Saturday, September 1, 2012

New Developments

There is a lot of development going on here in Gaborone.

A "5-star" hotel and office space anchor a brand-new, mini town centre -- walking distance from our house (although there are no sidewalks for us to walk there).

Is this what you thought Botswana looks like?
Gaborone's first coffee shop.

Office space with a restaurant and fountains below.

It's surprising and exciting to me, too. The centre is modern and has a few new restaurants, a spa, and some shopping -- clothing, gift, and home decor boutiques, a Bang and Olufsen, and an Apple store! (Turns out I don't think they are actually a licensed Apple retailer ...), and my hair stylist opened his own salon there. Love that all of this is so close to my house! It is also halfway between my house and the office, very convenient.

We went to dinner with friends at the new French restaurant, La Touche de Provence, in the hotel. Great food.

Appetizer: Mussels and sauce with garnish n a pastry round. Still craving more!

Appetizer: Blue cheese souffle.

Kingklip (white fish) on polenta.

Kingklip on potatoes.

Stuffed chicken.

Rack of lamb.

Desserts: Apple crumble and fruit compote.

To appreciate all of this, you have to realize that NONE OF THIS DEVELOPMENT was here when I arrived a year and a half ago. It's quite a juxtaposition; the area surrounding the new developments are still bush, with scrub trees, thorn bushes, and dirt paths.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Feeding the Pets

Nile loves to feed the pets.



Luckily they're quite patient with her.

Don't worry, they get fed in separate bowls, Nile just likes to ration out Bolu's (the little toy poodle) food to Mr. Chips (the big dog) sometimes!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In South Africa


While in Pretoria, South Africa, we went with our friends to a gift shop that had all kinds of items, big and small.


I was nervous to turn my back on this trio. My rational mind assured me they were stuffed. But I think some animal instinct inside me said "DANGER!"  It was unnerving.

Did you notice this guy in the corner of the pic above? I don't know what to say about him, either.

But his friend looked quite ferocious.


The store had all kinds of stuff, but I was most tempted by the zebra-skin rugs. I hope to get one as a souvenir of living in Africa!

The next day I met a friend for brunch at an adorable little place called Isabella's.

I miss having a proper bakery to go to!

I did get some cookies to share. The food was outstanding, I had the toasted smoked salmon, egg &  cream cheese bagel:

"Smeared with cream cheese, topped with smoked salmon, spring onion, sliced avocado, capers, gherkins, pickled onion, parsley, creamy goats cheese & fresh sauce made with mayonnaise."

It was DELICIOUS! Made me miss "real" food all the more.

We had a great time just hanging out. Neil enjoyed imitating their mini-bulldog, Rugby.

Katie and I are both due with our second babies about a week apart! Hopefully we get posted together one day so the kids can be friends.

When it finally came time for us to head home, we felt like we had enjoyed a mini vacation in the city. On the drive home, I saw the countryside with a little clearer perspective: Desolate, but beautiful in its starkness.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Drive to South Africa

Last weekend we went to visit friends in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa.

It was a lot of fun getting together. They are pre-FS friends who have now joined and are in their first tour. That brings the count to 3 of families that we were friends with before this overseas journey began who have now joined too! I'd like to take credit ;)

The drive to Pretoria from Gaborone, including the border crossing (getting out of the car and going through customs and immigration) takes about 5 1/2 hours. Some people I work with say it takes them 3 hours. They are lying.

I am not a fan of long road trips, and I consider 5 1/2 hrs. quite long. Of course, other people I know go on multi-day road trips throughout the region. Road conditions in this part of the world are not great and much of the roads are through desolate areas, which scare me, so it's not particularly my cup of tea.

But anyway we made the trip last weekend and here is some photo documentation of the drive down:

A lot of the way looks like this.

And this.
Yes, we drive on the "wrong" side of the road here. And yes, it's mostly 2-lane roads, so passing can be difficult. It is also dangerous to drive too fast, especially at night, because donkeys, goats, cattle, not to mention wildlife, or even people, can come out in the road at any time and cause an accident.

Most of the drive, Nile looked like this.

And I tried to look like this.

