Monday, July 25, 2005

My god, the stories I have to tell.

First, to answer somebody's question from last time--I'm not quite as far in the savanna as all that. I'm staying in an enclosed educational park near the village of Maun, a tourist hub into the delta and other national parks. On the plus side, no predators in the park (I don't fancy being woken by a hyena outside my tent), but the downside is that it's small and there's not a huge amount of work. Anyway, there are several internet cafes in town, and that's what I'm using to update.

I'll try to tell the stories in detail later but for now a taste:

--surviving a baboon attack in Moremi (on my stuff, not my person, thank god. And, aside from a few teeth marks, some tears in a brand new tent, and the lovely scent of baboon, no real damage. A word of caution, however: child safety medicine bottles are not also baboon safe.);

--the world's worst tour guide; seeing giraffes sleeping, hippos swimming, zebras running (and running with zebras), and lots and lots of elephants! I ADORE elephants;

--learning that Hakuna Matata means "No Worries" in Setswana (the local language);

--learning that they weren't kidding about having clicks in this language, and trying to learn to say words containing the sounds;

--making s'mores with 9 people who'd never tried them before (they loved them);

--being the only white girl in an African night club (I was quite the spectacle--people were fascinated by my dancing. And, had I wanted to pick up a guy, I could have had my pick. Yeesh.)

--more about the world's worst tour guide;

--visiting the police to report the world's worst tour guide...

And I still have a week left.

So fun.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Best. Vacation. Ever.

I don't really have time to write, but I wanted to say hello, or, as they say here, dumela.

I'm having a fantastic time. The camp consists of me, two Italians and 5 Batswana, and they are such fabulous, interesting people. I would kill for a hot shower with no spiders, (either, but both would be pure heaven) and to not feel like such an idiot every time I try to do something (so, first I light the campfire. Right. How do I do that? And then I cook the pap. Sure thing. What's pap?) but I'm learning a lot, about Botswana, about camping, about animals...

This weekend, the Italians and I will take a safari into the delta (the camp is on the edge, near a village), and we will see elephants and hippos and leopards and lions (in theory). But the park we're staying in has baboons and zebras and giraffes, and they come right up to our tent. Of course, for the baboons, it's because they want to steal our food, but until they succeed, I'll think they're cool.

I've only gone running once so far (the children in the village waved and one girl ran with me for a quarter-mile--they thought I was crazy...) and I'm not sure how often I'll get to go again. Everything takes a long time to do, between washing and cooking and the work at the camp. Plus, running makes me sweat, which means more showers. And I'm trying to minimize that.

Of course, the Batswana are used to all this, so while I'm sweaty and dusty and frizzy, they look like they're about to hit the clubs. (They're all about hip hop here. One guy told me that I remind him of the Julia Stiles character in Save the Last Dance. Suffice it to say, I'm not such a fly girl. Hee. But I'm taking the Julia Stiles thing as a compliment.)

Anyway, I'm having an amazing time, and I'll tell you more when I get home.

P.S. To Tim and Jackie: forgive me if I have to crawl during the VA Beach 1/2 marathon. Maybe I can get back into shape in August.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

So much to say, so little time

Gah. I have written like five posts in my head but haven't managed to sit down and the computer to, you know, post any of them.

Thursday, I was in the midst of my signature Friday Freakout (a day early! I'm so efficient). I even wrote part of that post:

Seriously, I’m going to be gone for a month. In Africa? What am I getting into y’all? I couldn’t convince anyone to go with me, which means I’m going by myself—although I’m joining up with a program when I get there, so presumably there will be someone else who speaks English or French to whom I can spew my ramblings and complaints about life, the universe, and running, until they gnaw off their arm from the sheer agony of it, at which point maybe I’ll have learned some Setswane so as to have some new victims for my torture.

But it’s the vast unknowness of this trip that keeps freaking me out. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be staying or what I’ll be doing or what I’ll be eating or what I should bring, and, despite the fact that I’m doing this, this is not the type of thing I do. I’m a city girl! I can navigate subway systems and shop ‘til I drop (budget permitting) and chill on sidewalk cafes, and what about that makes me qualified to live in a tent for three weeks maintaining a park in Africa? I don’t have the right wardrobe for this! I don’t even know what the right wardrobe is. And I have an entirely juvenile fear of showing up and wearing the wrong things and not fitting in with all the cool, outdoorsy, hippie people, who shop at REI on a regular basis and live in their trucks as they migrate between teaching ski lessons in the winter and, I don’t know, hiking camp in the summer or something.

By Friday, I had arranged to borrow some stuff from my kayaking friend, who simply exudes outdoorsy, and the panic had subsided. On Friday, I was going to amaze you with my profound reflections on 2005 thus far, and how doing scary things is hard, but also very rewarding, and how I'm learning so much about myself by pushing boundaries and really, you were going to be very impressed by my insight, and it would probably have changed your life.

But I didn't have time to write that post.

On Saturday, I arrived in the town where I grew up—a teensy suburb of New York City, with a population under 10,000 and all the adorable cuteness that comes from being a quaint little village (complete with a Colonial manor!). I was going to make you laugh with a story about how I ran the "long" loop that terrified me in my high school winter track days, and how it's actually about 2.5 miles. Then I would probably have made you cry with reflections on running through one's childhood, and seeing the small changes in this town but... I don't really know what I was going to write. But it would been beautiful.

But here it is Sunday, and none of those posts have been written. And, since I doubt I'll have time to post again tomorrow, this will be my Last! Post! for a month! Which means that I need to write something fabulous, so y'all will want to come back and keep reading, come August.

Eh. That sounds hard.

Let's do this, instead:

Hey, has anyone else noticed how many lovely bloggers have recently signed up for their first marathons?

There’s Denise, Jessica, Jeanne, Rionna, Stephanie, A.Maria and… I’m pretty sure there’s at least one more, but I can’t remember.

Anybody think that maybe it’s all because of my incredibly awe-inspiring whining, which has convinced these ladies that if she can do it, then, for Pete’s sake, it really can’t be that hard?

Well, no, probably not, since most of you probably aren’t viewing the world through Naomi-tinted glasses.

Of course I know that all these women have their own reasons for wanting to do marathons, and most of them signed up well before they even knew I existed. But how is that interesting?

Anyway, the real reason I bring them up is because they’re super cool, and if you’re jones-ing for some novice marathoner tales of pain accomplishment, or else an interesting blog to read for the next few weeks, they’ve got you covered.

Back in a month, y'all. Hakuna matata (hee!).