There are some things in life I just won’t joke about. Running is one of them. Viewing an inauguration party at the US Ambassador’s house is another. So, I’m not kidding when I say I accomplished both this weekend.
While I’ve only been in Botswana a little over a week, I feel like I’ve been here for months. Which probably explains why my friends and family keep texting me, “When are you going to actually do some work?” I promise, I am working! I’ll even prove it in a later blog post.
Let’s chat about the real purpose of this blog post–running. I have a hate/hate relationship with it. I mean, does anyone realllllly like running? Ugh–OK, Tara, Busse, Laurie and Lisa. Four whole people in my life actually smile while running. That’s it. So, you can understand my skepticism when the first cohort of Fulbrighter’s to Botswana highly suggested joining the Kalahari Hash House Harriers–a running club. Like, me——run? Ahhhh, no thanks. But, then they said it was a great way to see different parts of the city and they drink adult beverages afterwards! OKOK, now we’re talking.
According to the Kalahari House Harriers Facebook page, “Hashing is a state of mind – a friendship of kindred spirits, joined together for the sole purpose of reliving their childhood, releasing the tension of everyday life and generally acting a fool amongst others, who will not judge you or measure you by anything more than your sense of humour.” I had seen photos from previous hash’s (is this how you spell it?!) and must say, was a bit excited to join. So, almost as soon as I arrived in Gaborone, I emailed the group and received instructions for my first run.
The runs always take place at 10am on Sundays and are followed by a BBQ. This past Sunday’s run was out near Mokolodi Nature Reserve. I was extremely excited to see a new part of Botswana and was impressed with it’s greenery (and hills!) Around 15 people (Batswana, South African, British, Canadian and two other Americans!) arrived at the host’s home and proceeded with customary traditions including “circling up” where they discuss the route for the runners/walkers. There is the “hare” or host who sets the run and the idea is that the runners set off and follow trails marked by chalk. There are fake routes so the runners veer down paths and then backtrack while the hare sets the walkers on the right track. Ultimately, the goal is to have both the runners and walkers end up finishing the route around the same time.
I decided that if I’m going to join a running club, I should at least try to run. So, I sprinted to try and catch up with the few runners of the group. I was quickly reminded why I don’t run…and why I don’t run trails. I’m thanking the universe for not letting me biff it in the bush or break an ankle. Ultimately, our run was supposed to be a 4K but the markings of the trails were crazy. Crazy even for hashers. We would get lost, re-route, and wait (THANKFULLY) for the hare to tell us if we were going the right way. I actually enjoyed it. GASSSSSSSPPPPPPPP.
(Pause for a moment of reflection on what I just wrote)
Seriously, the hashing made it like a giant game. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and to top it off, we saw a flowing river where the runners had previously never seen water before!!! (Botswana is a very water-poor country). Oh, and I saw my first African wildlife!!!!!!!!! A baby tortoise that someone else had to point out to me. I mean, c’monnnnn. A tortoise?! Universe, you’re not that funny.
After the hash, people began BBQing, drinking some brews and then circled up again. I began to get a bit worried when I saw six glasses of some type of orange concoction. They proceeded to call individuals (Returners, Newbies, etc) to the middle of the circle and sing a song. Before the singing ended, you had to drink the concoction or dump it on your head. (I knew I should have been worried!) Let’s just say, I should have had a wet head but they gave me a break because I’m a newbie. IT WAS DISGUSTING. If running didn’t cause me to puke, that drink almost did. But, yet again, I survived. And I was accepted into a fun little community. I’m already excited for next week’s run.
So obviously, I wasn’t joking about running. I also wasn’t joking about being invited to the Ambassador’s house for the inauguration viewing party. Now, this wasn’t exactly on my weekend list of things to do but being that I received a formal invitation, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet the Ambassador and hang out with people from the Embassy. Maya and I arrived to an absolutely stunning residence and were greeted at the door by the Ambassador! Walking to the patio area, I was startled by a life-size Trump cutout. The cutout scared me, so I won’t even get into the inauguration part. Ultimately, the Ambassador gave wonderful remarks and there was very good conversation (and apps! and wine!) had by all. I’m happy I had the opportunity to experience it (not necessarily the inauguration part, but the Ambassador/private party/event part).
Speaking of experiences, I have spent a small part of each of the nine days I’ve been here, reflecting on how thankful I am to have the ability to do what I’m doing. This is the first time in my life that I am able to research and learn without any responsibilities. It’s brings an indescribable joy to me that is at times, difficult to put into words. So, thanks Fulbright—you really hooked it up.
Don’t forget to check out some new photos @ this link: https://goo.gl/photos/gP9Z3BeFanZM2kKf9
Please let me know if you aren’t able to see pics!