Tag Archives: travel

Windhoek Township, Cape Town and a Botswana Wedding

18 Mar

I definitely posted my last Namibian post premature, because we had an amazing day after I posted it. As I previously mentioned, we had made friends with our hostel’s bartender, Greg, and he offered to take to a Windhoek township and show us around. The first place we went to was an open market. There were literally entire cows being butchered on the tables! Then there was a long row of people cooking the fresh beef. We bought some, and you just picked it up with your fingers right off the grill, dipped it into some spice and ate it… and let me tell you, it was some of the best beef I have ever tasted!

Then, we got a little walking tour around, and Greg promised us he was taking us somewhere cool – but told us to not ask questions, so we were just along for the ride! As we were walking, we came across a huge group of students in their uniforms who were taking over the streets. When we got closer, we could see that they were protesting. I asked some of the students what they were protesting and they told me that one of their female classmates had been raped and killed but that there was no justice and nothing was happening to the culprit. I asked what their goal of the protest was and I was fairly shocked by their answer – they wanted the death penalty reinstated in Namibia. I only had time to ask a few more questions, but from what I heard it was obvious that the particular students I was speaking with did not entirely understand what they were asking for. While I admired their political activism, it was evident to me that the  majority of the protesters were just following the lead of a few and were not thinking critically.

After the overwhelming noise and numbers of the protest, we veered off the main road and we went to a small lake. There, we found some absolutely amazing projects. One of them was for hearing-impaired people who were previously unemployed. They recycled old beer bottles and other glass and created beautiful beads and jewelry from them. There were also textile projects, among others, at this facility. There was an on-site shop where you could buy many of the projects, and as usual, Heather, Kelsey and I spent lots of money.

After this wonderful day, we then made it to the Intercape and began our 22-hour bus ride to Cape Town, which surprisingly wasn’t as painful as you might imagine. The Sleepliner is probably the nicest bus I will ever be on.

We met up with the Ramshaws downtown Cape Town and got settled in our respective accommodations. Kelsey and I were staying right around the corner from one of my family’s favourite restaurants from when we were there so I recommended it. We had an amazing dinner of Ethiopian food and all got caught up with each other.

The next day, Cape Town was a very busy place to be indeed! It was the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour – a grueling more than 100 km bike race through the mountainous region with over 35,000 cyclists. We spent the day wandering the city and made our way to the finish line to cheer on and support the athletes. We then went to Camp’s Bay for dinner and to watch the sunset.

Monday we did a hop on, hop off tour of the city. We went to the gorgeous Kirstenbosch Gardens and had a lovely breakfast at the Tea Room there. Then, we went on a wine tour and tasting and had some wonderful wine. We took the bus back through the city and got a great view of some of the main sites of Cape Town.

Tuesday morning, the Ramshaws and Kelsey went to Robben Island. I had already been and spent my morning sleeping in, getting a hair cut, and doing some shopping. We had a relaxing afternoon together, and went up Table Mountain in the early evening. We enjoyed some walking and a drink at the top and watched the sun set over the ocean. It was truly beautiful.

Wednesday morning, we were up bright and early to go SHARK CAGE DIVING!! We went to Gansbaai and got out on a boat. The sharks were fairly quiet though and we had some trouble getting them close – a very seasick Heather and mildly sick Liam and I all took naps while Kelsey made some new friends. When it was our turn in the cage, we gingerly got in, cringing at the freezing water (about 16 degrees!) But, the seasickness and cold were totally worth it. I don’t know if you know this, but SHARKS ARE SO COOL!!! We got amazing views of great whites that were within a few meters of us – truly phenomenal. We then went to Boulders’s Beach in Simonstown (beautiful town) to visit the African penguins! It was my second time there, but no less fun.

We made our way back to Botswana on Thursday, and I spent Friday just relaxing in Gabs. Saturday was a very special day – a wedding! Heather and Kelsey’s friends from Shakawe were getting married and I got to crash it. It was really interesting to see a traditional Botswana wedding (even though the bride was American, it was very traditionally Batswana). It was particularly funny listening to how all the speeches got translated into English for us – some things were definitely lost in translation! We had a wonderful time meeting people, eating, laughing and of course, dancing.

I had an amazing two weeks, and now I am back in the office and I can’t believe that in just 6 short weeks I will be back at St. Paul’s!

Namibia Part 2: Swakopmund and Karaoke

8 Mar

So Swakopmund was amazing and is probably one of my favourite places ever.

First off, it is on the coast and the ocean is just always beautiful and that means that there is fresh seafood. Secondly, there are absolutely amazing sand dunes.

Our first full day we went to Walvis Bay which was beautiful but there wasn’t a ton to see. We went back to Swakopmund for a delicious lunch and a little cafe and spent our afternoon shopping. I have bought some beautiful and unique artwork and serving dishes for the house I don’t have.

