Sunday, February 17, 2008

 

Fish Pond August 2007







Sunday, February 10, 2008

 

Year 2

Whoops! Its been 5 months since i’ve updated my blog. My apologies to anyone who may read this. Rather than try to fill you in on the last 5 months, I’m just going to jump right into my life in February, 2008. You’ll get the jist.
As you may know, I was able to go back to the states for a short visit in December/January. I had an absolutely amazing time seeing family and friends and feel refreshed and rejuvenated for my second year of service. Its amazing what a different feeling this year has. I’m really excited for it. I feel so much more comfortable here now. I think my community knows me and will take me more seriously when I try to accomplish things. Its amazing what time will do when it comes to the attitudes and trust of people to a Peace Corps Volunteer.
I’ve also made a pact with myself that I will not purposefully make my life any harder than it already is. Last year I had this idea of what a “peace corps volunteer” should be and the notion that I had the duty to embody that stereotype. The reality is, Namibia is not the typical Peace Corps experience. I have a whole different set of challenges and I should just be OK with it. For that reason i’ve decided to abandon the idea that I have to be “hard core” and just enjoy myself. Thus I am entering my 2nd year with a laptop and plenty of movies, a functional but leaky washing machine, a very slow personal internet connection, a couple of cheap and uncomfortable couches and a shiny new toilet seat. I plan on forking out the N$5 extra dollars for a taxi ride if its too deathly hot to walk or splurging on a trashy magazine or the “nice” peanut butter if it will make me happy. Life is short...why suffer?
As for my projects, things are finally rolling. The nutrition class is still functioning weekly on its own without me. Attendance has decreased a little due to the weather and the pediatric malnutrition program still needs work. Nonetheless, the class is there for the people who need it and for the time being, i’m happy with that.
Despite the fact that my counterpart somehow managed to spend 8,000 Namibian dollars during the 3 weeks I was gone, the fish pond project is happening. I was feeling a little discouraged when I returned to find all of the money gone and nothing to show for it but a giant hole in the ground. Then, just like that Toto song, we were “blessed by the rains down in Africa”. Several all-day downpours turned a dry and dusty hole in the ground into a vast body of water. The aquaculture extension team gave us the go ahead to fertilize the water. The support group and I spent a cheerful afternoon elbow deep in goat manure flinging 20 wheelbarrow-fulls of fertilizer into the water. A few weeks later the pond had blossomed with algae, plankton and other natural food for our little fishies to eat. Next week we plan to introduce 3000 tilapia fingerlings into the pond and begin the growth process.
I’ve begun a new project also which i’m really proud of. Its called VIP (volunteers in partnership) and its a collaboration with the other Peace Corps volunteer and the World Teach volunteer in Oshikuku. We’ve arranged for grade 12 learners at the secondary school to volunteer at the community library on the mission and in the hospital. Last term, we announced the project to the learners and had an overwhelming response. We received over 50 applications and conducted almost as many personal interviews with the learners. Last week we selected 32 volunteers for the library and the hospital and shifts have begun this week. Uniforms (red polo shirts) were funded by donations from Canada (the World Teach Volunteers organizing). The first shifts were a huge success.
Many of the learners aspire to be doctors and nurses but have no idea what that really entails. Not only did the application process give them valuable job interview experience but being in the hospital will help them consider and achieve their career goals. In the hospital, learners are based in different departments. In the pediatric ward they will bring books and games (from the library) and read to kids admitted there. They will act as porters bringing patients from the outpatient department to the wards. There are also volunteers working in the TB clinic, the pharmacy and administration.
Volunteerism is a concept that is not well understood here. I did receive some blank stares (as I often do when I suggest something new) from the staff of the hospital when I introduced the project. They have already begun to come around after seeing the learners in the hospital for just a few shifts. Nurses were putting the volunteers to work teaching them about wheelchair operation and were even showing them how to take blood pressure. The importance of reading to children is also a concept not well understood here. Once the children gathered around the volunteers and smiles and laughter were abound, the nurses and mothers started to see the point.
I’m excited to see how this project progresses. Teachers at the secondary school have expressed interest in the project so we hope we can get it to continue once we leave. I expect more hospital staff will request volunteers once they realize the benefit they will have to the hospital, the community and the learners themselves. It feels great to be part of a project that is so instantly rewarding.
In other news, we are in the midst of the rainy season and boy is it rainy. People are saying they haven’t seen this much rain in 20, even 50 years! Northern Namibia is experiencing a lot of flooding. To make matters worse, Angola has opened dams into Namibia letting more water (and apparently crocodiles) into our already flooded plains. Many homes are damaged, schools are closed and there have been several drownings. The rains came late this year and show no sign of letting up yet, which will make the mahangu harvest interesting this year. This is Africa...there’s always something.

