You can always tell when I have access to WiFi – I take advantage and write as much as I can! Haha
I could write several posts with all of the stories that haven’t made it in the regular posts, but there are a few things that beckon:
The most popular idioms with our crew and my Australian friends too:
🌴“other side” or “next side” (means here, there, or next)
Ex : On the next side we’re going on a game drive (“later” or “when we get there”)
Ex: What’s for you on the other side? (Said at a meal means “Are you having dessert?”)
🌴Aysh – Oy, wow, oh my god, jeez
Ex: That security guard wanted a bribe! Aysh!
While the locals will use their native tongues (there are soooooo many but Afrikaans or Zulu is common in South Africa) when speaking to each other, they speak English very well (with a heavy accent) so, if you’re traveling and need to ask questions, it’s easy to find your way. Pronouncing the town names on road signs is a much more hilarious challenge.
In Botswana, any woman regardless of age is addressed as Ma (linger on the M), a man as Ra (mother and father, respectively). Thank you is DAHN-kee. People also speak softly here and not only do I struggle with their accent at times, I struggle to hear them at all. It’s said that Americans are loud and now I understand why.
It’s fascinating to see how one norm influences other aspects of our lives, often subconsciously. Much like drivers travel on the left side of the road here, pedestrians travel on the left of a walkway, rather than the right like at home. Before I realized this, I tried yielding to a local by standing off to the right side like I would at home. The bewildered oncomer stopped and stared at me, waiting for me to move out of his path, while I politely waited for him to get back on his side of the path. By the time I realized what was happening it was too late to move without making the situation worse and he shook his head and walked around me. Some days I wonder why I’m so tired when we’ve spent most of the day traveling in the overland truck. I think a big contributor is trying to remember and conform to local customs and norms like these in addition to being in a constant state of heightened awareness, not just for the obvious personal safety reasons but with curiosity in observing the way of life of all creatures the thrumming around me.
In reality, it’s not nearly as hot as I thought it would be. Much of the day we’re in hiking pants and only zip off the legs late in the afternoon if at all. A skort would be comfortable after noon but one must strike a balance between being comfortable vs being respectful of conservative local culture and not drawing unwanted attention. Pants it is.
I stood in line at a convenience store yesterday listening curiously to a gregarious Botswana staff woman talking to a male customer about gender role equality, which is the first time I’ve heard a woman openly challenge the traditional roles since I arrived here. I loved her feisty banter and belief that life could hold more for herself and other women. This woman owned her power in a region where this is not encouraged. Shine on, Ma.
Thanks for sharing the journey!
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