Then we went for dinner at the end of the jetty. It was super windy and I was actually cold for the first time in a long time!! The restaurant was kind of fancy but luckily we had all picked that night to wear dresses! We all splurged for delicious sea food dishes and yummy desserts.

The next morning we went sandboarding (with Khoi San Sandboarding, I would definitely recommend them) on the dunes with a great view of the ocean. It was kind of like snowboarding but not as fast and definitely not as cold! Plus instead of a ski lift you walk up huge sand dunes – a work out indeed.

We all had our fair share of wipe outs but it didn’t hurt as much as I though it would. We all also had at least a few successful runs and it was super fun and amazing. Our instructor Eben was really great and let us try the lie-down option as well – it was like using a magic carpet while tobogganing! We all had a wonderful time but were absolutely caked in sand! I think we brought back an entire dune’s worth of sand back to the hostel.

We had enough time to shower before our next adventure though – quad-biking!

We went for 2 hours on 4x4s through the dunes. My bike was having some technical difficulties and kept getting stuck in the sand (I thought it was me but then it happened to the guide too!) so I switched bikes with the guide. And of course, his was manual not automatic, so I got my first lesson on driving an automatic vehicle in the middle of the dunes! It was an incredible experience and the dunes are absolutely breathtaking. Driving the bikes and playing on the dunes was fun too!

Needless to say we were extremely exhausted after those adventures, and were in bed by 9!

After traveling back to Windhoek yesterday, we were craving some fast food and ordered greasy amazing Chinese food. We had made friends with our hostel’s bartender the last time we were here, and he invited us out for karaoke. Kels was too tired but Heather and I went. We made our Namibian friends sing My Heart Will Go On since when they found out we are Canadian they told us they loved Celine Dion. Heather and I then wow’d everyone with our renditions of I Want it That Way and Summer of ’69.

Now we are preparing for our loooooong bus ride to Cape Town but are very excited to get to the coast again and to meet up with Heather’s family.

Namibia Part 1!

4 Mar

I am on a much needed vacation! Heather and Kelsey arrived in Ghanzi Friday evening and I got to show them Ghanzi’s nightlife (hopping’, let me tell you!)

Saturday morning we began our trek to Namibia. We were hitching so we were a little unsure of how it would go. We headed to the hitching spot out of Ghanzi and started to get settled in for a long wait, when after just a few minutes we got an air conditioned ride to Junction 44 (the turn off towards namibia) which costed us 10 pula. At the junction we lucked out again! We got another air conditioned ride within minutes. The driver was super nice and took us all the way to Windhoek and refused to take any money from us all. So, we made it all the way from Ghanzi to Windhoek for less than $2!

There is not a lot to do in Windhoek but we had a great time catching up with each other, eating good food, making new friends and eating real ice cream!

Today we arrived in the beautiful Swakopmund. We spent the afternoon exploring the town and had some delicious fresh seafood for dinner. We were enjoying our food when a man came over and said his friend wanted our help in checking an item off his bucket list: he wanted to take a piece of food off someone’s plate at a restaurant! We drove a hard bargain and got a round of yummy cocktails in return for Heather’s potatoe!

We are now planning our activities to make the most of the ocean and the and dunes!

Better Late than Never

26 Feb

Hey all, sorry for my lack of updates lately! I have been having a difficult time since the holidays, and have definitely been feeling a little homesick and more than a little unmotivated. There hasn’t been a lot of work for me to do at my organization which was very frustrating for me, but finally things are starting to pick up. I have a few small projects to work on and I have been able to attend a few regional forum on the organization’s behalf. A lot of what I am doing is preparing material for the organization once funding comes in. For example, I am designing a gender workshop with many different sessions (sexual health, domestic violence, alcohol and values and norms to name a few) so that when I am gone, they have all the necessary materials to facilitate the workshop. 

Apart from work, I am definitely feeling a lot more at home here in Ghanzi. I have made a good group of friends and feel like I am starting to fit in better socially. It definitely makes a difference when you get invited to parties, to baby showers and other social events! I am also getting SUPER excited about my upcoming vacation with Heather and Kelsey to Namibia and Cape Town! 

Holidays and Beyond

23 Jan

Hello dear readers, I’m sorry I have gotten lazy with my blogging! Here is a quick update of my holiday season:

My lovely mother and brother came over to visit and we had a wonderful time in South Africa! We met in Johannesburg, where the first thing my mom said was “You’re so tan!” We were only there for one night and just spent our time catching up before we flew to Port Elizabeth then headed to a game reserve. We spent 4 days there and I managed to complete seeing the African Big 5! My mom and Colin also got to see 4 out of 5 and are just missing the leopard, which I was fortunate enough to see at Chobe National Park in Botswana. Here are some of our pictures from our game drives.

