Friday, November 12, 2010

Last Day of Semester!

I'll keep this one short and brief. 

Last day of Classes, though I didn't have my single morning class today so I guess classes ended for me yesterday.  Anyways last day of classes but I'm still stuck tonight working on to papers that are due next week during finals, a pretty big bummer but I had a great day so I guess I really don't mind giving up my freedom Friday to keep working.

Spent the last few hours working with a local ministry known as The Kings Foundation. They invite local kids from neighborhoods to come out to learn/play sports.  The kids all love! At the end of the sports session everyone sits down to learn some type of biblical message.  Its an amazing program and really is changing kid's lives one game at a time.

Anyways, I was hot and gross after some serious play and all I wanted to do was take a show

20 Second Clip:

I grabbed my gear and headed to the shower just across the hall.  FINALLY, my floor has running water and I couldn't wait to take advantage of it.  As I switched on the water, I stuck my hand out somewhat out of habit to adjust the temperature (something I would do at home but not here) and then I realize.  It hits me like a ton of bricks.  I almost can't control my excitement...

....HOT WATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (a stand-up, hot shower, on my dorm floor is something I haven't experienced since the first two weeks or so I came to Botswana)

Ah! I jumped in, a bit afraid it would quickly run out which if never did.  I returned from the shower happy and feeling great and with clean hair. With just enough energy I settled on my bed to continue work on my psychology paper.  with Text books and journal articles spread out in front of me.

I was ready to work.  I was sitting there with a Delicious, sliced, green apple and a half broken spoon to eat peanut butter with straight from the jar. That's when I decide I would put off homework just a moment longer to share my goodnight with all of you.

Okay now I should get back it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Since roughly mid October the heat in Botswana has dramatically increased. I would like to say I have become somewhat used to it and indeed I have though I still found it necessary to run out and buy a fan two months into being here. Anyways, High altitudes of cooler temperatures mixing with insanely hot days have made for the perfect storm....Literally!. The last month or so has been filled with fantastic thunder and lightning shows nearly 2 to 4 times a week and better yet PULA!!!! (a.k.a RAIN!!!!)

I'd like to say that this has helped to cool the place down and at some points throughout the day, life does feel a bit cool and it does make for more bearable night but unfortunately it usually just makes everything feel sticky and humid. Oh well, I suppose it’s a small sacrifice in order for God to answer my prayers for rain.

Well with a little hard work and a great camera (thanks mom, and the Stewarts) I got some shots of the amazing lightning. Though I really wish you could hear the thunder that follows. Sometimes it feels so close that it could literally knock you over. Keep in mind I was indoors for most of these photos so they are kind of blurry but I just so happen to love them anyways.

Hope you love them too.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reality is....

So here's the thing,
I now consider myself a real world traveler and as a real world traveler capable of handling the somewhat uncomfortable living conditions one will often encounter. I have become so accustomed to dealing with such situations that I have actually made a game of it. The game is simply called wins and losses (make sense?). For each circumstance I decide what to consider a loss and what to consider and win. Very subjective I know but either way each is worth 1 point. At the end of the day I count my points and if all goes well then hopefully the "wins" come out on top.  If not then I have two options.  The first, change the situation.  The second change my mind set.  Either way somethings got to change.  Here is the game I played today.

Example: my regular shower routine

It first consists of leaving my room and checking to see if my floor has water.  Now I already know the answer but checking it first has become somewhat of a tradition for one reason or another. water. (Loss +1)

So I go down to the next, no water (usually) (Loss +1)

So I go down to the final ground level...YES! water! (usually though not always) (Win +1 but sometimes not so Loss +1....cancels out 0pts)

Two showers open!! (Win +1)

Large cockroaches on ground level, decide not to shower with them (Loss +1)

Go to the next building over or on the other side of the dorms,
towel shampoo and conditioner in hand (Loss +1)

Open Showers (Win +1)
Water on ground floorr (Win +1)
First shower choice to many bugs (Loss +1)
Second Show choice only two mosquitoes and some ants (Win +1)
Kill mosquitoes!! (Win mosquitoes means two points, +2)
Cold Water (Loss +1)
 But not as FREEZING cold as it used to be!! (Win +1)
Dang! Three bugs, didn't see the cockroach at first (Loss +1)
Tiny Baby cockroach, easily killed (Win +1).
Shampoo and Conditioner equals clean hair (Win +1)
Feeling refreshed after a long day (Win +1)
Heading back to my room to laugh about the crappy shower conditions with my roommate (Win +1)
Wins = 11          Losses = 7
See, Reality is the best situations in life are not going to just fall into our laps so we have to work for them. Reality Is, despite how much we fight and struggle against the wind, it may still blow us over.  In other words, sometimes it doesn't matter how hard we work, sometimes the great situations in life are just not going to come our direction.  Reality is....we make our own situations and we can decide to see them in any light we choose.  I choose to win.

Just for fun...
Traditional Healer in Botswana just leaving his "consultation room" (Batsi took us to pay a visit and to ask and learn all we could.  Very Cool! (WIN +1) haha)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sorry Its been So long!

Hey all!

