The Rare Beauty of the World’s Biggest Hot Dog

December 19, Day 506

Two hours of sleep and my alarm goes off. Time to get my butt moving to Gaborone.

Get up and put travel clothes on. Close up the suitcases. Turn off the gas and the water to my house. I sprinkle insect powder all over the house so the cockroaches don’t take over and then leave leftover food outside for the goats to eat.

My taxi guy Poloko is supposed to pick me up at 5:15, it’s 5:20. Where is he?

Call Poloko, no answer.

Call again, he says he’s on the way.

He shows up and drops me right in time for the bus.

Climb on, make myself comfortable. The sun is starting to rise so I close the curtain so it’s not in my face. Pass out.

A few hours later I wake up and recognize some volunteers who are also on my bus traveling to Gabs. I see one of them is Emily, who lives in my region, so I ask her if her Setswana name is Masego.

“No, I’m not Masego, that was Frankie!” she tells me, referencing a volunteer who completed their service last year.

“Frankie?! But she looks nothing like me!” I exclaim.

I ask because lately, several people in my village have been calling me Masego. They wave at me like they know me and shout “Hi Masego!” This happens several times a week, and I’ve been trying to figure out who it is, because my Setswana name is not Masego.

The bus stops in Werda, I get off to use the pit latrine and get back on.

Two hours later we stop in Jwaneng and Emily carries on two “J Dogs” for herself and another volunteer.

A J Dog, or Jwaneng Dog, is the biggest hot dog I have ever seen in my entire life. I don’t dare try and think about the nitrates in that thing. I’m not sure if it’s more of an object, rather than a food.

The J Dog is pretty notorious among volunteers who travel in my region. One of those things will keep you full for the entire day. It’s a hot dog bun slathered with butter, then a giant foot-long hot dog, and covered in mayo, ketchup, mustard, onions, lettuce and tomato.

When the bus stops in Jwaneng, you have just enough time to use the bathroom, get a J Dog and carry it with two hands back onto the bus.

I got one last year, the only time I dared to do so. As I carried it like a small child, carefully climbing between people and holding it with both hands, as soon as I sat down and bit into it the dog slipped out of the bun, bounced off the backpack, bounced onto my face and then proceeded to roll down my entire shirt and into my lap.

My face, chest and shirt were covered with mustard, ketchup, onions, lettuce and all the fixins. I was so mad, I threw the J Dog out the window and didn’t eat it. I could smell it all over me for the next 6 hours. It was horrible.

I took that as a sign that perhaps my vegetarian diet wouldn’t respond very well to a J Dog, and the universe intervened to ensure I didn’t eat it.

Back to the story, the volunteers happily eat their J Dogs and we all fall asleep.

A man stands up on the bus and starts yelling in Setswana in the aisles. I watch him and realize he’s selling some sort of cream. He seems like a decent salesman and is relentless for a long time. Finally, someone buys the cream.

A few hours later, the bus arrives in Gabs. As I look out the window, I am shocked by how green it is. I didn’t realize just how much of a brown desert I live in until I went outside of it and saw how green everything else is. It’s like I’m in a tropical paradise!

I collect my bags and walk over to the taxi stand. I tell the taxi driver where I’m going in Setswana, and he charges me the correct price.

As we walk away, a man runs up next to me.

“Hello, Masego!” he says.


The taxi driver tells me his car is parked under a bridge nearby. That would be a sketchy thing usually, but I feel safe. We walk under the bridge and sure enough, his car is there.

He drops me off at the guesthouse where the Peace Corps has booked a room for me, since I have a medical appointment tomorrow.

Find the woman at the front desk and she says I can check in early. She leads me to my room, and it’s fantastic!

I have my very own sitting area outside, large bedroom and a fully stocked kitchen with utensils, plates, cooking ware, an oven and full refrigerator.

I’ve hit the jackpot!

Put my things down and walk over to Café Dijo. It’s one of the best places in town, with fresh salads and coffee. Order a tomato and avocado sandwich with fries. I watch as an American woman spots another volunteer, who I don’t know, who is also sitting alone eating and wearing a college baseball hat.

The American woman introduces herself and says she went to the same college.

How do I know this? Because she is talking SO LOUD.

Is it me, or are Americans extremely loud in public places? Perhaps it’s because we value our freedom of expression, but I have definitely noticed that we always talk loudly with pride in open spaces.

I go to pay the bill and realize that I left my wallet in my room.


I’m so embarrassed. The poor waiter is looking at me like “really?! You’re not going to pay the bill?!”

I promise on my life that I will come back to pay the bill. I rush across a busy highway and walk down the narrow alley between two houses and go back to my room. Grab my wallet, and make a run for it back.

Pay the waiter, and give him a nice tip to say thank you for trusting me.

Walk next door to the mall. I peruse the shelves of Game City and look at all the Christmas decorations I can’t afford.

Buy a pair of cheap sunglasses at Clicks that match my dress. They’re heart shaped and I’m seriously into them!

Get some snacks and a bottle of wine for tonight. I’m seriously exhausted. Like, so exhausted. It’s like my body is finally giving me permission to relax after a very busy month.

Walk back to the guesthouse and immediately take a nap. I’ve never been so tired in my life.

Wake up, watch Christmas movies and sip wine and talk to Colden.

Go to bed early.

Boroko 🌙

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