Sunday, December 13, 2009

Music camp ends

Just a short while to post here. The first music workshop, where we were teaching, went well. The second, where we were students, just ended last night. Hanging around in Gaborone until Rob's recording session with Ntirelang Thursday night. Staying with the Rudowskes tonight, having lunch with them in about 2 minutes. More to come soon?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Packing prep

Been doing some packing this morning. It really is tricky, trying to figure out what should come back to the U.S with us and what should stay here. Like, as far as clothing goes, we've agreed (Rob & I) that we'll each bring enough clothes for a week, plus a few church-worthy items. The rest will remain here as our plan is to buy some new stuff to replace the things that are wearing out. Most of Rob's shoes are wearing through the soles. And my everpresent red shoes have seen far better days - I need new casual shoes that can multi-task as professional.

One weirdness that I discovered this morning - a fair number of my underwear items have gone missing. I know this because I counted what was one hand this morning and certain notable items are not among the items available. I can't say for sure where they might have gone. My current theory is that they walked out of my suitcase during one of our hotel stays in Gaborone. That's all I can figure since our clothesline isn't accessible by those outside the gate. Just weird.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spoke too soon

Well. Now, I feel really bad for my last post. We had a swarm of winged bug things attack the house last night - heard a sound like rain but found when we looked outside that it was only hundreds of bugs hitting the window. We hurried around the house, shutting windows because it seemed like they were even getting in through cracks around the edge of the screens. I got the one in the living room, without turning on the light because that was what was attracting them to the windows in the first place. Bad idea.

When Rob went to open the living room window in the morning (there's a lovely cool breeze at this time - thanks be to God), he found a squished adult lizard in it. I just didn't see it when I was pulling the window in. Ghastly.

Rob cleaned up the mess, didn't even make me see it. Thanks, Rob. I feel bad enough about it as it is.

Ironically, I killed about 20 palm-sized flying bugs last night as well, all the ones who got in through the window-cracks. I had to get them before they crawled on the clean dishes in the drying rack and stuck to them, rendering Rob's efforts useless. Yet, for a massive swath of bug-killing, I feel no qualms. Funny, that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New bug in town

The hot bug right now is anything that looks like a cockroach, regardless of color, texture or size. It's odd how bug seasons are here, changing all the time. And, to accompany the new bug trend, we have a tiny gecko skittering about. You know those dreams you have about having a tiny pet that is so small that you accidentally end up squishing them, either by sitting or stepping on them? Well, that's my waking life right now. It hasn't happened and I pray that it doesn't. Just gotta turn the lights on before I enter a room and look down before I step.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Weather update

Just saw the weather report and it looks like they've changed the forecast for the weekend - overcast on Sunday, no more rainstorm anticipated. Sigh. Praying for rain?

Moving ahead

I wrote my GRE exam on Monday and it went very well. I like that they give you the results for the verbal and quantitative section immediately, so you don't have to go away wondering how you did, for the most part. Now, almost all the arrangements have been made for the first leg of our home leave in 2010. All that remains to to finalize a car plan for Texas, schedule speaking things for the the last half of the year and get a car arranged for the speaking tour. We're talking to an organization in Indiana that specializes in providing transportation for missionaries and full-time church workers; looks promising.

Rob had a recording session on Saturday that went well, despite some equipment snafus. His main choral mic has been acting up, these last 2 recording sessions, making a sort of popping noise. Time for a technical checkup - he'll have to send his mics for tune-up, make sure everything is in tiptop condition before we return. It's a good thing we're going back now, now that his gear is needing attention.

Just made a schedule for our last 10 weeks here - hard to believe it's only 10 weeks before we fly! Have to get everything packed to move out. And almost 4 of those weeks are completely booked, with us having to physically be somewhere other than staying in our own home, making multi-tasking impossible. But we've packed in shorter times before so we should be alright.