I'm so very sorry I haven't written lately.  Last week and this week have proven to be very eventful and by the time I finally settle in for the night my focus becomes homework (and lots of!) rather then blogging.  School is super busy right now and once again I have two very big papers due at the end of the week. Hopefully once this week comes to a close, my blood pressure will go back to normal and all i will have left to focus on is FINALS!!!! Gosh I can't believe this school term is almost over!! Next up, a trip to the Okavanga Delta!.  I have plenty of pictures and things I want to share including an international Halloween celebration, a wedding for 2000, a visit to a traditional healer and plenty plenty more!

Unfortunately, I need to get back to homework so for now you'll have to settle with a few pictures of a recent field trip to the Debswana Jwaneng Mine.  Me and the other CIEE girls....and Batsi took a field trip to one of the biggest Diamond mines in Botswana.  Its all above ground so looks a bit similar to a giant gravel pit but trust me the stuff the find there is WAY better then some plain ol' rocks. Debswana is a proud company and has countless security measure to insure that any and all diamonds produce from their mines are strictly  Fair Trade Diamonds (as oppose to Blood/Conflict Diamonds). Jaweng Mine is the richest diamond mine in the world by value and one of two places in the entire world were naturally green diamonds can be found.....also known as "mom, please buy me one" Diamonds.

Well anyways, we suited up in bright colored vests, hard hats, and steel-toed boots and headed for the mines.  See what we saw....

The whole tour crew!

Batsi says the his Dreads are a problem everytime...he was right.

this is the delightful little monster they use to move the rubble...figure this pic gave a bit of perspective

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Thoughts Inspired by Botswana

Random Thoughts Inspired by Botswana

1. If I get ONE more bug bite, I’m declaring war on ALL mosquitoes

2. As a forth-year college student it is practically my duty to put off papers until just before they are due. Its like an unwritten rule, why mess with tradition now? At least that’s what I’m telling my professors. :)

3. Word Swap! (Botswana vs. America)
a. Full Stop = Period (like at the end of a sentence)
b. To borrow = as in “I borrowed him my book” actually means “I lent him my book”
c. Full cream = whole milk
d. Knock-off = to leave or to finish (in terms of “what time do you knock-off school)
e. Motor Bike = Motorcycle (that one was easy to figure out)
f. Biscuits = cookies
g. That side = this side, over there, the other direction, the other end, etc.
h. Chips = French Fries
i. Airtime = Cell phone minutes
j. Car park = Parking lot (so British)
k. I’m coming = usually said while walking away actually means I’ll be back.
l. A rubber = eraser
m. Write a Test = actually means to take a test
n. Rumza = roommate (practically my name while in Bots, which I love)

4. I have to register online for my winter term classes at OSU. Of course since I’m in Africa it means my allotted registration time falls on November 16th at 4 am. So annoying and yet, kind of exciting, though I may not be too excited come 4am.

5. Legal Drinking age?….18. Legal age of Driving?.....18….Not the greatest idea.

6. Got to Love my roommate. Her name is Chimo and she is an amazing person. She also has this hilarious and sweet friend Jobe and this is possibly my most memorable conversation while here in Botswana.

Krisstina: “The first thing I’m going to do when I get back is go to Strabucks!”

Jobe: “Haha, is it?”

Chimo/Jobe: “What’s Starbucks?”

7. I live in Oregon where it rains or hails or snows or some has means of downward moisture, the majority of the year. Yet, I see almost twice as many umbrellas in Africa.

8. Its not easy to grow grass here, which is to be expected with such little rain. Yet they somehow manage to grow grass outside of the nicest buildings in Botswana. Though I must confess it doesn’t look like or feel like normal grass. Anyway, they figured out a way to grow grass all year round through a delicate balance of frequent watering and mass amounts of cow manure based fertilizer. That’s when it occurred to me. Why would anyone want the NICEST buildings in Botswana to always smell like manure? Skip the grass, take the dirt.

9. Speaking of dirt, they have dirt sweepers here. Ya know, to clean up the dirt a bit and make it look nice. Thought that was very odd, then I realized we rake our lawns…equally odd.

10. Someone was convinced I was Brazilian the other day. So I said yes and started speaking Spanish just for the fun of it. He was convinced and satisfied with is fine skills of perception…..They speak Portuguese. Just sayin’

Lovin' Bots...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October!! When did that Happen?

I can’t believe it. How exactly did October come so fast? My mind strains to remember everything I have seen and done in the last two months. That’s right! I have now been living in Africa for over two full months. Wow, even just saying the words “living in Africa” seems to make my heart race.

Everyone I meet seems to ask me the same questions “Are you in enjoying Botswana?” “Where are you from?” “How long have you been here?” “When do you leave?” “Do you plan to come back?”, etc.

I’d like to say that since I have been asked these questions so often that the response is easy and automatic. But that is certainly not the case. In fact, depending on the day, on the temperature, the work load, depending on my stress level, my answers are constantly changing.

“Yes, I like Botswana, I really do, but it’s very different from home”

“I’m from the U.S., a state called Oregon” “Oh, uh?….its just north of California” “Yes, California!”

“No, I don’t know Obama, sorry” “haha!”

“I came in July, for school, and I will be leaving in December”

“Will I come back?...uh?....yeah, I think so, but ask me again tomorrow”

Today’s 20 second clip:

I have a perfect view from my room as I watch the intensely pick sun drop behind the university buildings. The light streams though my window, splashing across my dull white walls, and illuminating the countless pictures of friends and family I have proudly displayed.

