Being a Londoner born and bred, I often dreamt of living somewhere exotic for a stint, so when my husband Jamie came home and said would I like to live in Gaborone for five years, I said yes! Shortly followed by ‘where is that, exactly?’ Having located Botswana on an inflatable globe we had knocking…
Lost Runner Thumbs Lift on Golf Cart.
Bolstered by an article about Nelson Mandela – who kept fit for 27 years in jail – I decided to start running around the outside of the house.
Swimming is usually my thing, but lock-down Botswana calls for Lock-down measures.
First, I pick a play-list and immediately go to a happy place when Dizzy Rascal Dance Wiv me comes on. Reminds me of a scene in the English series Rev, where the hero priest (played by Tom Hollander) tries and fails to impress on the dance floor with some choice moves.
I do warm-up exercises that make it look like I’m trying to push the house over and begin to run.
Once around the house and past the kitchen.
Pick a long blade of grass, put it in a flower-pot, my way of counting the laps.
I spy a shoe I have searched high and low for in one of the flower-beds, and silently curse our dog Rory, who I’m sure had a paw in it.
TUUUUUUUNE!! It’s another goodie, and I pretend to run like Simon Peg in Hot Fuzz with go-fast hands, past the kitchen again.
Another blade of grass into the pot, and a red-masked pigeon splashes heavily into the birdbath.
I feel privileged to be surrounded by so much beauty.
When we first moved to Botswana, we didn’t live on the golf estate, but I got invited to go jogging with my friend Anna, who did. Was that the last time I ran?
Settling into my stride, I re-visit the ridiculous story now.
I was having trouble keeping up, and decided to stop a moment. Anna was clearly in sight with a good stretch of path ahead of her but alas, a beautiful butterfly quivering on a leaf attracted my attention and time did that thing where it ceases to exist.
When I emerged from my trance, Anna was gone!
We had set out early to avoid the heat, but Botswana was already ramping up to around 40° and I had no water, so I put on a burst of speed and yelled ANNA _ANNA! As loudly As I could.
Nothing. No site or sound. Panic as I scanned the various empty pathways she might or might not have taken think Fiona think!
I spy a man on a golf cart – salvation. Runners aren’t allowed on the actual course but needs must. I start running haphazardly up-and-down a bunker, arms flailing. He asks me what is wrong, and who my friend is? I tell him Anna! He doesn’t know her. (How can he not know Anna?)
Where does she live?
I try to remember this seemingly simple detail, but plot numbers here are like phone numbers so the obvious way to communicate the coordinates fail, and I start describing the flowerpots, the colour of the front door, the curtains – and realise he is nowhere closer to learning anything of use.
I stop my gibbering, take a breath, and say that if he takes me to the main gate I will be able to direct him to her house from there, I am sure of it!
I hop in with the golf clubs, feeling stupid. But I have never been on a golf-cart before and it soon takes me away from myself. It is a nippy little thing, the breeze cools my fevered brow, and conversation blossoms.
In what seems like no time I spy a familiar figure standing in the middle of the road looking anxiously all about her.
‘ANNA!’ I call cheerfully. ‘ANNA!’ more loudly, waving my arms. (They’re getting good exercise today.)
I explain to my rescuer that by happy coincidence we have found my friend Anna.
He says he got that!
‘Fi?’ Comes the confused cry, as she continues to scan. She can hear me, but she can’t see me.
‘HERE!’ I yell. ‘HEEEEEERE!’ We are rapidly getting closer and she starts to zero in on the cart. Her eyes meet mine as we come to a halt and I’m finding it hard to read her expression. I suppose it’s not every day your running companion disappears, then rocks up more than an hour later in a golf cart 😳
I thank the man for rescuing me, I am so grateful, and he is happy to get back to his practice.
Anna and I retire to her beautiful garden for refreshment…eventually giggles. What a blimmin’ muppet!