Monday, December 31, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I guess this is one place where the ambiguous but comprehensive "Seasons Greetings" would actually be appropriate, eh?

We made it back to Francistown, safe and sound. It was a great trip, got a lot done and had some relaxing together time as well. My second hot-country Christmas so far, definitely a different way to do it. And I do hope to type something up to share about this trip as well but trying to take today and tomorrow off. You know, national holiday and all.

You know, it seems like I have more actual things to do these days and, therefore, more things I could actually be blogging about. The irony is that doing things limits the amount of time I have to blog. This is compounded by not having consistent internet access. Sigh. I'm gong to have to work something out in the new year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Far behind

Wow. I still haven't finished my report on the music camp. Sigh. Too much going on. I may just have to make a webpage devoted to it and link to that from the blog when it's complete.

We're getting ready to drive to Gumare, up in the northwest part of Botswana, for the Kamanakao writer's workshop. After that, we're driving out to Shakawe to spend Christmas with Tim Beckendorf, fellow LBT missionary. His family is still in the US, won't be joining him until January. We'll be back in Francistown (and therefore back online) sometime after December 27.

It's totally cold and rainy here today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Still alive and kickin'

I know, I haven't blogged in ages. It's been a crazy few weeks. Blog postings are being drafted, though. I just was without my laptop for more than a week and a half. Here are some of the events that I'll be reporting on soon:

⥤ meeting with the Kamanakao cultural association in Gaborone
⥤ a rocking good time at Botswana Music Camp at Ramatea in Kanye
⥤ the weirdest feverish illness I've had in years (now all better, of course)

Stay tuned! I'd do something more post-wise now but I'm technically shabbatting today.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Public dancer

My roommate, Sophie, arrived after breakfast and settled into our room. At the morning camp choir rehearsal, Rob & I had our first experience learning music by sol-fa notation. The choir director, Charles Lesia, had composed a piece called Badisa which we would be doing the premiere performance of. The lyrics are in Shona.

This morning, I attended my first Afro-fusion, contemporary African dance class, led by Thabo Rapoo. Wow. It was awesome, in a painful, exasperating way. I was in tears by lunchtime. My initial reaction was one of dismayed horror at what I had gotten myself into. I was way out of my league, felt like I never should have been allowed to sign up for the course. I was torn between feeling guilty for being so inherently incompetent under the tutelage of someone who was obviously a national treasure and feeling blessed with the gift of a cultural experience so rich that I couldn't bear to let go, even at the cost of my own pride and physical comfort. My final reaction, after a day of processing and sporadic weeping, was that I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by. I would dance.

Each day, we had an appreciation class of about an hour. Today, I appreciated segaba, Rob's new instrument. It's complicated. I'll have Rob explain it.

After the evening's entertainment, more traditional dancing, I went exhausted to bed. I had been going to use a sore muscle soak that I had picked up in Gaborone (impulse purchase) but discovered, much to my chagrin, that the tub in our dorm was inoperable, missing faucet handles, big bugs crawling in it and having a drain clogged with sludge. So, I rubbed a little peppermint everywhere that hurt, which was everywhere.

To stave off mosquitos, even though we were told that there was no malaria locally, we rubbed Purification oil on our exposed areas and took garlic oil capsules. Seems to work.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Arriving at Botswana Music Camp

After lunch, we drove to Ramatea, near Kanye. Registration was scheduled for 2-6PM so we wanted to get there early. We arrived at 1:30PM and, except for a nun and a group of small children who appeared to be there for something other than the music camp, we were the only people there for a very long time. We set up camp in the reception area, where we suspected registration would happen, when it happened. It was a relaxing afternoon. When the director (Gaolape Bashui) and secretary arrived, they apologized for their lateness but we assured them that it had been a pleasant wait, no trouble at all. While waiting for them to get registration materials ready, we met a guitar player named Tshepiso and a marimba player, Stephen. We also met Stephen's sponsors, David & Ruth. They live in Gabane, just outside of Francistown, and they invited us to stop by anytime, gave us great directions. We chatted a bit and then registered. I got into dance and Rob was in the segaba class. We were escorted to our rooms but they weren't ready for us (still inhabited by the last group who had been there) so we went to wait for a few hours in a nearby building. I was thankful that I had brought a couple of books. Around the time that supper was to be served, we moved our things into our rooms. Rob met his roommate but mine hadn't arrived yet. We were amused to discover that we were placed in housing with the older people, mostly staff but some students as well. I said, “Older?” She asked, “How old are you?” When I replied that I was 33, she said, “Yes, you are old.” We laughed.

When we settled in and went for dinner, we found a crowd outside the dining hall, around the director. It seems that the camp facility had not prepared adequately for the arrival of the young students and many of the rooms that they were supposed to be occupying were locked, keys nowhere to be found. Those students would be sleeping in classrooms on mattresses that night. At dinner, we met a man who responded to my shake of his hand and statement of “I am Eshinee,” with “I am Wonderful,” gesturing to his nametag. After quickly reading that same information from his tag, there didn't seem to be much I could say other than, “Why, yes you are!” We all had a good laugh, the guys at the next table enquiring if that was his pickup line. After dinner, we went to the hall (a church-type building) and waited for leaders to come with a key to let us in. To make things more exciting, the power went just as we arrived at the building so we were waiting in complete darkness. However, most people had cellphones so they were being used for lighting while we waited. After finally getting into the building and taking our seats, the director gave us a quick intro to basic camp expectations and then got onto the evenings entertainment. Ah, the entertainment! It was great. I don't think that I'll ever tire of Botswana traditional dance. I was pretty tired by bedtime and slept well after killing the single mosquito that buzzed about the room.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Went to see the movie Stardust in the afternoon. There is a movie theater in Francistown but the selection isn't what it is in Gaborone. They seem to show only one movie at a time at the Francistown theater so if it isn't our taste we're out of luck for movie watching.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shoe quest

For much of today, we were on a quest for shoes. I had an idea that my red shoes that I wear all the time would not be the best ting for an African dance class so I sought little canvas tennies. Toward the end of the day, I found them. We also caught a movie in the evening, Beowulf.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kamanakao meeting

We drove down to Gaborone and checked into the Oasis Motel. We then went to the University of Botswana to meet with Kamanakao, the Shiyeyi cultural association.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Amityville, Botswana

We woke up with the sound of bees through the room. At first, I assumed that there were mosquitos somewhere near my head. Then, I realized that the sound was constant, which would mean that they were near my head and not moving. I went to the window and saw that I wasn't mosquitos but bees, swarming on our screen, inside the glass (which was ajar). I got the camera and shot a little footage, realizing as I stopped filming that some of them were inside. I jumped up and we sprang into action. How were they getting in? How could we stop it? How would we get them out? We decided on smoke and got a fry pan with a lid, matches and newspaper. Rob held the curtain around me and I generated smoke. Most of the bees flew away and Rob was able to maneuver his hand under the screen and shut the glass. I think he trapped a couple but, hey, we tried to spare as many as we could. I'm only sorry that I didn't capture on film me saying, “They're inside!” Rob says it was classic horror movie material. Not the way you want to be spending 6AM on a Saturday morning, let me tell you.