I have just finished my lamb and vegetable instant soup and am now full and happy. I know its time to settle in and prepare for tomorrow’s classes, but I decide to procrastinate a bit longer.

Instead in good Motswana fashion, I make myself a cup of five roses tea with a splash of full milk. Desert consists of nothing more than a couple of double chocolate rusks I keep on a plate next to me. Its nothing fancy, but tastes perfect with my hot cup of tea.

The new song “Miracles” plays loudly with great energy from my laptop, placed carefully at the edge of my bed. I stretch back and enjoy the final seconds of the sunset as I sip from my mug.

At this very moment I am a peace with Botswana

20 Second Clip: Drakensberg Day 2


We would glad we ignored the sign telling us to not use that particular trail that lead us to this very moment.

I’ve learned that most of the memories I treasure, and the adventures I experience, and the lessons I learn begin by first breaking the rules. So why stop now?

20 Second clip:

Meghan and I sat in what seemed to be our own little cove in the side of a very large mountain.

With the help of a map, we had a vague idea of where we were and how to get back to where we needed to be. But as we sat in silence, breathing in the view it didn’t feel like going anywhere. We were in the Drakensberg Mountains, but in fact, it felt like we were on the very top of the world.

Civilization seemed to be thousands of miles away and we needed nothing more but each other and the mountains to keep us company.

I would have given anything to see what we must have looked like sitting there. In those short seconds of silence we both realized how small we were. I pictured a bird gliding over head. We would have appeared to be nothing more than two barely visible dots, on the side of one mountain, in one national park, in one huge mountain range. And to think, despite how grand and absolutely vast our view was, it was nothing compared to the rest of the world. Like I said, we were just two barely visible dots.

See we had become a bit turned around and took what we thought was a trail. As it turned out it wasn’t so much of a trail as much as it was actually a tiny clearing that we discovered as we practically scaled the side of the cliff. Probably not the best idea, but it turned out to be something amazing.

In this 20 second moment, I was sure there was a God. I was absolutely positive that he carefully designed and sculpted these mountains, all along knowing that someday Meghan and I would have the opportunity to gaze upon them and thank him.


We later hiked back to the actual trail know as “the mudslide”. It basically consisted of a long upward pile of rocks with a small chain ladder at the top. At the time we though this to be very exciting and a bit extreme, though we would later discover that this small little mudslide trail was nothing compared to the hike we would make the next day.

Once reaching the top, we realized our cove was nothing near the “top of the world”. Even now as we reached the summit of this particular mountain we looked out onto the many other peaks that still stretched far above out heads. In fact, the summit we had just reached was known as “little berg” What? Little? Not exactly the word I would have used to describe this mountain, but it did indeed seem small compared to the mountain range that surrounds it.

The wind whipped fiercely and at times I was a bit nervous that I would be blown right off the side off the edge. Though, that didn’t stop me from inching closer to gaze at the drop below. Meghan and I decided to take a short break before heading down. We sat down far from the edge but still close enough to make things exciting. Ironically the snack we had packed that day (thanks to Meghan’s mom) just so happen to be that, of Cliff bars. We thought the food to be quite fitting and joked that this adventure would make for a perfect cliff bar commercial.

The memories of this hike are so very vivid. As I look back on the pictures, I know it doesn’t even compare to what my eyes really saw that day. But as Meghan and I so fondly put it “If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what we really saw would leave anyone speechless”

This is how the backpackers place took us to the National Park where we would go hiking.  A few cushions tossed into the back of the truck and we were ready to go!
 Just in case we forgot where we were hiking, the Baboons were a good reminder.  This is still Africa

view from the top of Mudslide trail

Trust me when I tell you this chain ladder seems like a toy compared to the two we had to take the next day
Yeah we hiked up that!
view from little berg summit
View from our little spot in the world, the cove

Saturday, October 2, 2010

20 Second Clip: Short Vac!

While taking my short vacation with my friend Meghan to South Africa, we came up with a kind of a game.  Its simply called "20 second clip".  Okay here is how it works.  Everyday, at the end of day, you pick one moment.  Just one 20 second clip (though it might actually be a bit longer but you get the idea).  This clip should be something the really dominates the entire day.  Something you wish to keep locked in your memories forever and the special moments you really want to share with your friends and family back home. Its a game I have already come to love and something I recommend for everyone throughout their daily lives.  Try it Out!

Here's mine.


So Meghan and I decided to head to South Africa for our short vacation. We had only a week but wanted to pack as much adventure in as humanly possible.  He decided we would head south the the Drakensburg Mountains.  Meghan and I booked two beds at what seemed to be this great backpackers hostel and had heard about a hiking trip up the world's second largest waterfalls in the world.  In other words, it sounded perfect! So with bus tickets to Johannesburg, South Africa; we left bright and early on Saturday September 25th. 

May the Journey begin.

Meghan and I had finally made it to South Africa after a long but fun 5 hour bus ride and an hour long line through immigration. Though time seemed minor to the overwhelming excitement of having a new stamp in my passport.
We were now safely guided to the "minibus taxi" rank to find the fastest and closest taxi to Amphitheater Backpackers. We had already booked lodging there but now as the hours passed we grew more and more concerned at actually reaching out destination.