Did I mention recently that it is hot here? The weirdest thing: we woke up this morning to the smell of rain and a cool breeze blowing through the living room window. Yet, when we looked outside, not a raincloud in sight. Now, the smell is gone with nothing to show for it. What was that all about?!? The weather forecast is for rain this weekend but I would gladly have taken it a day or 2 earlier. Sticky, me.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A tour of my Maun

Check out my neighborhood on the map below:

View Eshinee's World in a larger map

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why I'm learning Setswana

There are a number of reasons but here is a big one. Take this quote from a recent Mmegi article: "Days when Batswana would be queueing up for service when an officer was busy eating fat cakes are over. In the past it was common that on Friday at 12 noon go theogela dibaki motho ene a tsamaya ko Dibete a laisitse koloi moroko wa dikgomo aya morakeng, when people were looking at his jacket in the office thinking he is around. Those days are over." - Dr Batlang Comma Serema, BDP Executive Secretary

Now, you can probably get the drift of it without knowing what that string of Setswana in the middle is actually saying. However, the practice of saying the key point in Setswana, even if everything else is in English, is prevalent. I just want to be able to fully communicate in the national language. And, if I'm not fully hearing, full communication isn't happening. Just my thinking on that.

So far, I can tell that the saying has something to do with starting work, coats, a person, going to somewhere, a car and cows.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Maun Blog

Someone else is blogging from Maun. I thought this would be a fun link to share here, especially since the blog has a video taken at the bridge behind our house:

Another perspective on some of the things that I've blogged about over the past 6 months since moving here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Couch surfing

We're looking into low-cost travel options for when we're speaking in churches back in the US and Canada. Gotta keep the overhead low, eh? One of the accommodation options that I'm looking into is couchsurfing.

It looks like a great way to stay in all kinds of new places (i.e. where we don't have a friend or family place to crash for the night) and meet cool new people, all at once. I mean, more new people than we'll also be meeting while speaking at a church in a place where we don't know anyone already.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

search like a Sni

If you search here, you'll search only the sites that I've designated as regularly searched sites by moi. Therefore, you'll find whatever I would find. Cut out the middleman - search like a Sni!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Air quality

The view to the east

The view to the south

The view to the west

Notice a pattern? Maun is layered with a creamy coating of various air pollutants right now. Happened last year at about this time too. And my sinuses are talking about it. Had to whip out the old sinus irrigator. Then, I did a little online digging to see if pollution is a known issue in Botswana. Known issue? Well, let's just say that a single mine in Selebi-Phikwe is responsible for 90% of the sulfur dioxide emissions in Botswana. Plus, this is the time of year when people start burning the brush, preparing for planting, if I understand correctly. And the trash fires are year round, though not as much of an issue in the rainy season. I'm not a rainy day fan but, this time of year, my heart makes an exception. Rains, come quickly!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Herero festival in Toteng

We only went for a short while as I was attending an Aglow: Generations Project event in the afternoon. It was cool to see the variety of dresses and headwear of the Herero women. Also, there was marching.

Rev. Unazo Uhona and Rob


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Summer arrives

Yes, it's officially summer again. I put clothes on the line and it dried in just a couple of hours. Our computers start to choke up after a few hours of running them. We're having to monitor the internal temp of our laptops constantly, so we don't burn out the hard drive. I put a bunch of old (tops removed) soda cans in the freezer with a little water in them, for making cold drinks out of room temperature water - a luxury on most days, a necessity on others. Made a pasta salad at lunch time so we don't have to eat hot food at dinner time, when the house is at its hottest. Am wearing the lightest article of clothing I own, a little cotton sundress that I picked up at an open market in Gaborone. I regress to this garment most days in the summer, after a morning of being able to wear anything else. Ah, summer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Occasionally, life here makes us feel like we're chickens running around headless. You make plans, they fall through. The only person who can help you with something you absolutely need done is a 9 hour drive away. Basic amenities go on the fritz the day before a major journey/meeting/event. Person A has a problem that keeps Person B from being able to help Person C make their appointment with Person D, who then has to cancel their meeting with you. Such is life.

Today, we are waiting to see how our travel plans for the next 5 days work out. We have reservations in Gaborone for meetings that are scheduled there that may have to be postponed until we find out whether or not one of our meetees will actually end up being here in Maun during the appointed time instead. We'll know this evening. Until then, we can only pack our bags (again) in anticipation of leaving and… wait.

