Botswana

I’m back

So I know I sent an email last week like nothing happened. Like I didn’t just fall off the grid for the past few weeks.

The truth is I got overwhelmed by life (in a good way)....and then I got lazy and fell off my game.

It happens. At least it’s happened to me before. I’ve fallen off my game countless times before...with eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting to bed on time and so many other things. Sometimes the slightest thing can throw off a change in habit, even if it’s a really good change.

But while it's easy to let laziness take over for good, I’ve decided to stop letting indecision turn into procrastination. So you’ll be seeing more of my emails again.

To start with, I want to share some of the things I’ve been up to.

Part of my email paralysis has been that so much has happened, I don’t know where to begin. But I think I want to start with my trip to Botswana. Some of you might know that I recently went to Botswana to teach yoga as part of a non-profit organization. Many of you generously helped me raise money for the trip. Thank you again for the support!

Going to Botswana was one of the best things I’ve done in a really long time. I spent six fantastic days teaching chair yoga to seven incredible individuals at a hospital in the small city of Mahalapye. Of the seven, three of them were sweet, little old ladies that reminded me of my grandmother and the other four were younger folks who wanted to be able to teach yoga to community members who most need it.

We taught them:

Tons of chair and chair-assisted poses, 3 meditations and 3 breathing exercises Four sequences of poses How to get up in front of people and teach this stuff with confidence, after only 6 days of training

Not a tall order or anything!!! Haha The younger folks even did extra hours with us to learn sun salutations and other yoga poses you might find in the US to practice on their own.

But somehow our students did it! They were dedicated and up for doing with work (and homework) and graduation day was really emotional. Now we are really lucky to have them all teaching free community yoga classes every week at the hospital for any patients AND doctors who want in.

While teaching to this group would have been an amazing enough experience, I was super lucky in that I got to experience more of Botswana. By that I mean I went on a road trip, driving 8 hours to the town of Maun in order to do a one-day safari. I stayed in the most serene and beautiful AirBnb, rode a small boat along the river, ate some fantastic Indo-chinese food and went to a really cool coffee shop that looked like it belonged in LA. I also spent 2 days in the capital of Gabarone attending a spine conference along with spinal clinicians from all around southern Africa.

If all this sounds incredible, it was. But in case you think it's too good to be true or that I'm just showing off, just know that it wasn't all rainbows and sunshine. While the locals were all amazing, I also met one of the most insufferable and rudest "expats" that I've ever met in my life and had to spend a considerable amount of time with. I'll save that story for another day. Instead, I choose to focus on what I learned on my trip.

I haven't had a travel experience deeply touch me in a long time. But this trip definitely did. Here are the things that most surprised me about Botswana:

  1. In every town and in random rural areas, you will find a NJ-style strip mall. Sometimes these malls will have GIANT super grocery stores (and in one instance – a an actual Shop Right) or sometimes there will be a restaurant that looks like a Chili’s. Sometimes there will be a Home Depot equivalent. But there will almost always be a Nando’s in this strip mall.

  2. Botswana is really clean. Yes there are animals on the side of the road, but I don’t ever recall seeing shit everywhere or litter at all. It can be a dusty country because of the arid climate (reminded me of Gujarat), but not at all dirty.

  3. Bread there is amazing! I don’t mean grocery store bread, but rather bread either found in bakeries or steamed dumplings called ‘madombi’ sold as part of traditional meals.

  4. Everyone in Botswana speaks great English. Even people in rural areas speak English really well. In our training we had the younger folks translate for us just to be super clear and to make sure nothing was lost in translation, but English was spoken everywhere we went.

  5. The locals are really friendly to outsiders. The custom there is that everyone greets each other and says ‘hello’ to each other and that extends to outsiders. You might get stared at, but the second you say ‘hello’ they snap out of it and are willing to help in any way they can.

  6. Domestic abuse is a huge problem in Botswana. It is one of the top crimes in the country. I had read about it in a guidebook but it really grabbed my attention when a woman working a souvenir shop at the airport started telling me about her situation living with an abusive boyfriend. She mentioned to me that all the women in her family, sisters, mother, aunts, etc., were coming over to her house to help her expel that boyfriend from her house. She was praying that the intervention would work.

  7. Maybe this one shouldn’t have surprised me, but turns out all the print shops and many of the general stores in Mahalapye are owned by Indians. Of course they are. We are hoping those Indians come join the yoga program.

  8. Botswana has an early morning culture. Business hours are usually 7:30am-4:30pm or 8am-5pm.

  9. Closer to the north near the game reserve areas, it’s not uncommon to see an elephant cross the highway. I witnessed it myself on our way back to Mahalapye, about 2 hours away from the entrance of the game reserve. It was quite the surprise!

  10. Although there are lots of cows along the sides of the roads, it is nearly impossible to find fresh cow’s milk…I tried. You are more likely to be offered fresh donkey milk. I didn’t think my chai would taste right, so I passed on that.

I hope you enjoyed this email. More to come.

Under Pressure

Living Like a Royal

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