So it's 3 pm Botswana time, and I am currently at a cafe, watching the Slovakia-Paraguay match and enjoying a nice sweet glass of lemonade. It's my 6th day in Gaborone, Botswana and let me tell you... this place is something else.
Let me start by telling you all my journey to get here. It took me about 2 days to get here, with stops in London and Johannesburg, South Africa. Mind you, this was my first time on a plane in about 10 years, so I had completely forgotten what flying is like. I was a little nervous at first, but once we broke through the clouds, I was blown away. The clouds looked like the fluffiest, most comfy thing ever, and I just wanted to lie down in them. I was also lucky in that I got window seats on each of my flights, so I spent a lot of time looking at the view. In London, I had an 11-hour stopover, so I decided to go out and explore the city. My oh my, was it fantastic! Even though I was tired, I went out and saw Big Ben, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square (my favourite), Oxford Street and another famous shopping street I can't remember, and Buckingham Palace. I think I went on a special day or something, because there were about 5 processions while I was in the area, which was really cool to see. Also, it's astonishing how much Londoners j-walk, even in front of cops (and there literally seemed to be 1 cop for every 5 people). I definitely plan on going back.
Going to South Africa was quite interesting. There were many people traveling from Heathrow to watch a game, and it was really cool to see people from all over the world gathering together for a special occasion like that. An 11-hour flight later, we arrived. One thing about Johannesburg: it is freaking cold! When I was there at 8 in the morning, it was 3 degrees. But nothing could take away from the feeling of walking into the place where the biggest tournament in the world is going on. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people, walking through the World Cup-themed airport, and it was quite exciting to see. Alas, I had to continue on to Gabs. By far, my favourite flight was Johannesburg-Gaborone, which took about an hour. We flew in one of those propeller planes, and it was a sunny, cloudless day-- which meant that I could see the whole South African landscape on the way to Gaborone. I will never forget it.
Finally, I arrived in Gabs, my home for the next 12 months. After the easiest airport exit ever (it literally took 10 minutes, luggage, Customs and all-- there were about 30 people at the airport), I met with one of the staff from the WUSC office, and we were on our way. The first thing I noticed upon leaving the airport was how warm it was compared to South Africa-- here, it is winter, but afternoon sit at about 16 degrees. Not too shabby. Second, was how green it is here. South Africa has acres and acres of browning and dried grass, but not here. Although Gabs is a modern little city with quite a few buildings, there are trees everywhere. Thirdly, I noticed the cars in the parking lot... and every single one of them was high-end. You'd be surprised, but most cars in Botswana are better than the ones in Canada. There are tons of BMWs and Mercedes (the high-end preferences here, I guess), and even the Toyotas and Nissans look shiny and new. This cleanliness/niceness may be a cultural thing (I'll get back to this later), but you hardly see dirty or dented cars.
More than anything, I had a feeling like this was going to be a great year and I would learn and see things that I would never forget. Let's hope that's the case.
I will be posting more shortly, since we all know I like to blab. Until then, shine on, my friends!