Monday, September 10, 2007

 

Yay pictures! Its about time...

This is the mission in Oshikuku where I live. It is pretty much paradise.
You can call me Angelina Jolie. This is me with a bunch of Himba children. They are all sons of the 70 year old headman and his many wives.

This is my friend Eva dancing.




This is me on Dune 7 in Walvis Bay. It was really freakin windy but the view from the top was totally worth the climb.

 

Himbapalooza

The newest travel adventures of Julie involved a week long excursion to the Kunene Region in Northwest Namibia. This area is known for its mountainous terrain, horrible roads and traditional Himba people. The Himba are one of the last tribes in Africa to have retained their culture despite the rapid changes around them. They still live in mud huts, raise cattle, follow their own unique customs and wear traditional dress (which includes coating their skin with red ochre, wearing animal skin skirts, no tops and lots of symbolic jewelry).
Traveling to Epupa Falls (on the Angolan border) was an interesting experience. We traveled for hours on a horrible unpaved road through rocky mountains covered with creepy dead trees and brush. It was almost eerie to be surrounded by nothingness and come across a lone himba riding a donkey herding cattle. It felt like we traveled 100 years into the past.
We found some Himba to be quite aggressive. They’ve become accustomed to tourists in that area and are not afraid to ask for handouts. We pulled over for lunch and right after I made a comment about how each place I go in Namibia seems to be more “in the middle of nowhere” than the last, we were ambushed by Himba children. Even adults would often get right in the middle of the road to try to get us pull over and give them a ride or take their picture for money or food.
After dusk we pulled into the oasis known as Epupa. All of the sudden a huge clump of green palm trees rises up and the air becomes humid because of the falls. We stayed in really nice tented camps the first night and slept under the stars and palms the next night. The falls were beautiful and there were some nice hiking trails with traditional Himba people all around.
We then traveled south to a rest camp called Camp Aussicht (Auschwitz or Awwshit as we liked to call it). Unfortunately, our little Volkswagen Polo couldn’t quite handle the gravel roads after the previous days wear and tear and we got a flat tire. This time we were REALLY in the middle of nowhere. We changed it quickly and hit the road again. Some other volunteers had told us that the back road would be a better way to get to the camp for a small car. It was not. The road was rutted and rocky and we cringed and inched along as we scraped the bottom of our poor rental car on the rocks. It was dark (since we had stopped to change the tire) and we had no spare (again, because of the flat tire). It was not fun, but eventually we got there.
The camp was built on top of a mountain and functioned completely on solar and wind power and rainwater. The man who ran it (born in Namibia to German parents) was drawn to the area for its minerals and had opened the guest camp for the sole purpose of defraying the costs of living there. He didn’t like people…and he told us about it. Nonetheless, the place was beautiful with rooms built of stones and a dining area overlooking the mountains and sunset.
The next day the owner took us on a Himba tour. We got into his HUGE landrover and traveled back down the mountain and through the bush for about an hour. I’ll tell you, bad roads are made much better when traveling in a ginormous vehicle. We finally came across a Himba settlement deep in the bush. The owner of the camp (our tour guide) had been in the area for 23 years and had developed relationships with the people in many nearby villages. He spoke their language (Otjiherero) and brought them medicines or maize on occasion.
As we drove in, he pointed out a lone hut on a faraway hill. When a member of the village becomes too old to walk, they put the person alone in the hut. They give them a week’s worth of food and leave them there to spend the last days of their lives before giving them a burial ceremony. It’s quite different from our culture. Most of the villagers were out herding cattle. They had many cattle, a sign of wealth. We saw a young girl milking cows in a corral. She would wait until the calf came and then squeeze the milk into a carved wooden bowl. We could tell that she was 19 years old and married with 2 children just by the way she wore her anklets and necklaces. There were a lot of small boys around, naked and completely covered in dirt. Out tour guide pointed out that their bodies have adapted to the lack of cleanliness and they rarely get sick.