He figures that their hive was destroyed in the big storm yesterday. We had heavy rainfall, as heavy as I've ever seen anywhere, and significant winds. It didn't last long but it was pretty intense while it lasted. Jim was here, meeting with us about future plans, and we thought for a brief moment that he was going to be stuck with us for longer than he had intended.

We're supposed to be taking it easy today but we have a lunch meeting with Jim and Tim, followed by an afternoon meeting with Gerrit, the BSB translation consultant for this region.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

big team meeting

We had an all-day meeting with the LBT Botswana team and went out to Spur for dinner.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

trip home

Got the news in the morning that Tim's bags had arrived from Johannesburg so we swung by the airport, picked them up and hit the road. Rob got to talk to Jim about vernacular media project plans for the last half of the trip. When we were dropped off back at the Knights' place, we were really glad to be home. We chilled for the whole evening, playing games and hanging out. It was nice to be alone again with no prospect of another meeting until Thursday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

more meetings

Between meetings with ELCB people in the morning and running around to RETENG and Kamanakao, I got myself a whopper of a headache, with a side order of nausea. Rob had to take me back to the hotel room where I dosed myself with peppermint, Coke, water, Advil and a dark room. I kind of slept and woke up when he brought me my late dinner, a Greek salad. It was about 9PM at this point. What brought it on? So many plausible culprits; who is to say? Dehydration, hunger (no food or water since about 3PM until 8PM), stress (meeting so many new people with definite impact on my future)… you name it. I felt better after my short nap, though.

Tim's flight came in this evening but his luggage did not.

The hotel has wild kitties everywhere. They're skinny and skittish and they show up where you least expect them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

ELCB in Gaborone

We went to the ELCB church and enjoyed the English service. Met Bishop Segatle, who just happened to be there that morning. We met more with Jim in the afternoon, getting some last minute details worked our before our meeting with RETENG on Monday. Then, we all went to dinner at Linga Longa. I joked that I definitely needed a beer but then I decided that I probably better just have a Malawian Shandy (ginger ale, lemonade and bitters). Imagine my surprise when the waitron returned with beers for everyone. No, we hadn't ordered a round but we took it anyway. I figured, hey, if it showed up without me ordering it, I must have needed it worse than I thought.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The first round

Jim met with BSB folk in the morning and Rob and I hung out at the hotel. After lunch, we had a mini-siesta before having a first real in-country meeting with Jim. We hammered out 2 potential Namibia projects for me and talked about Botswana plans for the next year. We had an interesting dinner at an Asian restaurant at Riverwalk malk. Rob ordered beef bulgogi and cooked it himself, on a little charcoal brazier set up in the middle of the table. Pretty tasty. I was jealous, though he let me have some and my hot and sour soup was pretty great too.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Appointments we didn't make

Julia, from BSB, took us to immigration to work on our residence permit. She already got us a work exemption so the residence thing is all we still need. We paid our 500 pula and got a receipt that we can use to walk into the immigration office in Francistown and get an extension on our tourist visa, if the regular one delays past the first week of December.

Michael had a meeting at BSB so we decided to walk to the museum (just a 15 minute walk away) to see the San exhibit, hoping to bump into the missionaries Rob had worked with in D'kar, maybe the Naro choir. Just as we arrive at the reception desk, up walks one of the people Rob had worked with! She was just stopping by to straighten some display things before heading off again; just in time to catch us. Rob talked to her about how the project he had done last year was selling, they briefly discussed a trip for him to do another one. Then, we looked at the San artwork.

While walking back to BSB office, Rob suddenly said, “Oh! David Slater Music!” It was painted in big blue letters on a white gate we were passing. Rob had been wondering how he was going to get in touch with him to turn in our application for the traditional music camp coming up the first week of December. Sure enough, there was David! So, we registered. Rob will study the segaba for a week and I'll take contemporary Botswana dance.

We picked Jim up at the airport at went to dinner at Spur, where we begin asking about our eventual assignment in Namibia.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

First close call

I was escorting a couple of the Megahans children around on foot at Nswazi Mall and was passing by an ATM in an outdoor hallway on the way to Jubilee dress shop. The Kalanga Bible Translation Project is having a fundraiser tomorrow evening and I'm unsure if anything that I have here to wear would be suitable. So, I was going to see what I could buy from Dr. Mallya's wife and Rob, Peter and Happiness were tagging along for the stroll. As I passed a staircase in a crowded area, a man stepped in front of me onto the side of the staircase, kind of blocking my passage. People behind me were suddenly pressed into me and I kind of stood and waited for him to get out of my way. When we got through the press, Peter pointed out that my purse was open. He said that he and Happiness, who were walking right behind me, had seen a guy open my purse and stick his hand in the outer compartment. Rob was a bit further back and had noticed a guy paying attention to me but hadn't caught exactly what was going on. Peter said another guy behind him had made a noise that probably scared the guys off. Anyway, long story short, they didn't get anything out of my purse. Which is crazy; the place he had his hand is where my passport is. The large central area had my money wallet, my credit card wallet and my cellphone. He didn't grab any of those. Thank God! Lesson learned; the purse goes on the front of my body, flap side in.

And I didn't find a dress that I liked. Nothing that really spoke to me, anyway. I'll make do with what I have lying around for tomorrow, I guess, and go back next week to have something made for church and official wear.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Journler rocks!

Just wanted to make sure everyone knows about my new favorite piece of organizational Mac software before it stops being donation ware (which it will do in a couple of months). Though I must admit, I love it so much that I did pay the guy for it. And yes, I did use the word love to describe a piece of software. Rob insists that that is the word that describes how I demonstrably feel about this software. :)

Check it out:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mission delayed

Again, we hung around in the morning, waiting to hear from the translator. By 11AM, it was clear that we would not be meeting on this trip. We went to get snacks at the downtown Shoprite before hitting the road. We left by noon, not able to wait any longer if we wanted to get home before it was too dark to drive on the highways safely. Michael got his mailing address by SMS before we left so we can mail him the stories to gloss.

The trip back was much hotter as the skies were mostly clear and blue, with scattered white puffy clouds (read: no shade). Michael's Toyota Hilux has A/C so we didn't suffer any. Just made for toasty knees for me, as I was sitting in the front seat. Got a few more fun pictures on the way back, especially of some zebra that almost seemed to pose.

Watched another episode of Sad Love Story on BTV. Man oh man! Those are the weepiest characters ever!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Waiting to meet

After a delicious buffet breakfast of yogurt, muesli and fresh tropical fruits at our hotel, Michael came and brought us to Hilary's, where he likes to have breakfast when he's in town. During coffee, we (Michael & I) went over the retyped and reformatted stories that Rob and I had finished on Thursday and that I had gone over on Friday. Having not heard from the man we were going to meet, we walked around the airport a bit, looked at local cultural handicrafts. I found my first locally made greeting cards and bought all of the ones I figured could be shipped to the US with no problems at customs; all 4 of them. I was too hesitant to get the ones with ostrich feathers and eggshell bits, pretty though they were. The ones I did buy support with sales a local community, which is nice.

