Africa & the Middle East Forums

Start a new topic Change Forum
Advanced search

Trip Report Karen's master's degree trip - busy yes, but still fun!

Jump to last reply

I'm just back and a bit jet-lagged, but and excited and wanted to tell you a little about my trip. In case you've forgotten (or didn't see the original [controversial!] thread), I'm part of a government-sponsored master's degree program and have been studying national security strategy for the past year. My field studies portion of the curriculum was sub-Saharan Africa and the culmination was a trip (with 8 other students and 2 faculty members) to South Africa, Botswana (and a brief stop in Zambia) - all in 10 days.
Yes, it was rushed. And in Pretoria we spent far too much time listening to briefings in conference rooms (I caused a major ruckus and embarrassed the rest of the group by complaining about it to the U.S. Embassy personnel who hosted us. I was frustrated because they did exactly what we DIDN'T want - a bunch of PowerPoint briefings - and we didn't get to see my number one priority for Jo-burg, the Apartheid Museum.) But overall, the trip was fabulous - I learned a lot and had a lot of fun.
A few highlights...
In inner-city Johannesburg, we were given a tour of a walk-in AIDS clinic (and a package of condoms - condoms, by the way, are widely available for free in both South Africa and Botswana). At the clinic, we saw lots of people waiting to be tested and waiting for treatment - both with ARVs for AIDS and also for TB, which in southern Africa is often a precursor disease to full-blown AIDS. We heard about the clinic's education and counseling program and about the frightening AIDS statistics and the reluctance of people to be tested. It was a fascinating up-close look at an issue that until then had seemed a distant and academic problem. The 3-year-old boy who wandered into one of the rooms where we being briefed made it poignantly real.
We stayed in Pretoria rather than Jo-burg. (I would NOT recommend it - seemed to me there was more to do in Jo-burg, although we didn't get to do any of it!) Our hotel was Villa Via, across the street from the U.S. Embassy - a convenient location for our conference room briefings (sigh), but otherwise not worth a stay.
After two days there, we headed via bus to Gabarone. Enroute we stopped at a very touristy place, Lesido Village (I may have the spelling wrong). It was like a folk park with people dressed in native costumes. We saw dances and typical village huts. I tasted a dried worm that looked kind of like a caterpillar. (I was one of only three in our group to do so and the only woman.) I chewed it up (tasted kind of like jerky), but ended up spitting it out (the texture screamed INSECT and it was more than I could...um... swallow). Anyway, we had fun, but this was a VERY touristy spot and a bit disappointing. I think we were expecting a more realistic village.
More later... next stop: Gabarone.
Karen

13 Replies |Back to top

| Add a Reply

Sign in to comment.

Recent Activity

  • Announcement: Writers Needed for Morocco Guidebook
    by Emily_D Fodor's Editor | Posted on Apr 11, 14 at 05:51 PM
View all Africa & the Middle East activity »
  1. 1 Trip Report Trip Report Africa & Dubai
  2. 2 Generic malarone now availbale in Canada
  3. 3 Trip Report 14 day South Africa + Zimabawe with Gate 1 - Excellent Trip
  4. 4 Israel and Petra
  5. 5 Morocco for 2 nights
  6. 6 Need Help Organizing our time in Cape Town - 3.5 days in June
  7. 7 Who Plans and Packs for Your Bucket List Travel (Safari)
  8. 8 Trip Report Magnificant Morocco
  9. 9 The 1st of may questions .. when to go???
  10. 10 Hotels in Nairobi
  11. 11 israel and petra
  12. 12 Itinerary needed for four days in Morocco
  13. 13 Memory cards for camera
  14. 14 World Travel Expert
  15. 15 maputo beach resorts -- safer this year?
  16. 16 Deep sea fishing -Seychelles
  17. 17 Trip Report Tanzania Safari
  18. 18 Safari and Beach Honeymoon in September
  19. 19 FABULOUS Safari Clothing - Might as well look FINE... :)
  20. 20 Eilat/Petra Itinerary advice and Where to stay in the Dead Sea Area?
  21. 21 Trip Report Oman: an indipendent and memorable 4x4 trip
  22. 22 Trip Report Namibia and Botswana trip report: an indipendent 4x4 safari
  23. 23 Trip Report Uganda Trip Report May 2012
  24. 24 Help with Kruger Park itinerary
  25. 25 Tanzania Visa on Arrival requirements?
View next 25 » Back to the top