Monday, April 27, 2009

Depression: April 26, 2009

Over the past few weeks I have had several friends come and talk to me separately as they do not know each other. They unexpectedly started talking about anomie, feeling purposeless, listless, alone and down. One has a spouse, the other does not. Both are gay and both came from other countries during the past ten years, one Asian and the other Latino. One comes from a strong Catholic background and the other from atheist roots. There is nothing similar about them, but they have essentially the same complaints. In spite of partner and friends, they feel isolated and alone.

Probably nothing I say here will be new, but I just keep thinking about this over and over, connecting to it through my personal experience. What I am writing is the result of thought, experience and reading the literature over the years. But mostly, it reflects my personal experience and search for answers that psychology and academics do not provide in a way that feels complete for me.

In some ways the above friends describe me and it took me almost 60 years to even realize that I have been chronically depressed. Since getting help for it, I experience the world in a wholly different way, everyday, than previously; which makes me sure that it is not something I am making up.

I always felt I did not belong like my two friends experience. As a child in an immigrant community that I knew and understood as much as any child can, I felt a stranger. Later the explanation was that I am gay, but that did not change the isolation even when I embraced the gay community.

What is the etiology of depression? We know certain events can trigger it and they do. I am only too aware of that myself and a sudden unexpected death is what finally got me to pay some attention to my depression. But it existed long before that and seemed to need an extreme jolt to be taken seriously. I had learned to live with it as I knew no other way of existing, not even knowing or being aware that there was another happier more fulfilling way, there was nothing in my whole life's experience relatively different to compare it to as I have now. I also grew up in a no nonsense kind of family where you did what you needed to and got on with it. It was a sombre place with a depressed father (who also did not know that he was depressed), embracing Calvinism – a no nonsense religion that was not big on promoting fun, laughter and feeling good. Life is a serious business and that was all that I knew!

Early on I asked questions, but they were not answered or they were rebuffed. Soon I became quiet and repressed the curiosity and the quest to belong. I am talking about when I was 4 – 6 years of age here. I was the middle child in a large group. I am sure my siblings felt something and I know that some are depressed too, but only one is consciously dealing with it. I withdrew into myself and remained there for some 60 years. Oh, I functioned, and some might say that I functioned well striving for acceptance and belonging, but they were not inside my sad head/heart/emotions.

In my twenties and thirties, I learned to medicate myself to ease whatever it was. I got pretty seriously into self medication but managed to stop before the medication became totally my poison. I was always seen as doing well in most things that I undertook. But my belief was that it was all a lie, that If people knew the real me they would see that I was gay (those few who did not know or more accurately those that I believed did not know - the height of self delusion) and the others that I was a fake, that I was just really good at fooling them all… and when they found out, they would reject me.

For a long while in my life, I moved residence very regularly, so that I could avoid having people really get to know me. There was always a good reason, of course, because I had to believe my own personality BS, to avoid listening to the heart and spirit message of: "Do something about how you experience yourself".

We all belong to that essence/spirit we call life and consciousness, but many deny our worthiness to belong. And this imbalance at the essence level eventually works its way through/to the mind, emotions and the physical as does all dis-ease. Imbalance in one level of our being eventually and always works its way into the other levels.

The 1980s, early research on cancer by the Symingtons, a medical doctor couple found that a significant per cent of their cancer patients had had a great loss: emotional trauma and depression in their lives some 20 - 30 years before the cancer appeared. The great and eventually repressed pain would be expressed – eventually on the physical level as cancer. The personality believes it cannot survive the hurt and so represses it – but leaves it unresolved. And the spirit/life essence, that force that gives us our drive for survival and consciousness wants, to heal it and will bring it to our consciousness somehow, no matter how long and persistently we repress it. And we have been seeing that finding repeated ever since.

Why, then, are we having so much more depression in the world than we have ever known? And we did know it first in the wealthier classes of the industrial revolution, mostly as women’s melancholia. Men, of course, in those austere and tough religious times, had no emotions and the poor were too busy trying to survive to enjoy that luxury of melancholia that comes with wealth of the industrial world.

We have lost our connectedness to community, to each other, to someone. We are bombed with messages of what success is – lots of money, cars, homes, fancy clothes etc. and we know that we have failed. We relocate frequently in a mobile world, constantly escaping from those who might get to know us better than we know our selves – as I did for a couple of decades. We have rejected and/or lost our connections – family has gone, Grannie is put in the old folks home to live out her Alzheimer’s years on her own and our relationship to her is severed.

