Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blast from the Past (and how Not to get better if you are feeling sick)

During training (this was about a month ago), our group went on a bit of a field trip to go see a few culturally significant sites nearby. We started by seeing cave and rock drawings that were around 2,000 years old. It is wild to think that around the time of Christ, people were making rock drawings in Botswana that can still be seen today. You can see pictures of them here:

We went on to visit the tree where David Livingstone first set up shop when he lived in Botswana. It was interesting to stand where Livingstone once stood but at the end of the day it was really just a rather large and old tree.

Our final stop was the most interesting. We got to visit a small, traditional village that shows people how Batswana (this is the name for people from Botswana) lived many years ago. Think Jamestown or one of those places in the States.

We were greeting by several women and children in traditional garb. they sang and danced for us and then we filed into a small clearing in the village. The head woman conducted a ceremony where she cast some chicken bones and these were supposed to predict whether we would be fortunate, lucky, healthy, ect. She told us that it was a good sign (which I am quite certain she does for all her paying customers) and that we should be happy.

From there we enjoyed more dancing and then they acted out a traditional wedding ceremony. they picked a woman from our group and went through the whole deal. The women prepared food and prepped the bride for the ceremony while the men got to sit around the fire and drink traditional beer from a gourd. To call this drink beer is a bit generous. It is made from some grain and is not filtered. It has a very low alcohol content and is a bit chunky. I think it would be what you get if you made beer from grits.

They saved the best ceremony for last. It is one they did traditionally for when a person fell ill. Women would come over to the sick person's house to check on them and would spread fresh cow dung in a large patch in front of the door. The sick person would be carried out to stand in the cow dung while facing the rising sun. The rising sun was supposed to cheer them up and the cow dung supposedly would draw the sickness out of a person. I didn't know quite what to think about that one, but I did not envy the woman who had to do that reenactment.

We ended the day with bush tea and a traditional Botswana meal.