Botswana is not a particularly romantic place. Paris it is not. The place is mostly desert — rocky and sandy. There are no beautiful parks in which to walk hand in hand. Instead of lush flowers, there is an abundance of thorny bushes and trees that will draw blood if you aren’t watching where you are going. Outside of the capital, there are no fancy restaurants or movie theaters to take your date to. Usually volunteers are in different villages and it takes hours on a crowded bus to even see each other. When you do see each other, the lack of air conditioning and heating usually means you are either bundled up in layers and shivering, or sweating profusely — neither is a good look for attracting the opposite sex. Maybe it is true, maybe Love is blind.
During this past year there have been a lot of Peace Corps volunteers falling in love in Botswana. When I joined the Peace Corps, that was something I was not expecting to see. I assumed that the volunteers would come here, be sent to their isolated villages, and do good deeds for two years and then go home. I expected many lasting friendships would be made, but never this much romance. But then what do I know, I also thought we would be living in a mud hut and hauling our water in from a creek — and here I sit typing this post on my laptop preparing to upload it to my blog via the internet.
There are several overlapping groups of Peace Corps currently in-country. Each group of from 30 to 50 volunteers is given a name, ours is BOTS-10.
- BOTS-9 arrived in April 2010, and will be leaving soon in June 2012
- BOTS-10 (our group) arrived in April 2011
- BOTS-11 arrived in September 2011
- BOTS-12 just arrived in April 2012
In BOTS-9 there have not been any marriages between volunteers, but there are two volunteer couples that I know of that are quite serious and when they return will be living together. In addition, BOTS-9 has at least three volunteers who will be marrying or have married citizens of Botswana and are returning to the USA with them. Ross Szabo, a BOTS-9 volunteer, wrote a nice article that was published in the Huffington Post about two of those Peace Corps volunteers, Mary Duggan and Kyle Turk. Click HERE to read it.
In my group, BOTS-10, I am aware of two or three female volunteers and one male volunteer who are in relationships with Batswana, and the rest of their BOTS-10 family wonder where that will lead. Just a few weekends ago we were in Gabs at the party for Dan and Theresa, two BOTS-10 volunteers who just got married to each other.
I am also aware of at least one relationship that has developed within BOTS-11.
Apparently there is something in the air here in Southern Africa. Recently when I spoke to the BOTS-12 group at their pre-service training I was tempted to tell them to watch out, cupid is alive and well in Botswana and they may fall in love!