Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Life in Botswana: Animals & Activities

More excerpts from my parent's journal, Life in Botswana.

We adopted a long-haired black and white female cat (so much like Toby, Sarah's cat, that you would have trouble telling them apart) who had two former owners before we got her one year ago. We soon discovered why – she bites and scratches us when she doesn't get her way. She had lived among many dogs and small children and our low-key life style combined with kindness (even when she has just "gotten" us) seems to be altering her behavior. We renamed her Winnie (for Mandela, of course). She is an excellent mouser which was why we got her and she has depleted the enormous supply of gerbil-like mice that frequent our back yard. Unfortunately she also loves to eat the many various lizards, the good guys in the battle against insects. 
Nancy's favorite garden wild life is the rain frog which appears after a rain from about six inches below the dirt. They are the size and shape of a tennis ball with tiny sticks for legs. Other neighborhood denizens are the million or so dogs which are only apparent by their barking between dusk and dawn; dogs which are never allowed in houses but are ostensibly for guarding property. Each house around us has at least two, monsters all.

Nancy is taking advantage of this time to be primarily a lady of leisure but as usual she hardly has time to sit down. One reason, besides her gardening, is the extra time that normal chores require, such as shopping, banking, paying bills and going to the post office. Nancy's definition of eternity is being on line for any reason whatsoever at the post office. Often two or three lines are required to mail a package. Attempting to mail a paperback in a book-type envelope was thwarted (after over an hour's transaction) when the "official" announced that a hole would have to be cut in the envelope to assure there was indeed printed matter inside, but that unfortunately there were no scissors in the post office, the cutting must be done at home. Bills must be paid in person to assure receipts so these lines are also long, and I guess banking is much the same in any country. 

Food shopping when we first arrived was more difficult than it is currently but it's still time-consuming. Say you wish to make Beef Stroganof. First you try the nearest butcher. He has filet (the only edible beef here except hamburger) but it's frozen – no good for today. After you finally find the meat elsewhere you purchase the noodles and everything at the grocery nearest you but they don't have sour cream and don't know when they'll get it. Nor does any other store in town. You change your menu. Fruit and vegetables are good and varied but only available Wednesday through Friday. Ninety-five percent or more of the goods we buy come from South Africa, much to our dismay. Meat and mushrooms are local but most food is dependent on the whim of the supplier as to what arrives in the trucks on Wednesday and Friday.

For fun Nancy has been spending a lot of time reading (how wonderful to have the time to!). Except for the choice selections of novels sent by Sarah and Amy, she has concentrated her reading on prose and fiction of sub-Saharan Africa, primarily Botswana and South Africa. There is still much to learn. She still manages to walk every weekday morning, from seven-thirty to eight-thirty. 

Nancy very recently has added a new hobby, watercolor painting. She has only had a few lessons but is excited about it and, if nothing else, she will be able to appreciate watercolor painting far more knowing how it's supposed to be done. 

Nancy is involved in the American International Women's Club, at least to the extent of belonging to the Botswana Studies group and also being in charge of marketing their booklet (both a service and a moneymaker), Welcome to Botswana. Through a friend she was briefly involved with a proposed senior center, an idea which fell through as a result of poor planning and red tape. However, Nancy was able to get to meet and talk to many citizens of Remotswa, the town where the center was to be (as an experiment and the first such in Botswana) and even worked in the fields for half a day with an elderly couple at their lands.

Nancy and Ed have both taken trips organized by the embassy, to Jwaneng for example, one of the diamond mine (no samples, darn it). Many are during the day while Ed's working, so Nancy has visited more local points of interest, primarily handicraft centers. [I'll write about these in a separate post later since the Gaborone area was/is bursting with talented artisans that I want to share with you!]

No comments:

Post a Comment