Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moving Day

Moving day is tough, wherever you may live.

Three of our friends, Bob, Ester, and Isaac, moved from out in the "country" to a location near our apartment.  We volunteered to help.

I have discovered something over the years.  When you are the "helper" it's just fun.  There's no pressure on you, it's on the person moving.  There is no stress, no worries.  You are free to work, sweat, carry, drag, groan, and enjoy helping.

I think G^d gave us an inborn pleasure in helping others.   We can stifle it, or maybe kill it, but it was there.

In truth, this moving thing was a lot of work, but one of the best things we have done here in Gabs.

To  be able to truly help someone, to render a genuine, undeniable service, is a great pleasure.

Some folks don't want help, or can't graciously accept it.  They don't realize that they are denying pleasure to others.

Sometimes I am one of those people turning down help.  L^rd help me remember this move, and the pleasures of it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ever Eaten at the President's Restaurant?

Ever eaten at the President's restaurant?  Did you even KNOW he had a commercial enterprise?  Neither did I, but here it is:

As you can see, this is truly a full-service restaurant.  I guess you can email them if you want to make a reservation (

If any of you entrepreneurs want a money-making enterprise, I'm guessing that you could get a franchise for this, or better, I'm guessing you could START a franchise.  And why stop with the Prez?  You could have the Pelosi Patio, the Biden Bar, the Gov. Robert Bently car repair shop.

That brings to mind some bad choices in names I have seem myself:

Cheatum's used cars
Amelia Erhart luggage (Gets lost over the Pacific somewhere?)
Sweat's barbeque
One name is above all others.  At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow. (Phil 2:10).

Let's not lose sight of that.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Clever Plumbing Innovation?

Between the time I earned my doctoral degree at UGA and the time I started teaching there, I worked as a plumber's assistant for my good friend Chuck Carson.  Chuck had just started Carson plumbing, and it was a pretty small operation.  We had one pickup truck and tied copper pipe to the outside rear-view mirror, so i had to get in or out of the truck on the driver's side and scoot over.

I was a valuable time, and I think I made $50 per day, but learned a LOT about plumbing.  And that is good knowledge to have.

I guess, in part because of my time as a plumber, I have paid attention to plumbing.  I have taken some very interesting pictures of toilets.  A very ornate one in, of all places, Afghanistan, stands out in my memory.

We had a clogged kitchen sink recently.  When I went to look at it, I discovered the trap, that loop in the drain pipe that holds water to prevent sewer gases from flowing into the sink, was soft rubber.  In the USA these are hard pipes.  The trap is intended to trap only water, but instead it can be a trap for bigger things and often becomes clogged.

I could reach out and squeeze the trap to see if there was any debris there.  I could pinch off the top of the trap and then squeeze the distal part and create pressure to blow anything out of the downstream pipe.  A little later we noticed the drain was running free again.

I am guessing there must be some disadvantages to a soft trap, but so far I haven't figured any.  We have noted several things over here that seem to be excellent, exportable, innovations.  I would think that someone travels the world just looking for such ideas.   Maybe not.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Football is the number one sport in the world.  And, I don't mean THAT kind of football. I mean this kind:

Football is BIGGGG stuff here, and in many places around the world.  In most every neighborhood is a soccer pitch.  The goals seldom have nets, but they are there, and they are utilized.

We were recently visiting a historic site about 30 Km away.  Like many places, there was little signage, well no signage really.  After some time spent searching, we knocked on the door at the Magistrates Court.  A well dressed man sat behind a desk reading Luke 22.  After a short chat he asked if we were Christians.  He asked where we went to church and when we told him, he told a story.  Last year our congregation had come to his town and held an evangelistic soccer tournament.  By all accounts it was a great success.  Good thinking, good ministry.

In Corinthians it talks about taking every thought captive.  I think the gist of that is to take EVERYTHING captive for the gospel.  Here's the passage:
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Corinth 10:5.

Perhaps we should seriously think about taking soccer captive, taking work captive, taking leisure captive for the gospel.  Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Final Exams>> New Approaches

I gave my first final exam at UB today.  It was quite the experience.  I had to turn in my final about a month ago for my colleagues to review it and approve it.  I was chagrined, they made me make some changes.