Bruce Alexander in his work: The Globalisation of Addiction (2008), puts forward the thesis that addiction is about medicating those losses and correlates much of the loss with the rise and increasing dominance of hyper capitalism. He documents it very well as does Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine (2007). Freidman style hyper capitalism (totally unfettered markets – an economic jungle for the survival of the economic fittest) put forward by Thatcher, Reagan, Blair, the Bushes (read Cheney, Wolfovitz, Rumsfeld and others) leads to a world of the rich for the rich and by the rich, by ANY means – only they make sure that we poor fools feel like we can be one of them – and that to be rich is the most elevated state to aspire to.

But we failed, you see, as we cannot all be in the 5% of the people that owns 85% of all the world's wealth. That is mathematically impossible! Depression inevitably follows abuse, although not always, as abuse confirms that message of not belonging. Abuse is another factor of life that is little reported or discussed and much more prevalent than previously thought whether it is consciously or unconsciously inflicted. The results are devastating. We know that over 90% of all addicts have been abused, physically, mentally, religiously or emotionally; although many do not know it. Abuse is rampant in the world, as so many are coerced to do that which they do not want to, - to their detriment. So we get depressed due to our failure, our abuse and our not belonging and we medicate. We medicate by work, religion, food, prescriptions, money, exercise, shopping, gambling, smoking, substance abuse, sex, etc. Note how many of those addictions are totally acceptable and even honoured in our culture. Eventually our mental depression is rooted in the physical, manifesting in an imbalance in our serotonin, melatonin and dopamine levels. All mental conditions, we are finding out have a physical correspondence – look at our surprise when we found out years ago that all those schizophrenic “nut cases” had a physical imbalance too. From there, we are moving on to find that is the case in many instances of mental illness or conditions.

Depression is about achingly not belonging and our personality/ego believing that we can't and don't deserve to, while our essence is trying to alert us to self acceptance as the perfect beings that we are. When we believe that, we can function with some modicum of joy, ….. even if we have waited so long that the physical balance will never truly be restored in our physical brains. But live fully and happily, - we can and do.

I would like to hear from you if you have some thoughts or light to shed on this issue. Leave your comments. Become a blog follower to do so. I am told that becoming an Adriaan-on-tour follower is the way to leave comments. I look forward to hearing from you.

Joy and serenity.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009: Home and looking back.

I have been home for a week now and I am glad I did not have to go to work right away. I sure never remember experiencing jet lag before but this trip took it out of me. Of course it is at least 15 years since I last travelled to Europe and that was only ½ way. Any I felt low energy and sleepy all week and enjoyed laying around not doing much except taxes, mail and assorted chores. Now I feel ready to hit the bricks tomorrow.

Spring is late in Vancouver this year, waiting for me to get home for it, I like to think. It is starting to burst out and I have been walking around a fair bit taking some pictures. On Friday I did the first hike of the season and my legs still remind me how much conditioning one loses over the winter. I did a lot of walking in Africa but it was on the level whereas this hike to the second peak of the Chief in Squamish is a vertical gain of over 550 meters. The beauty of it was a great reminder of the glories of home.

I also thought a lot about my Africa adventure and feel ready to do some analysis of it.
The recommendations I made re WAR were largely management focused. Everyone agreed the work I did was satisfactory. The WUSC / L4C support officer observed that my recommendations would apply to many NGO's and indicate the need for work at a deeper level to bring about a paradigm shift in thinking about organizational process in a place like Botswana. The recommendations are all management issues and I could have gone much further, but I held back by what I thought was my stated role. The recommendations certainly give a lot of support to further longer volunteer placements as well as L4C assignments to bring some infrastructure changes to the place - but long term philosophical change is imperative. The relationship, structure and colonial patronizing perspective of the Board of Directors is certainly a BIG block to progress. Past Clients need to be on the board and much more. These are purely my observations although an number of players , rather quietly affirmed them.

