Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Things I Will Miss About Botswana : The Kids

This is a new series I will be running from now until the time I leave Botswana.

There are a lot of little kids in the "neighborhood" around my house. Most of them are too young to go to school so I see them playing in the streets any time I walk by. There are two brothers (far right and far left in the picture above) who I taught how to give me a "high five." They speak no English except now they run and yell, "High Five!" endlessly whenever I walk by. They then taught every other little kid in the area how to say it and so I get bombarded from all sides when I walk down the street.

I have tried to teach them my name, even my Setswana name, but they have never used it. Instead, they have taken to calling me "Lekgoa la me" which translates into "my white person" or "my foreigner." I find it very funny to be followed down the street by a bunch of kids running, waving their arms wildly, and yelling, "My white person!" over and over again. Its not like I wouldn't stick out otherwise.

I recently taught them how to give a "high ten" and a "low ten." Now mixed in with the constant cries of "high five" are "Dira Ten!" which is a mixture of Setswana and English for "Do 10!" I can be having the worse day ever, but those kids will immediately bring a smile to my face and they have this amazing ability to make my day better. 

When I was going through the recruitment process, my recruiter told me that volunteers who served in Africa sometimes had problems with being a minor celebrity, especially when they had to adjust back to life in the US. I don't know if I quite feel like a celebrity but I do know that I will miss having these little kids drop everything and come running over just to give me a high five.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Only in Botswana

This is one of my new favorite stories from my time here:

The other week, I went to the post office to pick up more boxes from Mother Bear Project. When the bears are shipped they come in several large boxes, each containing 50 bears. This presents a small problem for me. First, the postal workers don't like to lift the large boxes, so I have to walk around to the side door and carry the boxes out myself. I grabbed them one by one and then placed them on the curb outside. 

The next problem is finding transportation because I obviously cannot carry all four boxes at once. I stood at the curb and tried to flag down a taxi to get me home. That morning, I had gone to the post office early to avoid being stuck in line. I did manage to avoid the lines, but not the morning commute. Every taxi that passed by was full of people. I stood there on the street for a while and tried not to get frustrated.

Then a red car passed by me and the driver immediately turned around and came to park right in front of me. He jumped out and seemed happy to see me. "Mopati!" he said, "Do you need a ride? Where are you going?"

I am pretty sure I have never seen the guy before. I smiled and pretended that I knew him because he obviously knew me. I told him I was trying to get a taxi home and he offered to give me a ride. We loaded the packages and I got in. We talked about the weather and other small talk as I tried to figure out where I knew him from. When I tried to give him directions, he laughed and told me he knew the way. 

We pulled up to my house, I unloaded the boxes, and then thanked him. He told me it was great to see me and that he would see me again soon. 

I still have no idea who he was but I did get a free ride home.