Saturday, September 12, 2009

Travelling through Botswana

It's a week ago now that I was in Palapye (for work). It's 270 km from Gaborone, quite close by as people say. The rather ancient bus took 3.5 hours going there and 3 hours coming back.

Travelling through Botswana is not interesting. In that distance we passed through one town, a few villages, and in between there is just scrub land and nothing and nobody to be seen, apart from some goats and donkeys here and there. In Botswana animals are not tied up, as they might be in Eastern Europe; a colleague said that at the end of the day they find their own way home. Given that there are some nasty wild beasts about, it's probably better if they can run away....

We finished work in Palapye on the Saturday afternoon; some people decided to stay on for some excursions. Not sure there is much to be excursioning about....but someone said that in the villages around it there were/would be lots of weddings, and it seems anyone can just gate-crash. It's one way of spending a weekend, no?

On Sunday I will be off to Ghanzi, on the other side of Botswana, near Namibia. It's a 700 km trip, each way. So we'll be spending Sunday and Wednesday driving all day. It's possible that I may have to go again the following week! That week we'll have a meeting there in the morning, but still cannot return in the afternoon. Apparently that road is really dangerous to use at night, what with all the wild animals crossing roads (Only this week some people were killed by crashing into something big on four legs....).

A few weeks ago a friend was telling me about when he crashed into a cow. The cow landed on the bonnet, then on the roof, denting all, crashing all windows, breaking all mirrors (the car now drives without any mirrors....) and then sliding onto the road. The driver got out, rather stunned. Went round to look at the cow. She staggered to her feet and strolled off into the bush......

Today had a works outing, a brief one, to Kgale Hill, the main hill near Gaborone. It was lunchtime. 12 people had signed up and got their sports gear, maybe 9 came out; 5 ended up strolling up the side of the hill for about 15 minutes and then down again.....It was very warm; maybe it's better to walk up early in the morning - but when?

The spring has really sprung now. The evenings and mornings are noticeably warmer, and my colleagues are now starting to use the air conditioners for chilling them out rather than for heating. A week ago I was talking to a guy who has a building business. He wondered how he could heat his house in the winter; this winter he used four cylinders of gas to keep them warm - that he considered a harsh winter. (I used one a week when I lived in Scotland). I had to explain to him, literally in words of one syllable, different heating systems, like radiators, electric under-floor heating, that system where you get the heat out of the earth.....It's weird for us northerners when people don't understand hot water radiators.

The other nice thing about spring are the beautiful trees and bushes beginning to flower. They are pretty stunning, in all sorts of bright colours. At night, when I go home or sit on my balcony, a beautiful scent wafts through the air. Tonight, returning from my weekly shopping trip, I saw a stunning sunset - a huge red globe dipping down the horizon, fast.

I wonder, though, how hot it will get?