By Jarrett Costron:
Upon landing in Gaborone I was greeted at the airport by leaders from both the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and Botswana Taekwondo Federation (BTF). After brief introductions and a small meal, Tapiwa, my BNOC supervisor, as well as Edwin, another BNOC employee, took me to my accommodations so I could get settled in and meet my housemate, Simba.
The drive to Simba’s was awesome. Along the way I was able to get a small taste of Botswana’s beautiful landscape and see many of Gaborone’s major landmarks. My favorite landmark was the National Stadium. This stadium has hosted many sporting events such as the African Games, as well as numerous concerts. I look forward to visiting it.
After getting settled into my apartment, Simba took me to Riverwalk, a small outdoor mall located close to our two story apartment. At the mall we did a few errands. While shopping, Simba seemed to know everyone. It was almost like he was a local celebrity (more on that later).
After shopping, Simba and I went to Linga Longa, a restaurant and bar attached to the mall. This is where we spent the rest of the evening, lounging on their patio enjoying a few drinks, local music, and the beautiful weather. Towards the end of the night, several of Simba’s friends joined us, they were very friendly and welcomed me with open arms.
After getting to know Simba, I began to understand why everyone knew who he was. Turns out he once worked for Gabs FM, one of the largest local radio stations. Although he no longer works for them, he can still be heard on the radio because he still does voice overs for commercials. If you ever travel to Gaborone, you’ll likely hear his voice resonating over the airwaves.
The next few days were spent both recovering from jet lag, meeting more of Simba’s friends, and being shown other neighborhoods around the city. So far my favorite place is a restaurant and pub called Bull and Bush. At Bull and Bush, Simba and I met up with some more of his friends to watch their favorite football (AKA soccer) team, Liverpool, play Manchester United. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay as late as I would of liked because I had to go to work the next morning (Monday).
Thankfully, one of Simba’s good friends, Cedric, is a local musician and plays there at the end of every month. Now I have an excuse to comeback (several times). Next time I go I will take some pictures in order to share them with you.
On my first day of work I traveled via Combi to Energym, a local gym where the BTF offices are located. Once there, I was introduced to their staff and given a tour of their offices. Gladys, a BTF employee, then drove me to the main mall, where the BNOC offices are located, so I could be introduced to their staff. BNOC is located beside the South African Embassy in a beautiful beige building.
After introductions, it was lunch time so Edwin, a local BNOC Marketing and Communications intern, took me to the main mall to buy local cuisine from street vendors. This was my first taste of traditional Botswana food. I ordered Samp (a mixture of beans and maize) as well as Seswaa (a pulled beef dish). When I got back from the offices the staff members poked fun at me saying that my stomach wouldn’t be able to handle the local cuisine. Not only did my stomach survive (phew!), but the meal was also delicious and extremely satisfying.
On Tuesday I reported to the BNOC offices. First thing in the morning I attended a meeting with the BNOC and BTF. During the morning we did an overview of the program I am managing and set a timetable for its delivery.
At the end of the day Edwin suggested that he show me the University of Botswana’s campus. Since it is close to my apartment I decided to take him up on his offer. Throughout the entire 30-minute journey, Edwin and I chatted non stop. Who knew we would have so much in common?!?!
Tomorrow, I am going to Energym where I will work during the majority of my stay. On occasion, I will work out of the BNOC offices.
Goodnight from Gaborone,