Today I gave one of those two exams, and that was a bit different too.  Here are some highlights:
  • We met in a wholly different room that was large enough for two empty seats between examinees
  • The final exam was delivered by an administrator who placed them on the desks where she wanted people to sit.
  • The students had to sign a little form giving all their personal particulars.
  • They had 10 min to read the exam before they could start writing.
  • An "invigilator" watched them throughout the exam to ensure no monkey business (in Africa that's a clever pun)
  • They wrote their exams in "blue books" which were really yellow.
  • Time was called exactly at 2 hours.  I wouldn't be so mean.

But, that's the way they do it here.

It's not better worse, necessarily, it is just different.  It's nice to use our judgement appropriately, but sometimes it is better to just suspend judgement for a while.

Monday, June 24, 2013

End of the Term

Whewwwww.  Brenda and I have been celebrating.  The semester is drawing to a close and I taught my last undergrad class of the term on Tues afternoon.  My Tuesday class is the good one, the exercise physiology optional class with only 19 students.  They have been cooperative, interested, engaged.  They have been a joy to teach and I told them so on Wed.

In closing each class I make, more or less, the same comment.  I tell them that no one jumps off a bridge because they don't understand Measurement and Eval, or Exercise Physiology.  I tell them that there are much more important issues in life and I realize that.

I have been surprised in the University to discover that this view is NOT necessarily universal.  I suspect that many of my colleagues do believe that their particular area of study IS the only important thing in the world.  Well, everyone has a different perspective.

I told my students about one of the great questions in life, and all my classes put an emphasis on questions.  One of the great questions is, "What is good?"  The second maybe more important, but must necessarily come second, is "How does one become a good person?"

I told them that these two questions were important to answer, and they should devote some time to searching for the answers.  I recommended Christianity, and suggested they explore these issues.

How about you.  What is good?  How does one become a good person?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Ladies #1 Driving Agency

There are a famous set of fictional books by Alexander McCall Smith, which is set in Gaborone.  The title of the series is "The Ladies #1 Detective Agency".  Brenda has enjoyed reading most of the series, and whilst we we living in Sweden, our good friends, John and Louise, shared one of the BBC movies derived from the books.  A while back I wrote a blog post about the spot where the series protagonist used to drink tea.

One of the ubiquitous businesses here in Gabs are driving schools.  There is one on the only dirt road near UB, and we walk through that way a few times each week.  But almost any vacant ground with enough space to place a few cones and do a 3-point turn is likely to become a driving school.

From conversations, it appears that getting your first driver license here is a daunting task.  One of our friends studied and studied and passed the written part, but he has to wait about a month to get an appointment to take the road test.  The popularity of the driving schools suggests the challenge of the test.  It seems that most of the students are women, and it seems that backing an auto into a narrow space is a major part of the test.

The vehicles that are used in training, and you see these on the road too, have a large L attached to the trunk (or boot).  I guess that is telling us to stay clear.  Likewise for us ex-pats accustomed to driving on the right side who now drive on the left (most of the time), maybe there should be a big D, not for driver, but for "Dummy here, stay clear."

In the Christian walk, we ought to all be wearing a big L for "learner".  We ought to give ourselves and each other a bit of slack.  Don't get too close, and don't be surprised when we do something stupid.

Hmm, not a bad idea.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Visitors!!!! >>>

We FINALLY have some visitors from the USA!!  Hurrah!!

Our youngest son, Andrew, and his friend Kelly came for a visit between my final exams I gave and the Departmental Board meeting wherein we will report our students' final grades.

We picked them up after 54 hours of travel from Phoenix through Chicago to a long layover in Frankfurt, then to Johannesburg for a long layover before coming on to Gabs.  They were a bit "tuckered" to say the least.

We had planned to give them 3 days of rest before embarking on our epic road trip.  So, Sunday they rested, but Monday we got them up at 0600 to drive up the road to the Gabs Game Reserve.

It was a terrific morning.  It was overcast, and again, we were the only park visitors, as far as we knew. We saw all of the usual animals, plus a hartebeest.  We saw ground squirrels for the first time in Gabs.  We only saw a few zebra, but everything else in abundance.   It was a good intro to Africa for them.

Andrew is a professional photographer, so he had a good chance to get some great shots of Vervet monkeys, impala, ostrich, warthogs, hartebeest, etc.

It was kinda neat to be the "guides" who knew where to go, and what we were seeing.  We wore them out by about 0900, so we headed to Wimpy's restaurant for breakfast.  They wanted to go rest a bit, so us elderly folk took them back to the flat.

