Will You Come Again?

In the beginning of March, my mom (!) and one of my friends, Emily, came to visit me in Botswana. I’ll admit, I was nervous to have people come and visit me, I didn’t know if it would impress them or if Botswana was even worth the trouble.  I know it is, but I’ve been here for awhile.  But I am happy to report that they LOVED it, wished they could have stayed longer and tried to convince me to take Zaza back to America (it turns out Zaza is the world’s best cat!).  We had a lot of really fun, neat adventures.  We went on safari in Kasane.  We went to a bush bbq in Nata with my local friends.  We went to Victoria Falls.  We had a bbq in the middle of a valley while elephants and hyenas were making their way to the watering hole. We waded in the Makgadikgadi salt pans, which is my backyard.  We saw lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, kudu, birds, crocodile, zebra, giraffe, so many animals!

on safari

sunset on the chobe

Victoria Falls, Zim

Nata Bird Sanctuary

My favorite part of the trip was introducing them to people and places that haven meant a lot to me over the past.  I took my mom to Molepolole where we sat and chated with Sis. K and family (or otherwise known as the nicest woman in Africa.)  And afternoon having a wonderful afternoon of sitting, eating, painting fingernails and laughing, we went and visited my old host family and then some members of the branch of the LDS church in Moleps.  So much love and goodness.  Molepolole was so good to me and it will forever hold a dear place in my heart.

mom with Sis K

Host siblings

I realize that a very significant part of my experience here that I cherish is my involvement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  My testimony and membership to the LDS faith has changed since being here and I like to think it has deepened.  It has not been easy to be in a place that is far from a house of worship, the nearest building being Francistown (180K south) or Kasane (300K north).  This distance, makes me connection to the sabbath day service and the connection with people more meaningful and rich.  For most of my life I have lived in areas with well-established branchs or wards and members.  This is not the case in Botswana.  In Kasane, the 10 members meet in someone’s house.  And in Francistown, we meet in a converted house with a large lawn.  Sunday school, young women’s, and priesthood are all held in group circles on the lawn in the backyard.  These realities have become so important to me and it has been so wonderful to show my mother and Emily these small, but important details of my life in Botswana.

covering our heads for a memorial

This was my first set of visitors, but I’m looking forward to the others… whoever those might be.  Come!

Botswana Day

walking to the edge

Nata is on the edge of the largest salt pans in the world- The Makgadikgadi Pans.  It is a remarkable place with stunning landscape and some interesting wildlife (namely- wildebeest, flamingos, ostrich, impala, hippos and lions).  What I love about the pans is the feeling that you are on the edge of the world, you are literally so far removed from the modern world.  There is a majesty to the feeling.  A certain sense of reverence for mother earth. I have had the opportunity to go to the pans several times and each time I am impressed. It is when I am out here, that I feel like I am in Africa, that i have arrived.  But clearly, that just shows you that my perception of africa is still based on Lion King and my professor’s ethnography of the !Kung Bushmen in Namibia. But in reality, it is so much more. And all i really know is Botswana, which is Nata and these beautiful pans.

This past weekend was a holiday weekend.  Thursday was Botswana Day! Celebrating Independence from the british (it was only ever a protectorate and was never colonized, which make a big difference).   I celebrate independence with a bunch of peace corps volunteers on these pans.  About 25 other volunteers came to my house and we headed to the pans.  We had a really great time.  Even though there was little water, we still saw flamingos, ostriches, wildebeest, impala and hippo tracks.  Also, a magnificent sunset.

camping

cracked earth

under african skies

morning glory

sunrise

I guess I am surprised when locals have lived there their whole life, but have never seen what is in the backyard.  But I shouldn’t be.  I’ve never seen the salt flat in Utah, don’t I claim utah as my home?  At least I have been to the grand canyon and disneyland.

Now I feel as if I need another weekend to recover from my weekend.  So exhausted! Also, it’s hot here and I guess that means giant spiders, scorpions, roaches and beetles the size of my head.  yikes