Thursday, January 31, 2008

More food stuff

Today our hotel had power (althought internet access has been down all afternoon).

However, head office did not have power this morning, so I held a business meeting in the dark.

We went to a new place for lunch, and I had savory pancakes - i.e crepes filled with chicken and onions, with feta cheese & cheddar cheese on top.

Then for supper we went to a Portugese restaurant. I had trinchado - strips of beef in a garlic sauce.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dancing at the mall...

Today I had lunch at Nandos. It's primarily a chicken place, and seems to be the most common type of fast food around here. While I was there, I used a laptop to access the internet while sitting in a restaurant.

As well, on the way to Nandos we were walking through the mall parking lot and heard a strange sound. We looked across the street, and saw traditional African dancers practicing (or something) on a hill. Unfortunately, they were just finishing up, so I've only got one picture (and they're a little out of formation) - they had all been in a line.

I wish the internet & power would stay on.

I apologize for the lateness, this entry applies to January 29. We had power & internet problems yesterday.

Today's new things are all food related.

First, I had Marula flavoured water. (I have no idea what Marula is supposed to taste like, but the water was good.)

Then I had lunch at a burger place called Wimpy's. It's apparently a UK chain. It's a little odd in that it feels like a typical burger place, but sit down & order off of menus.

Finally, we went to a restaurant that I could have driven by without knowing it was there. It's the Bull and Bush, and it's off a gravel road somewhere in town. I would not have known it was there if I hadn't been with a local. It's the Bull and Bush, and it's off a gravel road somewhere in town. I would not have known it was there if I hadn't been with a local.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Why do weekends have to end?

It's Monday, which means it was back to work today.

For some reason, the hotel was without power from when I woke up (well, probably from before I woke up) until well past noon. I'm not sure exactly when it came back on. Hopefully it will stay on long enough for me to upload this.

Today I got a pass (with my picture on it) that allow me to access our customer's site.

And one more new thing today: I sent laundry out (via the hotel) and it re-appeared (clean) in my room (even with the power outage). Wow, that's a lot of parenthesis in one sentence.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Today was the sunniest day so far.
We went on a game drive at Mokolodi Nature reserve. Yesterday's game drive was self-driven. This one was at a bigger game reserve, and was led by a guide.
Actually, we saw more animals yesterday.
However, today we did see a giraffe, elephants, and a cheetah. The elephants were with their trainers, but it was interesting to watch them pull up branches, eat the leaves, and then spray dirt onto their backs to cool off.
I got to pet the cheetah.

We saw more warthogs, including some babies:

Today I also saw some unusual insects.

Later I went and read a book by the pool, where I saw the first mosquito I've seen in Africa. The book was set in Botswana, and talked about snakes more than I would have liked.

Editted to add:

I also learned the difference between male and female ostriches. Male ostriches are black (because they sit on the eggs at night) and femail ostriches are grey (because they sit on the eggs during the day).

And giraffes get darker as they get older.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

And then we turned the corner & there was an ostrich

It's Saturday!

Today we drove (slightly) out of Gaborone.

The dirt here is red, and the terrain is interesting:

We drove around the city in general (mostly looking for new restaurants), and then visited the Gaborone Game Reserve. It cost around 30 pula ($5) for myself, my colleague, and our vehicle.

At first it was slow, but then we turned the corner and saw a monkey. A little later we saw some sort of deer-like creature.

Then we reached the road that is apparently the monkey playground.

By the time we left, I was thinking of monkeys almost like gophers. You'd look down a road, and if you saw something run across it, odds are it was a monkey.

Some were even too lazy to run across the road themselves:

We saw different types of deer-like creatures.

We saw kudu:

We saw warthogs, and wild boars.

We saw ostriches:

Other birds:

Tonight we ate at an Irish pub. It served such Irish delicacies as samosas and peri-peri chicken (and some actual Irish-style food). There was live entertainment as well. People were dancing and singing.

On our way back to the hotel, we were wondering why we could see street light poles but there were no lights. Then we missed the hotel because it was totally dark, and realized that the power was out. So tonight I walked up to my hotel room by candlelight.

