First Impressions of Botswana

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.

15 responses to “First Impressions of Botswana

  1. Hi, this is a comment.
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  2. We’re looking forward to reading about your experiences!

  3. Mwen renmen ou cheri! M’ap li sa chak jou 🙂

  4. M’se chegre pou ou Graham, m’sonje ou anpil anpil,

    epi, ou konnen m’renmen ou cheri avek tout ker mwen

    mwen ton ou, pou yon ane

    ~Toujou nan lamou~


  5. I have to admit that I’ve never had mice before. (That is, that I know of. I’ve been to many questionable restaurants.)

  6. “Wow.” Thats all Im going to say.

  7. To quote Dr. Suess “Oh, the places you will go!”
    and now I know theres no telling the things you’ll do!

    So happy to hear you are doing well, Graham. Enjoy your big adventure and we’ll see you when you come back home. May God Bless you and keep you safe always.

  8. It’s great to see you’ve hit the ground running (which I had no doubt), but I do wish you’d run, not walked, from THE MICE!! YULK! I thought I was pretty open-minded about people’s choices but surely the line must be drawn at eating mice. Oh well, as long as you’ve survived, we’ll be thankful for your ‘experience.’ After all, it’s the year of the rat!

  9. Grab that VW. A bit of paint and a battery….
    Are you sure that you are not somewhere West of Tucson?

  10. So I’m not posting my first thought. With that being said, if the first person in Botswana you meet offerers you wet hairy burnt mice wrapped in a soggy paper and stored in her purse, it will make everything that anyone else offerers you look great.

  11. You are braver than I, Graham! On the other hand, when in Botswana… taste the moment, whatever it brings! We’re proud of your accomplishments, and want to hear more.

  12. Keep the e-mails coming. Also, keep away from the mice. Try to find a McDonalds.
    Good luck

  13. I would like to know more about this expedition!
    (maybe I should start grilling those mice the cat keeps to leave at the doorstep :)…)

  14. WOW – brings back all the memories of my initiation into Tanzanian and Kenyan life 20 years ago. Don’t worry about learning the ropes; if you love what you’re doing, you’ll learn fast. I guarantee it!

  15. Graham,

    This is fantastic! Enjoy your year as a Roary Ambassadorial Scholar and continue to enjoy and share a culture most of us know little about.
    You are off to a great start! Mice…well, as you get older you will learn that there are limits to what you will put in your mouth. I am sure you can find things even more exotic however, –don’t look too hard for them! We are so very proud of you representing Rotary District 5790 and your country. Jim

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