Welcome to Gaborone

Forty-eight hours? Really? That’s it?

For me, to introduce myself to another culture means a process more akin to jumping in the deep end than wading into the shallow. Which is why yesterday, when I walked by the softball fields for a second time in order to convince some local students to ask me if I might want to play, I was shocked myself to respond that I had in fact only been in Botswana for forty-eight hours, after having greeted the Batswana (Botswanan) boys with ‘Dumela rra. Leina la gago ke mang?’

As a result, the initial ‘So, what are your initial impressions of Botswana?’ looms as the most difficult possible question; the culture-hopper receives more ‘shoves’ than impressions,’ and they come, initially, at an overwhelming pace. For those ready to jump in alongside me into Gaborone, Botswana:

Begin with a commerical street you know: maybe Hillsboro Village in Nashville or Kings Highway (around Strawn’s) in Shreveport. Now,

slow everything down,
just a little.

People are walking, not riding bikes. Even the fast cars do not seem to have quite the zip. The sun crawls, the wind slinks rather than whips through the trees.

Second, make everything just a little browner. Grass, faces, ‘white’ cars, streets, everything. Eskimos, I hear, have some hundred words for ice and snow; I should imagine that it should be the same for the color ‘brown’ here. Think drought-year, midsize midwestern town.

Now, look up. Clouds? Nope, blue skies. Every day, blue. Bring your gaze down a little, and if you are not surrounded by low-lying buildings, you will notice that you can see for miles. Everything in Gaborone is west-Texas flat, except for Kgale Hill some three miles (five kilometers) off.

Slower, browner, bluer, flatter: the beginner’s introduction to the capital of Botswana. O amogetswe!

3 Replies to “Welcome to Gaborone”

  1. I talked to Ami Waters, who, if I am not mistaken, was in Botswana, doing what you’re doing, about a month ago. Never would’ve guessed that two people I know would spend a significant amount of time in Botswana.

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