November 22, 2006

things you might want to know...

Finally, a decent internet connection! If you are wanting to send me presents, send Gatorade poweder, I would love it. And save up for school supplies, I'll send out a wish list in January :).

In the meantime...
21 Nov

I don’t have a lot of time today to write as I’ll be putting my computer into safe keeping for home visit so I don’t have to lug it around for four weeks. But I wanted to give you some things to think about.

If you know me well, you will get a kick out of this list (I hope).

- I have been offered caterpillars to eat.
- Before entering the bathroom, I do a creepy crawly check.
- I am awake at 5:30 every morning, and I’ve started waking up before the kitchen staff begin making noise.
- I go to breakfast with no make up, and in my pjs, along with 66 other people who I’ve only known for 2 weeks.
- The highlight of the week is walking to town to get a cool drink (that would be Mt. Dew).
- I’ve played more games of Uno in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last 2 years.
- I can sleep with people standing 5 feet away while they are talking loudly.
- Seeing a large spider on the wall does not cause me to scream, move away slowly or freeze. Rather, I gague the distance and calmly continue to my destination.
- My part of our room is the most organized and clean.
- I wash laundry by hand every other day.
- I think nothing of waiting 5 minutes for my gmail account to come up.
- I drink tea with milk every day, in 80 degree weather.

Okay, that’s all I can think of right now. Once I have more reliable internet I will make an attempt to update with some photos. I’m a bit sad that I won’t be going to the Okavango region (that would be the area up in the northeast part, I’ve heard it’s really pretty), and yes, I’ll be very far north. I can’t wait to get a site assignment on Friday so I will know where I’m going to spend the next two years. I’ll visit that site next week and then go to home stays. I can’t say what internet will look like during that time. So don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for a while.

November 20, 2006

crawling across the atlantic...

I've been trying to read email for an hour with little luck, so it will be a while before I reply to you all. In the meantime, enjoy this post.

17 Nov

Wa lele po!

Ongaipi! Wa lele po!

You have now been greeted in Oshikwanyama. That’s a dialect of Oshiwambo, which is one of the Bantu languages. The Bantu language family is the largest in Africa. I’m excited about learning this language (to be honest, I just wanted one of the Bantu languages, I didn’t care which one, as Afrikaans [the language, not the people] and I don’t get along well). Bantu languages are non-gender-indicative languages, there is no distinction between he or she, male or female. There are words for man and woman, of course, but it is not like the romantic languages that are based on gender. Very fun. I studied grammar for an hour tonight and now my head is swimming.

Today also marked the longest session on nothing. We spent two hours talking about gender roles and issues, for which they split the group into guys and gals. The guys were done in 30 minutes. Somehow, we took way longer and I’m not sure we really learned much. I caused a great deal of frustration to me, as I hate wasting time. After that session, we hardly had time to jump on the convey (van) to take a drive around Okahandja. I was glad to finally see people in Okahanja today when I went to town at lunch, but so far, we haven’t had time to go out and see anything farther than 20 minutes walking.

We drove through town, it’s bigger than I thought. Then we went to a “location.” Locations are where black-skinned people were forced to live under the apartheid system. It was much as I anticipated. Small homes of tin and blocks or patched-together walls. My experiences in Peru prepared me well for the sight. It wasn’t shocking for me, but then, I’ve worked with developing nations for many years now and I’ve seen a lot (mostly second-hand, but still, I’ve seen it in the flesh as well). The only thing that I noticed that is different between Peru and here is the amount of trash. There is a lot of it out in the landscape, a sad sight to see.

But the people, they were beautiful. Happy, smiling and shy as we passed by. Children waving and calling hello in English to us. Some kids chased us through the location (which was not hard as we were going slowly). Someone comments about how happy the people looked. I think it was contentment. Not in the sense that they want nothing more out of life, but that they have decided to make the most out of their circumstances. They are not angry or resentful, they keep the right attitude in their hearts and it spills out of their eyes and smiles. That is the contentment that I saw tonight. I hope that I have that contentment. If not now, sometime in the next two years.

It was very good to see the people, to see that there is more to Namibia than our training center. It reminded me of the people I came here to serve, to live beside and to share, if they will let me, in their lives.

