(Botswana) The Woman who lives in front of Baobab Tree

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I come back to Botswana which is known for safe country in Africa. I meet the woman who has baobab tree after crossing border.

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I stayed one week in Botswana in February. Immigrations exclude seven days from 90 days that they give me 82 days to stay in Botswana. I’ve never seen this kind of system. But it doesn’t matter, because I will not stay over 82 days.
The border I cross is very busy that there are a few exchange houses. 1 Rand of South African money is 0.85 Pula of Botswana money. The thing I am sad is I lose much money as exchanging money. Even the things of Botswana are more expensive than South Africa, because Botswana imports many things from South Africa although Botswana politic is very stable.

 

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Photo of Congratulation of 15,000 km (9,375 mi)
Cycling of the distance of Africa will be more than the distance of South America soon. I think I cycled very well around South Africa.

 

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After 10 km (6.25 mi) from the border I arrive at small town whose name is on the map. No… actually I can’t call it town. There is nothing except one gas station and house. The next town is 100 km (62.5 mi) from here. I decide not to go anymore. Right now it is two pm that if I keep going, I must be stuck on the middle of the road.
When I use a toilet at a gas station, I see the woman in the office.
“Hello, excuse me. Do you live in the back of gas station?” I ask.
“Yes, I do. Why?”
“I am cycling around the world. But the next town is too far to go today. If you don’t mind, can I set up my tent at your yard just one night?”
“Can you wait for minutes. I will finish my work soon.“
When I am sleepy at the next restaurant, she comes to me.
“There is no place to set up your tent around here. Just stay at my house. Let’s go to my house. My name is Erica.“
“My name is Jin. Thank you for inviting me.”

But her house is not at the back of gas station. It is 30 second father from the gas station. Does she live here? There are some toys and children’s picture. “Your daughter is so pretty” I say as pointing pictures.
“Sorry?”
“Isn’t your daughter?”
“No, that is my friend’s daughter. The toy is for them. They came for holiday and just left at my home.”

 

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“Jin, would you like to drink beer or wine? Do you like chicken? “
“I don’t mind anything. How long have you lived at this house? ”
“I’ve lived here over 3 years. Actually I am from South Africa, but I grew up in Botswana. I just come back to work at here. I have been in Nigeria over 6 months for deliverance.”
“Sorry, what is deliverance? Does word mean deliver business or volunteering? ”
“No, I was alcoholic since very young. My brother told me that I was possessed by the devil. That’s why I drank too much. He knew there was very famous person for deliverance. That’s why I went to Nigeria. At the beginning I were too sick ever. But every day I was getting better. After curing I was born new person. I don’t drink alcohol everyday anymore. I don’t need alcohol for waking up or working. ”
“That is amazing. I guess it must have been really difficult for you to break away from this alcohol addiction.”
“God cures me.“
“You are a devout Christian?”
“But I don’t go to church every time. I think that doesn’t matter. Most of important thing is mind. I can feel him in my mind.”

“Do you like drawing? I can see many paintings on the wall.”
“Yes, I do. But I’ve never learnt drawing at school.”
“You were born to draw. That’s nice! I am jealous of you.”
“Thank you! My dream is to move to an artist town in South Africa. The town is very famous to tourists and artists. My neighborhood is only owner of the gas station who lives at the back. Here is too quiet that I am bored. I work from 8 am to 2 pm. Actually I worked all day so that I was too tired. When I tried to quit working, the owner changed my timesheet. Now I work only 6 hours per day. Anyway why you are cycling? How old are you?“
“My dream is to travel the universe. But I want to travel my planet, the earth at first. I am 26 years old. How old are you?“
“I am almost 39 years old. Time flies. I’ve never had baby or gotten married.”
“ Isn’t it lonely to live alone at here?”
“Yeah, that’s why I want to go to an artist town in South Africa”

“Have you told me that you quitted alcohol? What is on the table?”
“Oh, today is fine, because I have special guest, Jin”

 

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“Erica, you don’t have a gardener and maid? I’ve seen that all of them who have enough money have a gardener and maid.”
“I do myself.”
“It seems that you are different from other people. Actually I already guess that you will not have the worker for your home. Can I ask you why you don’t hire them?”
“I don’t want to treat people as slave. A salary is too low to them. If I need them for one day to clean very well, then I give enough money as much as I make. And then also they are very happy. ”
“How do you think why salary is too low for them? I think here are too many unemployed in Africa. They just knock the door and ask to work for small money. It is like the law of supply and demand. Also government makes the law of the minimum wage system low. ”
“Actually there was some rumor. The government told the upper-middle classes that they should not give much money to maid not to make them lazy and drunken. I am not sure about it. But the thing is we should not treat them as slave. Today is 21 c”

“ I’ve heard that there are too many strikes in South Africa. Some of them say South African economy will drop because of too much strike. Strikers say the reason why they are on strike is they don’t get enough money. But some of other people say that they are too lazy so that they don’t want to work, but on strike.”
“You know what is funny? They who say strikers are too lazy will never work if they get that small money. Imagine the shoe on the other foot. We must treat them that how we want to be treated.”