Edited to add: Today was also the first time I saw the stars in the Southern hemisphere. I was expecting them to look more different. Especially since I looked up and said "Oh, there's Orion" - which is one of only 3 constellations I can recognize at the best of time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Working from "home"

Today I worked from the hotel room.

I was interrupted by hotel staff 4 times.

They came to make the bed.
Then they came to spray for ants (note that I have not seen a single ant since I got here - I'm seen a couple of moths, a few wasps, and a beetle, but no ants).
Then they came to clean the rest of the room.
Then they came to turn down the bed.

We had lunch at Braai. It's a fast-food-ish place that serves things like steak, pork chops, chicken, and hamburgers. (I should note that there's no real fast food here - everything seems to get cooked after you order it).

That's about it for today. I'm off to watch a DVD on my laptop.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

You wouldn't believe how long it took to upload these pictures

I worked at head office today.

Here's what it looks like in that area:

There aren't a lot of restaurants around - at least not a lot we know about - so at lunch, my colleague and I went back to the Riverwalk mall. This is the "inside" of the mall - a few levels of layered coverings, no real roof or walls. Otherwise, much like what we think of as a mall.

We went to a restaurant whose name escapes me at the moment (Apache something, I think). When we were there, we sat in a section that had been closed until our server opened it up for us. As well, I ate in a restaurant that offered "monkey gland" burgers. (Apparently, no actual monkey glands are used. )

There's a reason they call it rainy season. On the way to the mall:

And, for Jennifer, the bill at dinner came in this:

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Downtown Gaborone

Let's see, what happened today?

First of all, we now have a car. That means that we can eat outside of the hotel restaurant! (The restaurant here is good, but not for 2 weeks in a row.)

I think I was a little (i.e. a lot) dehydrated, so I'm making a point of drinking more. I also don't have much of an appetite, so I needed snacks. Accordingly, I bought bottled water and snacks at an African supermarket. The supermarket was at the open-air mall that I visited on Sunday. They were also offering travel vaccinations in the middle of the mall. And the pharmacy only sold medical-type stuff.

I also spent the day working in the switch room at the airport.

After work, my colleague & I went exploring downtown Gaborone (via car). There are few tall buildings.

A lot of buildings have parking lots with parking spots covered by canopies.

While we were driving around downtown, I saw two women carrying stuff in baskets on their heads.

It's interesting being in a place where labour is cheaper than mechanics. I saw a truckload of men digging a ditch to lay pipe today. Also, the hotel has a gate at the entrance of the parking lot. It is opened & closed by a worker.

Edited to add: Today was also the first day I was in a vehicle that had to stop so that a couple of dozen goats could cross the road. No idea where they were going, but we were on that road 4 times today, and they were only there once.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is more what I expected

My luggage arrived! It was very, very exciting. (And it's a little bit sad that the first day that I got my luggage back, I wore 4 different pairs of shoes).

Today I read the Daily News. It's a local paper.

Some headlines you won't see in Canada:
"Diarrhoea claims eleven lives"
"Kenya crisis hit local banking?"
"Motse o fetwa ke lenaneo" - I assume that is in Setswana.

It rained on and off all day. The flooding here isn't as bad as in Mozambique, for example, but there is a bridge that we need to cross to get to the airport that is almost flooded. If it floods we will need to take a different route (and will probably get lost).

I also met with the customer face to face. We had a meeting this afternoon for me to present what I've been working on.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This isn't what I intended to do today

Today we had two meetings planned with the customer.

However, I was sick all last night. I'm the second in my group to get sick. I'm starting to feel better now, but basically I ended up sleeping all day.

However, in the interests of doing something new, I went to the restaurant, ordered toast, and charged it to my room.

My luggage is still misplaced. I really hope it shows up soon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Today I'm in Botswana.

I started the day on the flight from London to Johannesburg. It was about 12 hours, and we were delayed slightly in London because we had to wait for a runway (since we couldn't use the usual runway due to the "incident" last week).

