We finally got to go to Gaborone and actually SEE the city, as opposed to our first four days in country where we stayed in Gaborone but couldn’t leave our compound. We got a bus tour, and finally got a feel for what the capital city looks like.
To start, calling it a “city” is probably giving the wrong idea of Gaborone. It IS a city, but it isn’t a city in the way that Americans imagine one like New York or Chicago. Gaborone is fairly westernized in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t have the same high-rise buildings and overwhelming size that a lot of American cities do, which makes it feel much easier to get around in.
We drove by the bus rank, which is a giant lot filled to the brim with buses going all over the country (there is even one that goes from Gaborone to Johannesburg in South Africa) along with people in tents selling food, airtime (data for a phone), and little trinkets and candy to take with you on the bus. Most bus ranks have small tuck shops like that, so you never have to worry about getting hungry while on the bus.
One of our main stops was at the Three Dikgosi monument, which is a set of statues of Botswana’s chiefs who met with Queen Victoria to request to be a protectorate. The country recently celebrated their 50th independence day, and all over the capital there are “Botswana 50” signs. We had the chance to take pictures with the monument, and found that there were also some people taking pictures of us! A man had his friend take a picture of him in front of all the lekgoa’s (ley-ko-ha, means “foreigner”) and then ran away so we wouldn’t notice (we noticed).
Part of our driving tour was to go around the governmental hub of the city. We were all calling it “Rodeo Drive,” because it had palm trees, nice white fences, and big buildings housing ambassadors and government workers from all over the country and world. It was a very nice area. We drove past the American embassy as well as the United Nations building in Botswana, which was super exciting for me.
We also were allowed to drive past the president’s house as well as through the parliamentary houses. It was for “authorized vehicles only,” which is then how we realized that this entire month we’ve been carted around in official, government vehicles which is incredibly cool.
The main stops we made though, were at two malls in the capital—Airport Junction and Riverwalk (there was no river there, just a riverbed 😦 it’s dry season right now). Both malls were what you would expect out of an American mall—lots of food, homeware, and super cute clothes I can’t afford. The highlights of both those malls were the food. Our language teacher Akanyang got us chicken wings from Chicken Licken, one of the two main fried chicken places in Botswana. They were 100% the best chicken wings I’ve ever had in my life.
At Riverwalk, we stopped for an actual lunch, where we went to a restaurant that let us sit in the VIP section, a roped off area with couches and tables for us to eat at. We all got burgers, which was an incredible choice. I got a peri-peri burger (peri-peri is a South African spice that most people know because it was brought to Portugal and is used in the restaurant Nando’s, a favorite of mine from London) and fries which was absolutely wonderful and definitely hit the spot of me that was craving American foods.
After that we headed back to Molepolole where some of us went to Lemepe Lodge to play cards and visit. It’s still winter in Botswana, and it’s cold here! The mornings and nights are around 34 degrees, and the days are around 70. Although I’m not enjoying bucket bathing and walking to school in the cold, I know I’ll be wishing for this once summer comes and it’s 100.