After a 2 hour flight to D.C., an 8 hour flight to Senegal, an 8.5 hour flight to South Africa, a 2 hour flight to Windhoek, and a 45 minute drive to our hostel, I have finally made it to Namibia. My ass will never be the same. I think part of it is still asleep. Phew. Luckily, all of my baggage arrived at the airport and nothing was tampered with (that I have noticed at least).
So, here I am, at a lovely little hostel in Windhoek with my new 11 friends. I am sleeping in the top bunk in a room with 2 other girls. This place is really great…there is a separate kitchen with open doors and windows that WorldTeach has stocked with food for us to make breakfast and lunch. I can’t describe how incredible it feels to be walking around in a skirt and sandals at the end of December. Thankfully, we missed the ungodly heat of last week and came just as the rains were beginning to cool things down. We got in late last night and basically just went to bed. The pre-orientation meeting and the flights here were much more fun because of the company of the other volunteers. It is all 20 somethings, trying to do something to contribute. It is definitely nice to have someone in the exact same shoes as me. I am thankful we have each other for the next few weeks before we are separated into our respective sites. Speaking of amazing people, I cannot say anything that will come close to expressing the brilliance and kindness of our field directors here. Both they and their Namibian husbands have done everything imaginable to make us feel comfortable and welcome in this crazy place. They are really some of the most incredible people I have ever met. They give me hope in the human spirit and the ability of humans to be kind and compassionate…it is kind of easy to give up on those ideals.
Anyway, after a very pitiful attempt at a night’s sleep, I awoke this morning to the sun shining and some very loud dogs barking. We had a few sessions on safety (mostly in Windhoek) and some basic expectations of us during this orientation process. Unfortunately, Windhoek is becoming an increasingly more dangerous city for tourists and residents alike. It is mostly petty theft, but definitely not something I want to get involved with. The field directors are amazing and are always ensuring that we are 100% safe. With some new information on our minds, we all went into town (in Windhoek) so we could pick up some of the bigger supplies items we might need. I got myself a pretty sweet cell phone (I have to say, Meg, the cheapest Namibian cell phone looks a little better than the jukeJ ) and a 3G modem so I can keep in touch with lovely people like you! I’ll get you the cell number in my next update…my box is all the way across the room and I am nice and settled on the top bunk (and yes, I am lazy). We also got to exchange some money for Namibian dollars and have a lovely lunch together. For about 9 of us to eat, it was $630 Namibian dollars…kind of hard to get used to a salad costing $42…obviously with the exchange rate it is only $6 US, but I think dividing by 7 will take some getting used to. Just like in America, the table sent the bill over to me and had me figure it out…some things never change J Walking around Windhoek was odd… obviously we all have an idea of what “Africa” is going to look like. Windhoek did NOT fit my picture. It is small, but still a pretty hoppin metropolis. Lots of people and stores…you can pretty much get anything you want. I will not be close to Windhoek in a few weeks (which I am excited about), but it is nice to have all of the amenities here for a while. After our urban excursion, we came back to our hostel and had one more session and then some Chinese food. It was a pretty awesome meal for me because I got to chat with, and practice my Oshindonga with, my field director’s husband, who happens to be one of my favorite Namibian artists, Black Door. After watching his music videos and listening to his tunes, it was really awesome to have a conversation with him. He is a really awesome guy…and his new CD drops next week!
After dinner, we all played some games…hearts, apples to apples, spoons, and drank some Windhoek lager. Pretty good stuff. I am trying to hit it early tonight since I am still jet lagged and must stay up until midnight tomorrow! We are having a braii (barbeque) and hopefully a dance party tomorrow evening to ring in the new year. Since I will be ringing it in 8 hours ahead of you guys, I’ll let you know if anything crazy happens. And yes, I am 8 hours ahead for those of you still confused on the time difference.
So there is my first update…nothing too exciting except for the fact that I am in freaking Namibia. Whew. I am doing ok, but really love love love getting emails/messages from you guys, so keep em coming!