Saturday was a very culture-filled day. I saw and learned a lot from the whole trip. Our cultural outing was almost all day.
We first stopped at a little souvenir/gift shop kind of in the middle of no where. I wasn’t really sure what it was a gift shop for, and I don’t really think it was attached to any building or anything. It was just a gift shop next to a church that I guess tourists come by and get souvenirs from. We stayed there for an hour waiting for people to buy things, but since I didn’t get anything from this store, I waited outside, which turned out to be an interesting experience. We heard singing coming from the church so we started watching the people (because the doors to the church was open). We saw two ladies walking into the church with matching fancy yellow dresses and guessed that maybe they were the bridesmaids and that it was a wedding.
This was pretty much our whole view of the church and the inside. We heard a lot of singing and could see people dancing inside, but couldn’t tell much else of what was happening. We didn’t even get to see the bride or anything, but we know that there was singing and dancing for sure!
After this stop, we went off to see some cliff drawings done by the bush men 2000 years ago. There were very few drawings left to be seen, because they don’t have any preservation protocols here. We just drove into a small village and stopped by a metal fence. Inside the metal fence were the drawings (it was a national monument). It was very strange to see a national monument right next to some homes, but here it is much different than back in the United States.
This is what the cliffs looked like. We had a guide, Justice, show us where the drawings were. This is the first one he took us to:
Can anyone guess what it is? I wouldn’t have even been able to tel that this was a drawing, because most of the other parts of the rock look like this too-very smeared colors. The second one we saw was a little more clear. Any guesses for this one?
One thing we saw that was NOT a cliff drawing was a cave where the native people hid a pregnant wife of a chief while they were at war right below the cliff.
That is Justice on the side. I don’t know about you guys, but the cave seemed pretty small to me. I wouldn’t want to be kept in there.
After the cliff drawings, we went to see the Livingstone tree. The tree didn’t look too much like a tree from the outside. It actually resembled more of a bush. Take a look:
I’m not sure if you can tell how large the tree is from this first picture, but it is pretty large. Maybe you can compare it to the grass in the foreground. We walked into its shade and were amazed by the size of its trunks (yes plural trunks)
To get a better idea of exactly how large this tree was, you have to see someone stand next to it:
Amber (Penn) standing next to the tree.
Me and Maren next to some large tree trunks. The tree is a wild fig tree and they are not sure how old it is, except for that it was already big by the time David Livingstone came to Botswana. It is named after him because he would come and sit under this tree and practice his Western medicine. The tree is really cool, especially because every time the branches end up touching the ground, the tree re-roots itself, so our guide told us they are not afraid of it dying. I asked if they water it year-round to make sure it is healthy, but he said that whatever rain comes due to the weather is the only watering it gets.
Afterwards, we went to a cultural center. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this visit, but it was really just an introduction to the culture in villages I think. We were welcomed by dancing young people (not really sure of their age).
This was right when we came in.
These people were in a dance troupe and they did four dances as a “welcome” to us. They all seemed really happy to be dancing and they really enjoyed themselves. At one point, they came to where we were seated and pulled people from the audience to come dance. Brian (Tulane), one of my lab-mates got chosen and he had a really good time.
We were also taught about how the village people treat visitors. They throw bones to see if they are allowed to welcome the visitors to their village. When the bones are thrown, if there is not a group of them together (as in they are all scattered), they cannot welcome them and must send them away. Luckily, we were welcomed!
This is the chief after he threw the bones. See how there is a group of bones together? When we were first greeted by the chief, we all had to kneel and say hello to him. Apparently, if you are a woman, you are supposed to wear a skirt or dress when you meet the chief, and I was the only one who was appropriately dressed that day (definitely on purpose)!
Afterwards, we were all asked to come out and do a welcoming dance (because we were all welcomed to the village) and then they taught us some of the chores that the villagers do. They have to mash up the seeds of the sorghum in order to make a sort of corn-meal-y stuff (but obviously not corn). They also showed us how to grind these seeds and sift the large seeds out from the ground ones, which will eventually be cooked. They let several people come up and try to do these tasks.
Finally, the told us that to keep their floors clean inside the huts, they wipe them with cow dung because it is the most sanitary thing they have.
“Cleaning.” Good thing they said that they wouldn’t pick anyone to try this task.
All in all, a very cultural experience I believe! I had a lot of fun and it was very interesting seeing how the village people interacted and everything. Presentations on Sunday!