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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My trip to Owamboland

Sorry I haven't posted in a while...there's a lot happening here with me in Namibia! 2 weekends ago, my friend Shannon and I went up north to Owamboland. This is where the majority of the population live, the Owambo people. The land is very vast and flat, quite different to the rolling hills of sand here in Swakopmund. I was amazed at how green everything still is, as we are well into the dry season. This past rainy season was intense, so I'm sure the greenery will be around for a little while longer.

First we stayed at my friend Jeremy's house. He is 1 hour north of what they call the "red line." It's a stop just north of Tsumeb where they check to see if you have meat in your vehicle or not. (No one is allowed to bring meat from the north to the south without a permit. ) Jeremy welcomed us in his home and invited a few other volunteers over from Canada and Germany. We spent the evening huddled around the campfire, because it's REALLY cold at night here in the Winter. The next morning, as promised by Jeremy the previous day, we got to ride on a donkey cart! (pics to come later....) then we headed up to Oshakati to meet up with our friends Kassandra and Eric.

We met them at the hike point - where everyone goes to catch a ride to the villages outside of Oshakati. We found E&K pretty quickly considering the mass chaos of cars and people. There are men coming up to you, quite persistant in trying to get you to ride with them. However, E&K had already secured a hike for us, so we hopped into the back of the bakkie and were on our way.

I was amazed how different the landscape was even from what I'd seen up to this point. I can't wait to post pictures, even though I'm sure they won't do justice to how beautiful it is up there!

We spent the night at Eric's homestead. It was a maze of concrete houses mixed with the traditional huts. His Meme (the Oshiwambo word for mother) was so happy we were there, and was quick to give us the grand tour. There is no electricity or running water, so we saw everything from the tap, to the outdoor kitchen, to the pit latrine. There is also a place where they pound mahango, which is the traditional mealie meal they sell. They usually start the pounding process at 3am.

Eric's flat is really cute, consisting of a good sized kitchen and a bedroom. It was great to relax a bit and catch up after the days of traveling.

The next day we headed over to Eric's school where they were having a bazaar. We all weren't really sure what that meant, but we knew somewhere in there was going to be lots of meat and beer. That pretty much sums up our afternoon. After we went around and greeted everyone, it was time to eat. I decided to claim vegetarian for the day and ate only the fat cakes while a few others ate the meat. I just wasn't feeling it.

The rest of the trip was smooth sailing. We caught our combi in Ondangwa and headed out around 9am, stopping for the occasional pit stop or bag of mahango. Shannon and I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions of our new favorite song "I'm married" which the combi driver put on repeat at least 4 times for us. This was followed by a full on laughing/crying fit by Shannon and I. All the Owambo's in the combi thought we were crazy! You should have seen the looks we were given!

I'll post some pictures soon enough...be patient though, as my camera is broken, so I'm relying on others to give me copies of their pictures.

Hope you all are well and are enjoying the summer. It's freezing here!


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