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2 posts from August 2013

08/26/2013

Making the Most Out of Our Experience

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Post by Nora Camstra from Southern Methodist University

After finally settling in and having a solid routine at school, things have gotten more exciting! This past weekend we went to Bahurutshe Village as a whole CIEE group. We got to hike around the Gorge, seeing some of the most beautiful views around.

Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 5.50.08 PMAfter a long day of hiking, we finally went to our campsite and that’s when it got really interesting. We got to witness some locals performing their traditional dances and songs. It was amazing to see this part of Botswana culture with the typical attire and instruments. I confess, I tried to play the drum they had and it didn’t quite sound as good. It was a great little getaway for us, telling stories around the fire and sleeping under the amazing star-lit sky.

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This week my friend Alex and I also finally started our internships at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Working there with animals and the nature conservation group has been out of this world. Our bosses really treat us like two of their own and want us to learn and be a part of as much as we can. Even on the first day, my first task was to go into the hyena enclosure and feed them. We were feet away from them! We have fed the hippos, rhinos, impala, khudu, and warthogs. The best part is that we get to play with a month-old baby baboon! He climbs all over us and we get to feed him after work. But don’t think its all fun and games! We do a lot of manual labor as well—pick-axing and shoveling trenches. I love being able to come out a few times a week and really indulge myself in the nature Botswana has to offer.

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 Another great thing about this past week is that I have made new friendships and strengthened old ones. I love meeting locals, and have become good friends with a select few. Our CIEE group has also gotten stronger and closer as well. I went shopping the other day with a couple of friends. We came out from the grocery store with a full grill, meats, burgers, buns, veggies, seasonings—anything you can think of for a Bar-B-Que! We heated up the coals, marinated steaks, chicken, sausage, kabobs and corn, and invited all the CIEE kids and our friends from school.  We talked, cooked, ate, relaxed and had one of the best nights I’ve had here so far. Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 6.18.48 PM

All of this has taught me that the experience we have here in Gaborone is up to us. We make the most out of it—even if it involves buying our own grill and having a great night with friends. We have decided to make it a weekly tradition!

Even though it is only three weeks into the program, I know I have already made friends for a lifetime, and memories that I will never forget.

08/21/2013

Fifteen Tips and Tricks for the Regular Gabs Taxi/Combi Rider

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Post by Kathleen Shea from University of California, Davis

1.  Saying “Dumela” will take you very far in life. People are a lot nicer and helpful when you follow social protocol and greet people before entering a Taxi or Combi (small van).

2.  Be assertive. When there are large groups of people waiting for Combis, don’t sit back and let people cut you, be assertive and get a seat on that Combi! Also, when telling a Taxi or Combi driver where to stop, don’t whisper it. Say it clearly and loud enough so the driver can hear you.

3.  Carry small change. Often times drivers won’t have change for anything higher than a 20.

4.  Familiarize yourself with Bus Rank Station and Railway Station. Although they’re full of people and a little overwhelming at first, they are great places to observe locals and to pick up a snack on the way home. You can walk from one side to another in about 5 minutes.Image5This is the taxi area at the Railway Station pictured from the top of the staircase that connects to Bus Rank Station.

 5.  Taxis can be private or shared. Shared ones hold four people and go to a designated area. They cost 4 Pula per ride as opposed to the 3.50 Pula in a Combi.

6.  Private taxis cost at least 20 Pula.  You can take one from the station or can call a driver who picks you up and takes you directly to your destination.

7.  To find the right Taxi for you, find the man with the booklet. He keeps track of where all the Taxis are going and commands idle Taxi drivers in the station.

Image5Find this man!

 8.  Only get in Taxis and Combis that have a blue license plate. Don’t take rides from strangers.

9.  Try not to travel right before it gets dark if you need to direct someone. Things are harder to recognize in the dark.

10.  If people honk at you while you’re walking along the road, don’t fret. It’s probably just a Taxi or Combi trying to get your attention to see if you need a ride. If you want to flag one down just put your hand out. Make sure to ask before getting in a Combi or Taxi where it is going first and then double check with other passengers.

11.  Find landmarks near things that you travel to often. If you have to give directions to a Taxi driver these will be helpful. Try to memorize the turns after a major landmark.

12.  Don’t be surprised to see random animals crossing the road, holding up traffic.Image5

This car waited for this cow to cross the road. I got some funny looks by the driver for snapping a picture of this!

13.  Gaborone is divided into neighborhoods. When giving directions know which area you are in, be it Block 5 or Phase 2. Note that phases and blocks are the same thing; it’s like the difference between street and road.

14.  In Gaborone, people drive on the left side of the road.  Don't forget this when walking or crossing streets, especially since there aren't many sidewalks in Gabs.Image1

I guess dirt sidewalks count, right? This is the street I live on.

 15.  If you get lost, don’t panic! Just ask someone for help. Ga gona mathata (no worries)!

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