We went to lunch at the local Nando's, near our hotel, in downtown Maun. The food was good as usual, though service was painfully slow. I was actually jittery an shaky with hunger by the time it arrived at the table. It took over an hour for our food to be brought to the table. The reason became clear, though, when we left. The Maun Nando's has a bus stand in the parking lot. They had a lot of customers who had a short, finite period of time in which to get their food before the bus took off again to it's next destination. Given that some of these travelers may have already been traveling for hours, with many more hours to go, I can see why they had to be fed first. Just means we should pick a different lunch stop for ourselves when we're in Maun, as much as we love Nando's.

We went to our respective hotels to wait for the call from our translator. By the evening, it was clear that the meeting was not happening today, though we still have hope for a Sunday morning meeting. We had a nice dinner (pasta for me and ostrich steak for Rob) and called it a night.

HIV materials

This is the first hotel I've stayed in where the hotel amenities included free condoms in the bathroom, right next to the free shampoo and free bath & shower gel. Also, the condoms in the dispenser in the public bathroom outside the hotel bar were free as well. Impressive, especially given the recent media reports of condom shortages in Gaborone.

The poster behind the door in one of the bathroom stalls was HIV educational. Note the use of the word whilst. I love that people say whilst here!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Trip to Maun

It was a long drive today but exciting enough to keep me awake. The sky was cloudy and we even had rain for part of the way so it didn't get too hot in the car. Part of the trip was through game parks and we did see some zebra and ostrich on the sides of the road. Most of the animals that we saw actually on the road were cows, goats and donkeys. We grabbed some snacks at Nata and drove on through, arriving in Maun around 3PM. Michael checked into his hotel (Maun Lodge) and we checked into ours (Riley's Hotel). Nice hotel, beautiful grounds. There's a pool (which we didn't get around to using) and a restaurant. Breakfast is included.

After we settled in and relaxed a bit from the trip, I started going over the back translations of some Bible stories in a local language, making notes where I had questions. We were hoping to meet with a local teacher who had done back translations of these Bible stories and to get some word glosses.

Dinner was interesting. I ordered seswaa, which I split with Rob. It came with papa (cooked cornmeal, almost identical to plain, unseasoned grits) and shredded spinach. Seswaa is pounded beef. Mine had the bones left in it when it was pounded so I had to be diligent about finding bone shards before swallowing. Flavor was good though; it was just tricky to eat.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Maun trip

We're heading to Maun tomorrow for weekend meetings with a translation project team there. Rob and I have been typing translated portions for the last few days in prep for this meeting. More to come after the weekend.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In the zone

I had a mentally hectic bunch of days last week and, to some extent, this weekend. For one thing, I kept not feeling “optimal”. It was a lethargic feeling for most of the week, in which I thought I must be fighting something. Given that several people around me were sick, in one form or another, it wasn't much of a surprise that I would be fighting something. Nothing went full-blown, though. The worst was Friday, when I got so weak I had to lie down for a bit. Also, my head was hurting. The headache came to its peak as I was going to bed that night. I even had a dream in which I got up and took ibuprofen for the headache. After that, funnily enough, every time I woke up, my head would hurt a bit at first but then I'd remember that I “took ibuprofen” and the headache would subside to a “took ibuprofen” level. You know that feeling, when there's a trace of it there, enough to let you know that the underlying condition still exists and you're just squelching the symptoms. When I got up in the morning, the headache was still at the “took ibuprofen” level, even though I pretty much knew at this point that the taking of ibuprofen had been a dream. Power of the mind, eh? So, I took Saturday really easy; no walks to the post office (like we had done on Thursday) or to Galo Mall (like we had done on Friday). I only sat and lay around. By evening, the headache was completely gone, thankfully. Sunday was a full day, with a 4 hour Confirmation service in the morning and lunch out at Spur with the Megahans after that. We pretty much zonked for the rest of the day. Watched episode 12 of Sad Love Story in the evening.

My accomplishments for last week were mostly communication and support related. I managed to convert all our Data Manager (donor records) files for the last 2 years into a format that I could control and analyze more easily; Journler entries with tags to sort them into “smart folders”. Then, I developed a smart folder and an entry template for tracking potential and past speaking venues, for when we go back to doing partnership development (a.k.a. support raising) on furlough in 3 years time. It's OK if none of that makes sense to anyone but me. I'm just glad to have finally found a program (Journler) which allows me to be “collatin' data”, as Patience would say (Firefly series, pilot episode “Serenity”). I then used the Data Manager smart folder to track my correspondence. I won't even explain how I'm doing it. Suffice to say that I love Journler. And it was free! Gotta write a thank you to the developer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The yogurt worked

I did it! I made my own yogurt! Last night, around 7PM, I heated up a small pot of milk to just before the boiling point. I poured it in a jar and let it cool until about 9:30PM on the counter, then added about 1/4 cup of plain yogurt. I put the tightly sealed jar in a large pot with hot tap water, up to about 1/4 of the way up the side of the jar. I put the cover on the pot, covered the pot with a couple of dishtowels and wrapped the sides of the pot with a bath towel, to keep some heat in. This morning, at 6:30 when we got up, I checked the jar: it was full of firm yogurt! I put the jar in the fridge and tested it for flavor a few minutes ago. Yum. Good to know. I'll just have to keep it up, making a fresh batch every 5 days so that the cultures stay active.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Yogurt adventures

We've had occasional plain yogurt shortages here, especially at the end of the month when grocery store shelves empty, so I'm trying to come up with a way of making it myself. As a healthy digestive system is the first line of defense against most things that attack the immune system, yogurt is our primary prophylactic. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a yogurt maker but, in the meantime, I'm wondering how I might do it low-tech. Most online recipes involve using the stove at precise temperature and I'm not thinking our stove can handle that. Well, I got an idea today while bringing in the laundry. I've been using our Action Packers to bring laundry in and out, closing the lid when I fill it with dry stuff to bring in. Just before lunch, I put a few dry items in, shut it and brought it inside, promptly forgetting about it. Half an hour later, I remembered the dry laundry and went to fold it. When I opened the lid, a wave of heat came out. Aha! Yogurt maker! If I can heat the milk, cool it, add the starter and put the milk-filled glass jars (old peanut butter jars) in something like an Action Packer in the sun for the whole day, that should do it. Not an Action Packer itself though; they're too valuable in this neck of the woods to risk that kind of sun damage. We'll find a plastic container in one of the local China shops. Which do not sell, as one might think, china. Rather, they sell cheap mass-produced goods from China. China shops are all over the place here in Francistown.

Average Ndjo

Yesterday afternoon was a laundry afternoon, though I'm doing a couple of loads this morning as well. I've always enjoyed doing laundry (as opposed to taking out the garbage, lets say) and, even though my methods are different here, it's the same for doing laundry here. The washing machine requires a little more baby-sitting than I'm used to. Last week, I heard a huge gushing sound and went into the bathroom to find that the drain hose had popped off. Water was shooting out of the tub and onto the floor. We had to do an emergency washer shut-off and water containment with towels and rugs. Rob then fixed the rubber hose back on, tightened the clamp and I dared to wash again. Now, I'm still a little edgy running the washer but check the hose before each load. I'm also used to just tossing the clothes in the dryer and walking away to do other things. Now, I have to hang things on a clothesline. After a slight wet spell, I find that the ants come out in force and swarm under the clothesline. They have a tendency to swarm over my feet and up my calves so I find myself throwing the clothes up on the line as quickly as possible. Over the arm goes the wet clothes, one hand full of as many pegs as it can hold. Reminds me of that baby/bridal shower game, where you have to see how many clothespins you can hold in one hand. Turns out those skills have become useful for me again after all. Today is a perfect laundry day and I'm taking full advantage of it. The sun is beating down but there's a breeze that comes across the drying area every few minutes. Beautiful. Makes the laundry smell so good, that sunny, clean and warm smell.

