Friday, February 08, 2008

Back in Botswana


My good friend Shelagh saw me off in Calgary, and I arrived in Gaborone, Botswana 2 days later. Already I feel quite at home. While locals often cringe when visitors say they’ve learned about Botswana by reading Alexander McCall Smith’s “#1 Ladies Detective Agency” series of books, I think that’s why I feel so comfortable here. The people I have come across are reserved in some respects, but are also very polite and as gentile as described in the books.

I just spent a few hours in the city centre going through the National Museum and walking through the outdoor mall and despite being alone, I felt safe. No one asked for money (although one young man asked for a job), and I was glad I wore something other than my MEC clothes as women are extremely well dressed. Although the country has a population decimated by HIV/AIDS, it is evident the economy is strong and there are many initiatives in place to combat AIDS. There are billboards, TV and print ads and free condoms are widely available. The government is stable and overall Botswana is held up as an African success story.

Roger is working for DeWet Drilling on an energy plant being built about 2-1/2 hours from Gaborone. It is a huge project, and a much needed one as energy shortages are widespread in Botswana, S. Africa and other surrounding countries. Work visas are required, and we spent an afternoon this week getting a medical form completed, and passport pictures taken. Both activities gave us experiences that would not have happened in Canada...which is why we’re here!

When Roger showed the medical form (below) to me, he laughed and said, “Well, I hope we pass....!”

Republic of Botswana
Immigration Act

Medical Report

I hereby certify that on .................., 20....., at ................................. I examined .......................... and found him/her to be:
1. Not suffering from any of the disabilities referred to in Note 1;
2. Not physically defective except (see Note 2).......................................................................
3. Not suffering from favus, framboesia or yaws, leprosy, scabies, syphilis, trachoma, tuberculosis or any other disease prescribed in terms of section 7(c) of the Immigration Act.

Signature of Medical Practitioner:..................................................................
Qualifications:................................................................................................
Address:........................................................................................................

Note 1: The disabilities referred to in paragraph (1) are:
a. Being an idiot
b. Being an imbecile
c. Being a feeble-minded person
d. Being an epileptic
e. having had a previous attack of insanity
f. suffering from constitutional psychopathic inferiority
g. suffering from chronic alcoholism

Note 2: Any physical defects should be stated with an indication of their nature and extent.

The physician was very nice, and had actually done a locum in 1990 in Saskatchewan. I came armed with our own syringes in case blood tests were taken, but he just laughed at the form, took our blood pressures, and signed the report. How often can you say that you’ve been certified that you’re NOT an idiot?

We then went to get our passport pictures taken in a little village. The “studio” was outdoors in a square which also housed several sewing businesses. We watched women working on old Singer machines while children played nearby and it was neat to have our pictures taken outside. I told Roger I’d never get passport pictures taken without reliving those moments.

Roger and the 3 guys from Canada have gone to the field to get the first drill set up and running, but I stayed behind in Gaborone until Roger checks out the camp conditions. I think I’ll be reliving my trekking through Europe with a tent days, but at least DeWet’s don’t have a problem with me being there.

I am cautiously optimistic that things will work out as we hope. If not – well, as usual, we’ll figure out another plan!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do we get to see the passport pictures? Enjoy your adventure and we'll all live through you....cs

Linda marek said...

Hello my friend, good to hear that you arrived safe and sound!

Love hearing about your adventures!
My thoughts and prayers are always with you!
Love Linda

Anonymous said...

Still in Calgary freezing ass off. I'm waiting for the deconstruction and reconstruction to start anyday. I am heading to Victoria with Mom for a week in the middle of February. Then finally to Houston for some warm weather activities there.

Stay safe, love H and D.

R&K said...

Good to hear that you made it over OK! No lost luggage? Like H7D dam cold. Was ice fishing last weekend in -35 snow storm. Was sunny & -25 the next day & it actualy felt warm!!!!! Really nice to see some pic's and know everything is well.

Regards
R&K