We sat with a group of women sitting on the ground. They played with my hair and let me hold a baby. Yes, I did get red stuff all over me. The babies are always strapped to the mothers back. Sometimes even very young ones will just cling to their mother’s backs with nothing to secure them. It’s amazing. The women then did a traditional dance for us. It was a circle dance with clapping and singing. We joined in and of course looked ridiculous. It was nice to be able to take pictures and stare freely. They also enjoyed staring at us and asking questions as well.
We then departed for another village. We again drove through the bush for a long time spotting springbok, elephant droppings and places where elephants had broken the trees, and ostriches. Upon seeing a pair of ostriches, our guide would flip the landrover around and take off chasing them. Man, they can run! It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Sitting in the front seat of a landrover holding on for dear life and squealing with joy while watching the ostriches run right in front of me was exhilarating!
We finally reached another village. We met a man in his seventies who was the head of the village. There were about a dozen small boys swarming around us that were all his children (he had several wives). We met one of his wives who showed me how to apply the ochre to my skin. It’s made from an iron compound ground from a rock and mixed with animal fat. Himba women never bathe, but only apply the ochre to their skin every couple days. We also met a young girl who was 14 years old. Our guide told us that her price was 2 cows and a calf, if we wanted to marry her.
We then had a nice picnic lunch (once again) in the middle of nowhere. We drove to a natural salt deposit where animals come to scrape the rocks with their teeth. We drove the landrover to the very top of a mountain for a viewpoint (I felt like I was in a Chevy commercial or something). Our guide then showed us his mines. He mines for a turquoise mineral related to copper as well as quartz and dioptase. His mines were quite impressive although we had a run in with a swarm of bats, which I did not so much enjoy.
It was a fascinating trip. It was so interesting to learn about such a different culture and to see landscape so different from where I live. The Kunene Region is difficult to see without a car so I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit. The Himba (in the traditional sense) probably won’t be around in another 20 years, so it was a wonderful opportunity to see them. The visit raised some interesting questions. How do we (as volunteers and development workers) encourage people like the Himba to retain their traditional culture and traditions, while still offering them the conveniences and advancements of more developed societies? If they are happy as they are, why should we try to change them? Are they really happy? How do we find a balance between tradition and culture and things like health, education and opportunities? It’s a lot to think about.

Friday, July 27, 2007

 

Driving through the bush...

I think one of my favorite Namibian activities is driving aimlessly through the bush. I try to get out into the villages whenever I can. Sometimes it’s with the hospital outreach team weighing babies and sometimes it’s with the TB program visiting clinics and tracing patients. This week it was for the second round of NID (National Immunization Days). When I get to the hospital in the morning there is usually madness with tons of cars and people gathered around someone with a loudspeaker blaring Oshiwambo. I usually just hang out until I hear my name or someone tells me what to do.

The first day I was told we were going to a kindergarten! I expected a cute little school with miniature everything and lots of fingerpaint and bright colors. When we arrived, it was a tiny brick room in the middle of nowhere. “This is it?” I thought. When I looked inside, I found a teacher and about 20 pairs of little eyes staring at me. All of the kids were sitting on the floor or on logs or broken bricks. There was basically nothing in the room, no chalkboard or desks, just one broken chair for the teacher to sit on. We lined up all of the kids and gave them their 2 drops of polio vaccine. The kindergarteners went to play outside while we immunized other children that women brought in.

