(Composed in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.)
On my way back from a tour of east and southern Africa (see next post) I stopped in Botswana for a couple of days to visit W, who is there on a one-year posting, saving mothers and babies. Before I arrived I found Botswana on the map (which I always have to do whenever I find I'm going to a new country). Botswana is big. Imagine my surprise to learn that there are only 1.7m inhabitants. The guide book maintains this is because of the Kalahari desert which makes up most of the country. I know better. It's boredom. It took me two days of driving around Gaborone, expecting to hit the downtown area any minute, before I realized there is no downtown. All of Gaborone looks like a poor suburb in Arizona (without the race profiling). Lots of strip malls, dusty streets, dying trees and shrubs, and sand everywhere, all whipped about by the constant high winds.
Thankfully W, in her vivaciousness, has a large group of fun friends, so we spent time listening to music, scarfing great Indian food, and drinking the thin local beer. So it was worth the trip to add a new country to the list, to see an old friend, and to make new friends. The game drive we took certainly wouldn't be worth the price of the round-trip from JNB ($200): we saw some cows. No kidding.