Day 1, 20 Second clip:

As we sat in what we believed was the appropriate taxi, we began to doubt our informant. After a quick call on a borrowed cell phone and concluding and very friendly stranger, we decided there must be better option. 

With that I scrambled out of the taxi leaving Meghan behind to keep careful watch over out bags.  Se we had been warned several times about the risk Johannesburg could be for noticeable travelers like ourselves.  Two young, white, girls with very large backpacks was an easy target.

Around this hour the rank was extra busy and extremely hot.  As the sun beat down I moved from driver to drive.  Asking the same question.  I spoke slow, but with urgency.  "Where are you traveling to?" "How close is that to Drakensberg?"  "I'm trying to reach Bergville" "Do you have room for two more?".

The words were always the same, only the faces answering changed.  I must have spoken to six men in the course of two minutes, but all extended their long arms and pointed me to a new taxi. As I dashed from taxi to taxi the voices, colors, and faces blurred.  It all suddenly seemed like an odd jumble of luggage and screaming vendors with countless bottles of water, snacks and watches filling their arms. Perhaps this is exactly why I adore this moment.  It seemed like everything was on the line.  My body was alert and ready for anything and this  is completely different that anything I had ever experienced before.

"Welcome to South Africa!"

 Finally, I found a man with some answers and after quickly fetching Meghan, we climbed into two tight seats and squashed out bags directly in front of us.  We settled in and prepared ourselves for a very tiring three out journey. We weren't quite sure what was waiting for us on the other end, but we didn't really care.  We were living in the moment and loved it!


Okay so the 20 second clip was a bit more like 3 minute clip, but close enough.  Needless to say, we eventually made it to out backpackers place, which we both loved instantly!

Day one, well lets just say, the perfect start to an incredible week.

So, What's your 20 second clip?


Vendors at the Minibus Taxi Rank

Tight squeeze anyone?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Spoke too Soon...

Yet another Monday has come and is already beginning to slowly fade....and so the strike continues.

I really have no new information. Just that management did begin to negotiate and  I suspect put out a counter offer last night.  I guess the staff and professor's union were not satisfied.

Today students pulled themselves from their beds, shook off the last of their impromptu vacation and headed for classes.  As minutes ticked by, and doors were unlocked, students were left to stare at vacant classrooms and empty blackboards. 

Instead music could be heard from the center of campus.  So, as I followed the music I discovered the source was booming with life.  The teachers lounge was restless, and lively with debate and unsettled faces. I couldn't be sure what was happening beyond it's seclusive doors, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt, today the strike was going strong. 

I guess its good that I consider life experience to be a better teacher then the classroom will ever be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Well, as I’m sure many of you have already heard, The University of Botswana Professors and general staff have been on strike this entire week. (also known as, …..NO SCHOOL!).

I must warn you, I’m not exactly sure on many of the circumstances surrounding the strike but I believe this is the general gist.

It seems the professors here at UB have not had an income adjustment in roughly five years or so. The University as claimed that the budget is limited and a wage increase is just not possible. Come to find out, UB was sitting on approximately 30 million pula that they were using less then appropriately.

When the numbers where crunched, and the money divided; management had settled on a 78 percent increase for their head honcho and next to nothing for professors and general staff members. For whatever reason, this didn’t sit too well with the majority of employees.

After a month of planning and deliberating, it was put to a vote. Strike or no Strike? Amongst those of the Professor staff that voted a whapping four “NO” votes were cast against a overwhelming majority.

And so, as of Tuesday September 14th, 2010 The first legal strike ever in Botswana commenced! And I have the photos to prove it.

Professors and staff skipped class, wrote a petition, painted signs, sang songs, and Marched around campus.

Comparatively to what we have seen in the U.S. this seemed like a very peaceful, mellow strike, but it got the job done! I’m told that management has decided to negotiate! Classes are set to resume this Monday as usual though classes have been disrupted so we can all count on our schedules being a little off.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens from here!

What's important about this picture? Well, you see that man holding the sign? That's my Professor.

You Know You're An American In Botswana When....

“Home” is a bag from R.E.I, Shoes from Rite Aid, a journal crushed under the tires of your youth pastor’s massive truck, and a torn Hemingway novel.

You’re the only person on your floor who keeps a constant supply of peanut butter, jelly, and whole wheat bread.

You might be the only person EVER to sport true cowboy boots on the UB campus

You can hardly pronounce your OWN Tswana name

You’re the only person who doesn’t think size 6 ½ shoes are bigger than average. (As it turns out they have a different shoe size system here, UK…oh. Little lone, every girl here has tiny feet!)


The only one who thinks its odd that Batswana police don’t carry guns, is you.

You’re one of a handful of people who consider toilet paper a basic necessity.

You’re not sure if your tan or if it’s just dirt. Yeah


You Have to explain to your professor and fellow students what the American phrase “rule of thumb” means. Even though your professor was the one that said it.

Drinking 4 to 6 Liters of water daily seems extreme, but totally necessary.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Stranger of Strange Lands

I am a Foreigner
My feet strike against unfamiliar ground and my steps waiver under shaky rocks
My shoes, now stained by the sand, tear at the seams and split at the rubber
My Skin is white, my hair light, my eyes blue, and my accent thick
My Opinion is Foreign, my point of view is strange and my voice a minority

If I have learned anything while here in Botswana it is that I am foreigner. The money is unrecognizable and the names are usually something I can barely pronounce. I have learned to respect this culture though I do not fully understand its customs, while simultaneously treasuring my own. I am a Foreigner, but perhaps I always have been.