Nangala po nawa. (Sleep well)

20 Nov

I am so happy to have power again. I wanted to do some writing on my novel (which won’t be done in Nov, but I’m okay with that given everything else going on in my life right now) so I put in the new battery and nothing happened. I’m not sure if it never got charged or what, but I had no juice. And no adaptor! And no good quantity of pen and paper to write long hand.

So, I had to wait until today when an adaptor became available to me thanks to one of my roomies. She is a lifesaver.

It’s funny, I fly half-way around the world and I’m sitting here listening to a Broncos game on TV.. Go figure. How crazy is that?

Our weekend stayed pretty quiet around here. On Saturday, we had a cultural day, full of food. (Insert my dinner break here, I had to go get food just now, darn dinner bell! We are worse than Pavlov’s dogs with that bell.) Where was I, oh yes, culture. We had dancing and some great bread (a Herrero recipe) and some not so great things (cow intestines, caterpillars, gritty watered-down milk, etc). I have to say, I tried many things but not everything (there was way too much to try everything). I also got to take two naps and read a book. Not bad for a Saturday.

Sunday, I got up early and went to church. The service wasn’t what I expected. Granted, we are in a town (as opposed to a village) so I knew it wouldn’t be long, but I didn’t think it would be as short as it was (45 minutes, tops). There wasn’t a real message, either. The Bible wasn’t even opened. They sang 4 hymns, none that I knew and there weren’t enough books to go around, so I just listened. And it was small, only about 20 people (that include the kids, which stayed in the service, which was cute).

After church, I came back and took a nap. Remember, I’m getting woken up every morning at 5 or so by the kitchen staff who are busy preparing breakfast. My room is right next to the dinning area. About 5:30, I struggle out of my bed and netting to close the door (which stays open to allow cool air to come in our room). The breakfast bell rings at 6:30, and I get out of bed about 6:40. I eat breakfast and then head to the showers, or vice versa, depending on what we are having. If it’s the “cream of white corn” stuff, I’m first in line. It’s like Cream of Wheat, and I love it. If there is just cold cereal and bread, I can wait. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, on Sunday. After my nap I started another book (My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Piccoult). Then we had lunch late, and more reading. I took a break in the evening to study language with some other trainees, and then back to the book. I went to sleep with less than 100 pages left. I knew I had to get some sleep. Bedtime around here is 11:30-12:30, depending.

Today we finally had some productive training, topics like classroom management, ministry structure, and workplace culture. I feel like we might be ready to visit sites at the end of this week. I find out Friday where my site will be. I’m a bit bummed that it won’t be in Okanvango (a region in the northeast), at least, it’s unlikely due to my language assignment, but that’s okay. There’s a strong chance I’ll be somewhere very, very north, near Angola. That will be interesting. I’m not supposed to post my site location here, so if you are interested, leave a comment with your email addy (if I don’t have it) and I’ll let you know when I can.
I should end this long post now and write up some emails. I miss you all, it feels like I’ve been gone a year already. Oh yeah, please start writing some letters, I want to get some mail! The only real mail I’ve gotten was a note from Brock (a current PCV here in Namibia, he’s from Colorado Springs as well) along with a phone card. He is the best J.

Enda po nawa (go well).

November 17, 2006

the first edition...

The long flight to Africa…

Hello from Africa! I have no idea when I’ll get to post this, I’m writing as we go and saving the files so I can keep precious internet time for getting all your exciting emails and comments!

I made it safe and mostly sound. After two days of staging and then some shots and a long wait, we boarded our 15 hour flight at 5 pm EST. Yes, 15 hours. And silly me, I didn’t ask for a better seat and got stuck in the middle of the 4 seats in the center. The seats were not comfortable and I had an extra arm rest on the center side. And neither arm rest would go all the way back, so I ended up with either discomfort on my leg or on my arm.

So, I didn’t sleep like I thought I would. More to the noise rather than the discomfort, as I had a loud talker right behind me. Oh the joys. Even my MP3 player on the loudest setting couldn’t drown him out. Plus, that made my ears hurt. I ended up watching 4 movies between the few moments of sleep I could catch. I saw The Devil Wears Prada, The Lake House, Lady in the Water and Cars.

We were put up in a three-star hotel in South Africa. It was lovely. Nothing like what we expected. And I saw my first African sunset. I was in my room, laying on my bed when I glance out the window and start “oh, oh, oh”ing at the window. I grabbed my camera but I know I didn’t so it justice. A lovely orange disk sinking amid pinks and golds and reds. Breathtaking!

