“The Botswana trip gave me my first couch-surfing experience.”

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Mimi Mwiya

I’m from the Zambezi region, and I think one of the truest things that’s been said about my region, is that we are the gateway to Southern Africa. I started school in Ngoma, which is where we border Botswana into the small town of Kasane. This means growing up, my cousins and I would often go playing by the Chobe river, putting us just a stone throw away from Botswana. And I’ve been on quite a number of game drives there as a child but I didn’t feel they really counted as having visited Botswana, because I was too young to truly have experienced the country.
So in June of 2012, two friends and I decided to do a ‘grown up’ Botswana trip. It wasn’t the best planned of trips, which I think made it even more interesting. I have a friend, Charles, who once blogged about how travelling together can test relationships (so he proposed travelling alone). When I read the post, I thought, if I had to choose between travelling alone and with friends or family, I would definitely pick the latter. Then my friends and I had our trip, and I realised how Charles may have had a point. Thankfully, the three of us could agree on most things but there were small things that would get to anyone after enough fatigue, things like someone wanting to ask for directions when someone else wants to follow a map or (in my case) just wing it and find our way somehow, after all, we can read, lol.
The Botswana trip gave me my first couch-surfing experience. Couch-surfing is a hospitality exchange and social networking platform where you can just register then interact with people in other countries who offer lodging for travelers. Although you can bring your hosts gifts or give them some money as a token of appreciation, there isn’t really cost involved in couch-surfing because most people who offer their places are people who are just interested in meeting people from other countries, or travelers themselves who might someday like to be hosted in your country as well.
Our first stop was Gaborone, and through couch-surfing, we spent two nights at the residence of an elderly couple who had the sweetest love story, that did not in the least help dissuade all my romantic notions, but who also helped restore my faith in humanity. Just about a day or two before our arrival, Sheldon and Gudrun Weeks’ home had been broken into, it had been a very systematic job, people they knew and helped had probably been involved. If my home had just been broken into, I would have had serious reservations about opening its doors to strangers so soon after. Not those two, they were the most gracious of hosts. They accommodated us, fed us, took us around the city, and provided interesting conversation. Gaborone also gave us a wonderful music experience as we were just in time for their Fete de la Musique(World Music Day) celebrations where we had lots of fun dancing to beautiful marimba music.
From Gaborone, we went to Francistown where we spent one night at a Christian youth hostel. We didn’t see much of it, but I do remember eating bream so fresh I swear I could taste the river on it. From Francistown, we took a bus to Kasane, and oh what a charming place it is! The atmosphere in general was much more relaxed, compared to Gaborone and Francistown. The scenery was amazing, we stayed at a secluded little lodge built in the forest, and we went canoeing on the Chobe, which for me, was the absolute highlight of that trip, water makes me happy!
Adding on to the charm of Kasane was how much like home it felt. I remember being in the Spar there and hearing people speak “Chinkuhane”, which is a deeper version of the ’Subia’ spoken in the Zambezi. And since it’s where the border is, it was our last stop before we crossed over to Katima Mulilo and I got to show my hometown off to my friends.
I have one tip for any one wanting to visit Botswana: Getting Pula for your Namibian dollars won’t be the easiest feat, in either country, your best bet is to have Rands as those are easier to get in Namibia, and also to exchange on the streets of Botswana.
Munukayumbwa Mwiya, commonly known as ‘Mimi’ does not quite consider herself a writer, but loves to write because writing is her escape and refuge, it’s where she runs to, to find herself, and it’s how she best expresses her innermost thoughts. Writing is very personal for her, which is why she journals a whole lot more than she writes on any other platform, including sharing a lot of her thoughts on Facebook, and she sometimes blogs at ramblingsofapotentialycrazyperson.blogspot.com. She also loves to travel and tries to do so whenever and wherever possible.

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