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!


Nicole said...

Hi Sara! I am have been so busy that I just got around to reading your blog. Boy do I miss your writing. It is like I am there when I read your words. I am so glad you are adjusting well (except for the loss of sleep). I know you are going to be wonderful in Africa and teach tons of stuff! It would be great to be your student!
Anyway, I am sorry I missed telling you good-bye on your last day. I meant to find you before you left.
Things here are fine, just like always. We all miss your comuter expertise, though. Tony just isn't enough! ;)
So, take care and I will post another comment again when I come around!

Dad said...

Ah, the Zen of Duct Tape, most useful to know how to apply!

Sarah Bennett said...

Ahh, my heart is so full. I love hearing about your adventures in Africa. Thanks for posting so much, it give us a great peek into your new world. I am going to be late, but I couldn't pull myself away.
Lots of Hugs!