After a long soak in the tub, I went to bed (early). I got a very good night sleep. The next day, we were up and out of the hotel and to the airport for our flight to Namibia!

This time, I got a window seat and the clouds kept far enough apart I could see land the whole time. And let me tell you, there is a lot of flat land out there. You could tell that the rains have started because there were lots of green patches. At the airport in Namibia, we were met by joyful Namibian staff and PCV’s (that’s Peace Corps Volunteers). Then, we waited around for the 20 people who had lost luggage before a long bus ride to our training center. I tried to stay awake but the ride lulled me to sleep several times. At one point, I woke up wondering if we had landed up. Then I remembered we were on a bus, not a plane.

I did get to see my first Namibian sunset (which was lovely in a different way, more pinks and golds and clouds blocking the sun but scattering all the rays) and just before all light sank away, I saw a warthog on the side of the road. I really hope there is no significance to my time in Africa that is placed on the first wildlife you see J. Some others saw monkeys and a gazelle, but me, I saw the warthog. Oh joy. Oh yeah, and the sky is Colorado blue, almost a perfect match. I’m in heaven!

That’s it for day one. I’ll write more tomorrow about day two.

From under the mosquito net…

Yes, I’m sitting in my mosquito net tent right now. We had a ton of fun putting up our nets with duct tape (as the walls are concrete) and had the joy of nets falling down throughout the first night. By the third time one of my corners fell, I devised a better plan. And my net stayed up beautifully the rest of the night (I’ll send photos when I can). Next day, however, they found adhesive clips and the staff rehung all our nets. Mine isn’t as fun anymore but it did fall last night, so I can’t complain.

Yesterday (that would be Saturday, 11/11) we had our first training session. Mostly introductions to staff, a welcome by the country director and general info stuff. We then split into groups (health or education) and got a bit more info on what we can expect as far as training and teaching. We get to take tea breaks, which is awesome, and I’ve taken to putting milk in my tea. I was extremely tired yesterday due to only getting 3 hours (tops) of sleep the first night. So at every break, I was back on my bed, catching a few z’s. After lunch, we got our med kits and then a rabies shot. We get shots (candy, as they call them) every few days. I’m praying that I’ll get out of a few (that I already had for Peru).

On morning break, I was awaken with the message that one of the staff was looking for me. There was an envelope with my name. Turned out it was a letter and phone card from Brock, another PCV stationed here. I’ve been reading his blog for a while now and he’s friends with one of my former co-workers. It was nice to be the first person to get mail and the phone card (which I’m using to call dad, it’s only good for 3 minutes) is a blessing since the small store sold out before I got there.

After we got our first walkabout money, a few of us headed down to the Shell station. I needed something to drink. Apparently, water here is very safe and we can drink from the tap, but there is some nasty smell to it and I can’t get it past my nose. They are serving a juice of sorts at most meals, which helps hide the smell enough, but I don’t want to dehydrate. The plus is that so far, the dryness is about like Colorado Springs in summer, so I’m handling it better than those from humid places.

What else can I tell you about Africa? What do you want to know? I haven’t gotten out much yet, so it may be a while. But in two weeks time, I’ll be in host home, living with a family and doing community based training (CBT). So far, there is nothing I don’t love. I love how cool it gets at night (I almost needed a blanket last night, but I was sleeping on top of it, so I remained slightly chilled), I love how clean it is in the morning. I love the little girl who played with the clips on my bag and then let me pick her up for a picture. I love the way she wrapped her arm around my neck like she knew me well and loved me.

And I love my mosquito net.

The long night…

I’m a bit sleep deprived. My co-trainees are largely new college graduates who think 5 hours of sleep is more than enough. My body doesn’t agree. I’m catching naps on our breaks, which we have a lot of, thankfully. We get tea time here. Twice a day.

I’ve taken to drinking my tea with milk, so very British of me, I know. And they make a mean egg salad that I love.

Our days are full of training. Today, we learned about the technical aspects of our jobs and then had a session on stress and how to handle it. In the evenings, after dinner, we mostly hang around. Some people get together a soccer game or ultimate frisbee, neither of which I’m interested in, and others play cards, read books, do yoga, journal or talk. It’s pretty laid back. We’ll be here another week and a day and then we get our site assignments! Then we go visit our sites for a few days before we start home stays, regional language training and teaching training. I can’t wait to meet my family.