I got into Johannesburg around 7 a.m. local time (midnight in Ottawa) and spent an hour in the Johannesburg airport. Then it was time for a quick flight over to Gabaronne. (I have no idea if I'm spelling any of this right, and I'm too lazy to look it up, so bear with me).

The airline lost my luggage. I miss clean clothes. :(

I then met our agent in Botswana, Ex. He brought me to the hotel, and then off to an ATM to get local cash. (Minor issue there - one bank machine told me both my bank cards had expired. Luckily, the other bank machine worked.)

I'm now in my room, and just hoping my luggage shows up.

My colleagues are on a later flight, so they should be here this afternoon.

The view from my hotel room window:

The view looking out the door:

Edited to add: My colleagues arrived. Their luggage is also MIA. We are going to look pretty funny at the customer meeting tomorrow.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Malaria & Heathrow

Today I'm in London.

I took an anti-malaria pill for the first time.

I'm also flying South African airlines for the first time, and I'm in terminal 1 at Heathrow for the first time.

We got hotel rooms for the day, so I was able to get some sleep.

Two more flights to go before I get to Gabarone.

Edited to add pictures.

Also, I drank diet cherry coke in London. (The chips are just because I really like Real McCoy chips.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Business trip

Today is also the first time I have gone on a business trip. It's also the first time I have carried a laptop onto an airplane.

Well, technically none of that has happened yet, but barring unforseen disasters, it will.

In related news, updates may not happen every day for the next little while. Rest assured that new things will continue to happen and that I will update when I can.

Updated to add: I also went into the Maple Leaf Lounge for the first time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I work for a small company. The front door of our office is always locked, so visitors have to ring the doorbell to get in. When they do that, one of the people on the first floor lets them in.

I sit on the second floor, and can just barely hear the doorbell.

Today for some reason, all of the first floor people were out at the same time, so I answered the doorbell at work. (Three times, actually).

Also, in a completely unrelated event, I ate a blood orange.

The picture is of the orange, not the doorbell. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I like to travel. Well, more accurately, I like to be new places. I'm not so thrilled about the process of getting to new places.

One of the side effects of travel for me is that I'm always about 10% convinced that something will go wrong (e.g. plane crash) and I won't make it back. Rationally, I'm probably in more danger driving to work in the morning. It's not a serious worry, and it's not enough to stop me from travelling, but it's there.

Today I wrote an "if you're reading this" letter. Basically, it's just a way for me to tell people who are important to me that they are important to me if I'm not around to do it myself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Today I researched Botswana. Did you know the currency (pula) was named after rain? Neither did I, but I do now!

I also learned that the Kalahari desert is in Botswana, and that Botswana is a democratic country headed by a President. (In defence of my former teachers, I'm pretty sure that they tried to teach me some of this stuff. My brain does not store history or geography unless it's somehow relevant to my life.)

I do not plan to purchase a traditional dance costume.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today I became an m & m.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Today, I used an electric grill for the first time. It was a Christmas gift, and I hadn't had a chance to use it until today.

I made French toast. It was good, but in the future I'll probably make French toast in a frying pan & use the grill for meat.

Don't worry, the grill stays in the kitchen so there is no danger of me grilling my foot.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Giant balloon

A few months ago a giant balloon showed up on the landscape.

I pass it every day on my way to & from work, but didn't really know what it was. The sign outside advertises a driving range, but I had heard something about indoor soccer.

Today I visited the superdome at Ben Franklin Park ( I felt a little weird taking pictures of random strangers playing soccer, so I only took the exterior shot.

There are 3 fields, and you can completely tell that it's a giant balloon if you are in the field area. (The entrance is in the concrete section, so it's relatively normal.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

More gym stuff

Today I went to a gym branch that I have never been to before. That's always intimidating because, although they're all similar, they all have a slightly different layout. Luckily, I followed someone in so I was able to follow her to find out where the change room was.

As well, the different locations have different policies. At this one, I had to get a ticket before going into the class. Again, it sounds minor but it was a little confusing since I'm not used to it.