1 Peter 2:11, Philippians 3:20-21

All About the Story

If you’re going to live, at least live a story worth telling. Good or Bad, share your experience and make it interesting….

Botswana is a land of limitless stories waiting to be told. While here I have explored the salt pans, lived with a local family, been proposed to (a few times), celebrated my twenty-first birthday, anticipated a university strike, sat in a police station, and much, much more.

What’s that? Oh yes! You read correctly. I indeed have had the privilege of introducing myself to the local police and filling a report which I’m sure will do nothing more but clutter some poor working man’s desk.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m sure that most are aware that I and the law have an interesting history, but I promise you this time handcuffs were not involved. In fact I was the victim, or more the friend of the victim; a witness to a crime if you will.

Today, after returning from Mochudi, my friend, Christina and I decided to go to Riverwalk Mall to buy a few groceries for the up and coming week. From the University to Riverwalk is approximately a 20 minute walk and a journey we have become all too familiar with.

As we left the now closing grocery store, the sky was still blue and filled with light. We decided to walk.

We turned down a side street that usually had little to know traffic. We had become very used to taking this road and figured it was in fact the safer decision since taking the main road often meant risking your life with the speeding cars who are in no way concerned about pedestrians lining the sides of the road.

Christina and I are talking loudly, laughing, and enjoying our conversation as usual. Just as we begin to approach the cross street (also very busy) a young man runs up from behind. He grabbed Christina’s bag, and began pulling it with all his strength. Within seconds her bag was ripped from her hands, and her groceries lie in a mess on the ground.

In less than thirty seconds, the man (who looked younger then both Christina and I) had grabbed her bag and dashed around the corner, forever out of sight. We had been taught and told several times not to fight back. That are lives where more important than our possessions. In all honesty I’m not sure we could have done anything with how fast it all happened.

As the man ran away Christina and I began to scream thief at the top of our lungs. We had been told that Botswana is well known for their mob justice and upon yelling “thief” many citizens will take justice into their own hands and often stop the perpetrator.

There was no one around to here our cries.

He was gone. With him, he now had Christina’s dorm keys, Cell phone, and Wallet containing her license, social security card, credit card, debit card, account information, and 50 pula.

Both her and I care were quite alright, but the stress that would soon follow would be very overwhelming.

Life’s an adventure, like it or not.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Weekend Adventures Continued


Sorry to leave on such a cliff hanger, but no worries! My computer is now back and stronger than ever! Thanks mom for all your help! I truly have no I idea where I would be without you much needed assistance.

So where was I?

Oh yes! Francistown.

So after a very long bus ride we arrive to Francistown. It’s late; we’re all tired and want nothing more but to grab some food, drop our bags, and celebrate the night away. And we did just that!

After a little patience and about twenty or so minutes; Skei and his 3 buddies arrived. Just a reminder, Skei is the best friend or the 24 year old uncle of one of the families my friend Kelsey is doing her home stay with.

We drove to the little one room house we would be crashing at for the night, dropped out bags, and headed off in search of food. We found it! We ordered five pizzas from one of my favorite Botswana restaurants and happily fed ourselves and our Francistown drivers.

With our hunger satisfied and the final few pieces of Mexican and Hawaiian pizza being licked from our fingers; we were ready for some fun.

We had heard that there was absolutely nothing to do in Francistown, but we were determined to find adventure wherever we could. Luckily, the adventure practically found us. To make a long story a little less long I will just say that by the end of the night (actually only around 11 since we were all already exhausted) we had been to a few local hang outs (a.k.a. parking lots where everyone breaks out their coolers and blasts their car stereos), hung at an army base and attempted a game of pool, and danced with a few local girls (who had way better moves then I ever will) while signing to Shakira at the top of our lungs. Oh yes, a night I will never forget.

That night as we all squeezed into bed we knew that we would only be able to grab a few hours of sleep while the rest we spent tossing and turning. We also knew we had just made lifelong memories.

The next morning we were up bright and early! We all packed our things quickly, picked up the room, and called our cab. The thing with cabs is they don’t like to carry more than four since they could get in trouble with the police. That being said, college students don’t like paying more money than they have to. So with a little convincing we manage to persuade the driver into taking us all to the bus renke. There was only one condition. One of us would have to stay out of sight. Being the shortest among the group of five and coincidently the last one in the cab, it was I who elected to stay out of sight.

Before we knew it we were on the bus headed for the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. As the bus drove on (3 hours to be exact) it began to become more and more crowded to the point where people were sharing seats and there was not even a place left to stand. An hour or so later we had reached our destination! In this case our destination was a giant aardvark statue by the side of the highway. We squeezed off the bus and waved goodbye at the side of the road as we appeared to be standing in the middle of nowhere. To add to the adventure we grabbed our bags and hiked the next kilometer in to our lodge.

