How I’ve spent Easter in Botswana

Chocolate bunnies – international symbol

Batswana also celebrate Easter. Or at least they acknowledge it and enjoy the days off. I was surprised to see here the same sign that announces Easter in Europe: chocolate bunnies in supermarkets. True,  maybe a bit more balanced here. Not mountains of them, but just enough.

In Botswana, like in Romania, people have a long weekend: the Friday before and the Monday after are days off. This is if you’re not a pilot. If you’re a pilot in Maun, the Easter days is the time when business is flourishing. The entire Botswana moves to Maun for 4 days. This is the center of tourism, this is where everyone wants to be, this is where all the events are happening – horse races and all sorts of other stuff.

Happy nanny-ing, I say!

As far as I’m concerned, I have to admit that I haven’t been the most sociable person on earth these days. I was lucky. I got a house with WiFi just for myself for almost two week. Everything free. I just needed to worry about my food – since a kilo of beans is just around $2, I was all sorted. Beans are good here, when I don’t burn them.

How did it happen that I got the house? In Maun, the population is rather mixed. There are many international people working here in tourism industry. Tourism comes with many business trips – most companies have offices in more cities in the area. Not just Botswana, sometimes also South Africa, Namibia etc. It happens often that people have to travel for work for a few weeks in a row – too short to sub-rent, but long enough to worry that something might happen with their house.

So they either ask their friends to check the house regularly, or pay someone to take care of it, or look for someone who needs a place to stay during that given time while they’re away. These people are called ”house-sitters”. Instead of baby sitters, now it’s house sitters. So, as you have probably guessed already, I became a house sitter.

Self-imposed house arrest

What followed after that? Friday before Easter I bought some veggies, eggs, beans, bread and until Easter Sunday in the afternoon I didn’t get out of the house at all. (Except for the 15 minutes on Saturday afternoon when it started to rain heavily after a very hot day, so I just ran outside to enjoy the free shower like a crazy person would do). Long live the internet and isolation!

By the way, the local currency in Botswana is called ”pula”. In Setswana (the official language here), ”pula” means rain. Local people value rain a lot. But if you ever go to Romania, be advised: don’t use the word ”pula” too much if you don’t want to get in trouble.

So no Romanian cabbage rolls, no Easter eggs, no mutton and other stuff like that. I ignored Easter this year. I just called my family. Sunday morning I spent 40 minutes on the phone with my grandpa. He told me the latest dirty jokes he had heard and the family gossip. I was also informed about the people who visited him over the holidays, about his Easter menu and what food he had in his fridge. He presented me the news about the birds he’s feeding every morning and the pills he takes.

I was amused: he was already informed about some of my interactions on facebook. Truth be told, I get constantly surprised since I’m back to facebook: everyone is there! And how come people find my profile so easy while I can’t find anyone? My grandpa was a bit worried: who’s paying my salary and when am I getting married? Will I go back in August?

I also managed to reach my folks on Sunday afternoon when they were setting the table. ”Tell me, do they have cabbage rolls in Botswana?” my dad was asking on the background. ”Don’t worry, we’ll send you a picture!” but they forgot to send the picture. My sister was saying she ate too much cake those days. My mom was jokingly asking me about cannibalism: ”Come visit to meet my new friends!” I said.

Interesting how I can visualize this scene even without any pictures: the seat where my dad was sitting at the table, my mom and my sister moving around the kitchen, busy setting up the table, the pot of cabbage rolls and the basket with red Easter eggs in the middle of the table.

Back to normal life

And Easter has passed now. Maun is again empty, I don’t hear so many cars passing by the main street anymore. The guys who are taking care of the inner yard are back to work. Everyone went back to the normal day to day life. And I’m going out of the house again to socialize a bit. Monday evening I went running along the beautiful river that passes the town. I was rather far from the river bank, yet my mind was out of control, producing dangerous scenes with crocodiles and hippos. As I was running back home on the main road, I met the pilot who hosted me for a while and ended up crashing the pizza night he organized with his friends.

4 thoughts on “How I’ve spent Easter in Botswana”

  1. Nice article prietene!! Your writing is smooth and pleasant to read 🙂 As for Easter in France well… you know.. the more chocolate the better^^! This year though I was surprinsigly reasonable and only shared a box of chocolates with my family. We’re becoming minimalists!! All the best to you :*

    1. Oh, good French boxes of chocolate…”life is like a box of chocolate”, right? 🙂 I guess that one of the things that two years of China has taught us is to really appreciate good chocolate. Quality, not quantity. Thank you very much for stopping by, prietene! Grande bisou!

  2. Aweee 🙂 I like the unexpected story behind that title :), I really enjoy the way you write so simple things that seem so interesting to my eyes, I wish I can enjoy an Easter day with chocolate bunnies once :D, in Mexico we do not celebrate Eastern but the holly week which lasts two weeks instead, where people usually give up on red meat and eat fish instead.

    1. Oh, so maybe the chocolate Easter bunnies are not such an international symbol after all…Is that the Mexican version of being vegetarian? “It’s not meat, it’s fish!”. :))) Mexican Holly week sounds like fun.

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