The WUSC / L4C officer and I discussed future work and on my 40 hour trip home, I concluded that I would like to do more. Working with a man like the WUSC /L4C officer and his knowledge of HIV in the Africa would be a honour and great learning experience. With my skills, I can contribute a great deal as there are not enough resources. The recent campaign that was launched re 'one life and one partner', is a start but has much farther to go. It makes me think of George W's 'abstinence' only approach to HIV. It is possibly a part of the publicity needed but needs much more as the statistics of infection rates in the USA bear out. In a culture where polyamory and multiple concurrent relationships [at the village home, the farm home and the cattle post] are the norm as I am told and where men still have to pay for their wives leading to concepts of wife ownership and it seems to ultimately lead to gender based violence in a culture where aggression is quite repressed outside the home - providing WAR with serious work and education [ I worked with 3 young women at WAR who were engaged and waiting for their fiances to raise their bride price], the message of one relationship appears to be naive and out of the loop. Protection and condom use has to be included at some point and there is a role for much policy development and promulgation.

I would like to be a part of all that if I can fit in. Great shifts are happening in a country that is catapulting into the 21st century and has lost much of the generation of its 40 - 60year olds [several WAR worker in their 20's had no surviving parents and did not offer causes of death - stigma]. The focus has to shift to life - personal and economic - soon. I don't know how I would fit in. I enjoy working and would want to do that. Consultation to the Task force or organization on HIV/AIDS headed up by the former President would be a wonderful opportunity. Perhaps occasional 3 -4 week periods, or a long term assignment - who knows - something will arise

Another perspective is in working with the gay community in the future. I met with 3 people from Legabibo [ lesbian, gays, bisexuals of Botswana] on my last night in Gaborone and Botswana and got very interesting perspectives from them. They seem to operate and live quite openly and are doing what seems like good work which countered my previous impressions of a very underground existence – although it is by no means ideal – it seems no one wants to acknowledge the reality of homosexuality. The coordinator sent me a report on the health services study they conducted and other impressive materials they produced. She had on a tee shirt with Feminist on it and the man present had a shirt that said Fag Power on it. None of the three were subtle, quiet or apologetic. They said that mostly people don't want to talk about sexuality and they are kind of ignored.

It sounds like some progress is being made slowly and they are trying to get into government policy. However every time they get homosexuality into a draft policy on HIV /AIDS, the next version of the draft that they see has the reference removed. This would be a place that work in the HIV / AIDS education and policy arena, could bring some information and exposure to the idea of differences in sexuality to the public as well.

Also, I think back at the North American liberation experience which took / is taking more than 30 to 40 years. Botswana is going to squeeze that into a much shorter period like their move into technology/the modern business world.

Well, I am open to opportunities in the future and will put it out there, But now I am back and will jump back into the world of my work in Canada.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009; Frankfurt and home

Happily, the 40 hour trip is all uneventful, the best way for air travel to be. The most exciting things that happened are that 1] I got an empty seat next to me from Johannesburg to Frankfurt; 2] the two other guys sharing the row of four seats with me, were both Polish, had never met before and behaved like long lost brothers, talking non-stop for hours. Happily, they did stop in order to sleep for some hours; 3] the woman I am sitting next to in the Frankfurt airport waiting area for my last flight, smells of moth balls; 4] the Frankfurt airport seems efficient but it is not attractive to my eye; 5] the Lufthansa flight that takes me to Vancouver, is my first experience of a double-decker aircraft, with this one having a bank of five toilets in the aircraft basement; 6] as I have a window seat on this last 10 hour flight home, I manage to get up only three times so not to disturb my perpetually sleeping seatmate.

I am home by 4 pm, and stay busy unpacking and going out to buy some fresh food stuffs. My lower lip has swollen to more than twice its normal size with fever blisters the size of quarters so that I look like a Botox Betty, or Angelina as one friend kindly offers. I think they were caused by the water in Zambia which I thoughtlessly started to brush my teeth with. The swelling started within a few hours after that. Needless to say, I did not get near that brown, turgid tap water again – sticking with bottled water and contributing to the ‘plasticfication’ of the planet but staying alive. I try to stay up in order to get back to Pacific Daylight Saving Time but crash out on the sofa at 8 pm and then struggle into my bed at 9:30 pm. My bed feels so-o-o-o good!

