Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wake up call from Chotki

The blog is falling behind because of the 24 hour party people lifestyle here in Gaborone! Who would have thought that a city of 250,000 people would keep one so busy? Anyway, back to the plot: After checking out, I catch a combi taxi, i.e. small minibus, to the Kgale Mall. Combos charge a flat 2P50 for a ride. I’m sitting next to a friendly chap who’s going to pick up his truck after renewing his passport – he drives all round the region, filling up his passport often, just like me!

The mall is not very exciting, but has a Mugg and Bean coffee shop with *free wifi*, what a pleasant surprise! The router does need a reset after a short time though, so I have to sort it out for them.

Thabiso messages me, saying “Where can I pick you up at 5?”. Now, one would think that this would suggest he had some intension of actually picking me up at 5pm. Little did I understand of African Time at this stage though, and so at 5 minutes to 5 I rush out to make sure I don’t miss him. And promptly wait for an hour and a half as all the shop assistants head home.

Amusingly Malebo, his fiancĂ©e, was also annoyed with him, but couldn’t have a go at him as Herbert and myself were in the car. He received an ear-full when we got out, but as usual, through a combination of his charm and disarming smile, and Malebogo’s enormous tolerance, all is well soon after, and if there were any bruises, they were well hidden.

So, I had been bought to Mokolodi Reserve, a 30 sq km private wildlife sanctuary, which has a restaurant which we will visit. It’s a mere 12km drive or so from Gabs, but has all sorts of game and other animals roaming about. A highlight is apparently the kudus coming out to feed at dusk, though today it would seem they had an extra large lunch as they didn’t show. Furthermore, none of the game on the menu was available either! Very disappointing, so I end up having hake. Always a bit dodgy having seafood in a landlocked country! The menus are actually very hard to read, as the only illumination we have is a small lantern in the middle of the table.

Menus by starlight

When the food comes, mine is alright, but Herbert complains that his buffalo wings taste fishy.


Our dinner companions are Eric and Clara. Clara is from Kenya, so I quiz Eric about the merits of dating exotic foreign girls! Girls who apparently can drink very impressive quantities of wine too, as she finished a whole bottle of red. My invitation to partake never came!

Malebogo and Clara

Anyway, the table is a nice mix and we engage in some lively and amusing debates, in particular towards black attitudes to money and riches. The contested theory is that (in general) black people in general like to show wealth off more than others, liking bling and to flash cash. Interestingly, I find that everyone round the table has a fantastic knowledge about UK current affairs, which someone shames me given what I know about Botswana! Malebogo says it’s because they have access to Sky News and the BBC, but also that Botswana people are generally curious about the outside world, which contrasts greatly with some countries I’ve come across.

Post dinner, we drive to Lizard Lounge, which is the club of choice (it would seem). Tonight though, a Wednesday, it’s empty. Literally. We are the only people here! We sit in the corner and chat as a rather bad DJ works his way through a mix CD. The consensus is that the following day will be much better – as Herbs says, Thursday is the new Friday here in Gabs. We call it a night, and as we haven’t found anywhere for me to stay, I end up on Thabiso’s couch. This couch is right next to the front door, which was to have interesting consequences the following morning.

So next day, Thabiso heads out at a horrible hour of the morning. His show is 6 until 9 every morning. How anyone can manage to get up to be in work at 6am having gone out the night before, night after night, is completely beyond me. Anyway, you may remember the dogs which almost ate me the first time I went to this house? So there I am, snoozing comfortably when I hear a “click” and the front door creeps open. Before me stands Chotki (pronounced Chocky), the Rottweiler. I look at her. She looks at me. Her eyebrows raise, as if to say “Well well well, what do we have here?”. Almost in slow motion (or so it seemed), her teeth appeared, her forehead creased, and perhaps I imagined it, but she seemed to brace herself, ready to spring at me.

All this time I’m under the duvet panicking. How long would a duvet hold off a determined attack dog? What happens when the other dog, an African hound called Legetla, joins in? I murmur as gently as possible to her “Come on Chotki, we can work this out, there’s no need for this misunderstanding, you and me can work this out with conversation” etc. As I say this, I edge gently towards her, duvet at the ready as my shield in case she springs. Instead, she continues to snarl, but takes a step back. I seize the opportunity to slam the door in her face. Hurrah, I’m saved! I sink back in relief on the couch, breathing a long sigh. Click! THE DAMN DOOR’S OPENED AGAIN, NOOOO! Queue a repetition of the whole stressful episode. I barricade the door this time, and only later am told that you have to bolt the door to stop Chotki from being able to open it. Now you tell me!

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