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Monday, August 21, 2006

Gaborone, Botswana: Like a kid in a candy store; Like Christmas in August

Robin arrived on Saturday without incident. I received an email from Orbitz to say the flight from London was going to be late so I was really hoping that he would not miss his flight to Gaborone. Fortunately he had enough time to do make the connections and arrived safely.

I was up early and by 7:30am I was dressed and ready to be picked up for the airport at 10am. So after pacing around for an hour, I walked to the Main Mall and went to the Cresta President Hotel for a toast and coffee. Really I was checking out the place to see if our students could find employment there when I meet with the Kitchen Manager on the week of the 28th.

Jayanthi and Jim took me to the airport and when we invited them for dinner that night, they declined saying that Robin might be too tired. We unpacked the suitcases and I was like a kid in a candy store with all the things he brought for the centre. It was a full and heavy suitcase and I was trying to imagine the look on the faces of the staff and students when they see all of it.

We left a few minutes later and went out to get a combi to the Riverwalk Mall. I had no idea which to take so I went over to the women selling the crocheted things and by the time I had asked for directions, I found myself with a large bedspread and a sweater. We walked on the wrong road, turned back and walked on the right road and found out when we finally got to the combi stop that there were no combis that go to Riverwalk Mall. We would have to take two. By the time we had done all this, we were half way to the mall so we walked the rest of the way. In the meantime Robin is thinking that I am deliberately starving him while I take a walk to the mall because I forgot to say that the restaurant we were going to eat at was at the mall. He was probably thinking he had to come all the way to Africa to face starvation. Fortunately we arrived in time to have a cool drink because by this time, the midday sun was hot, hot, hot. We walked around the mall and shopped and then had an early dinner by 5pm. He wanted to walk back home but by the time we would have finished another one hour trek, we’d be mugged or something worse because it would be dark. I didn’t fancy being mugged so I declined. Besides I walked enough for the day.

Sunday morning we went back to the crochet women and bought 4 shawls (which they’ll be making before we leave, a tablecloth and another bedspread. That was definitely more sales in two or three days than they would have done in a month but the things are so beautifully done. I wish I could buy it all but that would be a lot of things to bring home besides the two teak tables I bought. What was I thinking of anyway? We didn’t really go to buy more things. We were on our way to Gabrone Sun for breakfast but by the time we got there, it was 10:30am and I felt more like brunch than eggs and toast. We sat by the pool and ordered our grilled veggie sandwiches and samosas (yummy Pat) and had a few cups of coffee. Then it was back to the house where I worked on the backyard a bit.
We went out with Jayanthi and Jim to a Halal Chinese (for real!!) restaurant. The food was very good but honestly I have never been to a Chinese Halal restaurant. That means they don’t serve any prok products. There are a lot of Halal restaurants here although I didn’t think there was a large Muslim population. Most people are Christians but many business owners are South Indian and many are Muslims so they can decide how they want to prepare and/or sell their meats.

This morning I got up early because we had to be at the radio station for 7:30 for our interview at 8am. We of course arrived at 7:15. We went on the air at 8:10am and talked for about 20 minutes. We managed to cover all the points we wanted to make. It was hard to know how things went but Robin was in the studio with us and he said it went well and we sounded very natural. When I got back to the centre the students and staff who were huddled around a little portable radio hugged and kissed me and said how proud they were of all the things I said about the centre. I hope it’ll be good publicity for us.

We unpacked the suitcase of the things Robin brought and I’m telling you, I have never heard hoots and hollers like I heard today. If I could have recorded it, I would have. I think that feeling will stay with me for a very long time. The students wanted to know how Papa Sandra knew what to buy. I said I gave specific instructions. We had enough things for the kitchen to have extras so we cleaned out some of the cupboards, organized some of the shelves, moved around some things and installed locks on some of the cupboard doors. This was work day for Robin. He even got a couple of blisters in the palm of his hand to prove it. I did say he’d have his share of work to do when he got here and he sure did. Everyone was wondering if Papa Sandra would mind if Mama Sandra stayed in Botswana for another year or so.

I spent the afternoon printing the invitations. Some of the names are so foreign to me that I had to be very careful when I was typing them because I wouldn’t know if I made a spelling mistake. We invited the Mayor and the media so hopefully we’ll get some coverage. I then worked on the programme and same thing. I typed the names of the graduates but have no idea if the names are correct so I gave it to the teachers to check the spelling of their students because I’ll be using the same list to print the certificates.

I made a TO DO list for the grad ceremonies and a list of all the invitees so that next year it won’t be such a hassle to get the work done. I was in a bit of a rush today because we leave for Kasane tomorrow and I wanted to get as much work done as I can before I go because we’ll be there till Sunday. Kasane is on the border of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and it’s about 80 kms from Victoria Falls. I’m looking forward to seeing the Falls. I met a man Kostis in Ghanzi and he happens to live in Kasane where he is working with a Greek NGO to run an orphanage for children of HIV parents. I will go visit the orphanage because I think it’s similar to the one in Palapye that Katherine was running. I wanted to visit but didn’t get a chance to do so before she returned to Canada. Anyway, it is essential that we take anti-malaria pills when we go to Kasane and the Okavanga Delta. The mosquitoes are so big that they will bite you through your clothes. This is the winter so they shouldn’t be too bad. I have my malaria pills and my insect repellent but if the mosquitoes are anything like the ones in Winnipeg or Guyana, they’ll think insect repellent is a drink served at happy hour.
Not sure about internet access so I may not be able to blog but I will be keeping an ejournal, so I’ll have lots to say when I get back if I can’t post from there. For those of you who read the blog with your morning/evening coffee, you’ll have withdrawal same as if you gave up your coffee for 5 days. Stay happy and safe everyone until I blog again… which could be tomorrow evening or Monday evening. Tomorrow afternoon when we arrive there is some kind of boat cruise that is supposed to be spectacular so I’m looking forward to that. If I see a zebra, I’ll be happy. Anything else will be a bonus. Okay a giraffe would be nice too. Rhinos are alright but the elephants will have to be in a very large herd to impress me. A baby zebra will impress the heck out of me. Apparently each zebra’s stripe is different. I’ll have to check it out and let you know.
Going on a tiger hunt.
Going on a tiger hunt.
I’m not scared, I’m not scared…..

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