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Next we spent Christmas Day in Port Elizabeth and got to open all of our gifts with Conor and dad over the phone – not quite the same! We definitely missed not all being together. Boxing Day we flew to Cape Town and had an amazing time there before saying goodbye on the 1st. Some highlights of Cape Town were going to Robben Island, a great wine tour, the wonderful restaurants and ringing in the New Year on Long St.!

I am happy to be back in Botswana, and I realized that it is starting to feel a little more like home here. Even when my flight was delayed in Cape Town, I just felt more comfortable chatting with Batswana on my flight over drinks than I did with locals in South Africa. I’m not going to lie though – going back to bucket bathing with cold water really sucked after all the luxury!!

Now I’m back to work and back to the same routine 🙂 I’m missing my friends scattered around the world and my family back home (especially my cousins who recently welcomed a new addition to the family!) and it’s a bittersweet thought that I only have about 3 months left here.

BONUS: Check out this Christmas Staycation video – I promise it’s worth it!

Maun, Kasane and Victoria Falls

20 Nov

Last week I took some leave days, and finally did some tourism! After my meeting with my school coordinator, supervisor and WUSC Botswana’s coordinator, we headed up to Shakawe then to Maun.

While in Maun, I stayed at a nice little lodge on the river that is a hotspot for tourists and locals wanting a drink. While Heather, Kelsey and I were lounging by the pool we heard a hippo grunt – it sounded suuuuuper close! We went to go look for it, and it was within 20 meters of us. Hippos like to spend most of their time underwater, so we lucked out when it came really far out to eat some dinner. Image

I also went on a horseback safari, which was really cool! All of the animals were in an enclosure, and there were no animals that would hurt or spook the horses, but I saw plenty of giraffes, impala, kudu and some zebras. We were able to get ready close to the animals, and it was great to be on a horse for the first time in a looong time! Below is one of the pictures I got of a giraffe in the park. Image

My friend Julia met me on Thursday in Maun, and Friday we traveled to Kasane. We met some fellow travelers and had an amazing dinner at an Indian restaurant. Saturday we woke up early for a game drive at Chobe National Park where we saw lots of elephants, buffalo, baboons, impala, some giraffes, a leopard (barely since he was hiding in a tree) and 2 lionesses. The lions were wonderful because they were hunting and we saw them stalking a herd of buffalo. I was hoping we would get to see a kill, but no such luck! We spent the day lounging poolside at a resort, then went on a sunset boat cruise. The boat cruise (through Chobe National Park) was truly amazing, and we were able to get really close to hippos and elephants. Here are a couple of pictures from Chobe. Image

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Sunday we went on a day trip to Victoria Falls. And (big surprise) they really are beautiful. Since the rains haven’t really come yet this year, the falls were fairly dry and we were able to get a unique view. Instead of the roaring falls that drench you when you see them, we got to see a subtler beauty. I really wanted to go in the Devil’s Pool, but unfortunately that is on the Zambia side of the falls so I didn’t get the chance… this time. I would also love to go rafting there and see more of Zimbabwe, so I guess I will just have to again sometime! Most of my pictures of Victoria Falls are on Julia’s camera, but I will get those soon.

Overall, it was an amazing weekend, and I am even more in love with Botswana and Southern Africa.

Pick-up Lines: The (Not so) Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

30 Oct

Since moving to Botswana, I have met some really great people. I have also met a lot really seedy men with even seedier lines. Here are some of the lines I have gotten so far:
“I want to be your special friend… do you know what I mean, special friend?”
“Hey white girl! I want to come visit you at your house.”
“Come to my home in Harare and I will teach you how to swim.” (this one is particularly great when you know that I have competed both provincially and nationally at lifeguarding)
This one from a middle-aged woman: “You are how old? 21? My youngest son is 24 and he still needs a wife. How many cows do your parents want?”
This one from a drunken man, who is mumbling in broken English and can barely stand straight: “I sit beside you? I just want to know you.”
“I have (insert number here) cows. How many cows do your parents want?”
“Buy me a drink?”
“The best way to learn Setswana is from the pillow.”
“If you kiss a Motswana, then you will know how to speak Setswana.”
“I am looking for a mother to my son – maybe it will be you.” (My response to this: “How old is your son?” “14” “And you are how old?” “35” “Your son is closer to my age than you are.” “Oh…”)
“Actions speak louder than words and I have tried to show you that I want to be your friend. And your lover.”
I had became really close friends to a Motswana boy in Kang, and when he left early, other men took it as an opportunity to hit on me. These are some lines I got: “Can I take care you the way he did?” “He blew his chance to date a white girl! If it was me, I would marry you,” “He’s not coming back. But I can make you come. Do you know what I mean, come?” (Yeah, class act that last one. I played dumb.)
Well there you have it! My fellow indevours and expat friends – what lines have you all gotten so far?