Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Guest Post from Susy (my Mom)

It has been over a year since we have seen any of our family and friends (we miss you all a lot!), so what better way to kick off our summer than with a visit from my parents Dan and Susy.  I had been anticipating their trip for months, and finally they arrived.  We had a wonderful time showing them our village and introducing them to all of our Batswana friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and touring around our beautiful adopted country.  I hope you all are not sick of animal pictures, but the wildlife is so amazing here, and we were able to see a TON of animals with my parents.  I thought it would be fun to let my mom Susy write a guest blog post, and give you all a slightly different perspective on being here. 
Love and hugs - Jojo & Erin

It has been a few weeks since we have returned from a trip to Botswana to visit Jojo and Erin who are in the Peace Corps in Tonota.  Jojo asked us during our travels if the country was what we expected; and I really have to say that I didn’t have any expectations.  But, we found the trip fantastic.  We loved Botswana: the people, (especially the children), the villages, the landscape, the rivers, the tours we took, the safaris and the animals.  It was overwhelming to see the amount of animals, not only the amount of each kind, like the herds of elephants, cape buffalo, etc., but all the different animals we did see.  My husband and I have been on a safari in South Africa, and we saw many of the animals we saw in Botswana, but we saw wild dogs (which we never did see); apparently a very difficult animal to spot, it was exciting since they were eating whatever they had just killed, and at the same time were keeping the vultures from getting to the kill. It was fascinating seeing the numbers of animals.  I especially loved seeing the elephants, giraffes, baboons, buffalo, hippos and
rhinos, the lion and leopard and the crocodiles.  We also saw about a dozen elephants on our SA safari, but we saw herds of them on the Chobe River, and we saw many more on our Okavango Delta cruise.   We saw warthogs walking around Kasane, right through town; and when we were in Khama Rhino Sanctuary, not only did we see dozens and dozens of rhinos and baby rhinos, but when we were in the parking lot after
our game drive and picnic, a lone rhino came walking through minding his own business with many people standing around.  It was so close and very exciting…even to the people working there!
We were travelling around in a car, and I found it fascinating that goats, cows and donkeys were free to wander outside of their farms and were crossing the road causing all traffic to come to a halt.  Often, they moved off when cars were honking, so they are apparently quite used to the cars.  In the villages, all animals are free to wander around…not only the dogs, but cows, goats, chickens, etc.  Talk about free range…it is
entirely free range there.
We visited Jojo and Erin’s workplaces and were impressed with the work they are doing and have already accomplished.  Erin works in the clinic and Jojo in a government building, in projects all revolving around HIV/AIDS.
Some highlights of the trip for me were seeing their village, walking around, doing laundry by hand with them, meeting their neighbor Kelly and her son.  We also got together with their host family from Serowe, at the Khama Rhino park for a braai (bbq).  We had only heard about them, but got to spend time with them and found them wonderful.  The parents and their three kids were such fun, and you could see the admiration Jojo and Erin and the family all have for each other. They definitely bonded and now Jojo and Erin have a family away from home, in Africa.
We saw a dead hippo, upside down with its legs up in the air from our river cruise.  I don’t know why that has stayed with me, but one never sees such a large animal intact and it was pretty interesting.  I loved the landscape along the rivers and in the delta.  I couldn’t take enough pictures…some people thinking I overdid it, but each picture has something special about it.  I was fascinated with the termite hills and tried to take pictures of everyone I saw.  There were so many different shapes and some connected to trees and some
standing alone. Those pictures are going to make it into a collage!And I found every village and compound interesting in their own unique ways, from the different styles of houses (huts) to the different fences they have built.  Everything is made with the same materials,but in such a variety of ways.
We stayed in wonderful lodgings from Maun, into Namibia, and in Chobe (Kasane).  I thought we would be in places without bathrooms and would have to go outside; but to my surprise, we stayed in beautiful places
complete with bathrooms, kitchens with all the charm of the towns and areas they were in.
The traditions of the Batswana people are so neat; and to see different tribes in different areas of the country who dressed differently, for example, was so colorful and charming. In all, I have to say how impressed I was in how happy the people seem to be.  The country is led by a President; but then in each village,
there is a chief with whom the people go to for advice, permission to marry, etc.  And it all works for them!
We loved our trip and hopefully will be able to take more trips to Africa, it’s an interesting place.

Cute kids, absolutely no shortage of these here

Okovango Breem fish drying in the sun

Typical village huts
Using materials which are available

This girl was so beautiful
Pounding millet.  This grain is mixed with water into a porridge and eaten every day.  Millet and other grains like sourghum and maize (corn) are staples of the diet and sometimes are eaten with little else.
This mosadi mogolo (old lady) reluctantly sold Jojo this beautiful basket which she had made to sift grain.
Lazy Lazy Lazy

Dan & Susy


It was so cool to watch these African Hunting Dogs rip apart whatever they had just killed.


One of my favorite pics.  These cape buffalo are scary