By Andrew Badeau:
It is still surreal to me that I will be spending the next three months in Botswana. It still feels like yesterday that I was applying to the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program. I will admit that I was sad to leave my family and friends back home but I look forward to updating them with all the amazing stories and pictures that I will take in Botswana.
I can now officially say that I am settled in here in Gaborone. My journey here definitely had a few speed bumps. But in the end, it is all part of the traveling experience. After boarding a 6 pm flight in Toronto on May 6th, I was expecting to arrive in Gaborone at 1 pm on Sunday May 8th. This 36 hour journey was extended when my connecting flight in Paris was canceled until the following afternoon. I was also without my luggage here in Gaborone for a couple days. Needless to say, after spending a good amount of time in airports/airplanes, I was very excited to breathe in the fresh air here in Gaborone.
Upon arrival in Gaborone, I was greeted by my colleague at the BNOC, Modise. Modise drove me around the city and we chatted for what seemed like hours. He gave me a few lessons in the local language, Setswana. It will definitely be a learning curve but I am excited for the challenge. After our city tour, I was taken to my accommodations and introduced to my roommate, Simba. Simba and I both bonded instantly over our soccer rivalry (he likes Liverpool, I like Chelsea). I am sure we are going to have a great time here together.
After a long nap and some snacks, Simba and I made our way over to the Bull and Bush Pub for their special rib night. I had no idea what to expect in terms of food here but I will have to say that I am going to be a very happy man living in Gaborone. The reason I say this is because barbecue meat is a large part of the local cuisine. These ribs were some of the best I have ever eaten. After about an hour, Simba’s friends started rolling into the pub and I was immediately welcomed. This was only my first few hours in the country and I already felt comfortable. After a few more beers and laughs we went back home for some necessary rest.
The following day was spent recovering from jet lag, catching up with family back home, and sampling more local cuisine. Simba and I ventured over to Riverwalk Mall, which is very close to our apartment. As I was still feeling the effects of a cold, I picked up some cough syrup and a few other grocery items. I will be here during the winter season in Gaborone. Their winter is much warmer than Canada however. The temperature ranges from about 24 during the day to roughly 10 or 12 at night. I have received a lot of strange looks wearing a t shirt around but I can’t help myself when the temperature is so nice outside.
On Wednesday, I made my way over to the BNOC offices in Main Mall for my orientation. All of the staff at the BNOC and my colleagues at the Botswana Taekwondo Federation were very welcoming. We outlined an action plan to complete the BLTAD framework which our previous intern, Jarrett, had put in place. With two modules already completed, I am confident that we will be able to accomplish our goal. The surrounding area of the office consists of many street vendors selling food and crafts. I look forward to sampling the authentic Gaborone cuisine during my stay here.
Thursday was my first day of work here at the BNOC. This also meant it was my first time taking the combi to work. The combi is essentially a small van with about 14 seats. There are different routes that each combi takes but in order for the combi to stop, you must yell the location you want to be dropped off at. Luckily everyone on the combi knew it was my first time and helped me out.
My first two days of work have been catered around organizing an event for each of our instructors and some volunteers to receive first aid certifications. So far we are on track for this to take place next Sunday.
To round out the week, Simba and I have been relaxing and touring the city a bit more. Although I miss watching the Jays and Raptors games here I have grown a liking to Rugby and Formula One. I think I am finally past the jet lag phase of my travels and look forward to my first full week at the BNOC.
Until next time!