Cousin visiting

The new year is well on its way. Our nephew Tobias (9 years) has joined us from Norway to stay with us for 5 weeks. Going to school and participating in all the other fun everyday life we are living. Coming from the cold north it’s been close to impossible to get him out of the pool. Spending hours in the water everyday. His first days of school went very well and the initial nervousness vanished very quickly. He adapted quickly to hearing and speaking English and should learn quite a bit more than he would back home at school. Our boys have had squad trials and both managed to qualify for the school team. Their preparations for the first zonal gala went well and both Robin and Nicolas managed to qualify for the interzonal gala held in Francistown. A town 500 km to the east. So we packed the car Friday morning to head off. Of course Tobias wanted to join and cheer on his cousins. On our way we were lucky to see elephant, ostrich and a kudu. We had been invited to stay with one of Nicolas’ school friends. His family own a lovely farm, the house situated on top of a little rocky hill with a fantastic view.

On the last stretch to the farm we saw a Jackal that had been hit by a car.

Once at the farm the kids played with the 9 puppies that were there, while the adults prepared a carb loaded dinner. Unfortunately the spaghetti didn’t arrive until later, so the kids ended up eating Bolognese and garlic bread. Once fed it was time to hit the sack.

Saturday started early, a coffee and some food before we headed for the gala. As the boys met up with their team and got warmed up we adults could enjoy another cup of coffee and mingle, to calm the nerves. The gala started with the individual medley, where Nicolas featured for the under 11 boys. The start signal went off and the boys exploded off the starting blocks. A tight race between the first three, all from matshwane and Nicolas’ friends. They took turns leading the race, Nicolas in second on the last lap, swimming crawl. By half way he was along side the leader edging his way past on the last 5 meters, touching the wall first!! Robin was up next swimming backstroke for the under 8 boys, the excitement was just as much, him and another fighting for the first spot, and Robin touching the wall second, but improving his time by 2 seconds since the last gala! Nicolas took 3 second spots in backstroke, butterfly and crawl, close behind the first. And Robin managed a third spot in breaststroke and to win the crawl event from lane 8 swimming 3 seconds faster than 2 weeks ago! Their swimming guaranteeing them a spot in the northern Botswana schools swim squad! 2 happy but tired boys were ready for the drive back home to tell mom all about the exciting races.

Nicolas had his birthday at the end of January, turning 11! Where has the time gone?? He had been saving up for a motorbike for more than a year, so I thought I’d see if I could get hold of a bike for him for his birthday. And I was lucky to find a Yamaha 125TTR in South Africa, for the amount he had saved. My sister was in South Africa at the time and managed to go have a look at the bike. She and her boyfriend approved of the bike’s status and loaded it onto their car.

Of course Nicolas didn’t know about it, so we first gave him an old frame we had found and said he could now start buying the rest of the parts with his money…

A while later Angus, my sister’s boyfriend, said he had some spare parts on the back of his car, which nicolas could buy… And that’s where he, to his great surprise, saw the bike and couldn’t believe his eyes!

His grandpa took him on a bike trip the following weekend, driving up the dry river bed and learning how to handle the bike in the sand. Nicolas only had one fall, no injury and a lot of fun.

We are now awaiting the arrival of Tobias’ family. Aiming at taking them into the bush for a few nights during the half term school break.

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Soon to post an update on the building progress, which has started up again.

Winter came and winter went

After a lousy rainy season we had a mild and short winter. In contrary to Norway where the winters are long and the summers short. Temperatures have been very bearable, dropping down to about 6C at night and rising to around 30C during the day, although only for a very short period. This comfort is no more and temperatures keep gradually rising day by day, now only dropping down to around 15 at night and reaching 38 during the day. It will be a long and hot wait until the rainy season, expected to bring back life at the end of November. There is no more water in the river and greenery is restricted to private gardens. Animals are suffering from the lack of food and water too. Livestock is skin and bones and it won’t be long before the sight of animal carcasses will be a regular one. Wild animals are also moving closer to town, looking for food and water. Leopards have been spotted on porches and we saw their tracks outside our house the other day. Elefant have been moving around our house and the other day I saw a giraffe on my way to work.

Since our last visitors left, the kids have been on holiday. Enjoying spending time at home, after 5 busy weeks of traveling. With a lot of free time they did their share of playing, but also used the time to learn some crafts for life. The boys had a shot at trying to weld. Robin, the younger of the two, had a very short career, burning himself a few times and not wanting to come close to the welder since. Nicolas on the other hand proved to be a natural, understanding the principle and welding real neat lines. The boys were offered to help fabricate ventilation frames for the walls of our house to be. Robin took the responsibility of grinding the edges smooth with an angle grinder while Nicolas did the welding. 50 frames later the boys had earned a bit of pocket money, adding to their savings, slowly increasing the amount, in hope of one day buying a little motorbike for themselves.

The house is making progress, although very slow it does seem to be edging its way closer to becoming done. We met some challenges when the mines denied everyone to fetch gravel and calcrete. Forcing us to take a break. We got back on track A few weeks later and the boys refilled and compacted the space within and around the footing.