Friday, April 03, 2009; Gaborone and beyond

At 9:30am, I am picked and go through all the production to get back to Kasane in Botswana. I go through some hassle paying the balance of my prepaid hotel bill. I have a bottle of water on it that costs 3,500 kwachas or 65 cents. I offer to pay in some pula coins, but that is rejected as in Zambia there are no coins. They want me to pay with a paper bill and then give me 4,000 kwacha change in a wad of bills that I don’t want. I put forward my credit card and that too is rejected. In the end, they give me the water! The ride to the river crossing point is pleasant enough in a modern mini-bus with 15 other tourists. As we approach the crossing point we slow down for passport control for leaving Zambia, we are swarmed by about ten men selling carved hippos of assorted sizes. Someone groans, “Not again”, and most of us dodge into the office. When we come out again, one good sales man says that his family depends on our purchases.

We move to the river and unload the luggage on to a boat and a few of us get on it to go across the swirling Zambezi. The others follow in another small boat. Another passport check and declaration card is needed to get into Botswana is gone through. I wonder if anyone ever looks at all the recorded entrances and departures. The way to the Kasane airport is clear and quick

There, I am picked up by a bush pilot and returned to Maun for my 4:30 pm flight to Gaborone. There are 7 of us and we are put into two six seat planes. It is fun as we fly within view of each other a great deal of the trip. The views over the Delta are astounding with the water much higher than just a few days ago. Apparently the water comes into the Delta as much through underground channels as it does through the surface river beds. Water stretches for miles as far as one can see and it is obvious even to my inexperienced eyes that the areas covered by water have very recently been flooded.

I hook up with my next flight, a commercial one on Air Bostwana and arrive in Gaborone on time. There, Fortune from WUSC and L4C meets me. I go out for dinner with his boss, Kathy, who is the WUSC director for Botswana, Malawi and Ghana. And three people from the first GLBT group in the country- LeGaBiBo [Lesbians, Gays, & Bisexuals of Botswana] join us. We have a good discussion and a delicious Indian meal chosen in honour of my vegetarianism although the Batswana make quick work of the few chicken appetizers that are ordered for them!. LeGaBiBo has already done a lot including a study of the use of the public health services by the LGBT community. They results show that LGTB folk largely go to private doctors because they fear being outed and fear the difficulties they believe the stigma and discrimination would bring into their lives in their small communities. Gaborone, the Botswana capital is less than 300,000 people.

The law is that homosexual acts are illegal, but not being gay. Moot point, I think, as that distinction always somewhat eludes me. Two men were charged a few years ago for sexual acts against nature. They got off because their lawyer proved discrimination because there was no equivalent prohibition for women. The up-shot is that the law was changed to include all non vaginal penetrative sex as illegal. No one has ever been charged under it, but the danger is in its selective application should it suit someone’s purpose.

LeGaBiBo operates under the wing of BONELA [Botswana network on Ethics and HIV/AIDS] the most respected and largest NGO in Botswana and it also funds a staff person to head up the work.. The representatives are neither cowed nor retiring, in fact they are a bit in your face with one woman wearing a tee-shirt with “feminism” on it and the guy a tee-shirt with “fag power”. They say no one really wants to talk about sexuality and most simply ignore it. An interesting story is about traditional shaman who immediately told them he could heal their homosexuality with some incantations and herbs and then asked what they were really talking about. I am promised materials that will be sent to me before my morning flight. They are brochures and a booklet covering the health services study. Impressive and mature work for a relatively young organization in a gay negative country.

I have an hour long meeting with Fortune in the morning and I confirm things about WAR that he had suspected. We talk about my report which he commends. The recommendations which I have discussed with Mpho, are largely management related. I bring up the Board problems and its insularity and the need for clients to sit on it. I sense that he is looking for better ways to help and will use some of the confirmation he has received. I agree to work with him further and on the way to the airport, we talk AIDS strategies for Botswana. He is very forward thinking and I would enjoy working with him again.

Just before check in, he encourages me to shrink wrap my luggage against being opened and stolen from in Johannesburg especially since there is a long layover of 7 hours. How naïve I am! When I had seen shrink wrapping before, I always thought it was because the bag had torn or burst. I do it for about $3 per bag. I feel safer and that alone is worth it. The bags arrive intact in Vancouver.

In the waiting area, by happenstance, I sit next to the woman from the University of Botswana who I met waiting for my 4 hour delayed flight over a month ago. She remembered and said that she would be in touch.

