The Cactus Patch
Volume 7       August 2004      Number 8

Jumping Back In
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

We arrived back in Botswana on the 26th of May and Polly went to her Book Club meeting that same evening. Next day we went to see "The Day After Tomorrow". We saw it at 5:15 local time which was still "yesterday" in California! Although the climate change is exaggerated, I believe there is a real threat. This was brought home by an article in the Californian on 23rd May which had a picture of palm trees downed by rising seas in Majuro, capital of the Marshal Islands. It reminded me of the remark of Joshua, adopted Micronesian nephew, who commented on the fact that Catalina Island was made of a mountain. When asked what his home island of Kwajelein was made of, he replied, "Whatever people put on it".

On the 28th I looked in on the Botanic Garden and noted that monkeys had nibbled on Stapelia gigantea fruits. We had lunch at Sanitas with Lilian Turton and looked at plants which Queen Turner (herbarium head) had brought back from Bokspits at the far Southwest. Among them were plants of Hoodia officinalis, a new record for Botswana. On the 29th Polly helped man a quilting booth at a local craft fair and on the 30th we went to a BBQ at the new site for a Capital Players playhouse in Tlokweng Village. It was held jointly with the Hash House Harriers who outnumbered us. I collected Duvalia polita from the empty lot.

On the 31st I officially reported back to work and we went to choir rehearsal in the evening. Next day the museum opened a fantastic exhibit of San art (though the prices are now unaffordable) and the film club showed "Run Lola Run" a strange German production. Polly won a chocolate egg for remembering the title of another such film "Das Boat".

On the 5th we went to see "The Passion of Christ" which we had skipped in the Canaries because it had Spanish subtitles. (The spoken words are a mix of Aramaic and Latin.) Despite all the hype, it is a strange mix of modern myth and somewhat mixed Biblical references. It is certainly gratuitously violent.

Next day we went on a bird club walk at Ditubamaruba, an area of settlement in the 1820s which still has stone walls and hut foundations. Polly stayed back at the cars where there are foundations from a German mission of the late 1800s. Despite being unable to walk far, she did witness a hoopoo chased by a drongo.

On the 8th we tried to watch the transit of Venus across the sun, but found it was too small to detect. There was a book signing on the 12th for Unity Dow's new novel "Juggling Truths". It is a little more positive than the previous one. It is a very good description of the process we all go through in trying to balance various "truths" which is exaggerated in areas where a colonial "truth" is imposed over local ones. On the 16th I collected plants in the Kanye area (nothing exciting). There was also a book signing for a new book on Grasses of Botswana (a simple listing by Monicah Kabelo and Daniel Mafokate of our herbarium) as well as the Trees of Botswana which has actually been out for some time. Some of the photos in the grass book are by Polly.

On the 18th Polly ordered a diamond and sapphire ring for our 40th anniversary. The diamond is a certified Botswana one! We celebrated our actual anniversary next day at our friend Brian's BBQ (lovely prawns!) - it was his 40th birthday. We rushed from the BBQ to a farewell party for our friend Nigel Rollo. There we met an old friend Gabriella who was a fellow teacher with Andrena Teed (Nigel's wife). Gabriella is still just as short as the second graders she taught. On Monday the 21st we inherited the Teed/Rollo dogs - two little white Maltese dustmops named Spike and Chips.

On the 24th there was a booksale at a local shop and on the 26th we went to buy books from Polly's friend Sheila whose husband died in April. It turns out her husband was the John Case I mentioned last year. She also was a volunteer (British) in Malawi! While we selected books, an olive thrush (rather like the American "robin") was eating a horned melon in the garden outside. That afternoon the Choir had a picnic at the Gaborone Game Reserve which was attended by Margaret Nash, Minister of Lands, who is a choir patron.

On the 30th there was a farewell for the Museum Director Tickey Pule who is promoted higher up in the Ministry of Labour & Home Affairs. We are now in limbo awaiting a new one. That same evening Polly hosted her book club at our house with a Mexican dinner and even a string of parrot lights to give the proper Cantina atmosphere.

The 1st of July was a holiday (Seretse Khama Day) and on the 2nd we set off for a grand tour of the Land of the Rooibos. But more of that later.

Back at the end of April, California hit us with a heat wave (ending with a visit to Joshua tree!) When we returned to Botswana we had nights hovering just above freezing which lasted until the 29th of June when it clouded over and warmed up. We had an unusual rainstorm that night. (Botswana usually has summer rain.)

Queen Turner with Hoodia officinalis

Chips (girl) is 10 years old, I've known her from a puppy. Spike (boy) is seven and sounds just like one of those battery jobs for sale at the fair.

Diamond is Bruce's birthstone and Sapphire is mine. Ring was made with a diamond that was cut here in Botswana.

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