Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gaborone News (Oct 16)

Newscafe: The only place in Gabs with free wireless connection! Very exciting for weekend outings, but I have become a little jittery with all the coffee I have to drink to stay here…

Immigration: Thursday I had to wait 3+ hours in line to renew my visa as I am still waiting for my work permit (which I may get by May). There were tensions as ‘consultants’ for Zimbabwean workers kept cutting in line. Surprisingly, it very much reminded me of when I was applying for my green card at the immigration offices in SF.

Timing: As I was reading Cully’s blog (, I laughed as I could very much relate to his “Timing” entry. Here in Gaborone, there are only 3 times of day: in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening. I have made several attempts to ask for more specific times when scheduling appointments, and just ended up making people uncomfortable. When there are fixed appointments, one must keep in mind that 8am really means 8:30. Having said that though, the Harvard Institute is very much run American style- sometimes it’s quite difficult imposing this work ethic in Botswana, and has been the cause of some tension. But I feel that neither of these work ethics is bad, just different. And I really do appreciate a fixed lunch hour…

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Work Update (Oct 12)

The Tshedimoso Team has now been recruiting from Tebelopele, the voluntary testing center for over 2 weeks. The number of clients screened vary, with anywhere from 2 and 11 people daily. Although I believe that this is a prime center to recruit from, the numbers are disappointing, and it’s difficult to occupy oneself when there are no clients, especially with no internet access. So instead I’ve perfected my solitaire game, booked a vacation to Mozambique, and have read through all my chick magazines.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Okavango delta (Sept 28-Oct 2)

The Okavango Delta from the plane

So close you can see the fly on the leopard’s coat!


Lion sleeping.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Okavango Delta (Sept 28-Oct 2)

A whole lot greener than Gabs! The best part: I get resident rates (>50% off).

Mombo Camp (Sept 28-Sept 30): Herds and herds of animals! This is an amazing camp situated on the northern part of Chief’s Island in the Moremi Game Reserve. Chris and I got lucky as two people canceled at the last minute, and as the rest of the camp was a group, we also got a private guide. Highlights: Tracking a leopard for 2 hours during the morning hours as it marked its territory, photographing a pride of 19 lions with their cubs, lunch next to the hippo pool, a lion hunt, elephants outside our balcony, an exceptional guide, and the outdoor shower.

Vumbura Plains Camp (Sept 30-Oct 2): Not as much game here but the camp has an excellent pastry chef. Highlights: A relaxing boat ride along the channels of the Delta, a pride of lions post-hunt, a walk through the African brush, a baboon lounging on our outdoor couch, and of course the warthogs running with their tails up (my favorite!). Also memorable was when we forgot our passports, wallets, and plane tickets in the room safe and had to make Air Botswana wait while someone sped back to camp to get them.


Baobab: note the size of the person in front!

A young male leopard marking its territory

Learning to drive a monster of a 4x4

Botswana Update (Sept 26)

Kgale Hill 4 km and 10 km (Sept 17-18): 4km up Kgale Hill on Saturday afternoon (which was brutal in the heat!) and a 10 km flat race at 7am the next morning. There was prize money, so runners came from all over- Francistown, Zimbabwe, Gaborone. Amazing runners and too much competition! Baboons and cows were our only spectators along the very dusty roads. Several runners ran either barefoot or with duct tape around their socks (and I don’t think this was because of the new running-without-shoes trend), and several of them placed. I felt a little ashamed with my Asics running shoes and gear. Highlight: meeting Tiyapo Mosa, who was the Botswana representative in the Sydney Olympics marathon! He had led the marathon until the halfway mark when he fell behind. In Kgale Hill race he placed in the top 10, but said that he wasn’t in top form these days.

Chris ran the 10 km and had a strong finish with many cheers and a congratulations from Tiyapo!

Of note: Esther and I (and the other people who placed in the FNB 15km race 4 weeks ago) got our picture in the Sunday Standard newspaper!

Mokolodi Cheetah visit (Sept 25) We went for a quick cheetah visit at the Mokolodi Game Reserve. It made me a little nervous when the cheetah decided to grab my leg and wouldn’t let go for about 10 seconds. Kind of like a cat would do, but a cheetah.

Work (Sept 27): The Tshedimoso Study has started recruiting at Tebelopele, the voluntary HIV testing center in Gabs. Our first week has had variable results, with anywhere between 1-10 patients screened per day. Some of the variation does have to do with the upcoming long weekend (Independence Day September 30).

All of the recruiting material (business cards and posters) have finally been approved by IRB, so hopefully we will have something in hand within the next 2 weeks!

Lab-wise things are a little shaky. Some supplies (Superscript III RT enzyme, for example) have been known to take months to arrive. Currently, I’m spending very little time in lab, but it would be nice to get something started. The plan is to set up single genome sequencing and start by looking at the env and nef genes.

Funny moment: Driving to the Riverwalk Mall, there’s a traffic jam because a herd of cows is moseying across the road at a robot (traffic light). The dusty cows are blocking 2 brand new Mercedes, in front of a very modern mall, underneath an advertising TV screen. Quite a contrast! I’ll have to get a picture.

Dust storms (Sept 26-27): Dust everywhere. It was even difficult to see while driving.