Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random Thoughts That Float Around In My Brain

So I hope you take the descriptor “random” literally…just wait- these are the observations I have made so far. There are few people who think like this, and if you’re one of them, you should call me up. Maybe we can get a support group or group counseling going or something...

***You know how it’s a big deal in the U.S. to speak a second language? Here you’d be considered a slacker. Because of there being so many tribal languages in a close vicinity, it is not unusual for people to know 5 or 6 languages, and not unheard of to know 9 or 10.

***We have no heating or air conditioning.

***The other day, I was at a local store something like a very small Pamida, and I was looking at a pair of jeans. I realized the button said “Abercrombie.” Thinking this curious, I looked at the label, and sure enough, the store had just slapped their store sticker on the label, and there was an Abercrombie tag. Now, they were selling these for about the equivalent of four dollars (on sale). They were originally about eight. Even though they didn’t have my size, I was tempted…

***There are these obnoxious little thorns everywhere. Teeny-tiny. And everywhere. Walking home from the church one day, I started getting a pain in my lower back, and I didn’t know what it was. Somehow, and I have no idea how, one was lodged in the waistband of my underwear. Like I said, they’re everywhere.

***It is really common for families to be spread out age-wise. For example, the difference between the oldest and youngest child in a family may be such that an aunt and her niece are in the same class at school.

***If you want to stimulate motivation to read Scripture, buy a brand new Bible. It has given me a renewed fervor to examine passages, to highlight, to write notes. Not being able to rely on what I have highlighted or written before has challenged me in new ways.

***Jelly shoes and American music are ubiquitous here. Of course, the music is usually somewhere between 10 and 20 years behind. The other day, we went into a drug store and everyone and their brother was singing along to “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

***The phrase heard everywhere is “Ai Mon” (or something like that). It sounds like “eye mon” (rhyming with don or con). This is what people here say when they are frustrated, like when we would say “shoot” or something similar.

***Josh likes to keep several books going at once, so that he can choose his reading material based on his moods. He will mention how great a book is, and I might begin reading it simultaneously (which works fine since we usually read at different times of the day. Since I can’t stand bookmarks, and since he despises when I dog-ear the pages, I came up with a solution- paper clips- they don’t fall out, they don’t bend, and they don’t get in the way.

***When they write the date here, it’s day first, month second, year third. For example, October 4 is 4/10/09. This can be very confusing. Also, when quoting numbers, the period and comma are switched (ex. Four-thousand three-hundred four dollars and twenty-three cents looks like 4.304,23. Again, rather confusing.)

***The phones here are wonderful. Not that they are cheap, or their reception is any good, or any of the typical concerns. Rather, they have flashlights on them! And screensavers! And you can compose your own ringtones (my personal fave)! Josh is enamored.

***When we first got to London, we were walking the escalator to the Underground (yes, the double-high escalator was out of service), and I kept thinking how rude British people were! Here we are, trying to politely bear right in a crowded venue, when at least half the people don’t seem to care at all. Then it dawns on me: since they drive on the left side, they also bear left while passing each other. Oh my word, I felt like the biggest imbecile on the planet. Makes Matthew 7:3 all the more pertinent, huh? I am just glad I did this in London, because nobody there knows me.

***Interesting trend/habit/cultural tradition (I am not really sure which)- it is common to see women and girls in public with their hair in bright orange or green rollers. Like, really common. Not sure why.

***Another hair trend: braids (I know you’re shocked). Most people don’t go to a salon, they just braid each other’s hair (even little kids know how). The interesting part stems from the fact that people usually add extensions into the braids to give them length, and they sell them everywhere! No joke, I saw them at the grocery store!

***Namibia has year-round school. The school year follows the calendar year. Students are supposed to go until at least grade 10, and then if they meet certain qualifications they may complete grades 11 and 12. They call grade 12 “matriculation,” and have a big party (like prom) in the middle of the year. Although school is public, there is a yearly fee that must be paid for every child to attend school. Computer and physical education classes cost extra. There is no “kindergarten” school level.

***Women carry everything on their heads here. I’ve seen mothers with a basket on their head, a baby on their back, a child on one hip, and holding another child’s hand on the other side. That is talent. Josh and I watched a movie once in which a girl was learning to balance a book on her head. The next day, we saw a woman walking down the street carrying this very large, oddly-shaped vase on top of her head. No contest.

***In the U.S. (in spite of all the skin cancer research) most people enjoy having a tan. Many people pay big money to at least fake having one. In contrast, people here (who have much darker skin) tend to walk everywhere with an umbrella to protect them from the sun. I guess they had to find something to do with umbrellas, since it hardly ever rains…

***People go all-out for 21st birthday parties here (sort of like a quincinera in Latin culture). For those who can afford it, large parties are thrown, and all the attendees dress up and toast the honoree. Kids in the youth group keep asking what I did for my 21st birthday, and are often disappointed when they find out I ate dinner with my family and had French Silk pie.

***The other day, we were in Windhoek and I saw a vintage aqua-colored VW Bug. It made my day.

***The sun here is far more intense than at home. Even when it is not super hot out, you can still feel immense heat in direct sunlight. The sun is also far brighter; Josh and I can’t step outside without sunglasses. The ironic part? Locals NEVER wear sunglasses here!


Kelly @ Love Well said...

I could literally leave a comment about EVERY STINKIN' ITEM ON YOUR LIST. But you already knew that about me. Yes, we need a support group. (Please tell Josh to quit laughing.)

Instead of drowning you, how about I leave my biggest impressions?

1. Is Minnesotan a second language? Does that count? Because I've learned I'm fluent in both native Minnesotan and my second language of California. It makes me a good translator: "So what they mean by hotdish is...."

2. The spread-out family thing reminded me of Kentucky. ;-)

3. I read in Josh's style. I always have several books working so I can pick the one calling to me loudest that day. But unlike Josh, I have no problem with dog ears. Bring 'em on.

4. I think many countries do that with the dates and the periods/commas. I've actually come to believe the American style is in the minority. Maybe I'm wrong there?

5. I wish I could carry stuff on my head.

6. SLUG BUG! (That was from Connor.)

fivegranos said...

Really enjoyed reading your diverse random notes (even though I'm not a 'random-type' person, but I'm married to one). It's a great way to share information about little and not so little things! Thanks. Maybe we'll try that out some time on our blog (if we can ever get to writing more often).

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