The Cactus Patch
Volume 9       October 2006      Number 10

No Visitors
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Not that they weren't welcome, but visitors are tiring. It is relaxing to get back to a "normal" routine. There have been a few unexpected events. The first was on 4th Aug when I noticed clearing underway at the University. The area being cleared has long been a botanical preserve! It seems they have decided a health center has priority. I followed behind the bulldozers and managed to rescue brachystelma tubers, orchid tubers, aloes, plectranthus, sansevieria, senecio, kalanchoe, huerniopsis, etc. I even found some succulent roots which might be Ceropegia ampliata. This is the only place in Botswana where this species has been found.

That evening they announced on TV that petrol (gasoline) was going up by 47thebe per liter (about 40cents per gallon) so we rush out with both cars and then the Land Rover and got everything filled. There were long lines. (The price went up again on 1 Sept, but we were topped up by then.) At this rate we'll stay home a lot.

On the 5th we started at the Catholic fete where I bought a number of gardening and travel magazines. Then it was on to the Anglicans for an International Food Fair. While eating we learned of a used item sale at Northside Primary School so we rushed on to buy a number of plant books. Visitors are not the only source of exhaustion.

On the 6th we went to Modipe Hill with the Bird Club. We had a school group with us and I showed them the stone tools and potsherds which litter the area. We didn't climb up to the stone walls. The area is, naturally, a National Monument. Afterwards we had brunch at a member's house nearby.

The week was pretty routine, but on the 12th we went to the south end of the country and I photographed hybrid aloes in bloom. We also found "Teddy Bear" cholla and a giant dandelion in a garden at Good Hope. I then had a brief rest before Tuesday the 15th when I flew up to Maun for a SADC (Southern African Development Community) expert meeting on Alien Species and Biodiversity. It was all expense paid, but the meeting on the 16th was pretty dull. They made up for it on the 17th by taking us up to Moremi Game Reserve where, among other things we saw Red Lechwe splashing through the shallows. We also found a wild gourd just outside the reserve. It was in fruit and I pressed some for a second record as well as kept seed for the garden.

On the 19th we were treated to a concert by Angela Kerrison, Botswana's own diva, who is now off to Switzerland. The following Wed (the 23rd) I gave a talk on aloes at the museum using some of the pictures I'd taken on the 12th. That Saturday (the 26th) we saw "Tapping Hearts", a group of tap dancing women from South Africa who spent too much of the time yelling about how awful men are.

On the 27th we went to the fair which was more local and uninteresting since the "International Fair" is now only held on alternate years.

On the 30th there was a play to launch a children's book about "Tlou" (Elephant) which featured a life-sized "elephant", on the 31st Polly went to Good Hope for another quilting workshop and on the 1st I watched a "traditional" torch (which I made) being carried across town to light a "modern" torch which is now touring Botswana. It will return to Gaborone on the 30th of September which is the 40th anniversary of independence in Botswana. More news on this later.

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