Now the damp proofing sheets have been spread out and the steel reinforcement is being laid out. We hope to get everything ready by the end of he day so that we can start pouring the concrete slab for the floor by tomorrow. By the end of the week the floor should be done, if no hick-ups hinder us in doing so…

Once the slab is done we will have to keep it wet for a few weeks to set. Giving us time to get ready to build the walls.

The kids started school again this week and are back in the flow of everyday life, waking up early, going to school, participating in sporting activities, doing their homework and going to bed early. Another two weeks and we will be receiving visitors from Norway to take on new adventures. Looking forward to that.

Winter? More like a good Norwegian summer.

The rainy season came and it went, leaving very few showers and little water behind. The river beds are just about dry and there is little grass for all the animals. This will be a tough and long dry season for farmers and their livestock.

The end of the rainy season also means the beginning of winter. We have felt a definite drop in temperatures, but temperatures are still bearable. Sunny, warm and cloudless days with temperatures up to around 30C and cool nights with temps as low as 6C so far. This reminds us of a good Norwegian summer, except for the shorter days. We do miss the long days one gets in the far north. With the winter the tourist season arrives too. Because of the bearable and peasant temperatures and the fact that the lack of rain means a lack of insects, means tourists find it very pleasant to spend time here. Another positive side effect is that the lack of water across the country means that wild animals will concentrate around the rivers and waterholes. Giving the opportunity for some fantastic sightings.

The second school term has started and is well under way. This term the school activities have changed, there is no swimming. Instead there is soccer, athletics and field hockey. A week ago the school hosted inter house athletics. All the kids within the school are separated into two houses, either the red house which is called Lechwe or the yellow house which is called Sitatunga. Both houses named after two antelopes of the Okavango. Robin and Nicolas are in the red house, Lechwe. Throughout the school year every individual can earn points for his house, from the academic side as well as he sports side. Good behavior is also rewarded.

Robin earning himself a first spot and golden ribbon in the 80m sprint. And Nicolas coming second in all the running races and long jump, while earning a golden ribbon for the high jump. Next week the school’s under 13 soccer team will be picked for an upcoming tournament. The grandparents will be exhibiting their goods at the local expo and we are getting ready to welcome visitors from Norway. Feel free to follow @family_out_and_about on Instagram for more pics and regular short updates.

First days of school

Before school started the boys were scheduled to do an entry test in their respective grades to see whether it was the appropriate level. Nicolas (9) did not have any challenges, understanding most of the English and showing relative good reading skills, even though he has not read a significant amount of English book. The teacher was pleased and gave us the thumbs up for standard four, putting him into the appropriate grade for his age. Robin (6) struggled a bit with the language, but the teacher thought he was good enough for standard one. Relieved that both boys had a spot in their respective grade we then had to get uniforms sorted. School uniforms being new to the boys they found it quite exciting. When getting uniforms they were informed of the dress code and the consequences should they not abide. Forgetting your cap at home means sitting in the shade outside the headmaster’s office at break time! Luckily they are very lenient on the foot wear and may even go barefoot, which is quite the relief when temperatures are way above 30C. The excitement of the first day of school was big and when the day finally arrived the boys were ready. A mixed feeling of excitement and fear was easily visible. Of course we, the parents, were excited too on how their first days would go and how they would handle the new challenges ahead. School bags packed, cool boxes ready and the uniform in place we headed off to school. Arriving at the school with hundreds of other cars and kids scurrying into the school premises.

When the bell rang they all lined up in front of their class rooms to greet their teacher, before the girls marched in first.

We left the boys in the hands of their teacher and fellow students while we dropped Matilda (3) off in kindergarten. I spent the rest of the day getting papers sorted, certifying documents and finding out what else needs to be done before I can submit our application for work and residence permits. We picked up the boys early with great anticipation and were relieved to hear that they had had fun and were looking forward to the next day.

At the parents’ meeting we were informed how things worked here. We were a bit stunned by the strictness and competition, but it seemed to be handled in a fair manner. The teachers informed us of the consequences of not listening or misbehaving and that there were prizes for the best students at the end of the year. Coming from Norway we are not used to academic competition from first grade. In addition the kids need to qualify for the school’s team by going through trials. This was different from what we are used to. In Norway, by law everyone is included in teams, whereas here you have to show yourself worthy. First graders do not join in this, but Nicolas had swimming trials with the whole school watching and cheering. Though he was quite nervous in the morning we were very happy to hear hat he had made the school team when we picked them up, representing the under 10 team. The first zonal gala being in two weeks, where he can qualify for the northern Botswana schools team. Nicolas being a sportsman and loving competition has been training every day on his own before and after the trials. It seems he is motivated and determined to make the northern team!

Friday came and as is custom here there is an assembly for the whole school. National anthem and school song to be sung. The week’s birthday kids receiving a lollypop and the headmaster sharing information.

With the weekend here we are looking forward to spending the days together and recharging the batteries for a new week. Hoping to get the application done and submitted by the end of next week. Exciting weeks ahead. May we stay or will we leave again? The uncertainty definitely adding some spice to everyday life!