I've noticed that having a maid is a normal thing here, for anyone who can afford it. I've had random women offer to work for me but I haven't gotten into that yet. For one thing, this isn't our flat so I'd be hesitant to employ a stranger with all the Knights' belongings here. Secondly, we're not sure if we're staying in Francistown for very long so we couldn't really offer someone something long-term. They'd probably start out working for us and end up unemployed when they could have maybe found longer term employment from someone else sooner. Thirdly, we're still tourists here so we're treating our daily tasks as part of the learning process. For the most part, we're traveling on foot or by transport with others, fairly common for your Average Ndjo here. And doing our own laundry, cleaning and food prep is part of that experience. Sure, these things are taking a lot longer than we're used to but it isn't like we're neck-deep in work right now. Once our visa is processed and we're in our own place and headed into something solid, we may think about doing our part for the economy and employing someone; sharing the wealth, as it were.

I finally got to see Men In Black last night, for the first time. It came on BTV. Tonight's movie is Finding Forrester but I don't know if I'll get to see much of it. Marie, a neighbor on the corner of our block, invited me to an Avroy Shlain party. It's seems similar to Avon, from the website, but it's based in South Africa. It's a dinner and product showing, with door prizes. Marja, who lives upstairs, is going and I'll be going with her. It'll be held at Tati River Lodge, just a few kilometers away. Rob was invited but he's not so much into cosmetic products, eh?

Tomorrow is Rob's big recording session at Rev. Mothetho's church. We'll be leaving around 10:30AM and be there for the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon. Rev. Mothetho's daughter, Ndapiwa, will be observing Rob to get an idea of how live choral recording is done, to see if she wants to get into that. I'll be there as photographer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Right on the money

When we sat down to breakfast this morning, I overhead one of the managers encouraging people to have everything in order as the president was coming. Then, I heard her telling people to hurry and bring the snacks as some of the ministers were already there. I commented to Rob that I wondered if she meant the President, as in Festus Mogae, president of Botswana. On the way out, I thought I'd ask. So, I asked a lady who appeared to be in charge if the President was here. She said that, yes, he was. Well, I must have overreacted excitedly (if you can imagine that) because she said, “Would you like to meet him?” I said, “Would I!” She pointed to the lady she was talking to and said that she was the one I'd need to talk to. So I asked if I could meet him and she said that she could make it happen, asked how long I'd be around. I said that I was on my way out. She said that if I came back at lunchtime, she'd introduce me. I was so excited! So, we ran our errands in the morning (visited the Bible Society office, found the Reteng meeting place) and returned at lunchtime.

When we got back to the eating area, I looked around for the President but didn't see him or the lady who told us to come back at that time. Another lady saw us (Michael introduced her as Shelly later) and asked if she could help me. I told her about the lady who said she'd introduce us and she knew who I meant, brought me to her. The lady from earlier told me to go get Rob and Michael, that he'd meet us there in the room where he would be having lunch with the ministers. So, I got them and came back. When we got back, we were stopped by security but Shelly talked us back into the room. There, we sat and waited for just a few minutes. He actually shook our hands twice; once on his way to the bathroom, not knowing we were there to meet him, and again when we were introduced when he got back. First, he met Michael, who explained who we were an who we were with. When I was introduced to him, he commented on my name and asked what kind of name it was. I said that it was Inuit and he got a thoughtful look on his face, said he'd been reading something about the Inuit recently [more on that later]. Then, he met Rob. He welcomed us to Botswana and hoped we were enjoying the country.

At least, that's how I remember it. He may have said other things too but, frankly, I was a little overawed. I mean, this was Festus Mogae, the President of Botswana! He's on the 10 pula bill! It was so exciting! I'd been watching a lot of him on BTV news, including a Talk Back Africa episode where he took live calls. Live calls. Can you imagine? And I really like the way he interacts with people. He gives off an air of quiet, sensible confidence that any leader would envy. Yup, I'm a huge fan.

So, on he went with his day and we went on with ours. A bigger day for us, I would imagine. I realized later why he had probably been reading about the Inuit when I remembered Botswana's recent input at the UN conference drafting of a declaration of indigenous peoples rights. Like I said, definitely a fan.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Resting day

Got a slow start this morning and am taking it easy, with the headache and all. I won't be watching TV since it's all kid's shows and sports until 6PM but we will be going to practice driving with Jo Ann this afternoon. They've offered us the Tazz to drive so we'll practice driving that today. Still, we haven't decided whether we're going to drive the Tazz, a little squinty vehicle, suitable only for in-town driving, or rent the Rodewalds' Land Rover. They have a spare one, I guess. I suppose much will be determined by whether or not we move out to Maun, where a sturdier vehicle is a must for longer trips.

I think I'll play a little Age of Mythology, maybe read a book, maybe take another hot bath. The bath really seemed to help yesterday, especially with a few essential oils in it to help with general symptoms. I added Immupower (an immunity-boosting blend), peppermint (for breathing issues and aching muscles) and lavender (for relaxation).

Tomorrow, we make the trek to Gaborone early in the morning. We'll be there until Tuesday.

Niggling headache

I've had a consistent ill feeling in the mornings for the last few days. I wake up lethargic and sore-headed. I do things to make me feel better and they do, for a while. Then, by evening, I often feel bad again. I'm perturbed by the waking up feeling bad thing. Hot baths seem to help. I am having sinus goo issues as well. Rob suggests that it may be related to some sort of allergic response to either pollen or, more obviously, dust. I'm going to do some sinus cleansing, see if I can't get this head thing to clear up since it's negatively affecting my total sense of well-being.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Turned around

I slept for a while this afternoon, kind of crashing at 1PM after a hot bath. Woke up at 2PM feeling much better so agreed to walk to the post office and grocery store. It was quite windy out and I thought the negative ions might do me some good. After mailing some letters and picking up stamps, Rob asked if I would mind walking to a music shop he had seen last week on our jaunt at that time, to check out what kind of recording gear would be available locally for setting up a studio for Rev. Mothetho. I said I was OK to do so. When we got closer, we could hear music and were pleasantly surprised to find a local band playing live to a crowd outside the shop. We listened for a few songs before squeezing through to get into the shop and actually do some shopping. When inside, the owner welcomed us and explained that the band was not supposed to have set up in such a way that they blocked the entrance. He had allowed them to play there as a promotion and was disappointed that they had actually prohibited business on that particular day, rather than attracting it. I understood his frustration. We'll have to check with him when we go back, see how he did after the band finished their set and packed up.

Interesting things that we noticed; none of the people watching the band were grooving, at all. I mean, there were 3 people dancing right in front of the band, sort of free form. But everyone else standing around, close to a hundred people, were doing just that – standing and watching. No bouncing or even head-bobbing and toe-tapping to the beat. And it was a rocking beat. I remembered that at the festival last weekend it had been the same way. People just watched, they didn't dance a little bit on the spot. I actually asked Portia about that, the non-dancing along thing. She said that it wasn't appropriate to dance along, that “you just have to watch what they are doing.” The proper form of expressing appreciation for their art is close, silent observance.

