Tag Archives: Gaborone

Clouds and trees

What I Wish I Had Known (Part 3): Weather

Coming from Washington, I’m really used to one type of weather: rainy. When I lived in Montana, I got to experience a hotter Summer and a much colder Winter, but I was fully prepared for that and I had access and money to make apparel edits when needed. Unfortunately, I was not as prepared for weather here.

When we arrived in Molepolole, Botswana, it was pretty warm for most of the day, but colder at night. That was OK because I was coming from Washington Summer which was rather hot last year, but still not as hot as it gets here. I was also 280 pounds and had clothes that fit me well. I wore a zip-up hoodie almost every day and long pants or skirts. When I arrived in Ralekgetho in mid September for site visit, it was rather cold and windy for the whole two weeks. Ralekgetho is more desert than Molepolole though, so there was less of a wind shield and fewer things to retain heat. When I arrived at site officially in October, it was full Summer. Very hot and dry. We had many rain and lightening storms, but mostly just very hot days. I didn’t have electricity, so I didn’t have a fan. I spent most of my days in as little clothing as possible or in wet clothing. By November, I was also down to 240 pounds. My record high for Ralekgetho was 110°F.

I got evicted from my house in late December and I stayed with my best friend in Otse for 3 weeks. She lives in what we call Narnia. Her house is surrounded by orange and mango trees and grape vines, so she has a lot of shade. Her house was much cooler for those three weeks which were also in the high 90s/low 100s. In the beginning of January, it became apparent I couldn’t stay in Ralekgetho and I was put up in a hotel in Gabs until our In Service Training (IST). So I got to stay in an air conditioned hotel for two weeks before IST and the four weeks of IST. I really lucked out on not having to endure those six weeks of crazy heat.

When I got moved to Kanye in mid February it was already cooling down and I also have electricity, so I was able to immediately invest in a fan. I only used the fan for about a month before I no longer felt like I needed it. I also was down to 220 pounds at that point and my body had far less insulation than previously. It has been a nice couple months of being in the 70s and 80s, but these past two weeks have chilled considerably. Kanye is also a much different terrain than Ralekgetho. We’re in and on many hills here and it gets much colder apparently. The mornings have been in the mid 40s and the afternoons have barely gotten to the low 70s.

I am not handling the cold as well as I thought I would. I’m at around 210 pounds now and still losing, so I have lost 70 pounds of fat insulation and will be losing more. I also didn’t have a fan for most of the summer, so I had to endure the heat a little differently and I think I acclimated a little more. I also no longer have any clothes that fit me well. All my warm clothes are far too big, and I also didn’t bring a lot of clothes because I knew I was going to lose weight. Our houses are also made of cement and have no insulation, so they are often times colder than it is outside. Luckily, Peace Corps provided us with large and warm blankets, so I stay warm at night, but have the worst time getting out of bed in the morning. And this isn’t even fully winter yet. July is supposed to be the worst. My brother will most likely be visiting in July and my plan is to do awesome things with him, but otherwise spend the rest of July in bed or working out since the school takes all of July off.

Clouds and trees
Storm in Ralekgetho, Botswana

New Year, Fresh Start

Well, I probably should have written a post a while ago, but a lot has been happening and it took me a while to wrap my head around everything. I’ve been in Gabs for the past two weeks while I wait for training to start. If you read my last post, you know that I’ve been evicted and was in the process of getting a new home in my village. If you follow my Facebook, you know that I have since found out the house I was to move into has fallen through and now I am in Gaborone waiting to find a new village because they couldn’t find me any other housing in Ralekgetho. Now that the situation isn’t as fresh, I think it makes a funny story, but I’ll save that for when I get home.

