Friday, July 29, 2011

August 10:   Movers clear out our apartment.  Crack of dawn, August 11, we fly to St. Louis, starting our odyssey to spend time with family and friends which will take us by plane to Burlington, Vermont then renting a car to drive down the east coast, ending in New Orleans.

       September 10:  We fly to Philadelphia for Peace Corps staging, which means meeting other volunteers in our group (affectionately named BOTS 11) and doing logistics, such as receiving our passports, etc.   
       September 15 (give or take a day or two): We are off to Botswana.  We trust the Peace Corps has our flight details as we do not!  There is a non-stop flight from  New York to Johannesburg that takes 19 hours - we’re told it’s the longest non-stop commercial flight in the world.  Swell.  Carol at least has a strong preference for a stop in Europe before heading way south!  From Johannesburg, it’s a  five hour drive to Gabarone, the capital of Botswana.
      We are training in the town of Kanye, which is 45 minutes by car or minibus from Gabarone.  (It's about the center of the map, marked by an "+")  Our friend from Oklahoma says that Kanye looks on the internet like the western part of that state,  e.g. hot, dusty and dry with scrub bushes aplenty.   It may be "all set about with fever trees" to quote  Rudyard Kipling.  For now we are enjoying the last days  of our sub-standard Portland  summer temperatures!   Stay tuned...                                              

Saturday, July 16, 2011

People often ask us, "What language do people speak in Botswana?"  The easy answer is -- English.  It is the language of government and business, and the common language, since there are (according to one website) some 29 different languages.  Schools begin English in the fifth grade.

The Peace Corps will be teaching us Setswana, which is spoken by about 3 million people.  More people speak it as a first language in South Africa than in Botswana.  In Botswana, about half the people speak it as their first language.  In fact, Setswana means the language of the Tswana, Botswana means the country of the Tswana, and Batswana means the people of Tswana.

Peace Corps language training is very good (my experience from the sixties) but it is going to be a huge challenge for us, nevertheless.  The Peace Corps already sent us some MP3's with language lessons, and we've learned a few things.  There is almost nothing in common between English and Setswana.  We will give it our most valiant effort.  It may come in very handy...