A good time was had by all, but they were still jet-lagged a bit.  We can't give them any more rest, because their time here is short, only a bit over 2 weeks.

We can easily see that 2 weeks is a short time in Africa, but it is harder for us to recognize that our life on this earth is equally short.  "What is man, but a vapor that exists for a while and then vanishes."   Yet we spend all this time, energy and attention focusing on this life, short as it is.

Andrew and Kelly spent some time planning their trip, but they sure didn't devote all their time and energy to it.  Hmm, maybe there is a lesson in this for us?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

We have become very accustomed to consistency in the USA commerce area.  We didn't realize how much we took that for granted until we moved here.

We have come to realize that if you see something in a store that you want, you'd better buy it right then, for it may not be there next time.  For example, sour cream can be hard to come by here, at least sometimes.  We purposefully visited a Spar Superstore to find sour cream, and I recalled (surprisingly given my age) exactly where we had found it before. wasn't there.  Trying to ask someone where it is, is a fruitless, but sometimes entertaining, adventure.

A few days later we were shopping at our usual grocer, Pic-N-Pay, and there it was, where we had never seen it, sour cream!  Our next visit, we looked, and there it was again.  We like to eat canned salmon, but sometimes it is on the shelf and sometimes not.  I bought a bag of "Fizzers" a South African chewy candy, and then didn't see it in the store for about 5-6 weeks when it suddenly reappeared in s slightly different form.

Consistency is nice, it is comforting, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said it, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds".  Being shaken out of our own consistency is one of the virtues of coming to a foreign country.

I suppose I am too consistent in my sins, and too inconsistent in following after the Christ.   How about you?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

No hoarding allowed

In a previous post I talked about unusual terms, to us.  I was recently a bit surprised to see an email with a subject line about "Hoarding the FTE".

As I have explained previously, I have a problem with being greedy, so to have an email about hoarding alarmed me.

The administrative approach is emails here is a tiny bit annoying.  Almost every email has the same text:  "See attached."  I can understand not wanting to compose a long, complex explanation in an email.  But often the attached is one or two lines.  But every reader must download the attached, and then click on it to open.  I wonder how many person-hours are lost.  But I digress.

So, now we learn another new term.  "Hoarding" refers to the visual barrier that surrounds a construction site.  Who knew?

Just recently they took the hoarding off the new engineering complex.  I was amazed at how much difference the hoarding had made.  Suddenly we have a major new section of campus available.  It gives me an alternative route to and from work, now that I don't have to walk all the way around that hoarding.

I think much of this present world is obscured by that hoarding tin.  One day it will be gone and we will see G^d's heaven and the earth as it really is.

That will be a truly glorious day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Walk to Remember

No, I am not talking about the movie that pre-stole my blog post title.  I am talking about the annual UB walk for health.  This years theme was, "I don't want to be a walking billboard for the Tobacco Industry."

I got the email the day before advising that the walk would start at 0600 at the Admin Building.  Sure enough, when I arrived, there were people there.  I was a bit surprised, given the early hour and the penchant for tardiness.  I was asked if I were walking, and told to sign in and get a t-shrt.  Wow, that's a nice surprise.

On the dot of 6:40 we began to follow the Police Car along with the Police Marching Band.  Connected with the walk was a Health Fair at Main Mall, downtown.  So when we headed out I thought that might be our destination.

Nope we turned left and walked along the West boundary of UB.  Oh, I guess we'll walk down and turn in the South UB gate.  Sort of a token walk.

When we got to the intersection, instead of turning left, we kept straight south. Oh, Adding another block to make it a real walk I thought.  Instead of turning left, we kept going.  Oh, Oh, Adding second block to make it a real walk I thought. another block later, and oh, adding a third block to make it a real walk I thought.

After about 7 blocks I noticed that the Minister of Health had dropped out of the walk and was waiting for his car to pick him up.  He was maybe a year or two younger than me, and a bit overweight.

At about 10 blocks I finally asked someone where we were headed.  "Down to the Old Lobatse Road and then we'll make a right to walk back to the Parliament, and then to Main Mall."   Hmm, that's a bit more than I bargained for, but I'm in better shape than most of the walkers, so no worries.

We walked for two solid hours at a reasonably good pace, all 80+ of us.  I figure we covered between 6 and 8 miles.

Oh, adding another block would have made it a real walk I thought.

