Wow, I’m really in Africa

It’s been another weekend full of new experiences. After class on Friday we headed to a restaurant called News Café with almost our entire CIEE group. The food is definitely on the higher end of the quality you can get around Gabs, but the service isn’t too great. I ordered some delicious quesadillas. We got there around 1:30 and didn’t leave until nearly 4! I understand how difficult it can be to serve such a large group, but the service was just dreadful. Some of us didn’t get our food until nearly an hour after the others. However, we did learn that in Botswana, it is completely acceptable not to tip if your service isn’t up to your standards. We then headed to Riverwalk Mall and shopped around the vendor booths. I found some beautiful jewelry and some souvenirs for friends and family. We had dinner at The Embassy, an Indian restaurant. I hadn’t had Indian food for years because I had convinced myself I didn’t like it. I ordered garlic masala chicken, rice, and Nan and I loved it! The spices were so unique and it was a much-needed change of cuisine.

Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed to the Bahurutshe cultural village, about an hour away from school. It was a program sponsored by the International Office at UB, so it included the CIEE kids as well as the other international students. I met some kids from Australia, Germany, Puerto Rico, and Switzerland. After breakfast at the lodge, we headed out for a hike to the Mogonye gorge. We walked on a completely straight road for a mile or so and just as we were starting to feel defeated, a truck came and picked us up to drive us the rest of the way. We stuffed 20 people in the back of the small truck and drove up the rocky path to the entrance to the gorge. I almost fell out several times and got struck by some branches, but it was still fun and a good bonding experience. We finally arrived and were told we hadn’t even begun the actual hike. After a quick rest, we began making our way to the gorge. It wasn’t too bad of a hike until the end. The rocks were extremely slippery so it was impossible to get any traction with your shoes. I had to have two guys pull me up, as the rest of the group watched. What a surprise! It was hot and I could feel myself burning, but I was determined not to quit. It took us about 4 hours all together. It was worth it in the end, but between this weekend and the last, I think I’ve done enough hiking to last forever. It was such a cool feeling to be standing in the middle of the wilderness and thinking, “Wow, I’m really in Africa.”

We headed back to the lodge for food and then gathered around a campfire for some cultural immersion. We were even offered some of their local alcohol. The villagers performed several songs and dances for us in their native outfits. They wore skirts and bags made of cowhide, skimpy cloth tops, and beautiful jewelry and headbands made out of caterpillar cocoons and various horns and bones. We met the chief of the village and he and his villagers told riddles around the fire. The older women taught us how to make sorghum from the original seeds and we even got to try it out. Their totem is a baboon, so there were statues everywhere. We also learned about the gender roles in their village. Men always eat first and women are inferior in every aspect. While the girls learned how to make the sorghum, the men were invited to play a game of chess, just as would happen in daily life in Bahurutshe. It made me quite angry, but I had to remind myself that just because something is different, doesn’t make it wrong. Afterwards, we bonded as a group around the campfire, telling stories and discussing some pretty intense topics. I can feel myself growing closer to these people every day. We slept in mud huts with about ten people each. It was overall an exhausting, but really fun day and night. I loved getting to experience life in a village firsthand and it was only for one night. Soon, I’ll be spending much longer periods in similar places.

 

I was relieved to come back to Gabs and be able to take a warm bath and eat a nice meal. Today was a day of relaxing and catching up on some homework. Tonight, my host aunt visited. She makes homemade jams and beautiful jewelry out of recycled paper. We had “game” for dinner, which I soon found out meant impala. It was actually delicious, but I still feel a little weird about eating it. I also was taught how to most effectively do dishes in order to conserve water. It’s a long and tedious process. 

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