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 na├»ve 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.


  1. Fun blog. sounds like you are having quite the experience. And to think all this in only 2 weeks. can't even imagine all you will experience before you come home. The blog wasn't too long at all. very interesting and informative.

  2. Don't cut your blog short Krisstina as we found it very interesting. So glad your are safe and the guy didn't get your phone. Besure to keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Aunt Donna was just telling me about a boy that went out of country someplace and some one came up and cut the strape on his backback and it had his passport, money etc. in it. Love you. Grandpa and Grandma.