I hung around for the post-walk stretching.  Then I hung around for the program, including one of the longest prayers I have ever heard, and it was in Tswana.  My next-door neighbor, Dean of the Medical School, was the next speaker, so I listened to his "introductory remarks."

The day was slipping by. I had already missed my weight workout.  The quickest way back was to run...
Fortunately we had walked in a big circle and I was only a couple miles from our apartment.

Sometimes in life, a stroll becomes a hike, which becomes a journey, which becomes survival.  It didn't get that extreme in this case, but the walk was a lot longer than I envisioned it.

Such is life.  What looks like a stroll can turn into survival.  In times like these we need to remember:
  • G^d is Sovereign.
  • G^d loves us enough that while we were yet sinners, The Christ died for us.
  • This life is short, and whatever happens good or bad, will soon be o'er.
  • James 1 tells us that we ought to "Count it all joy when you encounter various trials".
  • We need to be engaged in sincere fellowship, so that when a stroll turns ugly, we can be comforted and encouraged.

Sounds too simple?  Sounds trite?  Sounds like cliches?

Well maybe, but the principles are still true.  Now go give somebody a hug.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love Those Khardashians

It may schock some of you to know, but I know all the Khardashians.  There's Kim, Courtney, and Chloe.  They have a mom, whose name escapes me, and a step-dad Bruce Jenner of Wheaties fame.

Pretty impressive huh?  You must be wondering how I know all this.  Well, Brenda and I watch the Khardashians almost every day.  Wow!.

We get the following channels on our satellite dish:
  • The E channel
  • Channel 127 which is... I can't remember
  • The Travel Channel
  • National Geographic Wild
  • and BBC World News
  • and TBN

Maybe we get one or two more, but we are not too tuned in (pun alert).  Most of you could guess our favorite,  yes, clearly NationalGeo Wild.  But, to be honest, we get those channels, but we don't get that many shows.  For whatever reason DSHTV only has about 4-5 programs on NatGeo Wild, and plays them over, and over, and get the point.

More surprisingly, BBC World News has about a 20-min show that repeats over and over and over.  Fortunately they change their show daily and occasionally intersperse the news with other newsy shows!

So, sadly, and reluctantly, the Khardashians get WAY more play time than I would have ever bet on.  Fortunately I am on the laptop most of the time, so I don't really have to focus on the show.  Fortunately.

I fear G^d looks down at me and says to the angels,  "Why does he waste so much of this time, that is his most precious resource?  The Khardashians?"

And that my friends, is a good question.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mangoes, Delicious Mangoes

It is with great sadness that I note the end of Mango season here in Botswana.  When we first moved here I was impressed with the low cost of Mangoes, at least compared to those in the USA.

I am not sure how many I have eaten, but I do know that I have only one left.  It will be sad to see it go.  Mangoes are easy to eat, sweet, fibrous, tasty, in short the perfect fruit.

I already mentioned the wonderful and economical bananas here.  I also mentioned the naartjies, and they are both cheap and tasty.  Apples here, are not in the varigands we get in the USA, but they are pretty tasty too.

I see papayas, and guavas here.   I bought and consumed a quince a couple of weeks back. It was my first, and I really liked it.  Not sure why don't get those in the USA.

They have some fruit here I have never seen marketed elsewhere, including that quince.  I remember seeing small quince, or "quince apples" as a kid, but not like these.  They are as big as a very large apple, and look similar.  They aren't sweet and juicy, at least not the one I ate, but I liked the texture and taste.

I haven't tried all the fruit, but I will make an effort to taste it all.

I like fruit juices, dried fruit, fruit pies, fruit rollups.  Fruit is appealing, healthy, and easy to carry around.  An apple a day... or maybe a banana.

There was just this one fruit, back in the garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve had all this fruit to taste, to dry, to make into fruit rollups.  Yet this one forbidden fruit ruined everything.  I try not to be too hard on them, in a couple more chapters we get Cain slaying Able, and not long after the Tower of Babel.

But I am like Adam and Eve, despite the many, many good things G^d has provided me, I still want more or different.  And, I am not alone in this.

All we like sheep have gone astray.

If you don't believe in the fallen nature of man, you aren't paying attention.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The fruit of our labors, and the fig tree

I love fruit.  Brenda and I both eat a banana almost every day.  Bananas here, fortunately are pretty cheap, not a cheap as Costa Rica, but cheap.  They are not the cheapest fruit around though.

