Saturday, February 2, 2008

February 2

Today I looked up the conversion rate from South African Rand to Canadian dollars.

Edited to add:
I spent South African Rand, but not using cash - I used my credit card. Getting money changed was too expensive.

It was 31 degrees celcius when I left Gabarone, and my final destination of Ottawa had issues yesterday with air travel being affected because of a winter storm. This is going to be quite a shock.

The internet in South Africa is much, much better than Botswana. I may get inspired and post more later today - just general comments about Botswana.

Edited again:
Botswana comments:
- The food was consistently good - there were a couple of meals that weren't great, but only 1 or 2 out of two weeks. (And usually the ones that weren't great were ones that I could have predicited wouldn't be great).
- With every meal, you get a toothpick.
- Nothing I ordered was ever quite what I expected.
- Coke cans are smaller, but heavier - I always thought there was a little bit of liquid left in the can.
- Feta cheese is common, but it's milder than it is in Canada.
- There's not much traditional food - in the two weeks, I only saw one restaurant that had anything very traditional.
- At lunch time, stands pop up at the side of the road (and in grocery stores) selling food. Perhaps this is more traditional - I was a little concerned about eating food from the side of the road so I didn't try it.
- There is a big British & South African influcence in Botswana. A lot of the hotel/restaurant managers are South African.
- On the way from the airport to the hotel, I saw a monkey. On the way from the hotel to the airport on the last day, I saw some type of wild birds (about turkey sized). Other than that, I didn't see much wildlife outside of the game reserves.
- Since the Botswanan pula is worth around 16 cents Canadian, prices were generally cheap. There were a few exceptions, mostly things like electronics.
- Restaurants are good, but hard to find. And they advertise with billboards, but don't put their location on the billboard. In the phone book, they are listed but their address is generally a post office box.
- The roads are wide and not crowded. They tend to have a lot of potholes. They drive on the left.
- Pizzas are delivered on motorbikes which have a large box on the back.
- It's one of the safer-feeling countries I've visited.
- There are always lots of people walking around.
- Women use umbrellas in the sun to provide shade.
- Public transportation is done using vans, and is quite cheap. I heard (but didn't verify) that fares are about $0.05 Canadian.
- The first week was cooler and rainy. The second week was hot, but not humid. It felt about like a Canadian summer - it wasn't ridiculously hot. However, the second week the power failures started. Botswana gets their power from South Africa, and with the development going on in both countries, there is a power shortage, so everyone gets blackouts.
- Women do carry things on their heads. It's not something I saw every day, but I did see it 5 or 6 times over the two weeks.
- Babies are typically carried tied to their mother's back using a shawl or towel.

I'd love to go back and go to more of the country - particularily to do a safari up north.

A somewhat typical house:

"Do it yourself" housing - i.e. shantytown:

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