Archives for the month of: November, 2012

One of the things we had to figure out here in Botswana was the different power voltage and frequency. Now that may not be a big thing with you, but to the Engineer within me, it was a difference that had to be navigated. I’m used to 115 volts at 60 cycles. In Botswana they use 230 volts at 50 cycles. The difference requires compatibility of devices and adapters to match different plug configurations. Take a look at the power transformer for your laptop or camera battery charger, read the very small print to see if it can accept 115 to 230 volts and different frequencies either 60 cycles or 50 cycles. Chances are that it does and then you can use it both here in Botswana as well as in the states. If your device can only accept 115 volts and you plug it here, it will work very fast for about 10 seconds and then never again. The challenges come with plug configuration. They use both European as well as South African configurations here in Botswana and it requires lots of adapters to get things to work.  Take a look!

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Necessity is the mother of invention!

Yes, Dana and Lee, this wall outlet truly is being used by your father.

Jeff for the Two of  Us

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Elsa and I have been in Botswana now for 7 months and we have not had an official day off since arriving. In fact, during our Pre-Service Training time, we actually had training sessions almost every Saturday. The Peace Corps makes a point of stressing the fact that we are a Peace Corps Volunteer 24-7. Everyday we are representing the USA and to emphasize that reality, when we take time off, weekend days are counted as vacation days. Well, last weekend we packed our bags (actually our back packs) and headed to GC otherwise known as Gaborone City – the capital of Botswana for a couple of days of R & R. We take public transportation because we are not allowed to drive as Peace Corps Volunteers (something I really wouldn’t want to do anyway since they drive on the left side of the road). We headed for the bus rank in Mahalapye on Friday morning with a plan to stay at a hotel that night and then stay with another PCV Saturday and Sunday nights. We caught the bus to Gabs and we were off! What a great time we had.

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The hotel we stayed at on Friday night is called the Metcourt. Here is a view of the grounds; and yes, it was beautiful. The manager at the Metcourt hotel is a former Peace Corp Volunteer so we were blessed with a 50% discount on the room rate. That helped us with funds so that we could treat ourselves to dinner at a fancy restaurant on Friday night. We opted for the Beef Baron which was within walking distance from our hotel and dinner was great. Beef is a specialty in Botswana but unfortunately all the beef we have had so far has been tough – I mean very tough. Elsa and I have not had what we consider good beef since February. We took a risk and ordered steak and it was superb! It renewed my faith in Botswana beef. But that was not the only high point of the evening.

As we were enjoying our dinner we noticed two couples having dinner at an adjacent table. They were both a little older than us. One couple was white and the other Motswana. I thought I recognized the Motswana gentleman from our Peace Corps Swearing In ceremony in April because he looked like our keynote speaker for the event. After we finished our delicious dinner, we decided to be bold and introduce ourselves to the two couples and we were certainly glad we did.

The Motswana couple was Sir Ketumile Masire and his wife. Mr. Masire was the second president of Botswana after independence from Britain in 1966 and served from July 1980 to March 1998. By the way, the current President is only the fourth. Both he and his wife were very gracious and we had the opportunity to practice our limited Setswana with them. They spoke of the great work that the Peace Corps is doing and that they have done with genuine sincerity. He made us feel proud of our work as Peace Corps Volunteers and of the United States.

The other couple was Mr. and Mrs. Max Essex.  Mr. Essex is a professor of Health Sciences at Harvard University and he is most notably known as the co-author of the book, Saturday is for Funerals. The book is excellent as it does a great job of explaining the HIV/AIDS issue here in Botswana. What a privilege it was for us to meet them.

All in all, I would have to say that the evening was unforgettable. We will cherish the memory for a long time.

Jeff for the two of us!