Now, one of the differences between the festival and what we saw today was applause. At the festival, there was a burst of applause from some of the observers. Today, not a clap. It was totally unexpected. As a musical artist myself, I would feel totally dissed if I was greeted with that kind of silence at the end of a piece and that lack of crowd-grooving during the piece. Yet, a respectful silence is apparently exactly the right way to appreciate art here. I don't know how they can stand it. It took every nerve I had just to keep from grooving; anyone who has seen me in the presence of a beat knows that. Kind of throws everything I've ever been taught about Africans and music solidly and directly out the window.

On the way home, we took a slightly different route. I knew that if we walked a block away from the main street, we'd hit St. Patrick so I suggested that we walk that way, follow St. Patrick back to the Village Mall and then go home as usual. The Village Mall is about a 5 minute walk from home. As we passed Choppies and made it to St. Patrick, Rob said, “Look; there's Nando's!” And it was. I turned around and was floored to see Nando's restaurant, our favorite chicken place. Galo mall was right there! We had found a new way to walk there, one that would chop off 5 minutes of walking each way. So, we actually could get more groceries and return on a more comfortable route. The road we walked there on a week or so ago was a main road; lots of traffic, very dusty, no sidewalk and very little shade. In contrast, St. Patrick is a lovely little side street that runs parallel to the main street for most of the walking that we need to do to get to Galo Mall. Not only that but the Sell advertiser office is on St. Patrick and I was able to grab the new edition on the way back. The Sell is a free weekly paper of classifieds. It's main draw for me is the weekly schedule for BTV, the national TV channel, the only channel I get. We also found an Anglican church on that road that meets Wednesdays at 5:30PM and Sundays at 8:30AM. Not sure what language the services are conducted in but I'd still like to check it out.

The Rodewalds had invited us to join them for their weekly football (i.e. soccer) game but we didn't really make it back to our place in time to get changed, eat and go play so we just stayed at home all evening, relaxed. besides, given my general ill feelings, I had probably better not push myself too hard right now. Maybe next week.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Change in the weather

I break in the recent spell of rain yesterday afternoon had us scrabbling to get laundry done before the sun went away again. I had forgotten what it's like to be dependent on the weather to get your clothing dry. Even with a couple of hours on the line, we still had to hang some things up in the house to finish the job. It was all dry by today.

This afternoon, after we got back from the office, we got our sheets washed and put out to dry. It was pretty hot and dry out there today. After the wash was out, I got suddenly lethargic. I've been dragging myself around all day since then. Most of the time, I just lay on a chair in the living room. I don't know what the problem is. My muscles are all weak and I feel hot, though I don't have a fever. I'm lethargic but I can't sleep. Hopefully a bunch of water and vitamin C will fix me up before the weekend. We're driving to Gaborone with the Megahans on Sunday to meet with Reteng, the local vernacular language promotion committee, on Monday morning.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Venturing out

We worked from home today, though that meant a trip out into the town as well. I was actually kind of ill when I got up this morning; achy muscles, headache, sore throat, extreme fatigue. I thought I might be sick with a flu or something. Then, I asked Rob if it might possibly be dehydration and he said that, yes, it might be. So, I started tossing back water or, more precisely, an electrolyte drink (Alacer C Electro Mix). Within a few hours of keeping on top of it, I started feeling better. Still, I did chair work this morning. One of my tasks was to put all the local emergency numbers into our cellphones, which took longer than I expected. Then I went through some local papers, clipped the interesting bits and trashed the rest. One of my favorite clippings was a story from the International Express (Africa Edition), a British paper for overseas distribution. It was “Cameron backs down over Teen Army plan”. Basically, some British government person wanted to implement compulsory community service (including rudimentary military training) for all 16 year-olds. The plan was called the National Citizen Scheme. In the end, he decided to make the scheme optional, saying that not all teenagers would allow themselves to be so compelled to comply. Here's my favorite part of the article: “The watered-down proposals disappointed campaigners who believe a spell of compulsory national service-style training would combat yobbery and fecklessness.” [emphasis added by me] Wow. I had no idea that Britain was dealing with such a rash of feckless yobbers.

We walked downtown for lunch and to mail some postcards. The bank lineups were huge today, at every bank and ATM we passed. It's that end-of-month rush that the Megahans warned us about.

We go back around 2:30PM and had an instant guest: Oteng, one of Marya's unofficial foster children. He's about 15 years old and we had run into him while we were downtown today, greeted him. He came in and I served him properly, I think (juice, oranges and Cadbury Fingers). We chatted for a while, then kind of read, each of us reading and doing different things. I realized that I didn't know how a local visit is supposed to “play out”. His sister came looking for him after a while so that's how our visit ended. That's actually our second visit since we've been here. I should probably get a greater variety of cookies in case someone else stops by.

I managed to get some paperwork done later in the afternoon (receipts gone through) but we're actually taking it fairly easy today as tomorrow should be pretty hectic: Domboshaba festival!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


We had some fun at the office this morning. First, we brought our Action Packer to put the groceries in when we went shopping. When Jo Ann brought us to the BSB office, the Rodewalds (more LBT missionaries) were there and we finally got to meet them. We talked a bit about plans for Dombashaba, then went inside. Jo Ann was there to take photos of the translation team for a fundraising effort so we took a bunch of pics also. Portia laughed and said that it felt like being in Hollywood.

After the office, we got our groceries for the next couple of weeks. Rob found an interesting Batman knockoff but we didn't buy it, just got a picture.

BTW, my pictures aren't uploading today. I'll have to work on that when I go into the office on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Home work

We decided to do a little work at home today, rather than being at the office while they're trying to finish up the Psalms. Given that I don't speak the language, I figured there were some behind the scenes things I could putter away at instead. For example, tonight Michael and I are going to look at BART and Translator's Workplace software together. He's coming to pick us up around 7PM. So, this morning I worked on a grammar tag puzzle he was wondering about. He's looking for a Hebrew construction that is only identified by a marking on the verb. So, I played around with grammar tags until I found a search string that generated a tight enough list of options so as to be useful for whatever research he's doing. After I got the list, I started digging around in the instruments in the Psalms research again. I got all the defining materials in Translator's Workplace and now I'm back on the Mac side of the computer to go over some of the Hebrew instrument resources I got online yesterday. I hope to get a look at indigenous instruments on the weekend, see what kind of matches we can come up with. It's kind of tricky, not having high-speed internet here at the flat. I've become so accustomed to just gong online and researching the minute that I have a question that I'm having to really organize my thoughts whenever I know I'm going somewhere with internet access. I'm using the Journler program (free for the Mac) to keep all my wonderings, blog-posting, tasks and random info in one place, for easy remembering.

Tonight, I'm making a chicken something or other with hot sauce from Nando's, that place with the great chicken Greek salad. I'll throw in whatever broccoli, cauliflower and peas I have left from our snack drawer since we're planning on a grocery run before the weekend. I'm thinking probably brown rice would be a good idea as well. As long as I get the rice on by 5PM, we should be on time for a relaxed dinner at 6PM.

