Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I don't have a computer anymore.

One of the big themes of this year is that Botswana is not America, even though it looks and tastes like America. Even though the Indian food here is better than anywhere in Manhattan. The electricity goes out a lot, and with it (and sometimes without it), the internet.

Now my computer broke and I can't get it fixed. I took it to a computer-fixing place and they held onto it for a week and then were sheepishly like, yeah we dunno.

When you're trying to experience the world, it's OK if the internet goes out. Hey, it's even okay if I don't have a computer for a week or two. I actually sort of enjoy reading and baking and going to the orphanage, none of which require a computer except for baking and sometimes reading.

But when you're trying to work for people in the U.S., not having a computer or internet or electricity can be a real handicap. You end up being a bit unreliable, a bit of a disappointer. It's hard to just embrace the experience when you are frustrated that your real life self doesn't look good. You can't enjoy, for example, being stranded for five days in the Namibian desert (I still haven't written about that??!)

Again, I wonder if it would be a very different disappointment if we lived somewhere where our expectations were a lot lower. Like a village in Mali.


The traffic here is also killing us. It took an hour this morning to drive A to work (we've finally hooked up an iPod to our tape player so we can listen to This American Life). It should take 10 minutes. Once I drop him off, I drive another 20 minutes to the orphanage. That's an hour and a half in traffic before my day even starts. Is it any wonder that I don't have patience left to help 30 five-year-olds learn to cut?

Also, where'd all these people get all these cars?


I forgot to take my travel mug home over the weekend and on Monday it stank of rotten milk. Cannot get the effing smell out. Damn it all to hell.


The orphanage preschool continues to be, for lack of a better word, a shitshow. There's this overwhelming contrast between the fact that these kids are laughing and having fun and clean and well-fed and the fact that the classrooms are absurdly understaffed, there's no nurse, there's a million safety violations, and sometimes a teacher will beat a kid with a ruler. Undoubtedly it's a sign of my skewed perspective that I totally understand the hitting. 60 kids and ONE teacher? As long as it's not too hard.

However, in calmer moments, kindergarten is a lovely place. We cut and paste. We color. We sing. We read aloud. We learn to write our names. If my comedy career doesn't work out, and my back-up academic career doesn't work out, and my back-up food blogger/cafe owner career doesn't work out, and nobody ever publishes my books, and I can't think of a good enough reason to become a lawyer, then I think I'd love to be a kindergarten teacher.

Actually, I think as long as I'm not doing anything tremendously interesting, I might as well become a dentist because then I'd make a lot of money.


We're experiencing a record rainy season. Towns are flooding. A's office's roof fell in. The other day, my roommate S and I walked past a bus shelter full of goats hiding from the rain. Half of them were perched up on the bench. It was cute.

Rain means bugs. The government has issued some new malaria warnings, including for towns not far from here. As a result, Penn has told students here to start taking prophylaxis even in Gabs. I started taking pills yesterday, so hopefully they're giving me some protection against the millions of mosquitoes currently biting me.

Just kidding, the risk is very low, Mom.


  1. My dad is a dentist. Glad to hear you're on the pill.

  2. Malaria, shmalaria. I'm already worrying about that private plane you are going to fly on to view wildlife during the trip with Adam's parents.

  3. Although if you get malaria, do you get to meet George Clooney, who also has malaria? Like at a Malaria Club? Because then it would be totally worth it.

  4. Gabe--I respect dentists a lot. That's why I think it would be a good job.

    Julie--Yeah, but it will be cool.

    Rebecca--Yes, but the closest Malaria Club is in Tanzania, so I'm not sure we'll make it.

  5. Also, can you please watch the language? I am recommending this blog to my middle aged friends, who are mostly clergy.