Why "BaoRob"? The cool picture from our trip back to Maun this week, that's all. We sure do see some nifty things at potty stops on our travels.

recording the Wayeyi choir

Rob was recording the Wayeyi choir from Ikoga for the last couple of days, singing both traditional songs an translated hymns in Shiyeyi.

Rob at work

the choir at work

…and then the photos began

Eventually, we were dragged into the fun.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Kalanga New Testament & Psalms launch

Rob & I went to our first New Testament launch yesterday, in the Kalanga language. What a day!

Rev. Mothetho loads the NT&P into the bakkie to bring to the dedication grounds

a Kalanga poet makes a dramatic presentation during the dedication

distribution of the first copies

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Batsara Batsapi

The festival at Sangwali was a success. I met some people who I think we will be of great assistance to each other in the future stages of the Shiyeyi language project. The dancing was wonderful, especially one little cutie who couldn't have been more than 4 years old but, boy, could she work that reed skirt!

meeting with Namibian Shiyeyi-speakers to discuss Bible translation possibilities

waiting for Shikati to come

Wayeyi dancers

Shikati Ozoo speaks

zebras and impala on the side of the road, driving back from the festival

with my new prized possession - a recently published Shiyeyi grammar by Frank Seidel

We arrived home yesterday around 7:30PM, after an eventful trip that included a 3-car accident (wich we weren't involved with, just came upon 30 minutes after it happened), subsequent emergency trip to the clinic, transport of the Wayeyi chief to his destination (he was in one of the cars) and near misses of our own with various cows that couldn't be seen on the road at night. But we are safe and praying for those who were injured, including a number of those Wayeyi who attended the festival with us in Sangwali. Still waiting for news on some who we brought to the clinic.

Tomorrow, we drive to Francistown for meetings. Today, we do laundry.

Chicken Soup from My Soul

Chicken soup is one of those things that I can't make without thinking of certain people:

Mom: She taught me how to make chicken/turkey soup from a carcass after a roast chicken/turkey meal. It's not really a recipe thing, more of a technique and learning the taste/feel of the process.

Magda: It was at a dinner at her house, during my last year of high school in Nova Scotia, that I had dill as an herb in soup for the first time. I was entranced. From that point in time, Mom said I was overdoing the whole dill thing. I can't help it. I like dill. My permanent thanks to Magda for the dinner invite and the many soups-with-dill that ensued.

June: This was the first dish that I made to impress Rob's mother, at our first Christmas together at his folks then-place in Ohio. It worked.

Kim: We had grand alternative health adventures together when Rob went through vernacular media training at JAARS in North Carolina. Sharing prayer, recipes, herb tips, laughter and soup… good times. It was with Kim that I first began playing with lemons in the soup, as the mineral-releasing agent with the bones instead of vinegar. Rob hates even the smell of vinegar; it takes away his appetite.

Amy: At LTSS in South Carolina, I made The Soup, health-restoring properties now finely tuned, for my friend Amy. She liked it, felt better, praised it highly. I also think of Amy when I make the soup. It's not that she modified it; she just appreciated it really well, in that highly encouraging manner that she has.

So, is there a recipe? Not really. There are only current permutations, depending on how I'm eating these days. Here is the current permutation, as I am cooking it today:

Eshinee's Current (not Currant) Chicken Soup

4 batches of leftover chicken bones-and-bits from 4 quarter-chicken meals at Nando's
water to fully cover in crockpot
6 teaspoons of sea salt crystals
1/4 cup lime juice
2 bay leaves (sent by Barbara for ant-repellent purposes)
1 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp garlic
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, sliced
2 potatoes, cubed

I put the chicken leftovers in a crockpot, covered with water and added 4 tsp of salt plus the lime juice, last night around 9PM. I turned it on high and forgot that I had done so. I woke up at 4AM, remembered that the soup was still on high, went out and turned it down to low. At 10AM, I took out all the bones and chicken bits, put them in an old ice cream container to cool down enough to pick the meat off by hand; I'll probably get to that in an hour or so. I'll then return the meat to the pot. I added 2 more tsp of sea salt, picked out the bay leaf, put in the herbs and veggies. I turned it on auto-shift, which is sort of like a high setting that keep it hotter than low but adjusting so that it doesn't overheat. If I check later this afternoon and the veggies are full cooked, I'll probably turn it down to low. We plan to eat at 6PM, roughly. I may get all crazy and add dumplings, if I can find a good crockpot dumpling recipe online.

