In a previous blog entry I mentioned about my namesake town here in Botswana, Sowa. Well we had our spring break, or ‘short vacation’ as the emic term goes, and I convinced a friend to visit the salt pans in Sowa town. He brought along three other people as well and we all set off Thursday night on the train from Gaborone to Francistown. Boarding the train was an event. The line was hundreds of people long and everyone rushed foward to get on the train (and get a seat to avoid standing for the 8 hour ride). Well, the train had not even stopped moving as people came to blows while holding on to the side of the train car. I saw lugage knocked under the cars, but thankfully no people. We were riding first class, which ment we got a sleeper car. These expensive (20 USD) tickets were not in such demand, as we were two people to each four person room. The train is popular because it is about 7 USD cheaper than the bus.
A couple of nights while we were there we ventured back to the lodge to steal a dip in the pool and visit with other people. We met Mpoh, a Motswana guy in his 30’s who could quote at length from almost any animated movie we asked him about. Then there were a couple of Afrikkaner gents, J.P. and Jean, who took us for a ride to see a million flamingoes in the salt pan lake near the salt and sodium bicarbonate (backing soda) mine. As dry as the area is we only have to scratch the earth about three inches deep to find wet dirt. However the water is pretty much a saline solution that cannot be drank.
We returned home (with light packs having eaten much food and drank much water) via bus. Some members of our excursion decided to go on to Zambia and Zimbabwe. Oh, and of course I mentioned the coincidence of my last name being Sowa. I we met by reactions of disbelief (the most common), speechlessness, questioning if I was born there, but the reactions always ended with a bout of laughter. It is nice to make people laugh.