Finally, after much walking, and even more sweating we reached the lodge. It was beautiful, that was clear from the very beginning. And after what seemed like quite a long journey; we were eager to relax. As we checked in we questioned the reception desk about the excursions available that weekend. In the most polite attitude she informed us that all the excursions were booked and there was no room left

What!!!!? I’m sorry!! Repeat! I know I did not just travel 8 hours on a bus to come to a lodge in the middle of nowhere only to be told that I couldn’t even see the very salt pans I sought.

With a smile on my face and some deep breathing I attempted to keep quiet, though I must admit my mind was on fire!

With a little good ol’ fashion American force from the girls, and some quality pray, we left the reception to chill in the bar and rest our feet while we let the staff work out the problem. As I sat back sipping my guava juice, now personally in good spirits and trusting the work of God, I was all too happy to hear the receptionist announce that room was available for as all on the all day quad excursion for the following day.

Amen. In fact we later found out that one of the tents we were to stay in was broken so they had to upgrade two of us to a Hut (a very luxuries hut). I believe this is where we say “God is good”

The rest of the day was spent checking into our accommodations, Lounging by the pool, sun bathing, and meeting an American Actress and getting two know her two young daughters and camera man Husband. That’s right! Anything is possible in Africa.

We all took hot showers that night as we tried to wash away the long journey. This time as we fell asleep in our own individual cozy beds dreamt of seeing the salt pans.

A new morning brought a heavy sun and new adventures. Around 7:30am, we all climbed into a safari car and began the 40 minute drive or so to reach the quad bikes. It took everything in me to contain my excitement. We reached a small camp where our quad bikes waited. Just before heading out our slightly sarcastic and very nice guide taught us all how to tie a properly where head scarves. You know like the one you see in Aladdin! Despite his quality teaching, he had to give us all a little extra help, but soon we were ready to go. We pulled out head scarves around and tucked the ends in to the opposite side. This was to help keep the dust off our faces and out of our eyes.

Two to a quad but there was an odd number of people so got my own. No complaints here!

As we began to ride out to the pans it once again hit me. I was in Africa. Botswana to be more specific. I was sitting on a ATV, revving the engine for all it was worth, and as the wind swept by me, my eyes took in what can only be considered one of the most beautiful sights on Earth.

The salt pans are beyond vast, similar to looking out onto the ocean and how it seems to go on forever. No wonder we once though the world was flat. There was nothing in sight for miles. The pictures don’t do it justice and I wish they did. I wish everyone could see what I had the privileged of viewing that day.

After a few hours exploring the pans and seeing what I assume is only a fraction of the whole; our minds were overwhelmed and how stomachs hungry. We headed back to a prepared meal and then back to the lodge.

As the day came to a close we spent our time watching the sunset hoping to see elephants by the watering hole. We sat atop a dusty safari car laughing with our new friends who we had just met the day before. Sleep came easy that night.

The next morning, it was time to head back. Our actress/camera man couple and now travel gurus were more than happy to cram us all into their small safari car and give us a lift to Francistown. We were all too willing to sit in cramped spaces if it meant no bus fair (life of a poor college student).

The journey back to the University seemed long and draining, but none of that really mattered. The events of the weekend played in all of our minds and was more than any of us could have anticipated.

Pictures to follow, I promise

Monday, August 30, 2010

T.I.A and I'm Lovin' it!

This weekend was incredible.  There is no other word that could possibly contain the excitement, the adventure, the randomness, and the awesome God moments that occurred!

So, this weekend myself along with 4 other friends, tossed our things in backpacks, squeezed onto already crowded buses, and headed for the 2nd largest salt pans in the world! And let me tell you, This is one adventure I will never forget.

First off, I apologize now since I will have no pictures that follow this blog.  Something is up with my computer and until I get it sorted out, my Internet use will be limited.  Even now, I'm writing this particular blog while sitting on a computer at a over-priced Internet cafe and only 29 minutes left on my tab. 

Anyways, we started this weekend by lugging our very heavy backpack and bags onto very small combies.  By the time we reached the buses we were already tired, hot, and hungry. But no worries! We're young, we're college students, we're now experienced travelers so we can handle it! 

We left on a Thursday night in hopes that we would get to spend more time at the pans and it was a wonderful decision! The first bus was a 5 hour ride northwest to Francistown.   We were happy, to say the least when it was over.  Also, we were very Fortunate to have a place to stay while in Francsistown.  You see, several of the girls I traveled with this weekend are doing a "home stay" while studying in Botswana.  In other words they elected to live with a local Tswana family instead of on campus. This worked out wonderfully for us since one of the home stay girls just so happened to have an "uncle" around our age who was moving out of his house and gave us the key to crash for a night. That's right!! FREE ACCOMMODATION!

Of course, once we arrived to Francistown we realized the "house" is a very interesting term and often based on personal perception.  My personal perception was seeing a 10 by 8 foot room, a 2 inch mattress on the floor that was shorter then a twin, and a sometimes working toilet next door.  hmm.

Oh yeah! we stayed, and we stayed for free! and Yes, we all squeezed onto that two inch mattress and tried to get whatever amount of sleep we could.  But no worries! We're young, we're college students, we're now experienced travelers so we can handle it!

Sorry all! For now this is all I can say.  I will be sure to be back on tomorrow to continue the story of my weekend adventure.  But for now, the clock is ticking and I'm about to be booted off the Internet.

Hope all is well!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dear Aubrey

Too the little sister never wanted but am thrilled i got!

