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December 2, 2011 – New Observations while in Africa – by Carol

Posted by on December 4, 2011


  • Livers & gizzards in Africa don’t taste like in America.  They really taste like animal innards.
  • Children can be useful and helpful
  • Everybody does need at least a drill, screwdriver and hammer to live
  • Clothe dry much faster in dry heat
  • Roosters really do crow at the literal crack of dawn
  • The wheel was the greatest invention of all times (and I wish I had four)
  • It is alcohol (and not money) that is the root of all evil
  • Bugs really don’t hurt anything (although mosquitoes can kill you)
  • Cleanliness is seriously underrated
  • Christmas can be celebrated without being proceeded by massive shopping

 John had to work late the other night and I was excited to get some real “African” food from the grocery store that John would never eat.  I picked the gizzards although they looked a little weird.  In fact, they tasted like rubber with little bits of ground dirt and gravel.  I had some livers a couple of day ago that were the same way.

 The children next door ask me what they can do to help me every day.  They are so happy when I give them chores and even the 5 year old boys can sweep and mop floors.  They are quite excited that I asked them to clean the huge nasty filthy computer room at the school this Saturday, and all five boys (ages 3 to 16) came and worked and the older ones worked for several hours before asking if they could play with the computers.

 We tried to use borrowed tools from the school instead of spend precious money on our own.  It turns out you simply must have a few tool staples as they are needed every single day when you live in a concrete houses, with lots of bugs, and weird plumbing options.  We need them to reseal the screens every day, hang fans from different vantage points from the ceiling, make showers and washing machines exchange with tubs and sinks, hang pictures and mirror, and fix broken furniture (we regularly borrow the wrench saw and ladder – but they are not needed daily).

 While I really really hate hand washing clothes in the tub, drying on the line is quite nice.  The clothes dry immediately and smell and feel sunny healthy fresh after.

 The stupid roosters must all be angry that the sun wakes them as they crow at a volume 11 times louder than their little feathery bodies would seem capable of emitting.  They scream/crow for about an hour – just long enough to permanently wake one up starting the second the very tip of the sun rises above the horizon.  It generally stops just about the time the entire neighborhood is up.  I have started to hate roosters more than any other animal.

 We spend about 25% of our meager meager income on taxis.  We live at least 3 miles from a grocery store, and 4 miles from John’s work and 5 miles from our favorite mall/grocery.  The road is narrow and the cars are many.  The shoulder is rocky and cracked and filled with walkers.  It is hazardous to walk down the road, and very hot, and dusty too.  So we must take taxis or combis (about the same price), especially when we have groceries we have to walk back with.  If we want anything beyond the most basic needs we need to go to the Capital, Gaborone (Gabs), which is 40 miles away.  It is quite common to hitch hike (called hitching here).  You pay the driver the same price as the bus, and usually his/her car is much nicer and the driver gets his gas paid for.  I don’t know what we would do without the transport, and I don’t know how civilization excited before the wheel.

 There is one hospital, 8 clinics, 6 grocery stores, 5 hardware stores, and at least 7000 bars.  When I walk by the bar in the morning (7:30 AM) – people are outside drinking the shake shake (Chabuku – for 5P a quart – a regular size beer is normally 8P a bottle).  People drink to get drunk and do many bad things while drinking.  It is the root of so many bad outcomes it is impossible to count.  People give up their food, homes, children, spouses, health, and ultimately their lives to drink.

 I live in a house filled with bugs.  Every morning I sweep 10 – 20 bugs out and spray the place with Doom (Africa’s Raid) before I leave.  I come home at lunch and after dinner, and then I clean another 20 bugs out of the house.  Before I go to bed I vacuum another 20 bugs out of the house.  They are not in my food or my bed – and nothing bad happens because they are here. (At least nothing I have ascertained yet).  However, I continue to take the crazy malaria medicine due to the nasty mosquitoes – which I constantly fear.  We are regularly reassured the really bad ones, with the disease live 200 miles north of us. 

 John and I went to a “restaurant” for lunch the other day.  There really are no restaurants.  There are a handful of take out places; where a women cooks 2 or 3 big pots of food which is available until gone.  Food is served on a paper plate and you eat it on the steps outside or take it to your office.  John often tries to get the cook to heat it up for him and they act like he is crazy – I mean it was hot once a while back – why does he need that again????  Anyway – this one place has three tables inside so we went there.  Many people in Africa eat with their hands and no silverware.  Well – they know the Americans want silverware – so they took silverware off someone’s plate who had just finished eating and tried to put the forks on our plate.  John came to the rescue and caught her hand just inches from our plate. – He took the forks to the sink and washed his self.  However, he could not get over it and said over and over again – we can only eat food we prepare from now on.  He was so so sad thinking of his insides the rest of the day.

 There are Christmas trees everywhere and people are making holiday plans to visit with their families.  Our host family has invited us back home.  We understand small token gifts are acceptable, but not necessary.  It seems like Easter instead of freaky shopping until you drop.  We keep saying it doesn’t feel like Christmas – but Christmas is around without a shopping frenzy.  It must be all of you that we miss.  John for sure knows he does not miss the shopping, but he is missing Christmas – and we are both missing all of you.

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