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Archive for August, 2010

I don’t want to turn this blog into a platform for spreading ideas I agree with through content that isn’t mine, but this TED talk really touched me so I wanted to share it.

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I guess it’s about time I updated this old blog. I’ve been meaning to do it since day one in Namibia but have been really lazy busy doing VSO stuff. It also seems to me that although I have been quite busy here for the past month and have done a lot of things interesting to me, I doubt that any of it will be all that interesting to anyone else reading this (if there is such a person). So to avoid a reputation as an absolute blogger bore I will tell you to stop reading now try to give you a brief summary of the past four weeks.

Week 1 – I arrived in Windhoek, Namibia and experienced intense “reverse culture shock”. After 3 months in east Africa, in countries that have absolutely nothing in common with the country I live in, I was now in a typical “western” city – in a land of paved roads, traffic lights, malls and people in shoes. It was really weird. It was also really great! I finally had a clean shower and a washing machine! I got to go to malls! I found myself almost dancing around the Wal-Mart like “Shoprite”. It was wonderful.

Week 1 was also the week that I met the other new VSO Namibia arrivals, the local VSO office staff and some of the Windhoek based volunteers. The new arrivals and I had our “In country training 1” for the first four days where we learned some useful Namibia/VSO type things. Week 1 also involved many evenings of eating socializing with the other VSO volunteers and staff.

Us in the Afrikaans newspaper

Us in the Afrikaans newspaper

Week 2 – This was a great week! This was the week that I had absolutely nothing to do. My future roommate Gisela, who I now share a house with in Khorixas, had some problems obtaining her visa and was therefore delayed in arriving in Windhoek by a few days. I was asked to stay in Windhoek and wait for her to arrive before heading up north to Khorixas. This was absolutely fine by me as it gave me time to go shopping for household items, enjoy “civilized” Windhoek for an extra week, and to have many naps. I spent a lot of time in grocery stores that week (not unusual for Joanna) stocking up on food that I was told would be unavailable in Khorixas. I’m glad I did because:

Week 3 – We (Gisela and I) finally moved up to our tiny little town Khorixas and into our new Namibian home. We live in a pretty big house – 3 bedrooms, giant living room, big kitchen and huge yard. (Maybe I’ll describe the house and add in some pictures in another post.) The town is very, very small. There are two small grocery stores, a gas station, a bank, a post office, a bakery, a few other buildings, and little else. The grocery stores are fairly well stocked with canned goods, sodas and toilet paper but few things with actual nutritional value. Stocking up in Windhoek was a great idea. I also started work that week. Highlights included meeting my boss Mr. //hoesep (the pronunciation of ‘//’ will take some work) and having high speed internet all day.

Week 4 – After a hard week at work VSO thought that I needed a week off, so they sent me and the rest of my new arrival cohort down to a luxurious lodge in the south of the country. We spent the week learning more about Namibia in our “In country training 2”. We learned about things like culture, land issues, HIV/AIDS and other political, social and development issues. We worked hard and learned lots but we also had time for fun and socializing. There was a watering hole on the premises (by “watering hole” I mean for animals, though there was a well stocked bar for us too). There we spotted various horned animals and one giraffe. We went on a game drive. We visited a big sand dune which we were told was the start of the Kalahari desert. We ate a lot – things on the menu were meat, meat and more meat. (After the second day a few people were eyeing my vegetarian dishes with jealousy.) We also had a lot of time for general socializing, drinking, playing games and all around becoming BFF’s. It was a fantastic week and a great way to cap off the first month of my VSO placement. Here are some photos from our week at Lapa Lange lodge in Mariental.

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