First off, Happy Birthday! I hope you have a truly amazing day that is filled with laughter and good friends. Secondly, sorry I couldn’t be there. I really wish I could but I promise to come back with and amazing birthday gift from Africa!

I am thrilled at the person you are becoming and can’t wait to see the work God will continue to do in your life. I know this may sound a bit big-sister-ish, but I can’t believe you are seventeen!! You make me feel so very old. Plus, like it or not you will always be twelve in my head.

I feel so very blessed to have a sister, a friend, an encourager like you. I know you will always welcome be with open arms and please know I too will never turn my back on you.

Now, to finish off my birthday wishes with some cliché, but valid advice.

Take care of yourself. If you always neglect yourself to reach out to others then, then everyone loses.

Never stop dreaming, and never stop making those dreams a reality

Go big….go far….but call home.

No riding in Cars with strange boys….don’t take candy from Strangers….look both ways before crossing the street.

Should you ever get into a situation you don’t know how to handle, talk to God first, yourself second, and then friends and family


Live life to the fullest, and learn from your experiences.

Okay love, I am officially out of cliché advice for now, but no worries I’m sure by the time I will return home I will have plenty more.

Can’t wait to sit over a plate of Sushi with you and tell you all about my African adventures. Love you and miss. Have a good birthday smalls.

Love, Sis

Baby Aubrey, and nearly baby Krisstina.
Not sure how we grew up so fast but at least we group up together.  Thank you for always being there.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's not Home, but it's right

Every day as I lay down to sleep I am reminded why I have chosen to come to Botswana. I could have stayed home. I could have taken comfort in the familiar. Yet still I know, good day or bad, I have made the right choice.

Culture Exchange:

So I’m sitting in My Psychology Cognition and Learning class, taking notes as fast as I can while struggling with the professor’s all too strong accent.

The topic of discussion is that of “superstitious behavior”. The idea is that superstitious behavior is created by witnessing or being told that an action will control the reaction of something else. Scientific definition is that these two events occur together by mere coincidence. For example, a person may kiss a coin before tossing it into a pond in belief that this will increase the chances of their wish coming true. When this action and reaction does occur then the superstitious behavior is reinforced.

After, the professor finished explaining this to the class and I took a break from frantically taking notes; a guy just a few seats down from me raised his hand. When called upon the student sat tall an addressed the professor. “Yes, sir. So you mean superstitious behavior and belief like the eye-twitching thing?”

The professor responded with a nonchalant “yes, exactly” and so the lecture continued.

I must have had a VERY confused VERY intense look on my face because the next thing I knew the professor (and the rest of the class for that matter) was staring straight at me. With a slight smirk and without even asking me what was wrong, the professor looked at the guy next to me and in Swetsana asked him to clarify.

The Class chuckled a bit. At this point I felt extremely awkward and yet after spending just over two weeks in Botswana, I had become very familiar with this feeling. I responded with a “yes, please, I am so very confused”. The class laughed louder.

The guy, who sat just two seats down from me stared directly at me with a huge smile now spread across his face and happily explained. “Okay so in Botswana there is an old belief that if the top of your eye twitches then it is good luck, good omen.” “Now, if the bottom of your eye twitches, then it is bad luck and something bad will happen”.

The class was silent. Then suddenly and very loudly, the class burst into laughter, professor included. At that point I realized my jaw was literally hanging open. That’s when I began to laugh. It was at that moment it felt right to be in Botswana.

As the laughter subdued the professor continued with his lecture. He got no more than three words in before a young girl across the room (whom I had already had a delightful encounter with) shot up her hand. As she was called upon, she could hardly contain the words. “I want to hear something from Krisstina!” “Today she has heard one of our superstitions; I want to know one from her country!”

My mind was blank. I had nothing, but the eyes of my classmates focused solely on me.

Fortunately, that entire class I had been starving for lunch and was dying for a sandwich and coke. That’s when I figured it out. Soda! I began to speak hoping not to make a fool of myself. “Okay, so in America, as kids, many of us are told that if you want to make sure the soda doesn’t explode in your face when you are opening a can, then you have to tap the top of the metal a few times” “Most of us know this really doesn’t work and yet there are still plenty of us who, probably out of habit, tap the top just before opening the can and sure enough it almost never explodes.” To really get my point across I tapped the wooden table in front of me.

Once again the class was silent. Sure enough within a short second not a person in that classroom could contain the laughter. Many in fact, began to mimic the tapping motion out of sheer delight.

In this moment, this very awkward, very hilarious, memorable culture exchange the world felt perfect. Through their laughter and my own, God showed me that coming to Africa was exactly the right choice.

You Know You're An American In Botswana When....

It’s a nice 70 degrees and everyone else is bundle up in heavy jackets, scarves and hats because this year’s winter is just too cold!

You have to buy two or more outlet adapters. One to convert from British to American, or One to convert from Botswana to American, or most likely, two to convert from British to Botswana plus another Botswana to American. Sound complicated? It is.


There are absolutely NO clouds but you still see people carrying umbrellas.

You walk into the room and you’re the only white person, and the only one with blue eyes, and the only one with light hair, but most importantly the only one wearing shorts….awkward.

You find yourself missing hot water


You order beef and get liver.

No one but you shows up to class the first week.

You hold a soda can and notice it is significantly heavier then back in the states.