I don't think I mentioned our trip to the museum last Thursday. There was an exhibition of various styles of batik and resist dyeing. One of the batiks is now my wallpaper (on my computer's desktop, not in our borrowed flat).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


It's actually chilly and cloudy out there today! I had to go back into the flat to put on a sweater. When we left the flat this morning to wait out front for our ride to the Bible Society office, there were a lot of people on the streets, walking to wherever they were going. I greeted one man and he returned my greeting. I commented on the weather and he said, “You don't hear in America about this [gesturing at the sky] happening in Africa, do you?” We laughed.

They're working on Psalm 102:2 right now, as I type this. Rev. Moteto was explaining what the idiom “do not hide your face from me” means in Kalanga. He explained that it is as if he loved a woman very much and always wanted her to be in his life, to be with him always, he would say that to her. A beautiful image.

Botswana news sites

Here are some Botswana news sites:
Afrol News -
Republic of Botswana news -
The Botswana Gazette -
Mmegi -
The Voice -

Monday, September 24, 2007

Literary question answered

I've had people ask about the titles used in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book series, Mma and Rra, what they mean. Well, now that I'm here, I've asked. They are Setswana words.
Mma = mother, also used as Mrs.
Rra = father, also used as Mr.
Mma holds the m a little bit, hence the double m. Rra is pronounced with a rolled Rr.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

To the outskirts

This morning, Rev. Megahan took us to a house church on the outskirts of Francistown. The congregation was much smaller than in the main church in town, about 12 people in attendance, not counting the slew of tiny children. Also, the service was conducted in Kalanga, Rev. Megahan preaching and officiating. The young women behind me led the singing portions. Some singing was done in Kalanga, some in Setswana. After the service, we hung around a bit while Rev. Megahan took care of some paperwork. I finally learned to say “goodbye” in Kalanga: kwakaluwaba. I had been feeling weird every time I left a gathering, waving and saying “bye” when my greeting had been Kalanga.

I bought a skirt after church (all my skirts are in Namibia and I've been wearing the same dress whenever the occasion calls for a skirt or dress) and a trash can for the kitchen (no more ants!).

In the afternoon, I tackled the washing machine. The clothes got clean, all right, and dried on the line in about an hour and a half. However, there was a weird bark-like substance in the water that I never did figure out where it came from. I shook it off before hanging the clothes on the line and again after the clothes had dried. Weird.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Trip to Galo Mall

We decided to trek to Galo, about 20 minutes away on foot. We got going last because of sleeping in (I had the craziest dreams last night!) and arrived just in time for lunch at Nando's. They have a mean grilled chicken salad with feta. I've noticed that feta is sort of the big cheese around here in restaurants. We wandered around through the stores until about 1:45PM, when we hit the road back to home.

I found a nice cotton long-sleeve button-up shirt to alternate with the linen one that I've been wearing whenever I have to walk anywhere. I really must tackle the washing machine tomorrow. Rob says I shouldn't be so scared of using it and he's probably right. I guess I only need to use it right once to feel OK about it.

Rev. Megahan (a.k.a. Michael, I use the names interchangeably) will be taking us to a new church tomorrow to visit. Today, we're relaxing pretty solidly. Rob's practicing guitar right now and I think I'm going to play a little Age of Mythology (Titans expansion).

In foot news, I think it's getting better. The swelling has gone down a lot, even though some other veins seem to be puffier. The flight really wreaked havoc on my feet, particularly the flight from Washington to Johannesburg. I'm questioning the usefulness of the compression stockings, actually. They tend to bunch around the front of my ankle, no matter how smooth I try to make them, and much of the vein-swelling is right at that crease, where the stockings were bunched. Argh. Ticks me off, really. If I discover that those stockings caused any permanent damage to my veins, I am going to become such an anti-compression stocking online activist.

Friday, September 21, 2007


When I turned on the tap this morning, nothing came out. So, no shower. I had a scarf so I threw it on and went with Rob to the Bible Society office. We talked this morning about what we might do at the upcoming Domboshaba festival, a Kalanga cultural celebration. It looks like Rob will be doing audio recording, as much as he can get with whatever electricity is available, and I will probably do still and video photography. We're going to try to get photos and info on indigenous instruments, for work on the Psalms and also for local worship development. Rev. Moteto and Thuso gave us an impromptu demonstration of a local board game, mmili, played only by men. I recognized the game, though. When Rob worked for Edmark, they had a package of strategy games of the world that we installed and played. One of the games was called, if I remember correctly, Nine Men's Morris. Rob and I played that for a while. So, I was able to follow mmili quite well.

This afternoon, we walked downtown for lunch at a local cafe. The following video is an anecdote from that lunch.

We had water back after lunch. I went to visit Margaret in the afternoon for a short while. She's having cataract surgery on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


We went out to do some basic household set-up things with the Megahans. Michael told us that banks and post offices have line-ups out the door from the 20th of each month until 2 weeks later so we had to get all our bank stuff done today. People receive their government cheques at that time and so banks and ATMs will run out of cash. I found the ATM in town that will take our bank card and took out a couple thousand pula, to be on the safe side. We went to the licensing office to see about getting Botswanan driver's licenses but the information desk (where they give out the numbers that put you in line for service at the main counter) was unmanned for about 15 minutes. When the office began to fill with people, none of them getting numbers and no available staff in sight for the information desk, Michael suggested that he come back later in the afternoon and pick up the forms for us.

Then, he brought Rob home to meet with Marya (missionary who works with the worship team at the local Lutheran church) and Jo Ann took me shopping. I got what I hope is enough groceries for the next 2 weeks. It's difficult to plan meals when you aren't sure what will be on the shelf when you get there. For example, last week we got large tubs of plain yogurt at the store. Today, there were only a few single serving tubs of plain yogurt so I got a bunch of those. I got a bunch of meat too, froze some for later. We hadn't been eating enough meat the last few days. Incidentally (though probably not unrelated), Rob is down to 92 kg (203 lb) and I'm currently holding steady at 55 kg (121 lb). So, he's lost 7 lbs and I've lost 4 lbs. Happens whenever we leave the US, oddly.

I also bought our cellphones. They're pay-as-you-go (which is what most people here have) and seem pretty good; Samsung SGH-X160. Hard to tell, as the instructions are completely in Italian. I have to go online tomorrow and find an English guide so we can actually use them. If you're the kind of person who'd like to be able to get in touch with us for emergency purposes and need a phone number, send us an email and we'll send you the phone number. Otherwise, we're using Skype for all our US and Canada chitchat, when the connections are fast enough… which they haven't been yet since I've been here.

Now, I have to go hand-wash some more laundry. I hope to get in touch with the Knights soon to figure out their washing machine. Either that or I'll get in touch with General Electric, see if they have any manuals for older models. It's a Microprocessor 700T. Good grief. With a name like that, it almost has to predate the invention of the home PC.

I also got some juice in big glass bottles today so I can reuse them for keeping drinking water. They've begun having water shortages here in Francistown, now that they're heading into the hot season, and I want to be ready with cold water available if it affects us in any significant way. We did have a loss of water pressure a few days ago but that just meant grungy hair for me, not dehydration. From what I saw on the local news, some other people's water loss was more problematic.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A "dende" by any other name…

Tonight, I got to sit in on my first translation check. Rev. Michael Megahan called around 4:05PM and asked if I'd like to come to a check at 5PM. So, I freshened up and off I went.

