Thursday, April 9, 2009

The REAL Namibia (written 3/22/09)

Everything I thought about Namibia is wrong.

Well, mostly. It is really hot here.

As it turns out, the resources we relied on most heavily are more focused on eastern Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, etc.). So, not here…

Anyway, after we unlearned what we thought we knew, we were inundated with all sorts of new information. A sprinkling of what we now know is true:

 It is hot. REALLY hot. And very dry. It was around 90 degrees yesterday, and this is Fall.
 The seasons are opposite here. However, given that the temperature will be in the 60s and 70s, “winter” will feel like summer to us.
 At one point, we thought we were going to be coming here in early February. Around that time, we had a cold snap in which wind chills were around -60 degrees. It was around 110 degrees here, which would have made a difference of 170 degrees. I think God just didn’t want our bodies to combust.
 We are living with a host family in a small house. Our host mother has a grandson.
 We have a toilet! After serving in China (see squatty-potties), you can imagine the jig of joy I wanted to perform. I didn’t know anyone here at the time, so I kept it to myself. They say you can only make one first impression. I didn’t want to be known as the girl who gets really excited about plumbing. Incidentally, when toilets flush in the southern hemisphere, the water apparently swirls in an opposite direction than those in the north.
 We begin working with the youth center building tomorrow. We are so excited to meet the people involved!
 The highways in Namibia are in very good condition. Driving rules tend to be a little more (ahem) relaxed, but we will adjust.
 Here we drive on the left side of the road. Actually, we don’t have a vehicle, so we ride on the left side.
 Dye on Namibian sheets is not colorfast. I have the blue hands and feet to prove it.
 Apartheid ravaged Namibia at the same time it did South Africa. There are still very deep wounds as a result.
 Apparently, we are really, really white. Skin color means a lot here. Also, light blue eyes and blonde hair are not common here, so small children love to touch and stare at us, and giggle. We are semi-celebrities in this town. We will never blend in here. I never appreciated the anonymity it is possible to have in the US, but I see it now. Still, I have no sympathy for all the famous people who complain about their lack of privacy. All choices have consequences. Besides, the $100 million salary should take the edge off.
 The Rineer family is lovely. We miss them already.


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