward to becoming even more invested in Botswana life because of that. DSC04455

06/18/2013

Goodbye Nebraska, Hello Gaborone!

941803_10151522925674792_1255246804_nPost by Muijj Ghani from Doane College

Saying Bye Sort of 

943724_10151522925569792_513674482_nThe day finally came for my trip to Botswana. Fresh off a hectic second semester and a conference win for tennis, I was pretty excited a bit nervous but not very. I had a 24 hour layover in New York which wasn't really much of a problem. I got to enjoy the city for a day before coming back to the airport which was nice. Saying goodbye to the family in Nebraska was tough. My mom and sister cried and my dog was depressed when I left. My dad was pretty calm as always. I am sure they will be fine at least I hope they will be. Lots of people have no idea where Botswana is. I am not just talking about Nebraska but also New York. Hard to believe how ignorant some people are about the world. 

Arriving 

Being in the airport was fun. I've always enjoyed flying and this was one of the few times I actually flew alone. Airport security was nice, I wasn't part of any random checks unlike the guy who sat next to me on the flight to Johannesburg. Surprisingly, there was most of my program on the same flight to Jo'burg. I got to know a lot of them on the flight to Gaborone, Botswana. They all seem very nice.

934731_10201369654109641_1521453500_nThere are five guys in the whole program but we all get along very nicely. It was only the first day, but we were already cracking jokes and having a few inside ones too. After a week of getting our assigned rooms, getting introduced to our clinics, classes, and other people in our group, our group began to get used to Botswana. Adapting was not that tough for me though I knew of others having a tough time adjusting. Either way, everyone was adjusted enough by the second week to plan a trip to Victoria Falls. We were going to be in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The bus ride was long but I slept most of the way so didn't really notice much. When we finally arrived at our backpacker we ate dinner and woke up early in the morning. I had crocodile curry which tasted exactly like chicken. 

Vic Falls 

944351_10151538083449387_751587708_n (1)We got to Vic Falls very early in the morning. We were basically the only people there so that was nice. When we were walking in these guys tried selling us raincoats and we ignored them thinking we didn't really need them. We did. I didn't bring my camera, but luckily the others were willing to take pictures of me there so I appreciated that. After getting soaked for about an hour, our group sort of set up camp at a dry area to let our clothes dry off. We later saw the rest of the town and ate lunch before leaving for Zambia. Unfortunately, we could not go see the falls from this side since we got there very late and had to leave fairly early. Either way, Vic Falls was definitely memorable and was easily the best part of my second week in Africa.

Finally in Botswana!

IMG_0385 - Copy (2)Post by Garett Donaldson from the University of Nebraska (Lincoln)

I cannot believe I am finally in Botswana!  I have been looking forward to this opportunity ever since I found out about this program.  The chance to participate in medical clinics and take classes while just chilling out in Africa seemed like the perfect summer for me.  So, when I finally stepped off the plane in Gaborone, I was ready for my adventure to finally begin.

I started learning about the culture right off the bat during the bus ride from the airport to the hotel.  The first thing that stood out to me was that there were cows just wandering around the streets, with no apparent boundaries or identification for that matter.  That’s when I was told about the importance of cows in Setswana culture.  Most families in Botswana own cows, and they have been used in many important transactions, from marriage dowries to funding the University of Botswana.  They even appear on the nation’s seal and on some of their coins.  I could already tell that I was going to learn a lot from this trip. 

IMG_0426The next day, I was assigned to my host family!  I have a mother and two younger brothers, ages 10 and 8.  I grew up with only a sister, so I am excited to finally have the chance to have some brothers.  I have had so much fun playing soccer with the boys and learning about the culture here in Botswana just from living with a local family.  

IMG_0311Later in the week, we went to Mokolodi Nature Reserve, where we went on a safari truck tour of the reserve.  We saw tons of Kudu, Impala, Warthogs, and even Giraffes and Hippos!  This is when it finally began to sink in that we were in Africa.  That evening, we had time to bond as a group over dinner, outside in the perfect weather with a beautiful view of the sunset and nature. 

On Saturday, we went on a combi photo scavenger hunt in order to help us discover the city and to learn how to use the public transportation system.  They use vehicles called “combis" to transport people, and they are essentially converted vans that hold 14 passengers, although I have been in a combi with up to 19 people packed inside.  It’s been a new type of challenge learning how to navigate through town with these vans, but I am already feeling like I have mastered the routes I need to know! 

IMG_0330On the scavenger hunt, one of our first stops was at Main Mall, which has an open-air market.  We bought treats and souvenirs from local vendors, and we even got to try the odd local cuisine: dried and salted caterpillars.  The adventure did not stop there!  We saw all of the local sites, and we ended our tour with a hike up Kgale Hill, a hill overlooking the city on its south side.  The view was amazing, and it was the perfect place to end our first week in Botswana! IMG_0385

"Oeme ha stopong!”*

Hopefully you can get my head out of his one, if not let me know. I'm too computer-dumb to help muchPost by Alexander Polino 

Here in Gaborone, while the traffic is as hectic as most American cities, there is one thing largely missing from the city streets: buses. In the United States, buses are a normal part of city traffic. While these giants of the road are a part of many Americans’ morning commute, they also seem to slow traffic with their slow, wide turns and frequent stops.

DSCF0107In Botswana, however, there are no public buses. Instead, imagine one of those Volkswagen hippie vans. Now paint it all white, give it four rows of seats (include folding seats in the aisle so that every possible space has a seat), and pack it with people. If you can imagine that, then you can imagine how the people of Gaborone get around. The vans are called combis and they’re everywhere. For P3.50 (a little less than US $0.50), you can take the combi to anywhere on its route.