We arrived at the Bible Society of Botswana office and hung around until enough people were there to start looking at the passages. The checkers ranged in age from 9 years old to senior citizen. Tonight, they were checking the recently translated Psalms 79-81, from 5PM until about 6:30PM. Most of the conversation was in Kalanga so I was pretty much out of the loop for most of it. Occasionally, Rev. Megahan would lean over and point out what the issue was, make a few notes on my paper.

As was inevitable in the process of translating the Psalms, the whole Hebrew instruments thing came up and questions were asked about the words chosen to represent those instruments. It was one thing for me to discuss in the abstract during those Sunday school and chapel sessions last fall how translation of instruments in Psalm 150 has been done. It's yet another thing to see people really wrestling in reality with the issues at hand before the Psalms hit the presses.

They're trying to teach me Kalanga, little bit by little bit. I don't know if I have the spelling right but I was taught a couple of greeting forms:

Ma muka tjini? - “How was your wake-up?”
Nda muka. - “I woke up well.”
A basic “How are you? I am fine.”

Ma shwa tjini? - “How did you spend?”
Nda shwa. - “I spent well.”
The thing that you spent could be your time, your energy. Basically, how was your day spent.

Their tone is pretty cool. Not only do the words have individual tone but the clauses, dependent and independent, have tone as well. It kind of messes with the tone of each word, morphs it into an overall tonal contour (for lack of a better word at this hour of night). Like, everything rises a bit, falls a bit back but further, rises a bit again, falls a bit further, repeat to end of clause. And depending on the type of clause, the last 3 syllables (or so) seem to have the same tonal melody as all other clauses of that type. At least, that's how it sounded to me, just sitting there in the room while the Psalms were being read in a language I don't understand yet. It was a bit like listening to someone scatting in jazz; I could pick out the tune because the words didn't get in the way.

Getting the lay of the land

We took our first walk-about this morning. Before Mike Megahan dropped us off at home from our day at the Bible Society, he drove us past the post office, Village Mall and other key spots downtown. He drove the walking route so we could get a better sense of how to get there. Much to my surprise, the walk to the Village Mall this morning was only 5 minutes! It felt so much farther driving!

Rob and I talked a bit about that over lattes at the Blue Crush, in the Village Mall. I noted that when I go someplace new, everything seems expanded for a while after I first get there. Days creep by, food tastes extra tasty, distances seem farther – you get the idea. Now, after less than a week in Francistown and exactly a week in Botswana, things are shrinking back to normal. I'm glad that we can do downtown on foot. I'm still not feeling up to confidence level with the switcheroo of the side of the street on which people drive. Once I start looking the right way before I cross the street, perhaps then I'll feel more like I could get out there and drive. Also, the car we'll be driving is a stick-shift.

The weather today is exquisite: sunny with a brisk breeze. When we went out, my hair was all wet and it's pretty bouffant right now.

This afternoon, I'll be working on Mike's Kalanga wordlist that he gave me. I'm making iFlash cards for easier studying. I'm going to check out his grammar notes too. I think I'm going to pick up some Setswana as well, just so I can greet people and say “please” and “thank you”. I've been saying it in English, though. For the rest of this morning, I'm hand-washing some laundry. Rob's jeans are pretty grungy and he's running out of black socks. There is a washing machine here in the flat but I'm not sure how to use so I'm going to play it safe until I get further instruction on it's use. I keep forgetting to buy clothes pins when we go to stores so I'm hanging things on hangers in the bathroom. It works well enough and should keep things from getting sun-faded.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Our flat

By the way, this is our flat from the outside. Yes, Rob is there twice. One of the side effects of life continuing while stitched panoramic shots happen. Ours is the flat on the bottom floor on the left, beneath the word “Continental”. The satellite dish isn't connected; boohoo, no America's Next Top Model for me. Both gates have padlocks and each door must be locked in 5 different ways. There is also a keyed security system. It takes us several minutes to physically get out (or into) the flat. We're still getting the hang of all the keys. The can behind Rob #1 is where our garbage goes. I think that wire on the wall is electrified but I haven't tested that theory. It is, at least, barbed. The flowers on the tree in the upper right corner of the picture smell delish, like honeysuckle.


Today was a pretty great day. We went to 2 services at the local Lutheran church, one in English and one in Setswana. The vocal talent in this one congregation alone is amazing! There was a small ensemble (3 women, 1 man) doing music in the first service, occasionally with percussion (drum, sticks and tambourine). They had tight harmonies and a rich, full sound. The acoustics didn't hurt the sound either – mondo reverb. In the second service, we were doubly treated, even though we couldn't understand the language. The children came in and sang a few songs with surprising skill, at least from my usual experiences with children singing in church. Typically, children singing in church seems to me to be tailor-made for oohs and aahs of “Aren't they cute!” and “Look at Johnny, trying to eat that microphone!” but precious little more. Not these kiddos. These kiddos were pitch-on and singing with gusto. After that, a small choir of the teens went to the front and did a few pieces. Again, bang on but with harmonies this time. Some call and response stuff with various leaders. Of particular interest to me was the tenor, a pretty powerful voice from a guy his size. All good singing. Basically, I felt like Rob could pretty much throw a microphone in front of any of these groups and have them hit one out of the park in terms of end product quality and local (maybe global?) marketability.

After the first service, we met Margaret, one of the smaller choir's members. Turns out she's a neighbor of ours, lives just around the corner from us. She said that some women from the church were going this evening to visit some of the sick women who couldn't make it to church. She asked if I wanted to come along. I said yes so she came by our place to get me in the afternoon. While we waited for the taxi to pick us up, she told me about her family and what she does for a living. Her husband is a nurse at the hospital nearby and she makes African women's clothing. Given that I discovered this morning that the only clothing I have that is suitable for local church is a single spaghetti-strap dress that I have to wear a linen shirt over to make appropriate, I asked if she could make me something to wear. I'm hoping to get over to her house some time this week to talk patterns and material. I'm so excited! Rob did accuse me of coming to Africa for the clothes. Margaret is actually from Tanzania (a whopping portion of the local Lutheran church is, interestingly enough) but she's been living here in Botswana for 4 years.