At about 15 minutes after the assigned boarding time, I check the board and my flight to Johannesburg is not even on it. I ask some official looking person [ I don’t know who it is - everyone wears a crisp and natty uniform] and he gets me a South African Express agent. Just then someone behind says, “I was looking for you.” The pilot had come off the plane to see where the passengers for his flight were and found that someone had forgotten to start the boarding process. When I raise my eyebrows in some surprise, he grins and says:”Welcome to Africa.” We departed only 22 minutes late, I think in part, because the plane was not very full.

So here I am in the Johannesburg airport, in a dark noisy area because, like every other airport in the world, this one is undergoing renovations. This is for the World Cup Soccer Championship in 2010. Botswana is expecting teams to come and train there to acclimatize and is taking the opportunity to build a whole new airport, needed to get beyond the current “…walk across the tarmac facility and get your luggage as it is dropped off by the door…. “ status.

Wednesday & Thursday, April 1 & 2, 2009; Mosi-oa-Tunya, Livingstone, Zambia.

This time I get on an eight seat plane with three other passengers. We fly for an hour to Kasane, a small town of about 500 people on the Zambian border. Its business is the delivering of tourists going to see the falls. I am picked up by a driver who will take me the few kilometers to the border. As we get near it, there is a line-up of trucks for several kilometers along the side of the road that are fully loaded with goods. The driver tells me that the last one in the line will be there for a week, waiting to clear customs and waiting his turn on the ferry that can take one truck at a time across the formidable Zambezi River. Some sleep in their trucks and many check into the hotel nearby, well populated with sex trade workers. This is one of the notorious type of truck route situations that contributed so much to the spread of HIV earlier in the pandemic and I would guess that it still does.

We make our way though a lot of people, many hawking wares and cheap chotchkas. Poverty and boredom with it all hangs in the air. I clear the Botswana passport check and the driver takes me to a small passenger ferry where another driver, this one from Zambia, is waiting for me. We ferry across the Zambezi, with me as the sole passenger in a small motor boat along with my luggage. The Zambezi is a very impressive river, apparently very high and over a mile wide as it goes over the Falls. There has been a very full rainy season and it is rushing to the Okavango Delta as I saw from the plane – miles of water in all directions. The Zambezi is 2.5 meters [= 8 feet] above its normal height at this time and there is flooding in many places including the Zambezi Waterfront Hotel where I am staying. There is one foot bridge leading to another garden that is under 6 inches of water and closed. I then clear Zambian customs which is merely paying $US50. I want to pay in Pulas but that is not allowed as the US dollar reigns supreme here.

The same kind of poor scene is on the Zambia side as was in Botswana on the river. We get on a good highway and travel for a hour to Livingstone, the town above the Falls. I really know that I am in a different country. The Zambians look quite different,darker and with different features. The soil changes from sandy to red with lush vegetation. It is no longer flat – almost a relief after the flatness of Botswana.

This is a country of 12 million and 72 languages, including 7 main ones. The working language is English and everyone in this tourist town appears to speak it well. The driver asks me what I do and when I tell him, he talks extensively about how AIDS has marked his country and spread a lot through the sex trade because sex without a condom gets the sex workers five dollars more per trick! He talks about the stigma and how HIV is finally coming out into the open a bit. Previously people would not get tested or even try to get medication because of the discrimination they feared. Now they know that with ARV’s, they have a chance at a full life and openness is increasing. Of course, we do have to deal with the Pope just having visited Africa, talking significantly about the evils of condom use. What a man!! Talk about the blatant abuse of his unwarranted leadership.

Eventually, I get to the Zambezi Waterfront Hotel and check in. The reception area is outside. It is touristy and I am warned not to walk around with many valuables. After the all-inclusive nature of staying in of Delta camps, here everything is added on to the prepaid hotel rates in hefty amounts of US dollars. I think of the less appealing parts of Niagara Falls and wonder what I will find here. I book a boat cruise for the evening and a falls guided tour for the morning as I am told that it is unsafe to walk the 7 km there because of the animals. The longer I am here, the more I find the danger is from the two legged kind of predator.

The boat cruise is fun and I talk to Afrikaans speaking South Africans, a number of Germans, a French woman from Bordeaux who speaks no English and a few Zambians. The scenery is nice and like on all dinner boat cruises around the world, the dinner meets the criteria stated in the advertising – nothing more. But I have to give them credit, I had a special vegetarian meal that was delivered as promised!