DSC_1219It’s quite a ride. The first thing you might notice is that people here don’t have the same concept of personal space as people in the states do. They are a lot more willing to squeeze into tight spaces than in the US, so don’t be surprised when five people occupy the four seats in the row, leaving you pressed up against your fellow man. By the time you get over this, and begin to look out the window, you might notice your combi cruising through a red light as if it weren’t there. You see, in Gaborone, stoplights (or “robots” as they call them) don’t seem to hold the same sway that they do in the states. Rather, they are just suggestions. If people think they can make it through, they’ll go for it.

If that’s not enough to elevate your heart rate, then perhaps you’ll get the healthy jolt you’re looking for when you notice how close your combi is driving to the vehicle in front of you. Here in Botswana, tailgating is the norm. Cars drive just inches apart and people seem to think nothing of it. Excited for your combi ride? Ready to take one? Well which one should you get on? That depends, of course, on where you want to go, though as far as I can tell, the combi routes aren’t posted anywhere. There are no city maps with routes drawn. Everyone seems to know where to go, leaving you as the only clueless foreigner.

DSC_1208Fortunately, you are not alone. If, like me, you are new to the city and haven’t the first idea of how to get around, you’ve got a team on your side. Who is this team? The people of Gaborone, of course. Not only will the driver help you reach your destination, but the other passengers participate as well. Deciphering your cryptic directions is good sport for the local people who have the city’s layout and combi routes indelibly imprinted in their minds.More than once, I’ve entered the wrong combi. Upon realizing my mistake, the drivers and passengers engage in a short debate over how best to get me to my actual destination, then drop me off with new directions, refusing payment for the ride and help.

In this way, the hectic system works. At first it seems disorganized and inefficient, but once you start to get the hang of it, it becomes a rather comforting system. Unlike in the United States where the bus drivers don’t care for anything and the passengers want nothing to do with each other, here the system is a much more intimate and personal exercise in interaction, culture, and of course, getting so hopelessly lost that you need a van full of people to figure out how to get you to where you belong. 

*Oeme ha stopong=stop at the stop

06/17/2013

Dumelang!

Africa1 - Copy
Post by Abigail Dykes from The University of Texas at Austin

Settling in

After 33 long hours of travel and layovers, I finally made it to Gaborone!!!

The city was not what I was expecting, it seemed to be so modern and developed. It didn’t take long though until I got my first taste of Africa. Because the city has grown so much, the power plant can no longer support the electricity needs for the entire city. To make up for this they shut off electricity to different parts of the city each night, WITH NO WARNING. So my first evening in Gaborone was spent in candlelight. 

Africa3The next day I met my host family for the first time. My first impression is that they were extremely sweet and awfully quiet. My family consists of my mother, Mpho, 2 brothers Dira and Kinso and 2 sisters (one of them is named Abigail!) and I have yet to learn the other’s name (it’s so hard to understand). As soon as I arrived in the house it was a culture shock. They live in a small pretty 3 bedroom house with concrete floors. I have my own room with a double bed and small dresser. It was so strange to walk into a house with no internet and only 5 TV channels. There is also no running hot water in the house so I have to first heat up my water on the stove and then pour it into the bath. I guess I’ll eventually get used to either taking a bath with cold water or only having 2 inches of hot water in the tub! Haha!

Needless to say my first night was tough. I really never thought culture shock was a real thing but it is SO REAL. It was a lot to take in at one time.

 Mokolodi National Park  Africa4On Thursday the CIEE group went to Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Mokolodi is about 20 minutes outside of Gaborone but it is completely different from the town. As soon as we got there we went on a game drive. It was SO AWESOME to see animals living in their natural habitat. I got to see Hyenas, Impala, Warthogs, Kudu, Giraffe, Monkeys, Ostriches, and Hippos. I finally feel like I’m in Africa!!!  IMG_3816After the game drive we had their version of “BBQ” by the watering hole. Although it was nothing like my Texas BBQ, it was pretty delicious. After dinner they lit a campfire and we sat around drinking and roasting marshmallows but we couldn’t stay too long because after dark the Hippos come out of the water and they are very dangerous and aggressive. Africa2

That night we sat around another campfire close to the lodge and stared up at the stars. You could literally see a shooting star every 15 minutes, I have never seen that many in my life! It was also very cool because one of the arms of the Milky Way stretches directly over Botswana so you could see the shimmery outline in the sky. Glen the park ranger also pointed out the constellation scorpio, and you could actually tell what it looked like! SO COOL!!!!

The next morning we volunteered on the reserve. It was pretty hilarious watching a bunch of American city kids attempt to dig holes, shovel dirt, and build dirt walls to serve as rain barriers. The rangers were all pretty amused and eventually took pity on us and helped us out! When we were shoveling dirt all the kids were complaining of the sand getting into their eyes and mouths and all over their clothes. Good thing I’m a tough Lubbock girl because I was TOTALLY used to all the sand in the air. It didn’t bother me one bit!  Africa1

My first Saturday was spent doing a scavenger hunt around the city of Gaborone. We were split up into groups and had to make our way throughout the city. It really is such a cool city! We saw the parliament, high court, all 6 malls, and a ton of street vendors! It was really fun to finally get to explore the city a bit!

I also found that they have a Mexican food restaurant here! I’m sure it’s going to taste completely different but I think I’m going to definitely try it out sometime!!

Although it’s extremely different, I also think it’s kinda fun. I really am loving Africa!

 

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