We ended up having to walk to the nearby taxi stand but eventually made it to the church, where the women were meeting to carpool for visiting. We only went to one woman's place, which is really all we would have had time for. It was quite a party-like event. We had a time of singing, prayer and a short message from Rev. Titus. Then, the food and drink. I had some more of that fabulous African Coca-cola along with deep-fried bready things and a stir-fry pepper steak type of dish. In fact, on my way out, I made what was probably my first Botswanan social gaffe. While I was thanking the woman's children for the wonderful food, I commented on how tasty the bready things were. They immediately offered me some to take home. I said, “Well, just one, for my husband to try.” They said that I would have to take more and, between the 3 of them, got a baggie and filled it with half of what was left (about 7 balls). Not that I was unhappy with that; they were durned tasty. It occurred to me on the way out, however, that I may have unwittingly made a request for some by commenting on how tasty they were. I haven't confirmed that this is the case, though. I'm just paranoid. Ah well. Rob certainly appreciated those bready things. They had a wonderful, delicately spicy flavor.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New blog tips

As you may have noticed, this blog went from having nothing posted for almost a week to having more than the opening page will hold. That means that there's stuff that I posted that you can't actually see without going to the archives. Basically, I don't have constant internet access at the apartment where we're living so I can't just post things as I write them. I'm writing them and deciding which pictures to put in while offline and then I'll be posting when I get near internet, whether at the BIble Society office or at the Megahans house. Today is Saturday and so I probably won't post this until Monday. My suggestion would be that you click here on the September archive link to go to all of the postings for September. This will be particularly helpful for those who are printing these postings for others to read offline.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Local delicacy

I had noticed a scattered ant here and there around the apartment and, as a result, figured I'd better be extra careful about crumbs. I fixed us sandwiches for supper and was oh so carefully picking off crumbs that I noticed on my shirt and lap and eating them. No ants were going to crawl on me, no sir. Then, I noticed something moving on my plate
Note to Peter Slayton: While you can probably guess where this is going, you should still stop reading if you're eating, nonetheless.
and realized that the ants were already here. At that moment, I decided to begin more closely inspecting those tiny crumb-like particles before popping them in my mouth.

Living in a diffuser

I am loving the way the air dries my hair. This morning, I washed it and gave it a bit of a towel rub. When I took the towel off, pulled my bangs across my forehead and shook it a bit, it was half dry already! Not only that but the ends on the sides and back kind of flipped themselves up and the bang dried straight into place when I pulled it across. Like living in a diffusing blow-dryer. The unfortunate side effect of living in a blow dryer is
Note to Peter Slayton: If you're eating breakfast, stop reading here until after you've finished eating to avoid any unnecessary indigestion.
crunchy, bloody boogers. Thankfully, I brought my nasal irrigator and some saline packets. I'm mixing them with bottled water to keep everything up there dust-free, at least until my body adjusts.

Funny side-story: When Rob saw this picture on my screen, he said, "Hey! We have a fan?" He hadn't noticed it prior to seeing it on my screen.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Arriving in Francistown

We left Gaborone around 8AM and drove most of the day. Before taking us to to our new digs (we're housesitting for the Knights, some fellow LBT missionaries who are currently in the U.S.), we stopped at the Bible Society of Botswana to meet the Kalanga translation team.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Flight images

Getting on the plane to Johannesburg. See how far back in the plane we were sitting? The guy in the seat next to ours (pink shirt, brown baseball cap) was a nice guy, offered to help me with getting my bag into the overhead compartment. South Carolinian, I believe, from the accent and gentlemanly manner. Ah, LTSS memories...

Sipping lattes and rose (yes, as in the flower) Italian soda in the Johannesburg airport. They served the lattes with the milk and espresso separately; you mix them to taste at the table. Fun!

South African Air wings over Africa.

Flying into Gaborone, Botswana.

United Economy Plus

I tried to get our seat assignments the day before we flew (Sunday night) but couldn't because even though there were empty seats; they were unassignable, for some reason. So, we had to check in the morning of flying (Monday). When we did, the woman checking us in asked if we wanted to fly Economy Plus, with "up to 5 inches" extra legroom for $50 per seat. I said no (because of that sneaky "up to").

When we sat down, I noticed that the tray table in front of me had an Economy Plus sticker on it. We were in Economy Plus anyway! That's why the seats were unassignable as regular seats the night before! So, that appears to be United's new strategy:
1 - make a handful (about 12) seats Economy Plus, with a tiny bit of extra legroom
2 - overbook the rest of the regular seats
3 - fill all the regular seats with online check-ins, offering Economy Plus
4 - offer the Economy Plus to everyone who checks in at the airport
5 - fill the extra Economy Plus with the overbooked passengers anyway

I heard other people in the check-in line pay the extra $50. I'm glad we didn't. Good to know for the future: They sold me a seat, they have to give me a seat. If I check-in the day of, that'll probably mean a free Economy Plus seat.

Driving in Gaborone

The view from the backseat.

Oasis Hotel

We spent 2 nights at the Oasis Hotel in Gaborone.

Visiting the ELCB

We dressed up a tiny bit to meet some people at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana office, here in Gaborone. They're helping us fill out our paperwork for the residency permit and employment exemption. Rev Michael and Jo Ann Megahan are ferrying us about, along with their son, Peter.

We met for a while with Rev. Morekwa.


We're here! It was a long trip (of course) but we came through it relatively unscathed. When my brain unscrambles, I hope to write some interesting and coherent things for the blog. I also have a few fun flight pictures. The Megahans picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel, then to dinner (my first Botswanan burger – yummy!). Then, we got some pula from an ATM, which meant trying 3 different ATMs until one took our debit card.
20 Pula = $2.80, 50 Pula = $6.95, 100 Pula = $13.90

It's 7:05AM here, which is 10:00PM the previous day on the west coast of the U.S. I can't tell yet but I think we're adjusting properly. We've been taking melatonin to induce proper bedtimes. I've still only been sleeping in small chunks (1-3 hours each) but last night's rest should have us on the right schedule now.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Big news!

Yes, we're flying to Botswana on Monday! The tickets were purchased at the end of last week. Here is our itinerary:

September 10
Seattle to Washington, DC (7:20AM to 3:13PM) - 5 hours
Washington to Johannesburg, South Africa (5:20PM to 2:35PM the next day) - 15 hours
September 11
Johannesburg to Gaborone, Botswana (5:15PM to 6:20PM) - 1 hour
From there, we drive about 200 miles to Francistown. That's about 21 hours actually on a plane, in the air and a drive at the end of about 4 hours. Actual total air travel time (including the trip from Woodinville to the airport in Seattle 2 hours before boarding and getting from one plane to the next) will be just over 37 hours.

So we're scrabbling to pack this week, now that I'm back from the east coast of Canada. Exciting times. It's good to finally be going.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Favus? Framboesia? Yaws?

For immigration to Botswana, we need to be medically examined and have a doctor certify that we are "not suffering from favus, framboesia or yaws, leprosy, scabies, syphilis, trachoma, tuberculosis or any other disease prescribed in terms of section 7 (c,) of the Immigration Act."

I had to look several of these things up. To the left, you see yaws. Yaws is related to framboesia. Below that is favus.

Monday, August 27, 2007


My sister, Hope, is doing really well. Some tenderness and irritation around the sutures but she's able to get out and around a bit.

I, on the other hand, have developed phlebitis in my little vein thingy in my foot. Normally, the bubbly vein goes flat when I raise my leg above the heart. On Sunday, it stopped going flat. In fact, it's kind of turgid. I called my vascular doc in Bellingham today. The nurse on duty said it's a phlebitis, not likely to be clot-related, probably from some sort of impact. I don't remember banging my foot at all. Anyway, it's freaky. I'm calling tomorrow to see about getting an appointment with my vascular doc for as soon as I get back from Canada. I'm doing the compression stocking and even took an ibuprofen, for inflammation. Gotta get rid of this thing. Not looking forward to getting back on a plane like this. Will be taking vitamin E, vitamin C, fish oil, copper and folic acid over the next week to try to heal it up pre-flight.

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