Lions, monkeys, food, oh my! Botswana perils everywhere


One of these big cats hooked onto my friends shoe and pulled him to the ground.




There is imminent peril around every corner in Botswana.

I’m exaggerating, but today I opened my window to feel the after-sunset breeze. A moment later I heard a loud thump, and turned to find a monkey squatting on my windowsill two inches away from my face. I live on the second floor.

Luckily my “fight” instinct kicked in. I threw an empty water bottle at it and it climbed down. 

More danger presents itself to me in the mornings when I run. 

You can’t get caught up in the scenery. If you look up from any path, you’ll trip on crumbling tile, fall in the shallower version of a man-hole the rain has created in the red dirt, or have your skin caught by thorny bushes (every plant is offensive here, with thorns that can pierce bone).

Elsewhere, nighttime danger manifests in muggings and rapes.

In Botswana, at 8 p.m. ,it’s pitch black, and on the paths you’ve walked a million times and experienced no such things, invisible above-ground tree roots grab at your feet. You fall on your face in the red sand, and all the self-confidence and mojo you’ve spent your life constructing dissipates.

If you’re walking across, along, or near the street, your chances of getting hit by traffic are probably pretty high.

In order to get anywhere though, you have to be bold; you have to start crossing one lane when the car’s in it, and wait in the middle until the next lane clears. The drivers here are assertive and furious. They accelerate at wild speeds toward the stopped car in front of them just until you are sure that this is it. We’re going to crash and die. 

A more common type of peril here, though, is a lion attack. 

After holding some semi-aggressive lion cubs, my friend was walking through a cat sanctuary admiring the animals when a lion grabbed his shoe and dragged him to the ground toward itself. 

The only thing more intimidating than a lion attack is the cafeteria food on campus. 

My American friend who was sick in the hospital with food poisoning was there for about a week. 

In this country, I feel the presence of my impending demise. But if I can just survive this semester, I’ll be ready for the trenches.