Long day, really tired, writing this quickly, bare with me…
Many parts of Gaborone look so similar to the states that sometimes I forget I am in Africa. It is all very modern with nice cars, paved streets, and big buildings. The city seems to be rapidly growing and developing; there is construction everywhere you look. I am sure that the more rural areas will look different. I haven’t taken any pictures yet because I keep forgetting to take my camera with me places, but I will try and snag some from people who have. There isn’t much to see though. I will post pictures of the campus eventually, but pictures of the city really won’t be that interesting, except for maybe some of the market places. Then again, I haven’t been around too much of the city – just a few places.
Today all of the international students had to wake up bright and early to attend orientation. It was long and pretty boring, but we got through it and I got the chance to meet some more people. There is a big group of students from Lesotho who seem pretty great. Orientation went pretty much all day, but before dinner I got a chance to go to the big mall, Game City. Matt, Norway (his real name is really difficult to say so we just call him Norway), Hayden, and I decided that we were tired of waiting to go to the mall (we kept being told we would get a chance to go to the big mall, but it kept falling though for random reasons) and we were just going to go ourselves.
The public transit system is quite simple really. Taxis are the same as they are all over, but combies are more similar to a bus system. Combies (like mini vans but have enough seats to fit something like 18 people in them) each have a number on the front of them which indicate their route. No matter which route you take, or which stop you get off on the route, it is always 3 pula (6-7 pula to 1USD). If you don’t know which combie to get on to take you where you want to go, just ask someone (or the driver) and they will tell you which to take. Simple. Sidenote: Batswanas are terrible drivers, but the driving is not nearly as dangerous or chaotic as in Haiti.
At the mall I was able to get credit (here it is called airtime) for my phone, a padlock and chain for my closet, and another power converter for when I go to Ghana (the one I have only has a two prong US one rather than a 3 prong like my computer has). On the way home from the mall we accidently took a taxi that wasn’t certified (or at least not that we can tell – most taxis are clearly marked). It was all good until all of a sudden the driver turned down a sketchy looking dirt road (it was getting dark) and we all kind of panicked because it was clearly not the way to BU. There was a bit of traffic ahead of us and the driver was just taking a little cut through to get there faster, but we all sort of panicked (Hayden even rolled up his window) because we all thought we were bring brought somewhere to get all of our stuff taken from us and abandoned or something. We had all just gone through orientation and heard all of the horror stories about people getting jumped so these horror stories were fresh in our minds. None of the stories we were told involved taxi drivers tricking people, just people getting robbed. Guns are illegal in Botswana so must cases involve knives or big thorns.
Tomorrow we have another long day of orientation and then we are going on a tour of the city and I think a traditional dinner in a nearby village so stay tuned.
I am working on finding out my mailing address – I’ll keep you posted.
Title quote: Into the Wild