A view of Mochudi, a suburb of Gaborone

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

Monday, January 3, 2011

Episode Six: The luggage, the ditch, and the wardrobes.

January 2, 2011

     Never fear, the luggage arrived before I did.  As it flew by itself and did not have a means to pay, it apparently arrived for free – I would have had to pay upwards of $200 for the kilos above 30, had it traveled with me.  Parting (with one’s luggage temporarily) is such sweet sorrow (apologies to poets everywhere).  So sorry that it caused Amanda so much grief!

     Caveat flyer:  pack extra underwear, something to sleep in, and a change of clothes in your carry-on.  It is rare for all luggage to arrive in Gaborone at the same time as the particular passengers who were originally associated with that specific luggage.  You are very likely to arrive with someone’s checked luggage, just not necessarily your own.  That will arrive on some other flight, perhaps sooner than you, perhaps later.  Thus it all works out in the end, just like a Mma Ramotswe story.   Just have your own “end” covered with some extra clothes in your carry-on!  Your carry-ons must not weigh too much, so you might have to unpack them and carry multiple lighter bags rather than two heavy ones.  This calculus confuses me but it works for South Africa Air Express.   Best to say Thank You and not ask too many questions.

     Today I learned that it might or might not be the rainy season.  It rained all of last night, accompanied by a cozy chorus of crickets.  It isn’t that hot, but holy cow is it humid.  It rained much of this morning as well, but is not raining now that it is evening.

     I also learned how to install a cell phone’s sim card, activate it, and text the United States (dial 001, not just 1, for the country code).  I found out that “follow the road straight” in Botswana does not mean “go straight,” it means follow the road especially if it curves dramatically and nevermind if the hand-drawn map shows the road being straight.  Also, key landmarks such as “the clinic” are readily apparent if you have Setswana eyes, but alas not so obvious with my U.S. American ones.  Nevertheless, the important thing is to keep strolling, not too far, not very fast, only ten minutes in the end, and you will indeed arrive at your destination, in this case the touristy Riverwalk mall.  Ditches in Botswana are shallow or entirely lacking, and there are safe paths to walk along the side of the road, sort of like sidewalks but without the bother of cement.  And even if it rains, buy the groceries you need because chances are a taxi driver will be happy to give a ride for P20 ($3.50).   Wait staff are ever-ready with the phone numbers of taxi drivers.  And in case any of you worried that I might miss out on seeing Tron as I also missed out in the 80’s, never you fear, it’s playing every night this week.  (A sign of the film’s greatness?)

     Almost everything has been unpacked and stowed in one of my capacious wardrobes (closets).  The Batswana must value closet space, as the townhouse cannot be characterized as full of anything, except that it is full of otherwise empty closets.  The kitchen is not really organized yet, but I guess another day should put that in order, too.  Still no internet at home, and it may or may not be a city holiday or a federal holiday through the 4th or possibly the 5th, so it may take a few more days for the Mascom store to be open so that someone can show me how to use the mysterious USB modem.  I’ve got the software installed, but I think that I have to pay some money to get the network activated.  I can’t wait to activate it so that I can “chat” with home in the evenings, when it is still morning or early afternoon in the U.S..  I did call home for exactly 38 seconds, and home called me for 1 minute 42 seconds, but I have not figured out how to tell how much of the P60 phone credits that actually cost.  I guess if I stop being able to use the phone, I’ll know that it cost too much.  I think texts are very cheap, so text me if you dare!  Amanda has the number.  As soon as I have a chance to go to the Equatorial Café to use the wireless and upload this blog, I will also send the number to all of the ACM-Botswana students, so that they will know how to contact me during their travels.



  1. Amanda Udis-KesslerJanuary 3, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Has anyone told you you are a hysterically funny writer?!?

  2. SO glad to hear you got there safely, and with such good humor. I'm looking forward to many more posts from Africa!

  3. You are very funny and now I must harass Amanda for the number to send you texts!

  4. Seconding Amanda! So glad you - and your luggage - arrived. I am going to LOVE your blog. :-)