After a few hours, things slowed down and the kindergarteners came back inside to finish their school day. They lined up in front of me and started singing. About halfway through the song, I realized it was the Namibian National Anthem and it was in English! Coulda fooled me. It was pretty adorable. Then they bowed their heads and said a prayer in Oshiwambo followed by some sort of goodbye song. Then the little 5 year olds grabbed their things and took off in various directions into the bush.

The next day I was placed with another team with people I didn’t know. The Tate and I gathered our supplies and drove to Okalongo to pick up the nurse at the clinic. We picked her up and realized none of us knew how to get to our post. That didn’t stop us of course! After an hour of driving aimlessly through the bush, we found it…a church and a school in the middle of nowhere.

I used to be amazed that Namibians know their way around in the bush. I’ve realized now that they really don’t…no one does. I don’t think there is such thing as knowing where you are going when it comes to the bush. There is just expansive nothingness with intertwining sand tire-marks weaving among shrubs and trees. It all starts to look the same after about 5 minutes of driving. Half of the time you’re just driving on the grass and not even on a “road”. The strategy is to drive until you see a human being and ask them directions. You might see a random person walking or sitting under a tree. You might suddenly come across a small village and see a group of people drinking tambo at the sheebeen at 9am. Ask them directions and they will most likely point in 9 different directions. Choose a direction and drive until you see someone else…or reach your destination. It’s hilarious. After being in Namibia this long, I realize that it’s not worth getting stressed out over things that you have no control over. It’s better just to laugh and enjoy the ride.

The second day, we were at a Lutheran church deep in the bush (as described earlier). We were quite busy and had a fairly constant flow of children all day. I think most of these kids had never seen a white person before, so at least I’m exposing them to something new. They just stare at me and stare at me. One little boy stared forever, then he came up to me, touched my arm and ran away (it was like he wanted to see how my skin felt). It makes sense why some of the kids freaked out when a big scary white thing (me) came up to them wanting to put drops of a strange substance in their mouths. At least they wont get polio, and maybe they wont be afraid of the next white person they see. Or maybe they will…who knows?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

 

NGC

Last weekend was the Northern Girls’ Conference, a secondary project that I have been working on with several other volunteers. It was a weekend conference for girls in grade 8 and 9 from the various schools in northern regions of Namibia. The conference focused on HIV, women’s health, leadership, self-esteem, body image, decision-making and relationships. The girls were expected to bring the information they learned back to the HIV or girl’s clubs at their schools. The conference was led mostly by Namibian teachers and peer leaders (girls in grades 10 and 11) that we (PCVs) trained a few weeks ago.

Although exhausting, the conference was a huge success and a really rewarding experience. I was partly responsible for a session called “Women and HIV”. We discussed basic information about the virus, how it is spread, and methods of prevention. We did demonstrations of male and female condoms and discussed the biological, cultural and social reasons why women in Namibia are especially vulnerable to contracting the virus. My group worked really well together to present the information and the girls asked great questions. Although I thought the information to be redundant, many of the girls had never seen a condom demonstration before and it turned out to be one of the most popular sessions at the conference.

We held large group sessions on peer leadership and women’s health. We made “menstrual beads”, bracelets containing 28 beads in different colors for the different stages of the menstrual cycle. We watched a documentary about HIV in Namibia and women’s vulnerability. An HIV positive woman came to speak about her story. I also helped organize a career panel. We struggled to find women in the north with different careers and I was worried it wouldn’t be diverse enough. Three women sat on the panel, a Red Cross worker (a friend of mine from the hospital), a teacher and a school counselor. The women were all wonderful speakers and really passionate. They all had overcome many obstacles in their pasts and worked very hard to get where they are today. The panel turned out to be not so much about exploring different careers but about meeting strong, successful women and viewing them as positive role models.