Namibia is a lovely country so far. I can’t wait to see more of it. The people are soft spoken and have faith, which is comforting.

And for all of those who are wondering, I have met native speakers of the click language, quay-quay (spelling not assured). It’s beautiful to listen to and I’m trying to pick up a few phrases to use back home. We won’t be learning it as it is spoken in the south and we are going north, but we’ll hear it often enough.

I know this is long, thanks for reading. I’ll update sometime, next week if I can!

November 8, 2006

I'm off...

Well, I leave today for Africa. We visit clinic this morning to get shots and then it's to the airport. We fly out at 5 pm EST. Pray that we all do well on the 15 and 1/2 hour flight to South Africa! We fly to Namibia on Friday.

Namibia is 9 hours ahead of MST, for those wanting to know what time of day it will be in "my" part of the world.

I miss you all already. Take care!

November 6, 2006

a funny thing happened...

on the way to Washington.

I'm here in D.C., killing time (I'm so violent!) before staging gets underway this afternoon. I am very happy for the free, in-room internet that allows me to not fight over the 2 computers they have in the business center downstairs.

I got off yesterday just fine. I check in early and was able to request a seat change on my second flight from E (middle seat) to a lovely B (aisle) in row 27. Dad, Nathan, Vicky, Shelly and the kids all came to see me off. Will and I cried, then Dad and I cried and then I was off.

The first flight from COS to Dallas/Ft. Worth found me next to a Mary Kay gal. She was a Christian and we had a lovely conversation about how God places us where He wants us. I had planned on sleeping (since I only got 3 hours the night before!), but this was just as good.

Once in Dallas, I had time to visit the little girl's room, hop the shuttle to concourse C, grab a hamburger at Wendy's (but no time to eat) and then walked onto the plane for trip 2. I schlepped my bags and hamburger back to row 27 only to find someone in my seat. I informed him very nicely that he was in my seat and he asked if I was willing to switch with him. I said it depended. After all, I had intentionally asked for an aisle seat and no way was I going to take a middle seat for 3 hours!

He handed me his boarding pass and said "it's in first class."

Needless to say, I switched with him. I had to wait at the back of the plane (right behind row 27, which, by the way, did not have reclining seats) until EVERYONE was on board and then make my way back up to first class. Turned out, I sat in the first row, aisle seat. It was fun.

So, I got a bit of pampering. Of course, I didn't want to sleep at that point because how often do I get to travel in style with glass cups, wine and dinner on real plates? I ended up dozing after a while but not for long.

Alright, I have to go find some lunch and then it is off to staging! I did notice that the comment link for the previous post is giving errors, but the lower ones are ok. Hopefully this post will work!

Leave a comment and let me know you came by.

November 2, 2006

starts and stops

Hi there. I'm home for a few days. The last week and a half has been full of travel. First to Florida for a trip to Disney with my siblings, then to Phoenix to see my grandma and other family. It's nice to be "home" but with most of my belongings packed and the rest scattered around the family room, it's not feeling very homey right now.

So the countdown is on. By this time next week, I'll be in Africa. I leave Sunday for staging. That gives me 3 days left here in Colorado. There is so much to do and so little time to do it. And to make life more interesting, we get an update from PC today saying, by the way, bring a sleeping bag or blanket because we aren't providing those anymore. So I'm now reconsidering my whole packing scheme. Like I needed something else to do!

To top it all off, I'm making an attempt at National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). For those who don't know about NaNo, it's the insane pursuit of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I've completed it successfully the last two years and it just didn't feel right to not try it this year. While I'm nowhere near my desired 10,000 words for the day, I did hit 3,000. Not bad for only writing 75 minutes. Apparently, I've been itching to write and just didn't recognize it. Hopefully, I'll be able to charge up an extra battery and write some on the plane to Africa. I have no idea what sort of time I'll have once training starts, but it won't be a lot.

So, what does everyone out there want to know? What are your burning questions that I can be thinking about as I pack and prepare to start a new adventure. Tell me what you want to know and I'll do my best to oblige with an answer.

For now, I'm off to bed. I'm a very tired girl and tomorrow is a play date with the Myers kids, a lunch date with Dena, a massage and a kick-off party for NaNo. Not to mention writing another 3,000+ words and finishing packing!