Living in a foreign country with a culture and language not your own becomes a daily challenge. Add to this mix, the endlessly fascinating landscape that is Africa, and the result is a grand adventure, sometimes funny, often quirky, at times incomprehensible, and rarely boring. Whether your looking out over the vast horizon while on safari, the sunsetting over the heritage water ways of the Okavanga Delta, admiring the golden hues of the endless land in front of my eyes everyday, or pondering our differences, makes one really appreciate all of what life is. Adding even more to the mix, living here, where life as we know it started, is a grounding and humbling experience in itself. People, at least in the villages, lead a humble existence, but seem satisfied, and to me, it's fascinating, but equally frustrating at times, to see their lack of dependence on the rest of the world---especially in today's changing world evolution, where our intellect and self realization defines how evolved we are. The ordinary becomes spectacular---the tooth brush waiting for the mouth, the window ready for opening, laughter waiting to bubble to the surface. But these people are not open to other things which entices, to which burns like fire. They seem content to stay oblivious to higher consciousness, to changes in attitudes, intentions, decisions, and action. Which brings me to my latest challenge of understanding Batswanas':
It's fun to adhere to life being an impromptu adventure, unscripted, untidy, and often misunderstood---so why do I find myself trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. I can tolerate that many different cultures have their own idiosyncrasises, but a few things in Botswana seem to tug at me lately, and one of them is the treatment of innocence animals, let's say, like Keoki. In America we treat our animals, especially dogs, as members of the family. We would call people who abuse dogs as a psychopathic or with a personality disorder. So am I to surmise that all Africans are disordered? Or are they so archaic that they adhere to old references in the bible, putting a negative light on dogs, whether it be literally or metaphorically. Come on guys, what planet are you living on--get with the program--the prophets are long gone, and those who preach now are just trying to put the pieces together.
A few nights ago, I stopped to chat for a second, and as I walked onward, a lady a few houses down said to me, “I just bit your dog.” “What do you mean you bit my dog?” “I bit your dog.” Ok, I gather you're saying you beat him---yeah! That's better I guess than biting him. “Why on earth did you bit my dog?” “Because he was here.” Good answer—was he bothering you? “No,”-- was he on your property? “No,”-- was he barking at you? “No,”-- well what the hell did you bit him for? God, I was fuming. The lady finally asked if it was a bad thing to do---at least she kind of got it. The next night, I take a different way to walk, and 2 groups of kids starting throwing rocks, hard and violently at him. Ok, I'm gonna kill these kids! But trying to be nice instead of winding up in a Botswana jail, I ask “Why are you stoning my dog?” “Because we want to!” What if I stoned you? They run! So much for talking things through!
It's really hard to comprehend the true meaning of why dogs and some other animals are treated worse than slaves. I've spent the better part of 10 months teaching those around to treat Keoki with some sort of respect, and frankly, most of them are enjoying it, but it would be doubtful that the next animal who came along would be treated with respect. I hope change is coming here, but maybe it all comes down to letting people on Planet Botswana have their own differing common patterns of communicating and responding, and us just letting it go, because maybe, just maybe, it takes a true commitment to trying the new, to having a curiosity, to being aware of the real beauty of the world!