Home With My Botswana Family for the Holidays

December 21, Day 508

Get up bright and early. Take my last hot shower for a while and pack up my things.

That was the BEST room ever! I will miss it.

Check out of the room just before checkout time and ask the woman at the front desk if I can keep my bags there while I run to the mall. She agrees.

Walk across the street to the mall and decide to have breakfast at Wimpy’s. That’s the diner place I went to yesterday with slow service. Maybe it was a one-time thing?

The place is swarming with children running everywhere, which of course makes me anxious. They seat me outside right next to the bouncy castle for children.

Okay.

Wait an hour. No one comes to take my order.

Finally, the server arrives to take my order. I splurge and order two slices of bacon, which I never eat, but want to spice things up a bit.

Wait another hour.

My coffee arrives.

The server brings me the eggs I ordered, but the bacon is uncooked. There are two slices of raw bacon on the plate. I ask him to please ask the chef to cook the bacon.

Wait another hour.

The manager comes to check on me because I’ve been sitting there so long. I wish I could say that I’m annoyed, but really I’m not in a hurry and I’m used to waiting. I tell her my server is taking care of me, I’m just waiting for cooked bacon.

The whole place has cleared out by now. My breakfast arrives. It’s pretty good, but I’m still hungry from small portions. I won’t come back to this place.

Pay the bill and walk to the ATM to pull out cash so I can take the bus to Molepolole today and see my host family. Run into two volunteers who are also staying at the same place I was and are headed to Mozambique for Christmas. We walk together for a bit and part ways.

I stop and call Selena, the female taxi driver that a few volunteers have recommended. I tell her the name of the place I’m staying and she has no idea where it is. She says she’ll figure it out and come get me.

Arrive back at the guesthouse and I grab my luggage. Sit and wait in the lobby for her. My phone rings.

“What’s the name of the place you’re staying? Pina Colada?”

“Um, no Mma … I’ll give the phone to the receptionist, she can give you directions,” I say.

I hand the phone to the receptionist in the lobby, but Selena has hung up. We try to call several times and there’s no answer.

“Mma, I think that we should call another taxi. I don’t think this one will show up,” the woman in the lobby says.

She calls another taxi.

We wait an hour. Make small talk.

Finally, Selena arrives and despite the small delay, she’s absolutely wonderful! She appears to be in her 50s and is driving a mini van. I love it.

We make small talk on the way to the bus rank.

“You know, my husband was a man from Germany. Whenever I would take him to my village where I am from I would make him give me his wallet because I knew people would ask him for money and I wanted to protect him. You be careful,” she tells me.

What a sweetheart.

She drops me off at the bus rank, and I navigate my way to the buses going to Molepolole and sit down. It’s a hot one today.

I realize just as I sat down that no one sat here because the sun is brutally beaming right into where the seat is. I can feel myself burning up.

We take off. I always enjoy the ride looking at all the farms on the way. The landscape is beautiful. I suddenly realize I am EXTREMELY thirsty and I forgot to pack water.

The bus hits traffic just as we leave the bus rank. It appears the traffic light at the end of the road out of the bus rank is faulty and changing to red too quickly. My bus driver is a pro who yells out his window at cars trying to cut us off. I sit in silence while the man behind me yells at the person collecting money. From what I can tell, he’s saying we should get a discount for sitting in traffic for so long.

Just as I arrive in Molepolole, my phone rings. It’s my host sister, Dineo.

“Mpho, where are you?” she asks.

“I have just arrived in Molepolole,” I tell her.

“Okay, I won’t be able to make it today. But our cousin will be picking you up with the boys. They are waiting for you by the tent,” she says.

“Tent?”

“Tent”

“Tent? What tent?” I say.

“You will see it. It’s by the entrance of the road to our house,” she says.

What in the world is she talking about? Why is there a tent?! I’m super confused but go with it.

Sure enough, as we pull into the bus stop and there’s a massive party tent set up. There appears to be a big wedding happening right there on the side of the road. There are hundreds of people walking around and there’s loud music blasting.

I drag my suitcase through the sand up and down the road looking for my cousin, but I don’t see them. Why does every person in the world here drive a white Toyota Camry? There’s so many of them and I don’t know which one belongs to my cousin.

A group of men approach me and ask me to party with them. Nope, not interested.

People see the lekgoa walking around with a suitcase and they know I’m a foreigner and keep yelling at me.

WHERE ARE THEY?! I don’t see them.

My mother calls and says they are there. Where? I ask her to please have them wave to me, as it’s likely easier for them to see me than me to see them.

Suddenly, I see two little boys waving their arms at me across the street. I see my cousin behind the steering wheel. Woo hoo! It’s them!

I run across the street and greet them and hop in the car.

“Rra, ke kopa metsi,” I say. “Can we stop at the Choppies so I can buy some water?”

Cousin agrees and takes me down the street to the grocery store. I run inside with my two nephews Fani and Motheo and we get a big jug of water to last me for a few days.

Cousin drives me back home. I go inside and greet my mother (Mama) and father (Ntate) and my niece Didi. Big hugs.

Go outside and sit with Mama and Ntate and see our dog, Spotty. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Spotty. He was my first true love in Botswana, even before Olive and even before Colden.

Spotty is my family’s dog who used to follow me everywhere when I lived with them for the first three months in Botswana. My bus stop to Peace Corps training was pretty far from the house. So, Spotty would walk with me all the way to the bus stop, running through busy traffic and try to get on the bus with me. He always walked at a very non-chalant pace when we would walk together.

Once he saw I was on the bus safely, he would turn around immediately and sprint as fast as he could all the way home. We would all laugh at how Spotty ran home so fast. My little protector.

“Mpho, we will need to go to the store and get morogo,” Mama says (vegetables).

“Okay, no problem,” I say, thinking they can just hop in the car and go to the store any time.

I go inside and play with my niece and nephews and unpack my things. I have kindly been given the bed back that I slept in while I lived here. Looks like I’ll be sharing the bedroom with my sister, Bina.

A few hours later, it is now early evening, and Mama approaches me.

“Mpho, are you ready to go to the store yet? What will we have for dinner?” she asks.

Oh! Here I was thinking she was telling me she was going to the store. She really was asking me to buy vegetables for everyone and make dinner because she knows I’m a vegetarian.

We all pile into the car and go to the grocery store. It’s getting late, and we don’t have time to make much. I offer to make vegetable stir-fry and rice. Everyone seems to like that plan.

I buy the vegetables and ingredients needed, and we head home.

Didi, Motheo and Fani all help chop vegetables and I teach them how to make stir-fry. I love how open minded they are to trying to new foods. I’m so happy to be home with them.

Finally, dinner is ready and we all sit in the living room and watch the news and eat stir-fry. It’s not a huge hit, but everyone eats it with no complaints. I consider that a win!

Exhausted, I head to bed. The kids all come in and we chat for a bit. Then I fall asleep.

Boroko 🌙

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