Highlight: Moving in with our host family on the 1st! We now have our own place to come home to after a long day of training. We are greeted by our host mom (a 70-something year old grandma), who almost always has dinner waiting for us (we get home around 5:15). We usually change clothes, eat, then sit down to watch the soapies (soap operas are big here). Our favorite is “7 de Laan” which is in Afrikaans with English subtitles – perfect! After the soapies and news we either retire to our room for some alone time, or sit out on the front porch drinking tea with our host mom and trying to practice Afrikaans.
Lowlight: Laundry. We spent over two hours hand-washing clothes on Sunday and it really hurts your hands after a while (our fault for having so much laundry I guess). Three of my knuckles stung when I put hand lotion on afterwards. Besides which I’m not even sure the clothes are cleaner than they were before. We should’ve just brought some Febreeze…
Highlight: Windhoek mall and sightseeing. On Saturday we went to one of the two malls in Windhoek, and it was basically like being in America. Everything you can find in America, you can find here for a similar or slightly higher price. Unfortunately, on our current “walkaround allowance” (N$25 = US$3.50) we can’t afford much of anything. We did, however, get cell phones! It’s nice to have that connection again. Pizza for lunch was pretty exciting too.
After the mall we went to Heroes Acre, a big monument honoring those who participated in Namibia’s fight for liberation. There were baboons running around! They didn’t come near us though.
Our next stop after Heroes Acre was the Single Quarter market, where I got my first glimpse of mopane worms and my first taste of braai. Mopane worms basically look like chubby caterpillars and I’ve heard they squeeze the insides out and fry them into a cake of some kind. Haven’t had the opportunity to try that one yet. Braai is the Afrikaans words for “grill” or “bbq.” There were maybe 5 guys all with their own grilling area who were just cooking endless meat which people bought wrapped in some newspaper for a quick meal. I just had a sample piece which was really good – but I was lucky to get a good piece as they were frying up a lot of fatty stuff too.
Lowlight: Herero Mall and Eveline Street. After all the above we were pretty tired, but still had two stops to make before we left Windhoek. Herero Mall is supposed to be another market, but 90% of the stalls there are actually bars. We were there at 3 in the afternoon and people were drinking, music was blasting, and I would not want to go there again. We stayed in groups with our trainers so we weren’t alone. It’s legitimately a dangerous place. People get stabbed there at night.
So after that lovely outing we went to Eveline Street where we didn’t even get off the bus because it’s apparently one of the worst parts of town. Again, the whole street is mostly bars, and the houses are tin shacks all right next to each other. We would call it a slum. They call it a “location,” although there are other locations that aren’t like slums.
Anyway, seeing all that was in sharp contrast to our fun morning at the mall and at the shiny new Heroes Acre monument. It was a good reminder of the problems here and of why we’re here, but depressing all the same.
Highlight: On Sunday we got to go back to the English speaking church in town – and even got a lift on the way from a couple we met last week. It turns out our host mom doesn’t go to church on Sundays, she listens to a sermon on the radio instead, so she had no problem with us going to the one in town. Hopefully we’ll be able to feel kind of at home there for the next six weeks.
Lowlight: It’s only week 2 of training!! We feel like we’ve been here for at least a month, but it’s actually not even been two weeks. Even as I’m typing this I’m recalculating to make sure I didn’t make a mistake. It’s really not even two weeks. Training seems to be going so slow! The other PCV’s we’ve talked to say that yes, this part feels really slow, but when you go to your site time flies. I guess we’ll see! We still have two weeks before we even know what our site will be.
Highlight: Food. We’ve actually had some really good meals – if I sound surprised, it’s because I am. I didn’t have the best experience with food in Rwanda and the food we had at the conference center here didn’t really inspire much hope, but our host mom is a good cook! The first night we ate Namibian spaghetti (the spaghetti is served beside the meat sauce, which you add ketchup to), then we had “pop” (mashed potato like substance made from corn flour) and sausage with onion sauce. Our favorite meal so far was fat cakes stuffed with mince meat, almost like a hamburger. Oh fat cakes…
I could go on: Lowlight – first mosquito bites (really have to take my malaria meds now), highlight – singing African songs every morning, lowlight – getting up in the dark (since our time changed Sunday), highlight – watching Get Smart with our host sister, lowlight – freezing in the morning and sweating during the day, highlight – ons vorder goed met Afrikaans (we’re making good progress with Afrikaans). All ups and downs. =)
I think my current prayer request would just be for energy and enthusiasm at training. It’s our only chance to interact with the rest of the group now that we’re all split up at homestays, and I’m sure all the stuff the trainers are telling us is useful and I shouldn’t sleep through the after-lunch session. Six weeks seems like an awfully long time to be in training still, but I’m sure we’ll use the stuff we learn here.
We’ve still been basically healthy (yay!). Dylan had a bit of a cold over the weekend, but seems to have recovered, and my worst ailment is the mosquito bites. We go to bed early and get up very early. We’ve had a hard time keeping our running routine going because it’s dark if we run in the morning, dinner’s ready when we get home, and once we’ve digested its dark again. Dylan’s doing better than I am because he doesn’t mind getting up in the dark, hopefully I’ll be able to go on the weekends and maybe some afternoons.
We think often of home and sometimes wonder how we ended up here instead of there. =) Missing you all!