Monday, June 6, 2011


Gabs, Gabs, Gabs…what to say about Gaborone…

pula means rain and it is also the name of their money

Well it’s the capital of Botswana.  It’s um…um…well, there isn’t much more to say.

Botswana is where I wanted to camp in the desert and have a meerkat sit on my head.  Tickets to that area of Botswana were outrageous, the camp was outrageous but I WANTED to have a meerkat on my head.  When I found out that just the transfer from the airport to the campsite was beyond outrageous  I could no longer justify the outrageousness of what would have only been a long weekend trip. Also, I found a place in South Africa that has a meerkat experience so- crisis averted.

So, having scrapped our trip to the desert in Botswana I started looking into other options. They have an amazing delta area known for their huge elephant populations, but again- outrageous plane tickets and even more outrageous lodges.  If they were going to charge an arm and a leg to sleep on mat under the stars you can imagine what a roof over your head would go for. That’s the thing about Africa- it’s expensive.  Sure, it can be great for a 2 week vacation, but you can’t justify the cost for 2 days.  Or at least I can’t.

Having been to South Africa before and only leaving once to visit Victoria Falls in Zambia, we were anxious to check out neighboring countries.  Gaborone is only a 45 minute flight and not only were the tickets reasonable, but the hotels were too.  Seemed perfect so we booked.

Mmm, hmm…maybe after 2 1/2 years of constant travel you’d think we’d know better than to just book something before actually knowing what there is to do there, but it’s the capital- surely there are things to see!  Right???


Gaborone (pronounced with kinda of that German throaty “H'” sound and then the Spanish “don’t forget the e at the end” thing- Hhhhab-or-ro-nay) is more exciting to say then it is to actually see.  I found a couple (as in 2) tour companies that operated in Gaborone.  Apparently the books from the “First Ladies Detective Agency” or whatever is set there so they offer tours of places found in the novels.

Neither of us has read the novels so we took a cultural/city tour.  I’m not sure what was cultural about it and driving around a very small town being shown the Ministry of Finance building and “oooh there’s the bank”  isn’t exactly what I call a “tour” of any kind.  I call it driving through a small town with an overly excited taxi driver.

Okay, I’m being unfair,  but that tour cost more than our 2 days of hotel! AND please keep in mind that we were running on no sleep.  Our hotel, although very nice, was quite possibly the loudest hotel on earth.  Every sound made was amplified and carried into our room. Seriously, theaters should be modeled after this place.  So after the 706 roosters that seemingly lived under our window woke me up at 3am (HEY!! HEY!!- The sun is coming up in 3 hours!!  COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!! WAKE UP!! 3 HOUR WARNING!!”) a loud guy decided to get up at 5am and yap until it was time for me to wake up anyway.

People- if you know me- you know I need my sleep.

In all fairness, our guide was super nice and the ONLY good part of the “tour” (save the 3 baskets we bought at a local market- love those baskets!) and he really did teach us a ton about Botswana’s history. I found this  interesting and the Wife thought it was a snorefest.  And that was just the parts she understood! It wasn’t until the next day when I was talking about stuff that I realized she hadn’t understood one word from this guide we had at one of the monuments.

Monuments?!?  Well, that’s something right?  Let me be clear that this monument was the only real “monument” in the place.  The three chiefs that went to London to ask Queen Victoria for protection…


I'm just being generous and counting the small statue of their first president and a tree as monuments.  Yeah, a tree.  Granted it was a big tree and David Livingstone may have taught the bible underneath it but THIS should not be one of the high points of your day…

David Livingstone tree

The guide took a break from cutting the grass around the tree with a machete to tell us “This is a very old tree. David Livingstone may have taught the bible and people to read under here.” Ta-da!  The end.

We refused to spend one cent on Sunday with any other “tour”.  We literally had a late breakfast, watched a movie and then hung out on the patio reading until it was time to go to the airport.  Actually, Sunday was nice.  The weather was delightful and our hotel people, although obviously not good at hiring architects worth a damn, were very nice and took care of us all day letting us check out late and bringing us beers and ciders while we read. 

I’ve said before that not every weekend can be amazing and that is more than reasonable.  We’re so incredibly blessed and a few so-so weekends here and there don’t matter.   This one may have been our worst ever, but hey- at least we traveled! At least we ventured out and gave it a shot, even if we came back empty-handed.  How do you know until you go? 

As of now, this weekend is up in the air.  We were going to try for Swaziland again, but our passports are going to be tied up with visa processing for Brazil. 

We’re thinking of doing another game drive since we love them so much.  All I know is we’re traveling.  Somewhere. Maybe for only one night, but we’re in Joburg, people and I’d rather fly back up to Gaborone than spend an entire weekend cooped up in this compound.   

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