Monday, September 21, 2009


Another long weekend; the UN team has today off in honour of Eid-Al-Fitr; a Muslim holiday. You have no idea the slagging off I got at the hash yesterday about the UN honouring this holiday. Did we honour every religion's holiday, people asked, and if so, did we do any work?

So I had planned to use my last weekend's 'car allowance', ie the use of the office car, to fill up with shopping. Alas, out of the three cars a colleague had one (who is well over her 3 months' car allowance), and two others were out in the countryside. I was supposed to get one of those, but it broke down in the middle of no-where on Saturday; so no car for me.

I was narked; seriously narked. So I finally decided to buy a bike. People laughed - someone had asked me some time ago how I can live in Gaborone without a car. A colleague said that a UN employee cannot go around on a bicycle. But me, I can be stubborn, especially when I am narked.

So on Friday I looked up the address of Jonmol bicycles, Plot 25146, Gaborone Industrial West, and hailed a taxi to take me there. An hour and a half later we still had not found it! He was bothered, I was annoyed - why do I have to know how to get somewhere in order to use a taxi; seems the wrong way around....

Then on Saturday I finally spoke to Bones, the owner, and he told me it was next to 'Fruit and Veg', on the north side. That kind of direction is another one I struggle with, but today managed to get there, remembering that the sun here travels via the north, not the south.

He has a whole shop full of used bikes, some very used (one saddle looked as if a rat had made a hole in it), also some new bikes. Found a reasonable used one, male, not female, with a saddle with only a small hole, and paid about 65 Euros for it. It runs well - took it to Game City and bought all the other kit, helmet, lights, backpack, repair kit - all that together cost more than the bike, and now I am independent. I can't quite understand why I never needed to shift the gears, even though there were one or two mild hills to conquer.... so I'm very pleased with it. Also the wind, while cycling, cools me down a bit, which is pleasant, and better than walking. And since it looks old it might get stolen less easily. Bought the heaviest lock I could find, which Lithuanian bicycle thieves would only laugh at, and I hope it'll keep me going until I leave, in December (if I leave).

I noticed that Bones had a whole pile of bikes there labelled UNDP - now what is that about? He's a lovely guy; well worth going to if you want a cheap bike. He also has a full-time mechanic who I suspect is able to fix anything. While I was there a buy came in with a very very buckled front wheel - apparently it had been a bike-to-bike crash.....There's another bikeshop in Gaborone, near the station, Gaborone Garage and Cycles; it sells mainly new bikes, and most of them are behind a huge counter, so it's difficult to just go and look at them, without asking. Me, I don't like asking, as my son will confirm.