In the morning, I go for breakfast at 7:45 and sit in the patio restaurant overlooking the Zambezi River which is beautiful in the morning sun and very impressive in its size and volume. My breakfast costs 35,000 kwachas and as it takes 5500 Zambian kwachas to make $US1, - that is a grand total of $US 6.36. Kwacha is another word for 'morning', I find when I ask, since everything seems to have at least one other meaning.. I am picked up for my tour rather punctually. Making money is not on the famous 'African time', that I have experienced so much already.

On the way to the tour, we stop at another hotel to pick up some more people. There, I get to see my first crocodile. In a hotel garden on the edge of a high water flood pool that is connected to the Zambezi River, is a young crocodile about five long, doing what crocodiles do in the morning, sunning to warm up their blood to get it moving for the day; they are cold blooded. There are animal sculptures behind it and it is motionless, so I doubt its veracity. But its open mouth has real pink and white coloration which the sculptures do not. Then it moves and I am satisfied that the score of the latest camera 'shot' counts.

On the way to the Falls, I see three very tall palm like trees, each one unique and twice as tall as the surrounding forest. I ask what they are. They are artificial trees created to hide the radio towers that are needed for the ubiquitous cell phone communication. I just read that in 2009 more than 60% of the world owns a cell phone compared with just 15% in 2001- and I know that for Africa it is a communication and industry booster and boon.

The falls tour is also fun and I share it with a Russian and an American couple. Frederick, the guide does all the “right” things and gives us his tour patter from rote memory and is able to answer most questions. There are some impressive views, but because of the height of the river the volume of water going over the falls is so high and creates such heavy, heavy spray that you don’t really see the height of the falls. We put on rain gear and I strap my back pack under it. Then we go fairly close to the falls and it is like walking in a cyclone. I get thoroughly soaked and feel water pouring down my sides and chest inside the coat through the neck. The only part of me that stays dry, fortunately, is my backpack. After about 15 minutes of this, I have had enough since you cannot see a thing. We go back and the tour ends. I pour the water out of my shoes and wring out my socks. There are lots [ I see #26 and there are more] of tourist shops under corrugated metal roofs and not much more of walls or building. Baboons run pell-mell across the metal roof screaming at each other and making racket as they race across the metal. As we drive up, some merchants start banging on some ‘traditional’ drums, literally to drum up the tourist business. It is comparable to the Niagara Falls hawkers in the cultural finery they offer.

Victoria Falls in the local language is called Mosi-oa-Tunya: ’the smoke that thunders’.
On the way back to my hotel, we drop some others off at a grander hotel than mine and as we drive up, four or five men in native battle attire, [I presume] jump up and down doing some probable 'dancing'; banging on some drums and the wall of the hotel portico. As always, I am not fond of that kind of display for the tourist buck, although I am sure that the management finds it well worth its investment in local wages i.e. at subsistence level or below.

I get back to the hotel and put on dry clothes and try to start my shoes on the road to usability by setting them directly in front of a fan and moving them into the sun on my room ground floor patio as I am writing. I have been warned not to leave anything outside on its own because a baboon or monkey will take the stuff for their own use. But I am going back to Botswana in the morning and will need my shoes to be somewhat dry.

At 4 pm, I take a helicopter ride over the Falls to better see the grandeur they have. The hope is fulfilled and I see the falls as they are and that is very different from the perspective at ground level. They tumble an average of 90 to 105 meters [compared to Niagara’s 85m.] into a ravine that is just over a mile long or 1.7 km. and that forms the width of the Falls. This ravine is about a half a km. wide with one small opening for all the water, 12,000 square meters per second, to escape through. Then the Zambezi winds its way down a deep meandering gorge to the Indian Ocean.

I return to the helicopter take off point to be offered a “very nice video” of myself getting into the helicopter for a mere $US 40. I politely decline and return to the hotel.

Tomorrow I will slowly be starting on my way home. At 9:30 am I am picked and go through all the production to get back to Kasane in Botswana where I am taken by my last bush plane ride and returned to Maun for my 4:30 pm flight to Gaborone. There the representative from the volunteer program I was with goes out for dinner with me and perhaps some men from the first GLBT group in the country. I hope so as it will be interesting and I may even be able to share some ideas. It will be a long day. Then on Friday morning I start the real schlep home: Gaborone, Johannesburg, Frankfurt and then Vancouver in about 40 hours. I will be glad to sleep in my own bed after a great and exciting adventure on so many levels