Zeerust is the first town after the border, about 30 mi. (no, I don't do kilometers) into South Africa, and it looks like this.
People sell crafts outside the shopping center

Rustenburg is the next notable town, about an hour and a half outside of Pretoria, and a good place to stop and eat because .... do you see what I see??


Yes, Rustenberg is best known by folks here in Botswana because it has a McDonald's!!!! Don't judge, you'd be amazed how much you miss and crave it when you live in a country that does not have McDonald's, or any other type of American fast food (OK, there is KFC, with the only drive-through of any kind in Botswana) and the local fare is otherwise unremarkable.

They had just reopened this location after extensive renovations, there was a radio station broadcasting from the restaurant and a whole van of school kids with their teachers.

Cute little South African schoolboys.

There was an atmosphere of excitement, balloons, and an appearance by Ronald McDonald himself!


I seriously love this picture. I don't know what Neil was doing behind the camera. Or why he chanced it with only one shot, that turned out like this. Really, this one is so universally bad, it needs to be framed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Military Exercise - the Wild Side

So to continue from the previous post, the military exercise that we toured had some animal highlights courtesy of the Botswana Defence Force.

A big part of the BDF's job is anti-poaching efforts in remote areas of the country. Soldiers are trained in how to deal with the wild animals they will encounter in the bush. This means they have a collection of wild snakes, hyenas, big cats, and other wildlife for training purposes!

They brought some of them to display for the day.  Including a giant constrictor.


They were using this apparently "tame" snake to drape over anyone's shoulders who wanted a picture with it! No way was I going to do that!!

Later, when they were packing up, they put the snake in a big dog kennel -- with the door open -- and just left it there to chillax. I panicked when I realized that's where it was and Nile was hopping around toward it! If anything would trigger an animal like that, I would think the easy prey of a child would!

This was a "baby" lion. I didn't like the way it was looking at Nile.

But she couldn't have been more excited.

A crocodile.

These guys are apparently highly trained in snake handling. I still didn't want to get too close, this snake was PISSED.


Have lion, will travel.

Nile was worn out by the time we headed home!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Military Exercise

We got to tour a temporary camp that was set up during a joint exercise between the Botswana Defence Force and the U.S. Armed Forces.

It was HUGE and really cool to see everything and all the people that went into the exercise.

First stop: U.S. Army Chinook helicopters, courtesy of the Hawaii National Guard, stationed in Wahiawa, Oahu. 

 Roger Pukahi (to my right) was my neighbor in Laie, he lives right in front of the Quiet House! It truly is a SMALL WORLD! And here is Nile's first shaka!

Roger told us all about the helicopter. They flew it from Hawaii in pieces on a cargo jet like this one and assembled it here in Botswana.

It only took them 2 days to assemble. I couldn't assemble a model helicopter in that amount of time! 

We got to go inside. (Yes, it was quite cold but Nile refused to wear a jacket.)

More helicopters. These belong to the Botswana Defence Force.

This is one of the few moments where Nile wasn't jumping up and down with excitement.


We also got to go inside a Botswana Defence Force cargo plane. This one was a gift from the North Carolina National Guard.

We got a tour of the "command centers" for the exercises. They were set up in a big gymnasium. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. Very cool to see everyone working together; everyone had a specific job function that fit together in a bigger picture to make the operation work.


The most fascinating part was the medical tents. They were set up to treat any major trauma, as there was live ammunition used in parts of the training.


The resources were incredible. The tents were HUGE. One area was for immediate treatment and stabilization, then they would send them to the next tent where they had a fully equipped operating room.

They had surgeons and every type of equipment at the ready -- they could intubate, insert a central line, do imaging (X-rays), provide ventilator machines, perform surgeries of course, and stabilize a patient for immediate medevac in the case of something major they weren't equipped to do.

I was not at all kidding when I said to Neil that if I suddenly went into labor in Botswana, there is no question that I would go to this place hands down over the private hospitals in Gaborone! More equipment, more medical expertise, more resources, much more peace of mind!


One of my colleagues who works in the health field said that this series of tents definitely had more resources than the public hospitals here.

Of course, I could always go to a traditional doctor.

This was set up as part of the cross-cultural event they were having on the day we visited. Quite a popular attraction!