Thursday, December 30, 2010

planes, trains, and automobiles!

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!

Talk soon,


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays

Dearest friends and family,

Can you believe it is already Christmas week?? Yes, I like to have an entire week to celebrate Christmas. Especially this year since in exactly one week, I will be on a plane to Namibia. I can't really express all of the feelings going through my head right now, but I sure can say that I have some wonderful friends and a spectacular family. You might notice that I have removed the link that takes people to the page to give money. That is because with LOTS of help from you guys, my trip is paid for. I know this is extremely cheesy, but ya'll really helped me remember the generosity of everyday people. I am so lucky to know each and every one of you.

I hope that whatever you do this holiday season is wonderful and that you get to spend some quality time with the people that matter most.

Happy holidays,

Sunday, December 12, 2010


hey ya'll,

i just wanted to thank the few of you who made it out to my house tonight to say farewell. i know you had to brave the weather and the sunday night blues, and i want you to know i really appreciate it.

so thanks.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

season's greetings!

Hey ya'll!

Happy almost Christmas! Hope everyone is getting in the spirit and not just getting pissed off that it is freezing cold and you practically need ice skates to get around. Just wanted to update everyone on the fundraising...I know it says $5,000 over to the right, but that is somewhat of a fallacy. I have gotten sooo many wonderful donations, but the $5,000 includes the money that I have put in towards the trip. I am obviously happy to do this, I just didn't want my total to deter anyone from giving!

If you have ever even thought about giving me a Christmas present this year, please please give in the form of a donation. I would appreciate it more than anything else, I promise :)

For those of you in the area, hopefully I will see you at my place on Sunday the 12th. If not, I will most likely be leaving Chicago in about one week, so let's see each other! I want to ice skate, see zoo lights, drink lots of holiday brews, and see some music before I go, so let's make it happen!

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and don your gayest possible apparel.