A view of Mochudi, a suburb of Gaborone

A view of Mochudi, a suburb of Gaborone
A suburb of Gaborone in July, 2008

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Episode two: Preparations so far

The University of Botswana library, July 2008:

I feel busier than an elf in Santa’s shop.  I have assembled a list of advice regarding what to bring along, including what attitude to tuck into my carry-ons.  This advice comes from all manner of helpful people, such as a UB visiting professor from Canada, past ACM faculty directors, Fulbright scholars, American Society for Microbiology volunteers, and the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership for HIV Research and Education.  I found a blog written by a Fulbright scholar particularly helpful, so I would like this post to be similarly helpful to others who stumble across it while planning to live in Botswana themselves.

One thing I’m not doing is running around getting a gazillion travel immunizations.  The first time I went to Botswana, in 2008, I got a whole bunch of shots.  This time I know better, so I just want a seasonal flu shot, a measles booster, and some prophylactic anti-malarials for the safari up in the Okavango Delta (wetlands).  The water in Gaborone is very safe.  I have visited twice and always just drank water out of the tap, used tap water to brush my teeth, etc.  I did get a touch of traveller’s intestinal discomfort, but nothing to write home about (though I am a Salmonella biologist, so I would, in fact, write home about anything intestinally notable!).

So far, I am planning to bring….

1.     Too many electronics
a.     A PC laptop for my office in the Faculty of Nursing.  The PC is loaded with all electronic documents needed to administer the ACM Study Abroad program.
b.     My Mac laptop for use at home, via Mascom wireless
c.      My Kindle, because books are scarce and too heavy to bring along
d.     My iPad, to use for teaching (Airsketch!  Keynote!)
e.     A portable LED projector
f.      Extra cables for the assorted electronics to connect to each other and to power.
g.     Two U.S. surge protectors/strips to go with two power converters (220 to 110).
h.     Several cell phones with Botswana sim cards (provided by my employer ACM).
i.       A cooling gel pad for the laptops – it’s going to be hot!
j.       A lock for the laptop at home.

2.     An official letter explaining that the electronics are for educational purposes and must be returned to the U.S. after my visit.   (We'll see how much I get charged for importing all that stuff.)

3.     A neck support pillow for better sleeping on the planes.

4.     Spray-on sunscreen (for the places I can’t reach!).

5.     Two padlocks in case I join a gym or need to put a lock on a closet or … who knows.

6.     Umbrella for sun and rain.

7.     Swimming suit for trip to Johannesburg and possibly for local gym or hotel pool membership.

8.     For teaching, nicer summer clothes than I ever wear in the U.S..  I will still be under-dressed, I’m sure, but at least I will try.

9.   .  Lots of passport photos, notarized copies of my graduate diploma, and a copy of my appointment letter.
10  For sleeping in an apartment without air conditioning:  a “chillow” and a hotflash pillow.

11. Three cooling bandanas (filled with polymer that can be filled with water).

12. Extra pair of glasses and glasses case.

13.  One warm sweater and one warm fleece; supposedly I will feel cold in April/May.  I guess I’ll update you on that one!

14.  As few copies of teaching books as possible.

15. A wooden backscratcher (living alone!)

16. A few travel-to-Botswana/Namibia/South Africa guides.

17.  Assorted over-the-counter meds that might not be available in Botswana, such as miconazole, hydrocortisone cream, aloe sunburn cream, baby aspirin.

18. A lightweight crocheted shawl in case I ever have to meet any dikgosi and have to cover my shoulders with an extra layer.

19. A Visa credit card (not Mastercard or Discover or any other type).

20. Safari related items for going to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta in late February/early March
a.     Raincoat
b.     Tevos
c.      Walking/tennis shoes
d.     Safari pants that can be unzipped into shorts
e.     Traveljohns (if you don’t know what these are, you should look them up!)
f.      Similarly, a GoGirl
g.     Head lamp with extra batteries
h.     Camera with extra batteries
i.       Anti-malarial (haven’t decided which one yet)
j.       Epi pen … plan to assemble a travel first-aid kit for the safari once I have arrived.  I will also buy DEET-containing bug spray once I am there.
k.     Binoculars
l.    Rain-proof stuff sacks and duffel bags

As far as the attitude to pack… the experience of any given faculty visitor appears to be very specific to their living situation and the department in which they are visiting.   The plan appears to be “expect the unexpected;” as Velvet Hills sometimes sings:  “fle-e-ex-i-bi-li-ty…”  Undoubtedly there will be expected problems (collecting luggage in Jo’burg to stay overnight at airport Hilton, checking in again on New Year’s Day to fly to Gaborone, negotiating about any extra luggage or weight, getting e-mail set up from home, learning how to buy local cell phone service....). 

The unexpected problems are the ones that demand the very most patience and good humor, so all I can say is, wish me luck! 

P.S. I've looked around and most estimates for shipping to Botswana are >$300 for 10 lbs of books....so I may have to pay overage charges for extra luggage of teaching-related books.  We'll see.

No comments:

Post a Comment