A highlight of the conference was a performance of The Vagina Monologues. For those of you who are not familiar, The Vagina Monologues is a drama written and performed in the US discussing women’s sexuality, sexual violence and other women’s issues. I had seen a performance put on by my University several years ago. It is a very powerful, shocking and risqué performance, at times hilarious and at other times very somber. Two Namibian women were touring Namibia with the show (adapted slightly to Namibian culture) and we were able to secure a performance at the conference and at the College of Education.

After the show, the performers expressed their concern about how young the girls were for the content of the show. They managed to edit the show on the fly, taking out some of the more explicit parts. Nonetheless, the girls loved it. Even if they didn’t understand much of the show, or if it was over their heads, they enjoyed seeing 2 incredibly strong, intelligent and independent Namibian women taking charge of their own bodies. The performance definitely functioned as a platform to discuss sensitive issues about women’s bodies and sexuality. All weekend the girls were talking about their vaginas. They would say, “If my vagina could get dressed, it would wear size 6 red high heels” or “my vagina needs a kiss”. The main message for the girls was to be proud of their bodies and not to let anyone near their vaginas. I hope it works.

The hotel where the conference was held was nice but inexperienced at hosting over a hundred people. There were shortages of beds and shortages of food at times but everything worked out. About 12 PCVs were housed in a room with 6 beds. It’s amazing how we’ve all changed since joining the Peace Corps. We were all like, ”awesome! There’s carpet!”, and had no problem sleeping on the floor. It was fun to hang out with each other over the weekend. As if we didn’t get enough talk about sex, we watched Sex and the City in our downtime and as if we didn’t get enough of 14-year-old girls, we giggled like we were at a junior high slumber party instead of sleeping. All of this added to the exhaustion at the end of the weekend…but it was a good time.

The conference was an incredibly rewarding experience and I hope the information and positive energy sticks with the girls. We tried to empower them to take charge of their bodies and themselves. By the way they were screaming “strong women!” at the end of the weekend it appeared to work. I think it was an effective way of getting at the core of the HIV epidemic. Most kids know what HIV is and that they shouldn’t have unprotected sex. Empowering girls to respect themselves and building self esteem is just another approach to prevention. If we can empower the women in this country to protect themselves, perhaps they can stand up to the men and demand equality (and decrease their chances of getting infected). We hope to start a boy’s conference with the same principles (possibly next year). There are tons of programs targeting women and girls but hardly any that address boys and men. Perhaps if we can instill values in boys before its too late we can turn knowledge into action and successfully change behavior.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

 