For weeks i have been eying the lemon trees right outside one of my classrooms.  The trees are loaded with fruit, that has been green, up until recently.
 We recently helped some friends move their household.  As we were working, we noticed the lovely fruited trees at the rear of the home.  Our friend Bob, plucked one which we shared.  It was delicious.

Because they were moving, we asked about having some fruit.  "Sure, help yourself!" they said.
And we did.  I just wish we had gotten a little more.    We got a hand full of tangerines (called naartjies) and several lemons.  I have been fighting greed, so I cut us short, just a bit too short.  That was some good fruit.
Oh well, I still have those trees outside the classroom.  I have already constructed a little tool to reach the fruit far up in the trees, since the fruit in reach was picked already, even though green.

G^d is good, who give us fruit.  G^d is Great who gives us spiritual fruit.  We are to produce fruit.  Remember that fig tree Jesus cursed?  Why, because it had no fruit...even though it was NOT the time for fruit.  The visual illustration for us cost that tree its life.

Let's learn the lesson of the fig tree.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Knowledge vs Wisdom

One of my Ph.D. students sent me this quote:
"Knowledge is what you know, wisdom is the capacity to judge . Wisdom is knowing what to know, how much and what to do with it. Knowledge is obtained, wisdom is developed."
No doubt, “The Fear of the L^rd is the beginning of wisdom.”
Another friend sent me a short essay by James Stone who suggested that the very act of thinking could trick us into believing in ourselves rather than believing in G^d.  I see that a lot.  Physicians, attorneys, and professors often think we are “too smart” to believe in G^d.

Steve Baker, Cru staff with Global Aid Network, told of his college days, shortly after his older brother became  a Christian. His older brother asked him a good question, "Of all there is to know, what % do you think you know?"

The follow-up question was equally good.  "Most of what's going on within 50 yards of you, you don't understand."  When we think of photosynthesis, of microbes, of viri and bacteria, of other things, without even thinking of everything going on in our own body, we don't really know or understand much.

Somehow though we make an exception for G^d.  When G^d fails to fit into our preconceived mold, when we can't understand G^d's omnipresence, or G^d's Sovereignty, when we think, "I wouldn't do it that way, if I were G^d", we fail to recognize our ignorance and limitations.

And, like I said, we profs, docs, lawyers, are the worst!

The sad thing is that our education keeps us from true wisdom.

I Corinth 8:1 tells us, "Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies."

Hmm, that looks right to me.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Speaking Engrish

Winston Churchill once observed, “England and the USA.  Two great countries separated by a common language.”  The same might be said for Botswana.

I seldom telephone anyone here, because when I do I cannot understand them, and they cannot comprehend me.  I asked in the grocery recently for a “frozen pie crust” and was courteously led to the zip-lock bags.  

I am quickly getting faster at texting.

My first two weeks of lecturing, my students complained that they could scarcely understand me.  At least that is what I thought they said.  I was teaching about errors.  Here the words for “yes sir” are “er rrah”.  That led to some laughs.

It can be a bit frustrating to always have to say, "Say again", "What?", "Could you repeat that?"   And I am guessing it is not any less frustrating for the other person either.

Communication is always tricky.  I have become convinced that good, clear, straightforward communication is a KEY factor in good leadership.  I have also become convinced that good, clear, straightforward communication is very difficult.

Here, it can be so tough that I indicate understanding even when I don't, just to be merciful to the other person.  I hope I can break that habit.  It may be courteous, but it causes problems.

Part of my communication problem is that I don't hear well.  And, hearing is key to communication too.

But, hearing requires listening, and listening can be hard work.  

Hearing from G^d requires listening too.  And listening can be hard work.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


On Monday evening, Brenda and I will have both passed the 3-month mark.  One experienced young traveler suggests that 3 months marks the plateau for adjusting to a culture.  I don't know if this is true.  It must depend on how BIG the cultural adjustment is, I guess.

I think we might have adjusted a bit more easily in Sverige, but maybe that's retrospect talking instead of prospect.  There is no doubt that we have come a long way since those first days when everything was so different.  I think our age works against us too.  We have such a long history, our experience is so ingrained at this point, that change comes at a higher cost.  Some of our youthful observations of the particularities of old folks, now apply to us.  One of the big changes here is that people are quite willing to identify us as "elderly", vocally and enthusiastically.