And my final gym related new thing for today is I was in a class in which one of my regular instructors (for a different type of class) was also a participant.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Free Rice

Thursday is boxing night, which means there's no time for an elaborate new thing on Thursdays.

Today I went for something quick. I looked up on snopes, and then played the vocabulary game. In the end, I donated 800 grains of rice.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Today's first new thing is very much work related - I created a Windows service & was able to start & stop it. I realize many of you have no idea what that means - I didn't either until yesterday.

However, I have another new thing as well. Today I wore Miss Piggy Socks.
I also discovered that it's hard to take a picture of the side of your foot & get it in focus. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Yesterday I went back to the gym for the first time in 2 weeks. I was surprised at how sore I was today - 2 weeks isn't that long!

Anyway, I thought I had a solution to the soreness - today I did a gliding class. It's a class where you use two discs (that look like cloth frisbees) either under your feet or under your hands, depending on what you are working.

(For information about gliding, you can check out .)

It was pretty challenging, but I am pleased to report that I didn't fall down. :) I'll have to try it a couple of more times before I decide whether or not to make it a regular event.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Today's theme was "new things that just happened by accident".

First of all, I spent today in a literal fog. This morning when I went to work it was foggy. This happens on occasion. However, the unusual part was that it stayed foggy all day (and since I sit by a window, I got to notice that every time I managed to make it to my desk today).

Also, I got a yellow fever vaccination. This is the only vaccination I've ever received where the doctor says "Ok, don't move until I come back & tell you you can ... unless you feel dizzy, then you can lie down." They take that vaccination very, very seriously. I'm happy to report that I'm still relatively functional. (I have a headache, but that probably has more to do with the 5 hours of meetings I had today than the vaccination.)

Then, when I got back to work, there were no parking spots (parking is scarce because 5 spots are currently full of snowbanks), so I parked in a spot not really intended for parking & used a door that I previously didn't know existed to go into the building.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Guard pig

Due to the ridiculous amount of snow Ottawa has received this winter, my normal guard pig is unable to properly perform his duties.

To help him out, today I made a snow pig.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Egg in a bottle

Today's new thing didn't work out as planned.

My goal was to put an egg in a bottle ( ).

It didn't work.

The first challenge was getting the matches to stay lit. That was very, very difficult.

The second problem was that the yolk was too close to the edge of the peeled egg, so what happened was that the yolk was sucked out of the egg into the bottle.

Oh well, at least I've never failed to do this before, so it's new.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Today I spent one hour blindfolded.

During that time, I listened to the Simpsons while trying to crochet a granny square (turns out I don't remember how to crochet a granny square without looking at a completed one).

I also fed my fish.

Then I tried to microwave some food. That was a spectacular failure. The buttons on my microwave are completely flat - you can't feel them at all if you're not looking. I really, really wanted to peek - but I didn't.

That resulted in plan B. I found a pot, put the food in it, put it on the stove and turned on the burner. Luckily, I didn't start anything on fire or burn the food. It was tasty when it finally was done.

After that, I did some yoga.

It was really interesting. It surprised me how much I got turned around in the kitchen - I ended up at the sink while looking for the stove.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Today's new thing was inspired by the fact that I have a cold. I wore my pyjamas all day - including the time I spent working (from home) and my trip to the grocery store.

The Fred Flintstone slippers stayed home when I went to the grocery store, though.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cutting a banana

For day 2, I decided to do something I read about years ago, but never tried. I sliced a banana with a needle without peeling it first. Basically, you stick a needle through the banana skin and wiggle it so that it cuts through the banana fruit but not the skin. The result is that when you peel the banana, it is already cut. The first picture shows the cut (but not peeled) banana - the orange string is attached to the needle.
And then, after peeling it:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January 1

As some of you know, I was inspired by . As a result, I'm going to do something new each day in 2008.

Today I self-administered an oral vacination (specifically for cholera & traveller's diarhea). It's ... unpleasant, and you can't eat or drink anything for an hour afterwards. :( Oh well, it's new. And it's probably better than cholera.