So, anyway, I am not only houseless, but also villageless. A lot of people at this point have asked me why I’m staying. Many people have left and a lot of people here have said they would have left if they had to go through what I’ve been handling. It’s actually been kind of challenging staying in the hotel that the people who are ET-ing (Early Terminating) are also staying at. I spent two weeks listening to people tell me why they were going home and that they were surprised I would stay after dealing with the already challenging aspects of my village and then being evicted and having to relocate and people trying to decide if they want to stay or go home. This was especially hard because I was trying to actively listen and help them while they were talking themselves into leaving, staying, and then leaving again, without feeling like leaving myself.

The truth is, I have thought a lot about ET-ing, but in the perspective that it really isn’t something I want to do. It’s just one of those things that you have to consider when you’re in these situations here. When I first got evicted, I was upset and wondering if it was my sign that I wasn’t meant to be here, but that thought went away pretty quickly. There are of course reasons why I feel like I don’t need to be here. In a lot of ways, I feel like Peace Corps doesn’t really need to be in this country. I feel like we have been here long enough and that the country is developed enough that we aren’t really needed. In a lot of ways, I feel like Peace Corps is used in this country as a status symbol and a way for the country to get more funding. Most villages here request Peace Corps volunteers because they want to have an American (and are usually disappointed if they’re black) in their village. Of course this isn’t always the case and just because they don’t need us, doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff for us to do. However, I am also always questioning why I am here and whether I am perpetuating a stereotype that white people are smarter and therefore are the only people who can solve the problems in Africa. And why did I decide that I was qualified to come and help a country with a problem that I haven’t even studied? I don’t have a public health background. What kind of expertise do I have to really help the people of Botswana, that the people of Botswana don’t already have? Why can’t they help themselves? Even with all of these questions and internal struggles I have with myself, I’m not ready to go home.

I came here for more than this idealistic image that I was going to be some sort of savior. I came here to learn about another culture, help under privileged populations, learn about my culture through others eyes, process my own knowledge and opinions of my own culture, learn more about myself, make growth and positive changes for myself that I didn’t think were possible in the toxic environments in America, and broaden my horizons. I wanted to have knowledge and experience beyond my little American bubble so that I could understand more about what people in this world are going through and how they’re culture and views affect that.

In these nearly 6 months, I have learned so much about myself, America, and Botswana. I have grown in ways I wasn’t sure were possible. I’ve accomplished goals that I have been struggling with for years. And I’ve already touched people’s lives around me. I’m not ready to go home, because I’m not ready to stop this journey. I want to see how healthy I can get living in the desert without a car and eating a diet that is nearly all unprocessed foods. I want to see how many more mental health changes I can make to eliminate even more stress, anxiety, and insecurity. I want to challenge myself in ways that aren’t possible in America. I want to read fifteen books a month and not be falling behind on other stuff. I want to learn how to really live on my own, budget for myself, cook for one person without wasting food, and finally get some routine in my life. I want to use this opportunity for everything it’s worth.

My next village may have even fewer amenities than my last or it could have way more. Hey, maybe I’ll have running water and electricity. The village could speak more English than my last village did. It could have more infrastructure than my last village. Ooh, it might have some form of transportation besides hitch hiking in pickups that look like they may just break into a million pieces in the middle of the ride. Maybe my school will have more corporal punishment, or maybe it won’t exist. Maybe there will be more than one hundred students and seven teachers. It might even be a Junior or Senior secondary instead of a primary school. We really have no idea, but it also doesn’t matter. I didn’t come here to work with one specific population on one specific issue. I came here to work in Botswana wherever they needed me. Wherever I am, there will be challenges, but another word for challenge is OPPORTUNITY!! That’s all this is. It’s just an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and make an impact in a different place. So, no, I’m not thinking of going home. Even if I wanted to, I have no money, so I would just be couch surfing until I got a job. Why not stay in a safe, secure, and beautiful place for two years and have a little more money and experience when I come home instead?

