Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hunting in Africa

I'm going back to Gaborone for work next month, with a little stopover in Cape Town, and there may be a little shopping involved.  Hell, there may be a LOT of shopping involved, despite going into credit card debt to pay for the airline tickets.

On my last visit to Botswana, I was heavily pregnant (Seriously.  Like, 35 weeks pregnant), and it was just too hot for me to go wandering around the extensions looking for fabric stores.  Luckily, everyone treated me as if I were in some kind of delicate condition, and took care of me like their own daughter.  Also, the hotel I was staying at was right next to the maternity hospital, and this being my second baby, I wasn't too worried about anything going awry.  What's the worst that could happen?  Have a baby in a foreign hospital, staffed with wonderful midwives I had already met over dinner and Ethiopian coffee ceremony, and come home with a great story.  Oh yeah, and a new family member.

I did a lot of this
I waddled from my hotel to the University every day, across the soccer pitch / driving instruction field / dust patch, in the 40C heat, and that was about as much as I could manage before the contractions would start.   
Me with my much more stylishly dressed colleagues at UB

This time around, however, I'll have one less person living in my skin, and I'll have my porters (A.K.A. my man and my son) along to carry the shopping bags.  Heh.

I know some great fabric stores in Cape Town, and I'll list them below for anyone planning a visit, but I'm at a loss for Botswana.  Even the shopping reference website Dumela Gaborone says "ask around".  Well, that was helpful.  This may be a shot in the dark, but does anyone have any recommendations?  I've heard "try Old Lobatse Road", but that's a pretty long road if you don't have a car.  Similarly, "try Broadhurst", but that's like saying, "try lower Manhattan".

Maybe a car rental is in order.  We were planning to hire one for the days we'll stay on the game reserve, but maybe it can do double duty as a fabric hunting vehicle.   

Fabric Stores in Cape Town that I know about:

Mnandi Textile and Design, 90 Station Road.
Fabric city, 32 Sir Lowry Road
Lowry Fabrics, 38 Sir Lowry road

There were a few other stores in this stretch of Sir  Lowry Road, but I didn't visit them.  There are also several wholesalers in the Woodstock / Mowbray area, but they seemed to be shutting down.  Several I heard about had already closed by the time I got there.  Moved to India, apparently.


  1. No advice for you, but how exciting to get to travel! I wish you a safe journey and lots of awesome fabric finds!

  2. Wish I had seen this before! I could have given you a list of all the fabric stores in Gabs. I grew up there, and my mom was a seamstress. But I know live in Montreal! Maybe one day we will cross paths on the street and I will stop and tell you how gorgeous your shwe shwe dress is! ;)

    1. That's amazing! I did manage to find both the cluster of stores at the African Mall and the Sismo store on Nelson Mandela. I bought a lot of fabrics this time around, and then I was back in Cape Town in May and bought so much fabric there that my luggage was overweight and I had to pay extra :( I'd love to bump into you sometime and talk shwe shwe, and I'll contact you before my next visit for some more insider info.

  3. Appreciate the time you took to post this


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