A Travellerspoint blog

Great trip! Transition time

6 weeks; Trip activities; green world; Mary and cow; embroidery; monkey attention

Sunday, January 7, 2024; sunny Botswana day, 84 degrees going up to 92; sitting on stoop with a light breeze now; bread baking; cats resting in the yard; neighborhood quiet right now

When you find yourself facing a decision involving a new experience that is unlike any other experience you’ve had before, you can find yourself in a special sort of epistemic situation. In this sort of situation, you know very little about your possible future, in the same way that you are limited when you face a possible future as a vampire. And so, if you want to make the decision by thinking about what your lived experience would be like if you decided to undergo the experience, you have a problem… You find yourself facing a decision where you lack the information you need to make the decision the way you naturally want to make it — by assessing what the different possibilities would be like and choosing between them. The problem is pressing, because many of life’s big personal decisions are like this: they involve the choice to undergo a dramatically new experience that will change your life in important ways, and an essential part of your deliberation concerns what your future life will be like if you decide to undergo the change. But as it turns out, like the choice to become a vampire, many of these big decisions involve choices to have experiences that teach us things we cannot know about from any other source but the experience itself.

The above passage is from an edition of the Marginalian that a fellow volunteer and I reflected on before my trip to SA and now it seems a really good one to read as I enter 2024 and the last 6 weeks of my placement here. As I look back at my 2023 calendar, this time last year I was packed and anticipating my trip to visit Keith for our fabulous time in Kruger and other areas in SA…..a trip I will always remember with great happiness. Then back to the US for about 7 weeks before flying to Botswana to join the Peace Corps…since I flew through Johannesburg, Keith could meet me for a brief visit and a send off…I recall when we deposited my luggage for check in for the Air Botswana flight, he said ‘well, it looks like you’re really going!” I laughed about that as we deposited my suitcase last Thursday for my return from vacation with him in the Johannesburg area (he lives in Randburg) on the Air Botswana flight back to Gaborone. It was interesting to be in the Gaborone airport for my flight to Johannesburg, to see it in the daylight and when I was not totally jet lagged!

My trip was wonderful….just the kind of rest, fun and break I needed to restore me for the final stretch. More about the trip and pictures will follow.

It was a smart decision on my part to have a private car ride to Gaborone and to spend the night in a nice hotel, enjoy a swim while watching the swifts soar and with transport to the airport. Nice to get picked up again on return and have two more nights at the hotel and on return a really good visit/getting to know time with the new PCV I mentioned. She’s a really interesting woman who is working hard to face the challenges at her site. After my 5 hour bus trip Saturday, I arrived back at my house, was greeted by all 6 cats (the kittens are really growing and now hang out on the porch and visit inside my house…had to get one off my bed this morning!). Since there was rain while I was away, Botswana is now green but of course there is still the dirt! My landlady, Mary, came for a visit and told me about getting kicked in the side by a cow on Christmas Day; fortunately the cow did not have horns or the situation would have been worse but she’s still in a lot of pain, needs to return for more medical assessment and rest…hard for her to do, the resting. I’m a bit fatigued today so it’s nice to take time to relax.

The trip! Well it was 15 days of delight at being with Keith at his place; getting to know his sister Trish better; help with food preparations for Christmas; enjoy Christmas Day and Boxing Day time with his family in a green, cool environment. It did rain hard starting Christmas Eve and all day Christmas Day so we couldn’t enjoy the new outdoor structure that Keith spent 4 weeks constructing until Boxing Day. Our time was spent just being together, outings to the Botanical Gardens; a cable car ride to the top of the Magaliesburg Mountains with a view of the Hartbeesport Dam and town; a visit to the Monkey Sanctuary; finding embroidery supplies for me; doing some experimenting with acrylic pour painting; getting me a much needed haircut; having a yummy Vietnamese lunch; watching movies; eating great food that Keith cooked; and just being able to be together. We spent time looking at the itinerary for our trip to Namibia and I made my flight reservation to leave Botswana on February 24!!!!!

Here are some photos: having coffee with Trish and a few holiday photos IMG_6546.jpegIMG_6566.jpegIMG_6573.jpegIMG_6548.jpegIMG_6549.jpeg
I decorated the ham before it was finished off by Keith with the sugar glaze and decorated the Fuzzy Pudding…a recipe from his mum from his early life.

This is the setting I enjoyed each day; tea on the balcony with the birds singing and coming in for food; a lovely yard; Tripod the cat who was my constant loving companion. IMG_6533.jpegIMG_6537.jpegIMG_6532.jpegIMG_6534.jpeg

Here’s two of the paintings we did with acrylic pour…very messy. Mine is the blue one and Keith’s is the one with the white background. It was lots of fun to experiment and we did not make a mess! IMG_6639.jpegIMG_6640.jpeg

