Sunday, December 26, 2010


You really don't need to see this, but just to offer by way of explanation for my lack of blogging over the past two weeks--in addition to traveling, not having internet, and being generally exhausted from traveling and not having internet, I got one of the worst sunburns of my life while canoeing on the Wild Coast of South Africa. My legs went from bright red to purple, and after a day of driving and a day of flying, my ankles had swollen up from a combination of travel stagnancy/sunburn inflammation/

Yeah, like I said. You really don't need to see this. Sometimes I think I post this stuff just to prevent A from ever having a chance at a political career. ("My opponent's wife posted obscene photographs of her swollen ankles on a public blog--not to mention her views on Israel...")

I really should post photos of our trip to Kaudwane, a remote village of forcefully relocated San people (they are the "Bushmen" who live as hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari Desert), our day in Sani Pass and Lesotho and then our trip to Bulungula on the Wild Coast. I have so many things to complain about and also photographs of mountains! But the internet is too slow at this cafe to post photos and who wants to READ? At least my ankles are back to normal. I willl post photos and descriptions when we get back from Namibia.

Speaking of which, it's time to get packed for our trip to Namibia tomorrow--we're driving to Windhoek at 6am.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Corrections I've wanted to make over the last week but didn't bother.

1) That is not cream cheese beside my bagel. It is cottage cheese.

1a) Also, that is not a bagel.

2) There is no "f" or "l" in my name.

3) Telling someone to go to a landmark and then call the car-inspection place for directions does not qualify as giving directions to the car-inspection place.

4) Even if the internet is working at your office, landlord, it can still be broken at my apartment.

5) Children do not need pamphlets about unemployment on their bookshelves.

6) If the oven takes two hours to bake cupcakes, it is broken. You do not need to come by with an oven thermometer to check it.

7) I am obviously pretending I plan to order more food when I clearly intend to sit here for hours using your internet and electricity and only order coffee. So please stop coming over every 30 seconds to check on me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Awesome multicultural peace-making ethnic diversity Hanukah party from the future

(Our Hanukah display (clockwise from bottom left): sour cream, latkes, plates, applesauce, chocolate coin, cell phone, matches, Hanukah candles, tissues, giraffe bowl, red wine, hanukiah, dreidel, Shabbat candles.)

For the Hanukah party on Friday, S and I made latkes and sufganiyot from scratch--both were delicious, which was lucky because we didn't really know what we were doing.

(A recipe from Martha Stewart, who is of course known for her Jewish recipes.)

Most of the people at our Hanukah party had never been to a Hanukah party before. So I taught them a tiny bit about Hanukah and what we were doing and eating. When I do this, I feel myself falling a bit too easily into Jewish educator mode and it freaks me out a little.

(The first half of the night was an game of elimination to see who could stay upright with the entire apartment placed at an angle.)

I explained that Hanukah is a holiday about the Maccabees and eating things fried in oil.

(I considered setting the giraffe tapestry on fire, but then I remembered that's what you do on Passover.)

We lit the candles for the third night.

Then we lit Shabbat candles. I screwed up the melody and somehow ended up singing Kiddush. Hijinks!

(The three people who understood I was singing the wrong blessing got a real crack out of it.)

Then I spent most of the night trying to make sure our party didn't end up dividing itself along racial lines, which it inevitably did. A little. Oh well. Turns out Batswana people don't have parties where they sit around and talk. One of my Motswana friends complained that her throat hurt from talking so much and she had never talked this much before in her entire life. At Batswana parties, they just dance. (Actually, this is true. A and his coworkers had an end-of-the-year party for their research team and it also ended with everyone dancing.)

All the same, people stayed for hours and seemed to have a good time. It got pretty wild.

Not really. But it was fun.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hanukah in Botswanukah

*I hate to think of the pun fines associated with a title like that.

Oddly enough, Hanukah is the first holiday where it's really feels like Hanukah! Yom Kippur felt like kind of a joke. Thanksgiving was weird. But Hanukah feels just right.

Maybe because Hanukah is never that big of a deal, and usually involves lighting candles, a couple presents, and one night of making latkes for friends. Check, check, and check.

I made us a hannukiah out of an egg carton and foil, and we brought Hanukah candles with us from the U.S. I also found gold coins in the grocery store--sure they have Santa printed on them, but beggars can't be choosers. We also brought dreidels. We're pretty much adorable.

Except for the fact that we have to make applesauce for latkes from scratch, Hanukah is just like Hanukah this year.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tastes like chicken, presumably

Today, on my way into the orphanage, I passed the National Botanical Gardens. In Gabs, finding something (anything!) new to do passes for big excitement. So on my way out of the orphanage, now with fellow volunteers S and C in tow, the three of us decided to make a pit stop and check the place out.

We filled out the guest register. We were the first guests to sign it in several days. The place was pretty much empty. We walked around one trail--not much to see. It was kind of like they'd fenced off a random bit of Gabs and called it a garden. I tried to put a positive spin on it: Look, a bench! Under a tree! But it was pretty boring. Then we climbed up over a hill, and we ran into some people.

(Side note: I've killed four mosquitoes since I started writing this--impressive, eh?)

Come this way, they encouraged us. We followed them to a little hut in a corner of the garden. As we entered the hut, the stench was monstrous. Five or six people were crowded around a table where a dead crocodile was being skinned, gutted, and taken apart. Flies were everywhere.

(Just like our croc, except for bigger and less cut-open.)

The crocodile was upside-down on its back. Its jaws were closed but dark red blood was dripping from the tip of its snout. Actually, there was blood all over the ground. The mood was jovial as everyone stood around laughing and joking.

Apparently, one of the people who works there had shot the croc in the Gaborone Dam three or four weeks earlier, then stuck it in a refrigerator until the day before, when they'd started to saw it into pieces. The skin would be stuffed and made into an exhibit. The meat would probably be eaten but they weren't admitting to it.

There were also large eggs, about 10 of them that they'd found inside the croc's belly. Those would be made into the exhibit as well.

Eventually, we said our goodbyes and headed back out into the garden.


It struck me as we were leaving that the randomness of this encounter reminded me of New York. One of the reasons I like living in New York is that you can't help but stumble upon strange things and into interesting situations. Not so much Gaborone--except for the occasional crocodile carcass.