People ask you if you know Obama (BAHAHAHAHA!)


You can’t find anything but “full- cream” milk and all you want is 1%

People ask you where you’re from…you answer…they look VERY confused…and then you scramble to mention something about New York or California just to make them smile.

The professor is lecturing and then stops to spell some word in Swetsana as he stares at you

And last but not least, When….

You wake up one morning, sun streaming in your window, and realize all night long you had been dreaming of Starbucks.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Better...

Okay lets start with the bad just to get it out of the way. I was nearly robbed yesterday while walking with a friend to a local rugby game. We were passing through a major combe (basically a small van) station and market area. The area is always packed with commuters and is apparently a thief’s dream. At one point nearly the entire crowd must funnel over this small footbridge with stairs on either side. Just before walking across my friend who is from California and doing a home stay rather than living in dorms, warned me to hold my bag close because a ton of people get robbed here. The next moment, not even a minute later a man to my left grabbed my arm, pointed in the other direction, and began frantically speaking Setswana. Like a naïve tourist I looked where then man was pointing. In a split second I heard the Velcro on the side pocket of my canvas bag open. Suddenly it clicked. All at once I looked down, saw the man’s hand reaching into my bag, yanked it away and pushed myself forward through the crowd. He was reaching for my cell phone, but luckily he never got the chance to grab it. I hate to say this but it was probably a good lesson to learn even if I did have to learn it the hard way. I am for sure never letting that happen again.

Okay bad stuff done, now moving on.

As I write the deep orange, setting sun streams through my window making my room glow with warmth. I have been in Africa for two whole weeks now and I feel as though I already have enough experiences to last a life time.

The food here consists of mostly chicken in various forms, rice, bread, and a bland white dish called pop. Pop is interesting to say the least. It’s the color of mashed potatoes with little to no flavor. The closest comparison I would say we have in the U.S. is that of grits. It’s absolutely a staple here in Botswana and defiantly a traditional food. It’s not bad actually but certainly not something I will miss when I head back home.

This last weekend after orientation the international program here at the University of Botswana (UB) took all the international students on a short cultural excursion. We went to a small village on the outskirts of Gaborone where most people receive electricity but still live in small, round, mud huts with grass ceilings or a small, square, one bedroom dwelling. Here we walk a few kilometers through the village (followed by playful, curious, laughing children) to a place I can only describe as a historical preservation site. Basically it was a large property with traditional style houses, native plants, and a fire pit hidden away in the bush. There the owners had prepared a meal for every one of classic Botswana dishes including that of the pane worm. And let me tell you, when they say worm, they mean worm! And yes, I tried it. Actually it wasn’t bad, but it defiantly did not taste like chicken. By the time we had dinner it was dark and you couldn’t even see the food you were eating, which was probably a good thing.

Friday, I went to the local Botswana national museum and art gallery. I was great! The art consisted of sculptures, paintings, and local handmade tapestry and baskets. Much of the art was beautiful and the museum gave me a whole new outlook of the country.

Just yesterday, I along with a group of other international students went to the championship rugby game of the UB hogss. It was a blast! Honestly, I had never been to a rugby game and in reality I only new what was going on half the time but none of that mattered. It was a rush being there with the young African crowd. They cheered, screamed, and laughed. In fact you could almost feel their dedication to the team.

Today I went to the local Gaborone Game Reserve. Since we were in city limits this particular reserve was small then the ones I will see later up north but it was still exciting. Zebras, warthogs, monkeys, ostridge and plenty more I don’t actually know the names too could be found. After the CIEE group had driven all the way through we sat down at a nice picnic area for lunch. The entire time we surrounded by very curious looking monkeys who at one point actually ran up to the table and grabbed a banana right out of a girl’s hand. We were all warned that that could happen and yet seeing it actually happen is an odd a thrilling experience.

Well, that is it for now I suppose, but as more experiences come to mind I will be sure to share them all with you. Sorry this post was so long, I’ll work on that.

Love you all,


Me and a Few of the other CIEE girls.  This group is wonderful.  We are all so very different and each have a unique background.  We are all from the United States but had to go half way around the world to meet.
I few of the kids from a local village.  There was about 25 kids ranging in all different ages following us down the road.  They loved playing games, asking us questions, and getting their pictures taken.

African Sunset. Can you believe it? That outline there is of a round, one room, mud and grass hut.

Eating a Pane ( pronounced paan-ie) worm. It actually wasn't too bad as long as you didn't pay attention to the texture, the taste, or the fact that you were eating a worm.  This is a traditional food and yes people do eat it regularly.

This is a combe (pronounced com-bie) It is the main form of transportation around Gaborone. It seats 15 not including the driver. Of which three seats fold up and down so if someone in the back wants to get out then everyone in their way has to get out, let them out, and then pile back in. Its about the size of a minivan and trust me 15 is a tight squeeze. The driver usually won’t leave a stop until it is completely full so it could take you anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get anywhere. It usually costs 2 Pula and 70 Thebe, which translates to about 45 cents. There are no actual designated stops or running times so riding regularly using them is an adventure!

One of my favorite paintings at the Gaborone National Art Museum.

Rugby!!!!! This is the University of Botswana Hogs versus some team from New Zealand. This game was incredible and so was the crowd. The Hogs are the guys in the light blue.