The botanical gardens are one of Keith’s favorite places and I think you’ll understand why from the photos. We had a lovely outing and a nice lunch there on a beautiful and pleasant temperature day. The grasshopper is called a Koppie Foam and can excrete a heart toxin when threatened. IMG_6594.jpegIMG_6597.jpegIMG_6598.jpeglarge_IMG_6596.jpegIMG_6633.jpegIMG_6604.jpegIMG_6610.jpegIMG_6632.jpegIMG_6586.jpegIMG_6620.jpegIMG_6635.jpegIMG_6614.jpegIMG_6591.jpegIMG_6637.jpegIMG_6619.jpeg

We did the outings to the cable car and monkey sanctuary on New Year’s Eve…..again a beautiful temperate day with lots of pleasure at being together. The cable car ride is fairly dramatic in the final climb to the top…photos can’t quite capture it and the views are stunning; lunch at the top did not disappoint. It was nice to see the milkweed pods and know that butterflies are being taken care of. IMG_6652.jpegIMG_6655.jpegIMG_6661.jpegIMG_6641.jpegIMG_6662.jpegIMG_6654.jpegIMG_6612.jpegIMG_6663.jpegIMG_6665.jpeg1cc3c19b-d2b9-4608-b91a-69cca6c7c907.jpeg

I enjoyed all of my trip but I must say that the visit to the monkey sanctuary was my favorite outing; all of the monkeys and lemurs are rescue and become quite comfortable with humans and possessions have to be watched as you will see from the warning sign. Bonnie immediately showed up when our tour group entered; began her exploration with Keith; then moved to me; and eventually to all members of our group, grooming us in a very gentle way and searching one person’s pocket! The sanctuary is very large and walking up the swinging bridges to the top of the rocks was lovely. Feeding was fun and because all the animals are quite well taken care of, they are very picky in what to select from the offerings 🤣IMG_6672.jpeg347eb4ed-f28a-4eb0-9c2a-cbbe090cea90.jpegIMG_6676.jpega7d45bdf-f689-424f-833d-b82a1e5e2c3c.jpege3f6ed9c-db1a-4736-b9b9-f739a8a63783.jpeg6630c682-59ae-423e-806c-78e23fdc2010.jpeg770f8855-9957-4a1f-819b-44100ca1ab26.jpegIMG_6677.jpeg

Now for the embroidery: I’ve decided I want to learn embroidery to be able to do some creative projects so Keith helped me shop for basic supplies and I found an embroidery book at a local bookstore. Well I must say that it has been years since I did any embroidery and then it was very basic. Keith found it hilarious that I spent one full day trying to master one stitch while he made it halfway through a new huge painting! Well at least I have something to occupy my time now! No projects to show yet and while I had to do the one stitch over and over, I wasn’t frustrated, found it a relaxing challenge but I hope all of them are not this challenging. I did master several other stitches and thank goodness for YouTube demos! Keith drew some practice designs on my calico cloth so I have lots to occupy me. Maybe a photo in the next blog 😵‍💫

So now to the final six weeks of my formal placement here before I go to the main PC office in Gabarone for closing out. This week I’m lucky to have some phone calls planned and another volunteer and his partner will be in town and we’ll have lunch Thursday. I made a list of all the things I can focus on for the anticipated down time and will immediately begin seeking the information I need for getting from here to Gaborone with my possessions. I’ll follow up on possible work here but overall I want to take care with my attitude, remain positive and focused on the end of the time….in reflecting on the passage at the beginning of the blog: many of these big decisions involve choices to have experiences that teach us things that we cannot know about from any other source except they experience itself….how true I have found this; there is no way I could have known what this time of almost a year would be when I applied last June for the PC. Despite all the ups and downs, the experience has truly taught me things and I am grateful.

I know each of you in your own lives can likely resonate with that passage.

So my friends, as we enter into 2024 in a world with pain and joy, let of continue to learn from our experiences, treat each other with love, care and attention and always look for the bright spots that always exist amidst what can seem like strong darkness.

With hugs and gratitude for your presence in my life.


Posted by cathyadventurer 08:52

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Aaah you ae very clever with your stories and this one is super...yep 6 weeks to finish in Botswana and i know u cant wait...what a lovely time we had

by Keith Chisnall

I am already missing these posts before you’ve even left. I I truly look forward to them every week. I cannot imagine how full your brain must be with all the upcoming changes.

Keith and Johannnesburg looked like a fabulous trip. The pictures really helped paint the picture of a lovely time. I especially loved the feast and your tea spot pictures.

So whatever you do upon your return, I hope the blog continues. The musings are delightful no matter where you are. But sadly, being a continent further away from Keith is going to be hard.

by Cindy

Loved your post! The reflections, the vibrant pictures, the art, ... Your return to the US will be bittersweet. But I can't wait to see you! Cathy, wishing you joy, health, live and new adventures in 2024!

by Kyle

What beautiful photos! And what a wonderful holiday!

May your last six weeks be rich and joyful. Alan

by Alan

Congrats on the six week count down. It has been a while since I have been able to check your post since my traveling tablet does not log me in. I am heartened to find you strong, hopeful and always remaining positive. I'd like to be a fly on the wall at your Gabarone closing and outbriefing. I hope that can take your input to make the process better. Will they let you talk to incoming folks? Are they brave enough.

So glad you had a nice holiday with Keith. And thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures. Eileen

by Eileen

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