Outside Motel


I don’t even know where to start. We’re sitting outside on our last night in Gaborone (Gabs as I will from now on refer to it as). It’s 63 degrees outside and we’re under a beautiful starry night sky. Even the sky is strange with all new stars that I’ve never seen and millions more than I’m used to seeing, and we’re in a well-lit hotel in the middle of the capital city! I can’t even imagine what the sky will look like in my village. It’s been a jam packed few days with lots to do and lots to think about and lots of crazy early mornings!!

Our trip started on Sunday morning as we got up at 4:30am EST to get all of us to the airport. As you all know, we then had our little bus/taxi accident that left us on the side of the road for over an hour. Once we got to the airport we had few hitches, just a little less time. Our fifteen hour flight was exhausting for our butts and minds, but otherwise uneventful. I read half a book, watched two movies, and slept for about three hours. When we arrived in South Africa, there was a long period of going through passport control and a whole other set of security checks, but that was also not as bad as I expected. We were there for a little over 4 hours, but most of that time was used to get through passport control and security, otherwise, I just looked around at the shops, got a neck and back massage, and bought some post-cards. We were then shuttle bussed to the little propeller plane to get us to Gabs and I promptly passed out as soon as we started taking off and woke up as we landed (shortest plane ride that I’ve ever been on). Once we arrived in Gabs, we were bussed to the hotel where we started our training! We got information about what was to come this week, ate an interesting meal (I’m doing really well avoiding gluten, dairy, and eggs so far!), and then turned in super early. Tuesday, we started bright and early with breakfast, then had some logistical stuff (immigration paperwork, receiving our allowances, getting bug nets, and taking head shots), did some Setswana training, and learned how to take bucket baths! And today, we woke up even earlier, had two hours of language before I got pulled out for medical clearance and the end of immigration, the we had information about our training village and what pre-service training (PST) is going to be like, and received our cell phones. It’s been a crazy packed schedule and now I’m getting ready to go to bed before getting up at 5:30 to head to our training village.
Tomorrow we move to Molepolole (Moleps) and meet our host families. This is a big deal. We’re going to be participating in a matching ceremony and have to look really snazzy (which means I have to cover my tattoos, so I’m borrowing some tights). It’s going to be another crazy eventful day. Then we start our typical training schedule of language lessons at 7:30am-9:30am, and then training from 10am-5pm. We even do language lessons on Saturday’s. While in Moleps, I probably won’t have internet more than once a week and I definitely won’t have it until after the first week. We’ll see how it goes. My goal is to post once a week.
The awesome part of this week has actually been getting to know all the amazing people. I have met some awesome people that I already click with extremely well. I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes me, it’s already been eye opening and amazing. I know this hasn’t been the most exciting post, but I wanted to let you all know that I’m here safe and I’m having a great start to my adventure. I love you all!

Peace Corps Volunteers In Gaborone

Welcome To Africa

This post was written by Nick, Joiwyn’s Brother.

While Joiwyn has been traveling to Botswana she has sent me a few pictures that I posted to facebook and/or twitter along with some real-time updates on her progress across the globe. She traveled from Seattle to Newark, NJ on Friday and spent Saturday there. On Sunday morning she took a bus to New York and then a 15 hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. She had some text message and WiFi access there and then took a flight this morning to Gaborone, Botswana. She is now out of reliable contact and has a post written that has more details about her trip that she will send me as soon as she has a better internet connection.

For now here is an update from the Peace Corps Country Desk Officer for Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Botswana:

Hello family and friends of the newest members of the Peace Corps Botswana family,

Below is a picture of the Peace Corps/Botswana 2015 training class upon arrival at the airport in Gaborone, Botswana. All trainees arrived safely after some extensive travel time. By all accounts from Peace Corps staff in Botswana they are doing extremely well, in great spirits, and excited to get started on the next couple of months of training. You should hear directly from your loved one soon, but it will take some time for them to get situated and the days are full of training sessions.

Peace Corps Volunteers In Gaborone
Peace Corps Botswana Safe Arrivals Photo