A long-overdue update
I've noticed that lately my updates have gone from awestruck to anecdotal. I'm sure that a lot of the people that read this are probably more interested in all the different things I've been seeing, and not just hot dog pizzas. It's kind of hard for me to keep thinking up striking differences between here and Canada, for a couple of reasons. I've been here for two months now, following pretty much the same routine every day. Life here has become the status quo, it's difficult to pick out differences because this has become "normal" to me. I'm not going to be mistaken for a Motswana (someone from Botswana) anytime soon, but at the same time, my roommates and I are able to do anything and go anywhere in Gaborone.
I remember a conversation I had with Jim Delaney, one of the Coady International Institute's staff. I told him that I was excited to see all the differences between life here and in Canada. He told me that isn't really the way to go. By focusing on the differences, I'd still be separating myself from their culture. Even a word like "accept" isn't quite right, because that kind of has the connotation that I'd be originally against it. I guess the strategy that is most effective is to just live it. People here have their own way of going about things, and to fully experience it, one has to adopt that way of life. This isn't the same as the assimilation seen in the States (and even the "cultural mosaic" that is Canada), because I'm not being forced to change my beliefs, language, etc. I want to learn as much as I can while I'm here: about Botswana, about Canada, and about myself. To do this, I have to put aside any preconceived notions I have as a Canadian, and just experience Botswana for what it is: a beautiful, yet tragic country of which I knew nothing before coming, but one that I can, for now, call home.
At the same time, for those of you who aren't living in Botswana, one of the best ways to visualize what it's like here is to hear about what makes it different. With that in mind, I've thought up a few more aspects of life here that are different from in Canada.
-Roosters are everywhere, even in our complex. They don't just crow at dawn, either. They start around 4:30am and go pretty steady until probably around 10pm. We're getting used to them now, but we all get woken up at least once a night by a particularly ferocious rooster.
-Pedestrians have no right of way here. Drivers keep a steady pace and it's up to pedestrians to walk accordingly. I'm getting good at timing my street crossings so that I don't have to stop between lanes. I'll bet I'd be a really good Frogger player now.
-Although there are a lot of erroneous ideas about Africa at home, women do carry things on their heads. I don't know how they do it. I've seen women carry bags of potatoes, boxes of Ice Pops (giant freezies), crates of pop, etc. It's got to be the most efficient way of carrying things because it doesn't put any strain on your arms or shoulders.
My roommates and I have been invited to a wedding this weekend. It's in Mochudi, a village about 30km from Gaborone. Weddings here go on all weekend, and this one will begin on Friday with the slaughtering of a cow. I'm pretty excited for the wedding, I've heard that they're a lot of fun. I'll write about it next week. That's it for now.