Fun Factoids on Botswana

You might notice this is a new blog website – we decided to upgrade from our Tumblr account to a proper blog site! …..Don’t worry, all of our old blog posts have been transferred to this site!

Since there are always so many big events or trips to discuss, I don’t end up talking much about what our day to day lives are like in Botswana. So I thought I would share some random/interesting/silly facts about Botswana life!

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sunset over the famous “three chiefs” monument in gaborone

~Botswana has the most amazing sunsets of anywhere I have ever seen….hands down!

~Minimum wage is about $90 per month, but cost of living is so much higher. I have no idea how people live off this because food here is so expensive!

~Traffic lights are called robots.

~There has been a severe drought here for the past 5 years with strict water restrictions in place. Water cuts are set in place 1-2 days a week during the driest months. You can be fined up to $2000 USD for filling your pool with water from the hose!

~Even in this super dry land locked country there is a Yacht Club! But they pronounce it “yach-tt” here. It sits on the Gaborone Dam Reserve which used to have enough water to have sail boats….but for the past 5 years it has been <5% full!

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~What would be the first floor in the US is called the ground floor here. What would be called the 2nd floor is called the first floor here….really confusing at first!

~Most people do not know their own street name in Botswana and there are no proper addresses that you can type into Google Maps. So finding people’s houses is a major challenge. Directions will often consist of “turn left at the robot then look for the big tree and the blue sign then find my house on the left”! Also no zip codes here.

~Botswana’s first president Seretse Khama married a white British woman in 1948 causing backlash from the apartheid government in South Africa and his exile from Botswana. A movie about this love story is about to be released called – A United Kingdom

~Bucket hats are all the rage here! Total throwback to the 90s! But very frustrating for a dermatologist….since they offer so little sun protection!

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~The current president does not like alcohol so he created an alcohol tax. The proceeds are put into a fund that gives grant awards to youth community service projects. So cool!

~To get electricity for your home, you have to buy a voucher at the grocery store and program it into a panel in your yard.

~Botswana is a peaceful country but they created a military for a very special and very important reason – to protect their wildlife! The Botswana Defense Force patrols the country searching for poachers and illegal traffickers.  They have a shoot to kill on site policy for all poachers and I think this is the way it should be! In contrast to South Africa where you would be put in jail if you shot a poacher.

~Botswana is a Christian nation and religion plays heavily into the everyday life of citizens.

img_0615-copy~However, despite the heavily Christian society, it is quite common for girls to have children outside of marriage and this is not stigmatized. Even multiple kids from different fathers is not looked down upon by society.

~ The most common veggie eaten here is called rape. It is often sold out of the back of a pickup truck on the side of the road….Garrett & I call these “rape stands”

~People can be very blunt here. I have heard people say all sorts of things to people they hardly know that would really get you in trouble in the US….. “You look like you are gaining weight.” “You look a lot older than your age.” “You don’t look very nice today.” “Are you pregnant?” …..yikes!

~ There are no data plans like we have in the US for cell phones. You just buy minutes and load them as you go – airtime to talk and data to use internet. Because of this people really hate talking on the phone. I have had people call to say two words then hang up to avoid using excess airtime. Most everyone uses whatsapp for messaging and talking because it is free on wifi.

~ If you ask someone to text you they will have no clue what you are saying – its called SMS here.

~A staple meal consists of pap which is whipped cornmeal, roasted beef or goat, stewed rape, grilled butternut and roasted beets.

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an awesome traditional local meal cooked by our maids

~It is very common for male friends to hold hands in public. However, homosexuality is generally HIGHLY stigmatized by Botswana society.

~Traditionally Botswana was ruled by tribal leaders or “chiefs” that ruled over each village area in Botswana. When Botswana gained independence and transitioned to a democratic system of government they maintained this tribal rule by having chiefs continue to manage the affairs of their local villages – like a mayor/governor.

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