Month: November 2015


Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Botswana, which is not surprising, so we didn’t have the day off. It’s not like the Batswana don’t celebrate with a Thanksgiving like feast any chance they get- weddings, funerals, prize giving ceremonies, preschool graduations, community events- with fried chicken, potato salad, rice, paleche, seswaa (pounded beef), samp, beets, butternut squash and merogo (vegetable of some sort). It just isn’t the same for some reason  as turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, home baked bread and pie.

We had the good fortune to celebrate Thanksgiving today with all of the above food (we did have to forgo sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and green beans). The pie was fudge pecan (we have never been fans of pumpkin pie and making our traditional buttercrunch pie just wasn’t possible with the equipment and ingredients needed) but we are adaptable.  We thought we would need to be content with stuffed chicken by found frozen turkey last Saturday. This turned out fortuitous as our power was out for two days and the turkey kept other food cold without defrosting itself.

We are thankful our friend Mary Konege and her son, Mikey were able to join us. Husband Fila was involved in soccer matches all day and evening. Mary is the new Volunteer Liaison with the Peace Corps and lives in a neighboring village.

It is even raining now which is a sign of good fortune here. This will be a Thanksgiving we will always remember. While it is hard being so far from family this time of year, we are thankful for all the new friends and for our new Peace Corps “family”. We hope many of you got to enjoy hiking in the Oregon, Arizona and California State Parks on Black Friday.  We sure hope this becomes a tradition we can enjoy when we get back in 2017.


storm nov 17 2015

We’ve been having storms all week but on Tuesday night it was incredible. Amazing lightning (thunder and thank goodness- PULA (rain). Teresa was just trying for the lake that our front yard had become but got lucky and got a shot of some of the lightning- which went on for ours- unlike our power which went out for 24 hours which is why she didn’t post sooner.

The upside of losing power for that long is that the freezer defrosted (luckily not the meat that was in there too). We saved the ice chunks which are currently melting and will be used for toilet flushing. Now that is water conservation! Take note California!

First Wildlife Spotting

We promised to post wildlife pictures instead of the daily goats, chickens, cows and donkeys. Well, yesterday we got lucky. We went to Gaborone to take care of some Peace Corps business and then spent the day shopping with a movie thrown in to beat the heat. (Teresa had to replace the two pairs of nice shorts that got bled on in the laundry- sheets and towels are not colorfast here) We saw Bridge of Spies- very good by the way. After the movie we did our grocery shopping then headed to the combi rank to get our combi home to Gabane.

We forgot it was Friday night (rush hour) and for the first time had to stand in line waiting for a combi. We got the third one which means there were 34 people in front of us. While we were waiting, of course we had to have one of our Cool Time Guava icee/popsicle/shaved ice things. We are officially addicted! Will get a picture one of these days. Anyway, we are standing patiently in line with our load of groceries when Teresa looks over to the parking lot and does a double take. There is a baboon sitting very close by. Not sure where she/he (think it was a she as no white mane but what do I know) came from, although they live in the hills just to the east(?) of where we were standing. Juggling sticky hands from the Cool Time and the grocery bags,Teresa managed to get to her phone but not before she had moved farther off- thus the not very good picture (and not enough time to figure out if I have a zoom on the phone). But, it does count as our first wildlife sighting and in the middle of the city. We understand there are also baboons in the Gabane Hills which we can see from our backyard but no visits yet. As the water situation gets more desperate, that might change- even though down lower won’t help the water situation!
(Click to keep enlarging- still not the best but it’s a start…)


A quick word about combis since I referenced them above. Each one holds 15 passengers unless you cram in two more which is what the first combi did so it took 17. The next one took 16 which takes us to 33 and one person in front of us which made 34 ahead of us. This actually worked well for us as we got the primo seats with extra leg room which helped with all our groceries. The very nice person in front of us made sure we got those seats as two people who had not been in line decided they were entitled to get on this combi ahead of about 50+ other people but our hero didn’t let them get “our” seats.

This brings up another cultural observation. The two who went to the head of the line could well have had their place in line saved for them. We don’t think so but it would be hard to tell as you will rarely see a Batswana get visibly angry. Imagine if someone did this in the States! Road rage on steroids. While not getting angry appears to us as passivity, it is actually a much less stressful way to live and perhaps we can all learn from that.

And for those of you following our water woes- we actually had water for 3 straight days. It is off again now but we are reveling in the memory of those hot showers and looking forward to the next ones, whenever they might be.

