Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Last Update for a while (email from Amy)

Things are going well. I did my language exam on Tuesday. It went
well. I got a Novice-High, which is better than the Novice-Mid I got on
my last exam. The only thing I was nervous about before my test was
that I would do worse than I did on the last exam, which would make it
look like I got stupid all of a sudden in the last three weeks. Funny
story: I kind of swore at Philomena accidentally in my test. Philomena
is an amazing woman who is HIV/AIDS facilitator for Namibia. It was
really great to test with her because she was very sympathetic listener
and spoke slowly. Part of the test is a role play and I got a scene
where I was supposed to tell my host mother that I was sick and going to
the hospital. I tried to be really whiny and say, "My head is in pain,
my stomach is in pain, my foot is in pain." Unfortunately in KhoeKhoe
(the language of a thousand swear words) the word for pain is "Tsu" and
the vulgar word for a person's backside is "Tsau." So, I was actually
saying, "My head is an ass, my stomach is an ass, my foot is an ass."
At this point Philomena started laughing so hard that she actually had
to stop the tape and regain her composure. Ah, the joys of cultural
adjustment. Actually, I thought it was pretty hysterical too, to be
honest. If you can't find your own faux pas funny you probably won't
get very far in the Peace Corps. Since I didn't get a score of
Intermediate-Mid the Peace Corps is probably going to have me get a
tutor at my permanent site, but I had resigned myself to that fact long
ago. I actually intend to work pretty hard on my language in Anker,
partially because it will give me something to do when I'm not teaching
or planning lessons. I probably would have tried to get a tutor anyway.
In addition to the language interview, each of us also had an interview
with the trainers where they basically either told you you had completed
training satisfactorily and were in the Peace Corps or you hadn't and
you weren't. Mine was very short. Basically they said, "We are
unconditionally recommending you for Peace Corps service," and then they
gave me a sheet with my scores (all of them were 5 out of 5) and with
nice things they said about me. I had to sign the sheet and it will go
into my permanent record. It was not too onerous for me, but some
people had a little more trouble. Everyone is in, though, which is happy.

Lately the rainy season has started to live up to its name. We have had
three days of pretty significant rain. It was wonderful at first,
because the rain cools everything down. Unfortunately we discovered on
Monday night that the rain drives the insects out of the ground. We
have had a multitude of flies and termites that lack any kind of fear of
humans and carelessly land on your skin, hair, or food and just move a
few inches out of range when you try to swat them away. Also,
disturbingly to some, the rains have brought out ridiculously huge
cockroach-like creatures that are at least 2-3 inches long. Plus there
are the sand spiders that have always been around which are, at
smallest, the size of my palm and really ugly. All in all, I think I
preferred the heat. Oh well.

We're heading off to Windhoek tomorrow for the swearing-in ceremony. We meet embassy officials and have the ceremony tomorrow and Friday is a shopping day, so we can get anything we need to buy in Windhoek. So far my shopping list contains a cell phone (and an antenna so I can build my own cell phone tower on my roof), boxes of spices (which I definitely can't get in Anker and I don't think I can even get in Kamanjab, but which are easily available in the larger towns), pillowcases, and a power adapter so I can use my laptop. Bizarrely, Namibia uses a plug that basically no one else in the world uses, which is weird since they
use appliances that are made in Europe or elsewhere, so even the
Namibians have to use adapters much of the time. Unfortunately our
group has cleaned Omaruru out of adapters.

I also have to buy a bunch
of teaching supplies, since it is unlikely that some things which I
might want will be provided by either the ministry or my school. I have
a long list that contains everything from Sellotape (scotch tape) to
Kokies (permanent markers.) So that's my shopping list. I'll be trying
to get groceries as we go through Otjiwarongo. I'll have quite a bit of
extra money because the volunteer at my site left me with basically
everything I need, so I think I'll save it and use it to take a vacation
in Botswana or something.

Some of the volunteers are leaving on that
Friday, but those of us in the Kunene region are staying over night in
Windhoek because driving at night is extremely unsafe (if the kudu and
warthogs that wander into the road don't get you, the drunk drivers
might.) I don't ride at night and the Peace Corps strongly discourages
it, so we'll leave early Saturday morning. We're going by government
transport, which is very safe and which means we'll have plenty of room
for all of our stuff. Windhoek will be fun. It has one of the two movie
theatres in the country (the other is in Swakopmund), so on Friday night
basically everyone is going to go to Harry Potter (which just came out
in Namibia.) We are all very excited. We might even splurge and go to
the only fast food restaurant in Namibia; KFC. Yes, that's right,
Namibia is a McDonald-less country. Anyway, it should be a fun couple
of days. I'll check for packages at the Peace Corps office, I'll stock
up on books from the library there, and I'll have a good time with the
other volunteers before we all scatter across the country.

Oh, I learned another couple of McGyver-like skills. I learned how to
make solar cooker using tin foil in case my oven goes out. Apparently
it is a very effective way of cooking in a country that has as much sun
as Namibia does. I also learned how to make what's called a hot-box,
which is basically a well insulated box. You boil water and rice or
mealie meal and then you put it in this box lined with hay and leave it
for 6-10 hours while it cooks. Then you boil it again for a few minutes
to kill any germs. It is supposed to save enormous amounts of money on
cooking fuel. I'm pretty excited to try it out.

Paragraph of random stuff:

We're leaving Omaruru, so I probably won't get online again for a bit.
This is probably my last email for a while. Feel free to email me, I
just might not respond for a couple of weeks. Thank you to Rob and my
dad (two letters) for the letters they sent. I got the ones my dad sent
on Dec. 8 and 12. Rob's was sent the 19th (which is pretty fast, all
things considered.) Also, Rob sent some info on current events, which
was great since it's really hard to stay informed when you don't have
newspapers, magazines, television, or American radio and you can't
access CNN or BBC dot com (way too many pictures.) So, if you are going
to send me a letter or an email, a few words on current events would be
wonderful (just remember, I haven't seen the news for two months, so I'm
a little behind.) Oh, also I sent a picture that I said was Roberh (Not
a spelling error. Some people spell it like that here), but it wasn't.
I heard the name wrong. It's Robinson. Apparently my dad set up a
Flicker site and since I sent more pictures to my family (it's faster if
there are less people) he put those on the site. I think the address is so take a look sometime.
I haven't checked it out yet because I can't load it, but it sounds cool.

Stay safe, I know I will.
!Gaise ha re (stay well)

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