If you live in the DC area, you’ve no doubt heard the overly-dramatic voice of Ronnie Mervis on the radio urging you to buy your woman’s love with one of his expensive diamonds. Milking his South African accent for all it’s worth, despite having lived in the US for decades, Ronnie implores customers to spend the average price of $8700 for a diamond engagement ring in order to show how much you love your lady in the most shallow and commercial way possible. Continue reading “You Lie, Mervis!”
2012 was a slightly quieter year for travel. I took one trip in June to Namibia and Botswana and later in the year I went to Santa Barbara, California to speak at the Elephant Manager’s Association Conference and meet with WWF donors at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Here’s what that looked like. Continue reading “10 Years, 28 Countries: 2012”
I could write a book about misheard song lyrics, and maybe someday I will. From Jimi Hendrix’s “excuse me, while I kiss this guy” to Dylan’s “knock knock knockin on Kevin’s door.” But one of the most persistent misheard lyrics in my mind has been the Rolling Stones song “Bitch.” Which says “must be love, it’s a bitch.” For many years, in fact until only recently, I heard “monkey love, it’s a bitch.” Granted, monkey love makes no sense, but I was greatly disappointed when I learned the true lyrics. Such a letdown.
I have no great love for the monkeys of the Grand Palm Hotel and Casino in Gaborone, Botswana, however. They are menacing little terrorists. Continue reading “Monkey Love”
The heat portends rain. It’s stifling, calm, sweltering. The kind of heat that leaves you with no recourse but to take a mid-day nap under a fan that languidly stirs thick simmering air but provides little relief. You wake up sweaty and confused. By late afternoon dark clouds loom on the eastern horizon; edging slowly closer, accompanied by the distant and low rumble of thunder and the far away flash of lightning against the gray-black sky. The sun is soon overpowered by the darkening sky, creating an early false sunset. Confused birds fly into the treetops to roost prematurely. A squawking ibis flies overhead announcing her displeasure. Soon the fanfare begins. Loud kettle drum crashes of thunder follow short on the heels of brilliant flashes of lightning that streak from sky to horizon. Continue reading “Pula”
I was mildly scolded by an older Motswana lady in our office this morning for not going around to greet everyone when I arrived. I had come in, gone straight into my office and turned on my computer and started work. Much as I have done almost every day for the past ten years in DC. But Gaborone is not DC. And Batswana observe protocol. And the common courtesy is to acknowledge everyone in the office each morning when you arrive. She was sweet about it, and the way she said it was cute, like, “oh we didn’t even know you were here today, because you didn’t come greet us when you arrived.” But her point was made. In her own subtle way she was informing me that I had been rude. Point taken, Mma. Tomorrow I will issue a Dumela Mma when I arrive. And she will smile and give me a hearty Dumela Rra in return. Continue reading “It’s the simple things”
My impression is that few people in the US know much about Botswana, and if they are familiar with it at all it is probably because of the #1 Ladies Detective books and TV show. Or Animal Planet shows about the Okavango Delta. Neither of which is a realistic representation of this funky little landlocked nation. The Ladies Detective thing is cutesy and quaint, but it is as realistic a representation of life in Gaborone as the TV show Northern Exposure was of life in Alaska. In other words, not very. Continue reading “What you think you know about Botswana is probably wrong”
Sunrise in Gaborone, Botswana. Waking up with instant coffee. It may be instant, but it’s not coffee. To be fair, even Nestle doesn’t make that claim. They call it Ricoffy, a blend of chicory and instant coffee. A chemical slurry. But at 5am it’s something hot and liquid. Africa is the home of the coffee bean. So why is it so hard to find decent coffee here? Shopping list: buy Rooibos tea. And something besides Ricoffy. Continue reading “Musings of a jetlagged mind”