I'm not kidding about the amount of sea salt, folks. Salt to taste later but do add it with the bones as well, to help leach out the minerals. That's what this soup is all about, getting the most nutrients out of that chicken.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting ready to publish

So, I'm finishing my last edits to my handbook today, before I hand it off to Rob for layout. He's currently mastering Unazo's recording, so he can link the recorded lessons to the text in a pdf. Exciting stuff!

I'm experimenting with papaya seeds from my back yard as well, as an anti-inflammatory. They have some solid science behind them and a clean safety record. I'll let you know how that goes. So far, I've found that I can't chew more than a teaspoonful at a time (in a few hours period) or I get queasy. Good to know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And it's back again

The water returned last night. Another late night wash. Today, the water pressure appears to be holding but all I have left to wash is a set of sheets. I'll do that tomorrow morning.

We have our booking for a place to stay on our upcoming trip to the Caprivi strip in Namibia. In fact, at this point, we have all our bookings for our August trips. That's a relief. We're doing an insane amount of travel in the weeks to come. We'll be traveling so much that we'll cross the 12k km point in our car during one of our trips and have to schedule the maintenance on location during another, so we don't go over the leeway allowed for maintenance book stamping.

The Caprivi trip is for the annual Wayeyi festival in Sangwali. This will be my first visit to the one held on the Namibia side.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Photos by Rob and Josh

Rob and I at Tsodilo Hills, photos by Josh

sitting around the fire with Reuben, photo by Josh

Josh and I on the Okavango, photo by Rob

Josh's visit in images

Here are some more fun photos from my brother Josh's visit:

Josh, taking some of his first pictures in the country, at a rest stop

Rob and Josh as we climbed down one of the Tsodilo Hills

sunrise on the Okavango, photo taken from the boat

a crocodile at Kasane, Botswana

the three of us at Victoria Falls

the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls

sunset on the Chobe River

Rob holding a python

The next big filk thing

Well, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration. But someone did buy our first filk album yesterday. That's our first filk sale ever. That's pretty exciting.

Songs from Dark Waters

Mission accomplished

I just finished printing out my companion manual for learning Setswana to a Peace Corps manual that I found online. Rev. Unazo is coming over this afternoon to record the sentences for my abridged versions of cycles 101-163 in this P.C. manual. Yay! Hopefully, this will be of help to people who are coming to Botswana from LBT in the future, who want to get a head start on their language learning before actually setting foot in the country.

Also, we got a load of laundry out this morning. Last night, I was on the phone with Johanna when the water came back on. So, 11:30 at night, I'm starting a load. Rob hung it out when we got up this morning. Making clean while the water flows, if you will. Yes, we are still occasionally running out of water. It had been mostly gone for several days up until last night. And I'm glad I did laundry when I could: it's gone again this morning.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

safari with Roger Dugmore

As I've mentioned, we just came off a vacation time, coinciding with my brother Josh visiting us here in Botswana at the beginning of July. Part of Josh's focus was on getting great shots of large animals. So, we decided to go with Roger Dugmore of Eco-Africa Botswana. Smartest thing we ever could have done.

The accommodation was more than comfortable: it was ideal. The “campingness” of camping (we slept in tents) but with the added pleasure of all the things you usually wish you had with you once you find yourself actually too far from civilization to go back and get something. Hot water bottles in a comfy, many-quilted bed on a cold winter's night? Brilliant idea. Hot water bucket showers, private water closets, laundry service, little folding sinks with a ready supply of hot water. The food was delicious and cooked on the spot. Dorcas whips up a mean lunch, let me tell you. A cooler with drinks available during every drive, with breaks next to the hippo pools for tea in the morning. And everything was taken care of for us; all we had to do was show up to meals and get in the safari 4X4 whenever Roger said it was time to go for a drive.

