I arrived at the Shell station (it looks just like the Shell station in the U.S. but cleaner) around 9pm. The night was chilly and people were being picked up by friends, families, and taxis. I was waiting under the light in the parking lot with three women who I was evesdropping on. I interjected and asked where they were coming from (one from South Africa, two from Mali). Somehow the conversation switched to the South African Indepedence Day, which was celebrated last week. One of the women, I never got their names, said she ate mice for the first time. The other two giggled and I thought she might be having some fun with the newly arrived American. She asked if I thought I could eat mice, and I said sure, I probably could, I’ve eaten lots of stuff. “Well don’t you want to try some? They are in my purse.” I was REALLY hoping she was joking. She was not.
The clear plastic bag showed where black liquid had bled through the newspaper that the mice (yes plural) were wrapped in. She kindly unwrapped them, and refused to let me smell them, after a scolding explaining in Botswana it is offensive to smell food (she was telling the truth) because it was seen as offensive to the host. “So you don’t want to eat them now?” The mice were whole, and black, and still had their hair. I was told they were cooked on the “braa” (grill) and kept wet so all the fur didn’t burn off. Of course.
So I only saw one way to save my quickly fading ego, and that was at the expense of my dignity. So I gave it a taste, a pinch of hair and meat(?) off of the smallest of the mice. It was wet, burnt, and tasted like scorched hair and soggy meatloaf. I really wish I had a drink, which was complicated by the fact that I did not have any local cur ency (“Pula” which means “rain”) to buy one with. (The smaller denominations of “Pula” are “Thebe” which means “raindrop,” there are 100 thebe in a pula, and about 6.5 pula are equivalent to one U.S. dollar)
Just after that one of their husband’s came to pick them up (I really wish he could have been there earlier). I let him know that his wife’s friend had me eat mice after he was offered some and I warned against it. She said “Please, you didn’t even break the tail.” And that is how I spent my first 15 minutes outside of the bus in Botswana.