 

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“Are you drawing this one?”
“Yes, somebody asks me. I don’t get much money for painting. It is just for fun.”
“I think you are very unique; Your house, your mind, your way and so on”
“But I am no less unique than you,”
“Hahaha”
“Oh, I have a baobab tree in front of my house. Do you want to see?”
“That would be very nice. You are the Woman who lives in front of Baobab Tree.”

 

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“Baobab tree! Baobab tree reminds me of the Little Prince I love. It is very impressive to see your tree. I am wondering how I will look in the next ten years”

We chat until late at night with a glass of wine.
Around 9 pm, the door is still opened.

“Erica, it is around 9 pm, but you still open your door.”
“Yeah, it was very hot at afternoon that we need fresh air.”
“I mean you are not afraid of it?”
“Here is not South Africa, but Botswana! It is very safe.”
“But… do you open your door even when you are alone?”
“Yeah, why not?”
“It sounds like Botswana is the safest country in the world. In Korea, it is very dangerous to leave your door opening especially for solo woman. Can you fight very well?“
“No. But I think the local people are afraid of me. You know what? You must not let them smell of you. “
“Which smell?”
“If you let them catch your fear, then they can bother you very easily. You must be stronger.”
“I can understand what you mean. One day I took the local people’s car. The driver’s voice was too loud and threatening. So, I spoke louder than him to show I am stronger than him. Anyhow will you leave house door opening all night?”
“I will close the door before I sleep. Don’t worry. Here is very safe.”
It grows late in front of Baobab tree.

The next morning, Erica gives me many things to eat.

It is time to leave. It was awesome to know her. I enjoyed talking to her yesterday.

“Erica, can we see again?”
“Of course.”
“Where we can see?
“Any place!”
“See you later, Erica!”

 

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Many monkeys cross the road in the morning.

 

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It seems like a goat plays hide and seek. It is very lonely to be on the road after farewell.

 

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In the noon, the sun is too strong that I want to move to under the tree. But already donkeys got shade.

 

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Late afternoon I arrive in the town, but I can’t find the place so that I keep going into the town. As I keep going, it is getting dark. I am angry with myself.
‘Why you ride a bike at this time!!! It is almost dark!!!’
‘Then do I set up my tent at anyplace?’
‘I mean you should hurry up!!!’
‘Why you are upset with me? Isn’t my fault! I can’t find a safe place’

When I talk with myself, I see safe place to set up tent at local house.

 

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The next day the sun is hot and nothing to take picture beside the road. I can’t find the town which I see on the map.

 

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Around 6 pm, I can see something. I think I must stop at there for the night.

 

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I am embarrassed again that there is nothing except a small bar, gas station and an office for trucks. I beg for mercy to an office to set up my tent in an empty room, but they don’t let me. The boss of bar is not there. I am afraid of sleeping in front of the gas station. But there is nothing I can do.

 

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I talk with a manager of the gas station and thanks to him I can pitch my tent at empty building next to garage. Even the manager tells a security guy that he must take care of my safety for the night! Now I feel better.

 

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Here are staffs who work in a grocery in the gas station. They work from 6 am to 10 pm six days per week. Their house is 2 km (3.2 mi) from here that they must walk in the night to go home. I ask them how they go home in this dark area. They say they don’t use flashlight, because if bad people can see it, then they will be bothered in the dark. It is very sad to see that they continue to accept low pay and poor working conditions. If they work with those hours in Canada they will get 4,520 dollars per month. I guess it is almost 15 times more than their salary. (For example in Canada; One hour – 10 dollars. 44 hours per week in law. If one works over 44 hours, they must get 1.5 times more salary per hour. )

 

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The next morning when I buy something to eat in a grocery, I can see every price is higher than South Africa. As cycling, I see the checkpoint. It seems that the government takes care of their public safety than any other African country.

 

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Finally, I meet cyclists in Africa! Yeah! But they come from opposite way. They are from Germany. The left guy in the picture starts from Ethiopia three months ago and the right guy in the picture starts just two weeks ago. He is so faster!! Only three months to cross Africa!! They give me some tips for up north.

 

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I can see many same tents around bush. I am not sure that the government gives them or they buy.

 

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My rear tire is totally worn out that I can see blue material of the inside, but the thing is I can’t throw away.

 

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The reason is it is still stronger!! This tire is SCHWALBE which is stronger than any other tire. These days there are many thorns, but the tire is enough strong to protect from it. My hope is the tire stands until Egypt!!! I want to use my tire 8,000 km (5,000 mi) more! hahaha

 

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It is a local restaurant, but I can’t try with my weak intestine yet. I hope I can be used to eating it soon. Now I am almost near the Francistown. The name of town is like European.
I think Erica I met a few days ago might live in an artist town of South Africa at early date. It was very interesting to stay with her. I felt like I am in the scene of the movie that she was very unique. My age will be the same as her after 10 years. I am wondering what I will be and what I will do after 10 years.


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  • Menno

    Love your story! This makes cycling round the world so special! A lot of people can’t understand that, they only see dangerous things and not the beauty of all (most) days! Story telling is the best thing if you see that in life action, not in a book, movie or told by anybody else!
    Jin Enjoy cycling and tell me (us) about it!

    • universewithme

      Hello, Thank you for sharing your opinion. It is good to hear from other thinking :) Yeap, it is the best way to meet and hear on the local place!

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