I have been a bit surprised at what has been toughest to which to adapt.  Three of these pertain to driving, and keeping left, surprisingly is not on the list:

  • The turn signal is on the right, not left of the column.
  • The rear view mirror is to your left, not your right.
  • The driver enters the auto on the auto's right.

The food has not been a hard adjustment.  They have an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit, cheap chicken and beef, and many well-stocked groceries.  The traffic and driving is a bit unusual, chiefly because of the combis I guess, but not nearly as bad as it might be.

In consideration of everything, I guess we really ought to be surprised that the acculturation has not been nearly so difficult as I originally suspected.  And that is true of body as well as mind.

Human adaptability is impressive to me.  As a physiologist, I get to notice the great complexity and great adaptability of the body and mind.  Humans can do some very impressive physical feats, and mental feats.   As a human, and an old one, I get to also note the great human frailties and short comings.  Left to our own devices, I am fairly certain that we whould have wiped ourselves out at least by the mid-20th century.

So, why haven't we done it?   The answer is amazingly simple.

G^d's grace, in this instance usually called, G^d's common grace.  If you haven't heard of it, check it out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One Truly Talented Bird


Recently I wrote about my own “bird-envy”.  This short blog is another tribute to birds, but of a different sort.
As a youngster, only once in my remembrance did I find a Baltimore Oriole nest.  These nests are distinctive.  The Oriole makes a woven sack-like nest, that I found amazing.

Well, here, the Oriole would scarcely be noticed.  Take a look at a common sight here in Botswana.

This amazing nest is fabricated by this small finch-like bird, one of the many weaver birds in southern Africa.

How do they do this?  There is no school for nest weaving.  There are not even classes in this.  If I were to try to do it, I would fail miserably, despite many years of formal education.  These things can’t be taught I think.

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"  (Matt 6:26).

But maybe this one is even more apt:

Job 35: 10 "But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
11who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Africa Light

Some of our Local-born friends tell us that what we experience here in Botswana is “Africa Light”.  This, they tell us, is a mere shadow of “real” Africa.  I try to imagine what they might mean.

We experience weekly power outages.  Though these are planned, they aren’t promulgated, as best as we can tell.  Much less frequently we lose water too.  A few weeks ago we were advised by the US Embassy to boil all our drinking water.  We didn’t think that would work, so we are drinking local water without ill effects (so far).  None of this is particularly noteworthy to locals.

I’ve written about the potholes previously.  Two of my students, in one class of 184, missed the exam due to deaths in the family.  One lost his sister when she was beat to death by her boyfriend.
Cows roam the streets here in the capitol city.  Robberies and muggings are common.  In the last three months we have chatted with people robbed and mugged during that period.   This explains why many stores have formidable chains locking their doors.

We have seen cows, horses, goats, donkeys in the road, along with baboons and elephants.  Monkeys more than dogs are likely to get into your garbage.  Lizards abound, big ones too.  We have seen many wild animals up close and personal.  Little independent vendors line the streets selling candy by the piece, along with roasted corn, watermelons, mangoes, bananas, and some sort of cooked food.

Most people here travel by combi.  Combis are 15-passenger vans, typically full.

Everyone here knows there way around.  Intriguing because there are very few street signs, and no one uses street names.  Landmarks are referenced, but these may not have signs identifying them.

You can’t carry a bag into a store.  On exiting, your receipt is checked against your bag contents.  Sunscreen and other things of high value in a supermarket are sold behind a special counter in the front.  Stores close pretty early but our standards.

Bathrooms are almost 100% lacking in paper towels.  Many also lack a more essential paper item.

Each morning at 0545 someone blows an automobile horn in our parking lot to signal the arrival of the “private school combi”.

You can get your hair cut, your auto repaired, or play a game of pool in a tent beside the road.  You can buy cow heads at the local grocery along with wildebeest and chicken feet.   You can get malaria pills without a prescription here, but I am not clear on what does require a script.

But know too that we live less than a kilometer from a nice art center,  and just a bit further from a free Botanical Garden.  There is a very cheap Game Park just about 5 KM from our apartment.  We get to hear Praise and Worship music sung in Tswana.  Lots of different hair styles exist in more braid patterns than I could ever have imagined.  Flowers abound.  Most everyone will give you a smile and a “dumela” in exchange for one from you.  The stars are especially beautiful, as is the sky and the frequent rainbows.

And where else can you experience a robbery by two monkeys?

Africa Light, indeed.