NID

06/29/07


This week included National Immunization Days, which is the Ministry of Health’s campaign against Polio. Last year there was an outbreak of Polio in Namibia and there was a huge campaign to immunize everyone. This year, the goal was to immunize children under 5 and also provide Vitamin A. I volunteered to help and had a great time.
Wednesday, I awoke to more commotion than usual around the hospital. There were a whole bunch of cars and people bundled up milling around. Its winter here now, meaning it’s no longer unbearably hot and although the weather is similar to summer in Montana, I often see people wearing fur coats, hats and gloves. I found my group, a nurse I’ve worked with before and a volunteer whom I thought spoke English, but I later realized couldn’t say much beyond “hello”. We gathered our supplies: 2 coolers of vaccines, a bottle of vitamin A capsules, markers to keep track of children immunized, a bar of soap, a jug of water and a roll of toilet paper. We took off into the bush to find our post, Onaipwakola, which is on the border to Angola.
I’m always amazed how people can find these villages in the middle of the bush. There are no roads, no signs, just sand tire-marks weaving through trees and homesteads. Our method was to ask directions from anyone we saw along the way. We got to our destination in about an hours time. Our post was a church literally in the middle of nowhere. Unpacked and realized we forgot the droppers that attach to the bottles of vaccine. The nurse went to the nearest clinic to borrow some while we waited.
We started immunizing shortly after. We would line up a whole pew of kids and mothers holding babies. The nurse would educate them about Polio and vitamin A. We would then give each child 2 drops of polio vaccine and the contents of one vitamin A capsule. One fingernail would be marked with a black line on each child and the numbers recorded on a sheet. We were pretty busy the first day immunizing almost 200 children.
The following day we returned to the same post. This time the nurse had to drive some other volunteers to various homesteads to monitor immunizations. She left the volunteer and me at the church to immunize for the day. We went through the process for about a dozen children and then the pace dramatically slowed. I stared out into the expansive nothingness on all sides of the church and felt rather isolated and stranded. I was in the middle of nowhere with 1 Namibian whom I was unable to communicate with beyond basic phrases. Luckily I brought a book, and 2 helpers from the day before showed up to keep the other volunteer company. We sat there all day, myself and 3 owambos that don’t speak English. I read. They chatted, sat there or slept. I’m beginning to think that an entire day of doing absolutely nothing isn’t that out of the ordinary for a lot of people in this country.
One more patient came at the end of the day and the car came to pick us back up at 4pm. One of the men helping said he knew a baby that was just born that needed to be immunized. We of course, went to the rescue. We smuggled a 2-day-old baby across the border from Angola and gave it a Polio immunization. That sounds a lot more exciting than in actually was. We drove through the bush for a while and stopped. The people in the car pointed out a “fence” (more like a half torn down wire attached to some sticks here and there) that separated Namibia from Angola. We parked while the man went to talk to the people at the homestead just on the other side. About a half an hour later a small family holding a bundle emerged from the huts and started walking our way. I expected land mines to start going off and soldiers with machine guns to start running after them. They just casually walked to our car, we gave the baby 2 drops, they went back home and we drove off.
I had a great time helping with the immunization days. I think there will be a follow up campaign next month. I always like going out into the field and seeing Namibia. It is so different from what I’m used to and its so interesting to see the way these people live. I’m sure they enjoy seeing a strange “oshilumbu” in their village by the stares I get wherever I go. I like to imagine what they would think if they were placed in the middle of a big U.S. city like New York or San Francisco. It’s a completely different world here. I’m always wiped out when I return from a day in the field. Even if I’m just sitting in a church in the middle of nowhere all day, it takes it out of me. It’s amazing how doing nothing can be exhausting! I slept very well both nights after the immunization days. Nothing like a little adventure to bring on a good nights sleep.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

 

On the homefront...

