I do have to say that Botswana is the least Third World country I’ve ever visited. It has a lot of infrastructure and luxuries which aren’t available in other third world countries. But, it is still considered Third World.The term Third World was first used during the Cold War. First World countries included capitalist countries, such as the U.S. and other western countries that were part of NATO. The Communist Bloc: the USSR, China, Cuba, and their allies; made up the Second World. Any countries which weren’t part of one of these two alliances were considered Third World. Obviously, the Cold War is over, so the designation of First and Second World countries is no longer appropriate, but the term Third World is still used to describe “developing” or “least developed” countries as determined by the International Monetary Fund and the UN’s Human Development Index.
Though at first glance Botswana seems rather cosmopolitan and advanced, at least to me, there are times when it’s Third World status is glaringly evident. In the past 24 hours I’ve experienced two major incidents which reminded me of this. Last night while I was at dinner the electricity went out. My dinner companions had already been served their food, but mine was still being prepared. They continued to eat in the dark, while I waited as my lamb chops sat in the oven failing to cook. Two hours later, when the lights were still out, I decided I would rather eat the kale chips I brought with me in my carry-on and call it a night.Today I woke up to find there was no water in the house. This did not come as a total shock as my neighbors had warned me to save some water the night prior due to water rationing. We are in the midst of the dry season here in Botswana, so there are designated days each week when the water is shut off for various communities. If you don’t save water beforehand you better hope your neighbors like you or else it’s bound to be a long, dry, thirsty day. I never realized how much water I use on a daily basis until I was limited to the five containers I saved:
Water is precious here and the Batswana people know that (Batswana is the plural term for citizens from Botswana- that wasn’t a mispelling. In case you were wondering Motswana is the singular). Pula is currency here. It is named after the Setswana word for rain because rain is so scarce. But pula also means blessing because rain is considered a blessing, and of course, having money is a blessing as well.I expect by the time I leave Botswana some of these Third World challenges will be routine to me. Hopefully this will also remind me there are a lot of people in the world who would love to have the inconvenience of my First World “problems” rather than the normal day-to-day goings-on of Third World life.