As I drove to the lodge I'll be staying in before I return to Shoshong, I began to text message friends and colleagues, letting them know I'm back. I felt an outpouring of support. People said they missed me, they were happy to have me back, and they couldn't wait to see me. It was so comforting. It made me think about what I love most about Botswana.
Here are some of my favorite things:
1. How happy the people are when you attempt to speak Setswana, and the perks that come with any knowledge of the language. Latest example: customs at the airport. As every foreigner was asked to open his or her bags for the Botswana customs officials, I did not. I explained, in Setswana, that I bought some clothes and postcards for friends totaling a few hundred pula. I mentioned that I live in Shoshong. They let me pass straight through. Score!
2. The food here. Many volunteers would disagree with me, but I love the traditional food. I have missed magwinya (fat cakes), madombe (steamed bread), mogorogorwane (a really yummy fruit), dikgobe (stew with a local grain and beans), and seswaa (pounded meat), among other things
3. How giving the people can be. Before I left, a friend in my village came over and gave me this beautiful, old woven basket that I hope I'll be able to take back to the states. People here really know how to show they care when they want to
4. The fact that I can talk with random people on the street and it is totally normal
5. No one will look at my strangely when I bow a little when shaking their hand
6. The sun and the beauty of Africa
7. Good South African wine is available in the capital
8. The kids...they follow you, they ask for candy...regardless, you can't help but smile and laugh while they're around
And that's what I plan on doing a lot of lately....smiling.