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?