(note: we are struggling here for decent internet so pictures arent uploading. apologies in case you’re trying to get in touch)
We awoke in Gaborone to a welcome spot of rain as we prepared to head north to Francistown. After packing all of our kit and luggage into a mini-trailer attached to the back of our minibus, we had a quick game of cricket with a couple of local children who were staying at the hotel and then set off. We kept ourselves amused with a trivia game consisting of ‘Name the 9 ABBA number one singles’ style questions. The group excelled on Doctor Who trivia and David rattled off the London Underground lines but some serious work is needed on the team’s English Literature knowledge. David, Jethro and Scott’s team won, and Ian’s west-country quiz-voice kept us amused on what was essentially a 500km straight-line road up the East of Botswana. On the way we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, where Graham stopped some locals and shouted ‘Capricorn?’ at their clueless faces.
We co-ordinated with our contact in Francistown, Clement (Clem), and met up with him at the Francistown Centre for Deaf Education. Sadly the centre is under-funded and the children are lodged at the school 24/7 during term times which means that the potential for a happy, normal life is more limited for these kids than some of the places we’ve been at this last week. This was a different kettle of fish as far as coaching was concerned but the atmosphere was fantastic and seeing the reaction of these children to our cricket games was brilliant. Visual aids were obviously crucial in instructing the children and this was a challenge but with a demonstration and some enthusiastic coaching the children really got into the two games we played (Rapid-Fire and Continuous Cricket, both easy games that are fun and simple to co-ordinate). Emotionally this was the most moving session I’ve done in Botswana so far; the students really have nothing except their school, their teachers and their friends. This was definitely a worthwhile trip for Cricket Without Boundaries and we were only too happy to donate a few sets of kit as well as the wristbands.
We then hopped back on the bus to the SOS Children’s Village, an orphanage 5 minutes down the road. While the children at the Deaf School were a lot younger, here there was a real mix, with orphans from 3-16 years old all getting involved with a quick session of catching drills followed by some more quick cricket games. Some speakers were blasting out some African pop music, and this gave the afternoon a very different feel as everyone was dancing, moving their hips and singing along during our games. Jethro in particular showed that he ‘moves like Jagger’ whilst doing the catching drill in a large circle, while project leader David taught his children the ‘crab dance’ when they were waiting to bat. A great time was had by all and after 5 hours on the bus in the morning the team were pretty shattered by the close of play.
Whipmaster and Invincibles Captain Ian Green sorted out the funds for the kitty when we went to Choppies. We stocked up on supplies for the next few days as our digs for the week in Francistown are 30 minutes drive out of town into the jungles of East Botswana. The Woodlands lodge where we are staying is peaceful and home to large number of species, including lizards, monkeys and large moths. A few beers and some of Bronwen’s Bolognese were the perfect recipe for a restful night’s sleep. On the Sunday the team had their final rest day of the trip, basking in the 35 degree heat and relaxing in the pool. The lodge resides next to a large river which a few of us explored. The river is currently dry and while walking along it was remarkable to think that this could be a large river after the rainy season. One of the workers here was digging in the sand and fixing a broken waterpipe which helps stop one of the buildings getting flooded! He was confident that the rains would be arriving into Francistown in the next month. I hope he is right as the reservoirs here are bordering on empty – the one in Gaborone was down to 4%.
The #notsoinvincible Gaffe of the weekend goes to Bronwen for falling off her chair even after Scott warned her that the plastic chairs provided lacked stability.