Report from the field: Botswana tourist edition

Robin and I are back and semi-recovered from our trip to Botswana. Here are some probably over generalized and superficial impressions.

It’s a pretty rich country. Our last trip to Africa was to Uganda and there’s no comparison really (we loved Uganda though, money isn’t everything).

Batswanans  think they live in a democracy despite 50 years of one party rule. When you say the Khama family is like the Bush family they are not amused.

Batswanans are very impressed if you learn any Setswana at all. We learned like 20 words and a few stock phrases and were treated like super-heros. People constantly asked us if we lived there and would interrogate us to figure out how this amazing event had come to pass.

Batswanans have a dim view of their neighbors, especially Namibia, which catches a fair share of jokes and scorn.

The average Motswana working in the tourist industry views their customers as dimwitted mobile ATMs. And given many of the  questions we heard asked and the actions we observed from our fellow tourists as we traveled around the country, I don’t particularly blame them. This may explain why our attempts to speak Setswana were met with amazement, like if a goat started speaking English.

It was unexpected and nice to see several women working in managerial positions supervising male employees. It was a small sample, but we thought on average the female managers we encountered outperformed their male counterparts.

The Okavango delta is one of the most amazing places on earth and the government / people of Botswana deserve a ton of credit and gratitude for keeping it that way.

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