Before anything else, this post needs a few explanations:
VET GATES: All over Botswana, there are these fences spanning the whole country. To be completely honest, I couldn’t tell you the real purpose for them but they have something to do with keeping the wildlife and the livestock separate… and preventing the spread of foot and mouth disease (see explanation below). Vet gates are one of the worst parts of traveling, because going through them means that everyone must get out of the vehicle, dragging all of their bags. These bags are often just patted down once or barely unzipped… think the worst event security in the world. It’s 10x more difficult to sneak something into a festival than through these fences and security check points. Once they are done ‘checking’ your bag for shoes, meat and who-knows-what else, you get to walk through gross, white, soda water (I think) and dip all of your extra shoes in the stuff too. Doesn’t sound too terrible if you’re in a private vehicle, but let me tell you…. When the bus is so full that if you’re lucky enough to have a seat, but your arms can be literally stuck in a stranger’s fleshy backside…. It can take forever and a half, feels completely pointless, and half the time people aren’t actually required to get out, especially if it’s dark out or they have a lot of luggage in the trunk that the officers don’t feel like searching, they don’t take the bags out from underneath the bus so all of those shoes are magically immune, and they just blame the disease on the buffalo anyway.
FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE: This is going to be a poor explanation because I actually don’t know much about this disease and don’t won’t to use my airtime on my dongle to look it up… but I do know that it is devastating to farmers who survive off cattle. While I have a strong dislike for Vet Gates, foot and mouth disease is a serious problem that can obliterate a family’s livelihood.
CHINA AND LEKGOA: Frequently, people of any sort of Asian descent are called ‘China,’ usually by children but occasionally by an ill-mannered adult. It doesn’t really matter where one is from, or if he or she is even Asian as I have had completely Caucasian friends report being called China as well. Lekgoa means white person or English speaker... this one is also usually done by children or old people, but adults will use this term more frequently. Generally, I would say the terms are not derogatory, but rather a statement as pointing out physical characteristics (from weight to hair styles) is a just a part of Batswana culture.
HOW MANY BUSES I HAVE BEEN ON LATELY: a lot of them. Going a long ways away.
With these explanations, the following what not to do is from a single weekend of travel.
What NOT to do when you have a case of the “I Hate Everythings…”
I would not recommend that when the bus conductor repeatedly calls you ‘China’ and Lekgoa’ and then pushes you out of the way in a tiny aisle on a crowded bus while you’re not paying attention to him, to tell him he is being a giant ass. I would however continue to tell him that is unacceptable, especially an adult speaking to a customer, to call someone “China” and/or “Lekgoa.” It also probably isn’t the best idea when forced to go through the vet gate again because someone pulled your bag off after you got out because it looked like it would contain shoes (… they were only worn once, okay? I didn’t want to get that slimy stuff on my new shoes and then stuff them back in a bag) to pitch a fit when they actually search your whole bag and make you walk through the slimy stuff three times because your shoes weren’t covered in the fluid the first and second time around, and finally bark at the guy searching your stuff that ‘this is (you can probably fill in the expletive here) stupid’…. They will remember you and ask if you are in a better mood the next time you go through there. Lucky for you, they will laugh it off, and so will you.
What to do when you have a case of the “I Hate Everythings”
Spend the afternoon watching The Sound of Music and taking a cue from the film, compile a list of your favorite things:
-sunset over bots after a thunderstorm
-the so-fluffy-I-could-die baby donkeys
-the smell of baskets
-mosadi magolos (old ladies) -from refusing to do anything while standing, gossiping under trees, well-meaning sense of ownership over me in e13, to their great pride in saying, I’m a mosadi magolo, I’m not doing that.. I find them adorable and hilarious.
-when Batswana have the same reaction I do to something interesting on the bus- i.e. an elephant charging across or the driver doing something stupid….
-my neighborhood kids… even when they’re being bratty and obnoxious.
-thunder and lightening
-boating on the Okavango Delta
-southern carmine bee eaters (they’re hot pink birds that have long tails!)
From personal experience, I can say the latter will relieve your frustration while the former will just leave you feeling embarrassed.