Lately I’ve been spending time in my village trying to make progress on my projects. I teach a nutrition class every week. Each Wednesday about 10-15 memes with babies strapped to their backs gather around my display in the conference room in the hospital. Their babies sleep, breastfeed or play with the toys I brought while I talk to their mothers about nutrition. The women are from the P.M.T.C.T. program, that is, they are HIV positive and are taking the steps to prevent the virus from being passed to their babies. With the help of my translator Theophilia, I explain malnutrition, the food groups, balanced meals and the importance of vitamins. We tell them the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of not mixing breastmilk with any other food (even water can cause cuts in the infants digestive tract allowing the HIV virus to pass into the blood stream). We demonstrate how to make infant formula, how to modify cow’s or goat’s milk to give to the baby, and the importance of sanitation in all of these processes.
Then we demonstrate how to make mahangu porridge adding local foods to increase the nutritional content for babies as well as sick or elderly people. We show how to add an egg, omwayi (a paste made from marula nuts), oufila womaungu (ground up caterpillars) and epwati yeembe (a sauce made from eembe, a raisin-like fruit).
*sidenote: The first time I made epwati yeembe, I left it in a bottle while I was out of town. I discovered a few weeks later that it had fermented and I had created some sort of eembe alcohol (of course I figured it out after it exploded all over me). I debated telling my Namibian friends about it but I figured that the last thing this country needs is another “home brew”.
Anyway, after we demonstrate a few ways to make porridge, we invite one of the women up to practice what they’ve learned. Then we taste what we’ve made and the memes ask questions. Recently we’ve brought leftover food to children in the pediatric ward and invited their mothers to the class. The last few classes there have been so many attendees that we’re going to offer 2 classes a week. The memes have also requested follow up classes to learn more about nutrition and how to cook other nutritious meals. Although I usually can’t communicate too well with the memes and rely heavily on my translator/counterpart, it’s great to know they enjoy the class and hopefully they are learning something too.
My support group is also going well. We have met several times to discuss our fish-breeding project. The group named the project “Mangulukeni Fish Farming” which means, “be free” in Oshiwambo. We have selected a site right outside of town near a traditional leader’s homestead. We’ve been working with the Ministry of Fisheries a lot. Titus, a representative from the Oshakati office, came to give an introductory presentation to the members. He has visited the site several times to see that it is acceptable. One time he brought a crazy Cuban expert named Sylvio who wandered around the field mumbling and taking pictures. Afterwards the 3 of us went to a sheebeen for refreshments. They drank beer but I chose coke to try to stay professional. We chatted and I got to meet Titus’ wife and baby. Sylvio has drawn sketches of the ponds for us. We will have 3 ponds, with a total area of 1000 square meters. The ponds will contain Catfish and Tilapia and we plan to have a small garden associated with the ponds.
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to obtain funding and make the group somewhat self-sufficient. We’ve drawn up a constitution and will elect officers next week (so hopefully I wont have to do everything). I’ve submitted 3 grant proposals to various organizations (Namibia Development Foundation, The Ministry of Women Affairs and Child Welfare, and the Regional Councilor). I’ve spent a lot of time running around like a crazy person trying to get quotations and submit applications in time, while pretending like I know what I’m doing. Now we are just playing the waiting game. It’s amazing how long everything takes in this country. Hopefully getting money will be the hardest (and longest) part. The group members are really excited about the project and its nice to see them looking forward to something, as that really is the point of this whole project.
Oshikuku is still great. A new Shoprite grocery store just opened, which I think pushes us over the line from village to town. If only there were Internet here…I’d never have to leave! Amber moved into a new house and Jennifer (another PCV) moved in with her from the homestead. It’s nice to have other Americans to hang out with. We’ve had a few Mexican Fiestas, which were awesome. I’m becoming pretty badass at making things from scratch. We are quite skilled at making an all out feast (refried beans, Mexican rice, guacamole, tortillas and toppings) completely from scratch…even after having a few beers at the sheebeen. We’ve discovered that “Club Muya Muya” has a foozeball table, and ive made “becoming good at foozeball” another one of my Peace Corps goals. So that’s the news on the homefront. I wonder what’s happening in the real world?

 
06/19/07
Rundu

I apologize for my lack of blog lately. I’ve had a hard time a) finding the time to write, and b) feeling like what I write is worth reading. I feel that a lot of what I write is becoming redundant….traveling…blah….Africa…..blah. I’ll try to get back on the ball and keep you all updated on my life. I think there are some people out there that still read this thing.
In May I took another mini-vacation up to the Kavango Region (North East of the Country). Here are some things that happened on that trip:
-Hitchhiked with an Angolan truck driver
-Got pulled over for speeding and got off for free by offering the cops 2 cases of beer
-Toured Rundu
-Saw fabulous advertisement in Rundu saying “In-Tents: The most affordable, reliable and flexible erections in town!”
-Ate traditional food from open market
-Traveled to Divundu in the back of an open bakkie (truck)
-Had dinner with an angry Polish priest
-Got violently ill from above mentioned traditional food consumed at the open market (shoulda known)
-Sucked it up and pumped myself full of pepto and immodium for the sake of a trip to Mahango Game Park…and a chance to see hippos.
-Took a 2-hour riverboat cruise on the Kavango River. Saw various birds, crocs, baby crocs, hippos and elephants. It was definitely worth it.
It was really nice to see another part of the country and also some Peace Corps friends in the process. The landscape is rather different. The beautiful Kavango river separates Namibia from Angola. There are less palm trees and more brush and other trees than Owamboland (my region). There are still many traditional homesteads but the huts are square rather than round (like ours). The rural areas seem to be even poorer (if that’s possible) than Owamboland. The diversity in this country always amazes me. The national anthem is correct when it says, “contrasting beautiful Namibia”

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