Comfort Foods

For those of you on Facebook you probably saw Teresa’s post about water coming at 2 am. We spent the next five hours stocking up on water, doing laundry and thoroughly cleaning the house. We gave out before the water did. It went off at 8 and came back on at 1 which allowed us to refill empty buckets since we splurged and let the toilet flush- let’s just say- as often as we wanted to! The luxury of it… If anyone is interested I also found a good article describing the state of the water crisis here in the greater Gaborone area: Greater Gaborone Water Crisis

Thoroughly exhausted at 7 am we took a short nap but the sleeping moment was gone. When you have breakfast at 4, lunch was soon approaching and we are also planning pizza for dinner. Teresa was feeling like she needed all her comfort foods (pizza being one of them) and she had a hankering for bread pudding (comfort food) ever since Gary mentioned on Saturday that the bread was getting stale. Problem was, if she used all the bread, Gary wouldn’t have any for Monday snack (a peanut butter addiction has really taken hold) so what’s a person to do? Make bread (another comfort food).

Are we sensing a pattern here? So,the bread pudding was ready by 12:30 (dessert after lunch and that’s why the picture shows it half eaten) and the bread was ready about 2:30. Yes, the Honey Oatmeal bread looks a little flat- it called for two loaf pans and the only loaf pan we have was used for the bread pudding but it sure tastes good. We bought a few pecans yesterday so the bread pudding was a real treat. Jane Rognlie (bless her soul) sent some on Friday but that package is at least 4 weeks away and we found ourselves in the one store in Gaborone yesterday that has almonds and pecans in bulk (about $10 US per pound so really not on a Peace Corps budget) but did we mention comfort foods?

Comfort foods- gluten free folks beware!
Comfort foods- gluten free folks beware!

We had hoped to host Thanksgiving at our house but with our precarious water situation, we are not sure we should chance it. We are also waiting for the sponsoring government agency (called the DAC) to get us a new gas tank. The one we have is 18 months old and we are pretty sure it is going to run out any day. A new one was requested two weeks ago. We’ll see.

Since the topic is comfort foods, here are some pictures of our favorite friends snacking on theirs. One shows a goat snacking on the vegetable scraps we throw over the fence. Teresa tried for a shot of the whole tribe including the baby but the light wasn’t working. Then you have our whole favorite herd out front, a drove of donkeys having what must have been a church service and taking a break from snacking (it is Sunday after all) (or else they were waiting for school to open and being donkeys- were a day early. A few minutes later they were all lying down but were up before Teresa could get the shot because someone came along dragging a reluctant goat. And finally a clutch of chickens- there are about 3 different groups with babies of all different ages. We keep counting to make sure the one with 12 hasn’t lost any. Unfortunately this shot doesn’t show the babies. Will try for that next.

goat eating scraps

goat herd front

donkey church service

chicken convention

We are hoping to make a day trip to a nearby game reserve in December when both our organizations are closed down so hopefully more exotic animal shots will be coming!

Everyone is an artist

The previous PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) left us a bunch of empty tin cans with labels removed. We have added to the collection and have also found these to be quite convenient for storage for everything from pens and pencils to forks and knives.

For those of you who know Teresa well, you know that arts and crafts is not her strong point despite what Janis always tried to tell her. Well, today, inspiration hit. She had nature and ocean conservancy 2015 calendars with amazing pictures that she didn’t want to part with and Voila! (The undecorated cans with holes in them in the background of the picture are candle holders- left by the previous PCV)

Watch out! When we get home, this could be the Christmas present everyone gets.

decorated cans

“Lazy” Sunday


Looked out our living room window today and this is what we saw. We loved it. They epitomize how we are feeling. It is very hot (going to 99 today) and remember- no AC. Fan is helping but not much.

Got up early and attacked the grass. Batswana do not like grass. We think I’ve said this before. Snakes hide in them (you know the expression- a snake in the grass is taken literally here). Shovels are short handled which makes them more Teresa’s size than Gary’s. We also have a rake, spade and weeding tool (although a better one is on its way from America). Ironic that Gary spent the last two years landscaping our dirt yard in Phoenix just to go back to square one with the dust.

When you have a dirt yard and the dust storm hits and your doors and windows are open because it is bloody hot, well, need I say more. Let’s add no water to spare for cleaning and… you OCD types should have stopped reading by now- sorry I didn’t put in a disclaimer.

So, happy November and the start of the holiday season…Stay cool or warm depending on where you’re at.

Now, to finish Batman Begins…