More about Namibia!
I was thinking the other day about how I could describe life for me now here in Namibia. It’s interesting, because there are many unique characteristics of Namibia, but there are a few aspects that are similar to life in the US. In the town of Omaruru, there is a grocery store called Spar, which has most everything you would want. They have fruits and veggies, but the fruits I’m used to are very expensive here. I love strawberries, blueberries (haven’t seen those yet), and grapes. But, I’ve been sticking to mangoes and apples. When I walk anywhere in town, I greet people in a few different languages. There are many Germans, many who speak Afrikaans, and also Otjiherero. I don’t feel comfortable enough yet with the Damara language to greet yet (there are lots of clicks and pops) but I am working on it :) . I love hearing native speakers because the clicks and pops sound amazing.
Sometimes when I walk into town, I see a few things that remind me I’m in Africa. Today I saw a buckie (a small pick up truck) with 2 cows crammed in the back. It’s just not something you would see in Boston. Also, riding in the back of the buckie is very popular. I’ve heard of as many as 21 people to fit in the back of one of those things!! So picture 21 people crammed in the back with another mountain of luggage piled on top of the buckie. Man, that thing just scrapes the road!
I meant to write about visiting a traditional healer last week. It was quite an experience. We took a taxi to the “location” (this is an apartheid expression for where the black people were forced to live) and somehow found where the healer practices. It was in a squatter settlement in the location. The healer did not speak English, but spoke a little Afrikaans. We walked into his office – which was a squatter house with a dirt floor. It was terribly hot inside. We sat down and asked him questions about his work. On his table were a baboon skull, a few porcupines, and some plant roots. His told us the most popular item people to come him for are lucky sticks, to protect people from accidents when traveling. After a few moments of questions and blank stares, one of my friends felt really sick from the heat. She got up and went outside, but things started feeling weird. We decided it was time for us to go, so we thanked him and went on our way. Later on we found out a few more people from my group tried to go talk to him and he would not meet with them. I’m sure there was a miscommunication somewhere along the line…he wanted us to pay him or buy some lucky sticks.
I should also mention that I have now witnessed the slaughtering of a goat. Actually, it was already dead when I arrived on the scene, they were in the process of skinning it. It is kind of like passing a car accident on the highway….you can’t help but look even if it makes you sick. I took plenty of pictures to gross you out!
Many people in my group have had the courage to try food we would just not eat in the States. Donkey, goat head, warthog head, and sheep (mutton) are a few on the list that rank popular here in Namibia. I’ve heard the goat head is called “smiley.” Yeah, that’s because it SMILES at you when you eat it. Yuck! There is also Springbok and other various game meats. I have had a very understanding host family….my host mom makes sure to buy chicken and fish for me if she is making red meat.
Eww..right now on TV, I’m watching a jelly-eating contest and they can’t use their hands. Yuck!
We had an appreciation dinner for our host families tonight. We spent the entire day cooking and preparing food for our American Barbeque. We made hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, baked beans, and apple crisp for dessert. We made everything from scratch, and it was ridiculous how good it was! We also had a relay and a water balloon toss for the kids. It was a fantastic time! My Afrikaans class and I wrote a speech and I had the honor to present it in Afrikaans! It was short, but I think the families loved it. I’m just happy they were able to understand me! I got a lot of compliments on how well I did. I know I made my host family proud!
We move out of our host family’s house on Friday back to the rest camp for the next 2 weeks. As for Christmas in Namibia, well I’m not sure what exactly will happen at this point. There were rumors we were going to Etosha National Park, but PC trainers were very clear that plan was not in the works. I think we’ll just be hanging out eating lots of food. The other night I watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on TV. I got a little emotional listening to all the familiar carols and seeing all the decorations. I feel so far away from my normal holiday routine, that it hit me how much I miss it.
I love all of your emails and comments on my blog. It really helps keep me going on some days! I will do my best to keep you posted on all the excitement here in Namibia. I wish you all a very safe and happy holiday.