Time is flying by, and my trip to Botswana is almost here: two more weeks! I can’t wait.
I’ve been all responsible and read all the intercultural literature and Uniterra policy books; also, I signed my contract last week, and got in touch with my boss to introduce myself. I’ve been having great fun reading the blog posts made over the past few years by teens enrolled in the programs where I’ll be working (and I joined their Facebook group, which made me feel really old). I’m also trying to prepare more generally by reading about Botswana and reading literature set in Botswana (Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather is in the mail at this very moment), but I know it won’t really prepare me for actually being there and meeting people and working in the country. I’ll just have to wing it.
I’ve also downloaded David Livingstone’s “Missionary Travels” onto my Kindle in a brave attempt to fool myself into thinking I’ll ever actually read it, because it turns out that David Livingstone spent some time in Botswana (then called Bechuanaland) before his more famous, ill-fated “almost-discovering-the-source-of-the-Nile” excursion. There’s a family connection, according to my grandmother: David Livingstone was her great-great-great-great-great-great-(great?)-uncle. Neat! There’s a Livingstone statue just outside Gabarone where he lived for a few years (and wrote “Missionary Travels”), so I plan on visiting to get some photos of that for the fam.
In other news: my attempts to learn basic phrases in Tswana has been only moderately successful, because, as it turns out, I have a terrible memory for things that aren’t about websites. That, and a bit of difficulty with the “tlo” click sound, which is supposed to be kind of subtle (I make it sound like somebody clucking their tongue like a disapproving mother – not quite right.) I’ve got
the basic basics down, though: hello, thanks, I’m fine, no, yes, sir, ma’am, how much? when? but I strongly suspect my efforts will only be appreciated for being efforts, rather than because anybody can actually understand a single thing I’m trying to say.
At this point I’m starting to focus on the more mundane things as well: power adapters, books for the plane (British Airways! Free booze but no laptop power! — attempts to smuggle some sort of alcohol-burning generator on board will probably be unsuccessful), and checking out my digs by Google Satteliting the surrounding area. And doing up documentation for my coworkers to use while I’m away, as well :)
Remaining tasks: figure out what I’m going to wear (apparently they dress for work there – my usual jeans and sweaters won’t cut it) and getting myself some sort of hat, so that I don’t turn bright magenta and burst into flames in the 27C sun after spending the past six months enjoying a cloudy Vancouver winter. To the Tilley store!