Notice that I haven't talked about the animals yet? I'm still not sure what to say about what we saw. Yes, we had nearly a hundred people praying for a specific list of animals for us to see (oh, He cares about the little things). This was compounded by the fact that Roger has a gift for getting into what the animals are doing. One of the moments that highlighted this was when I saw an elephant in the far distance, made a little noise but then stopped because it was so far away. Roger asked what I saw, I told him. He said, “No, let's wait. It'll come to us.” He positioned the car back a bit, out of his predicted path. Sure enough, within about 20 minutes, the elephant crossed our path, right where Roger said it would. Brilliant. We saw many, many animals, despite the fact that the flooding had created plenty of small drinking spot, removing the necessity for the animals to come all the way to the river, where we were camping (on the Khwai River). Here are some of my favorite shots:

Which brings me to the photographic aspect of the safari - the shot was the thing. Roger, being an avid photographer himself, has a keen eye for the framing and lighting, something you don't get on every tour. He regularly would not only find the animal but would say, “Just a moment while I get a better shot,” as he drove to a better position for our cameras.

Knowing that we were there to practice photography (none of us are pros, we just like it), he would also watch what we did with our cameras and suggest alternate ways of holding it to get more unusual shots. He would remind us to turn the camera on its side from time to time, for a different perspective.

After the safari, while taking photos in Kasane and at Vic Falls, I found myself going for “the Roger shot” and being pleased with the result. For comparison, we did a river-boat cruise in Kasane where we also saw some spectacular wildlife. However, the boat driver was primarily concerned with proximity to the animals, not so much with the lighting. As a result, he'd often stop at a place where the animals were backlit by the sun, making shots problematic. Many of my pictures were taken after the boat got moving again, while floating away. Roger, by contrast, would stay and adjust until we were happy with the shots we got. As he said at one point, “Sure, that's fine if you want to end up with a picture of something that just shows that you saw it. But if you want to get The Shot…” Roger, knowing that we were about The Shot, was about The Shot.

And safety? I can be a bit jumpy on occasion. It's had to reconcile my fight-and-flight instincts with the desire to see the big game up close. Roger and Reuben made it so we didn't have to choose. The lion “hunt” was a prime example of that. Once the tracks were found outside the camp, the track and search began in earnest. Now, on our last night, we began to hear the growling next to the campsite. It was dark, after dinner. Reuben suggested that we go sit by the fire, the roaring seeming closer all the time. When the roaring moved to the other side of the camp, over by my tent, Roger said, “Everyone, get in the truck.” I got up, heart in mouth, headed for the truck, thinking we were going there for safety. One of the boys asked where we were going. Roger said, “Well, you want to see a lion, don't you?” I was in the truck before I fully realized what he had said. Too late now. Reuben got in the back seat next me. I sat a little closer to him than he was probably comfortable with but when he saw how jittery I was, he laughed a little. That reminded me that we were in capable, experienced hands. That gave me enough presence of mind to clap my hand over my mouth: I was afraid that I would not be able to control a scream if it came. We drove; we saw nothing. The roaring continued. We went to bed. Next morning, I was awakened by the roaring, happening on different sides of the tent. I lay awake, listening, for about an hour until the roaring got far away. Someone came to wake us for breakfast. During breakfast, the roaring picked up again. Roger and Reuben again urged us to head for the truck and off we went. This time? Lion, smack on the side of the trail.

The point being that, had I been camping alone or with guides that I didn't instinctively trust, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy these close-up animal experiences. No lion. No elephant so close that I could have touched it. No puff adder. No hippo pool. If I came upon an elephant on the road, what should I do?

Roger knew. I would have backed up, driven away. Roger waited, got us some good shots, he and Reuben keeping an eye on the elephant for any aggressive behavior.

Instead of having a jittery game experience, when the first elephant snorted at us, Roger assured me that I wasn't in danger. I believed him. I felt better, took great photos. And isn't that the whole point of being on safari with a guide? I don't know what bush-safe is. As a lot of people don't: check out these self-drive tourists that we saw on one of our game drives:

Yup, these are folks that should probably have a guide required by law, eh?

So, yes, the experience of a lifetime. Thanks, Roger, Reuben, Maleko, Dorcas, et al. You made our vacation.

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