Friday, January 20, 2006

Windhoek (an email from Amy)

This was sent today but describes her experiences on Thursday, Jan 5 through Sunday Jan 8.

My trip to Windhoek—

It's been a crazy few days. We went to Windhoek on Thursday morning. We left at 5 AM and we packed everything up onto busses and bakkies (pick-up trucks.) We got in around 9 AM and we had meetings with the Peace Corps and Embassy people until about noon. Then we went shopping at Game (a Walmart-like store) and got everything we needed at our permanent site for the next 3 months (right!) We were done at 3. I bought pillowcases, a cooler (so I can get perishables back from the grocery store. If I'm lucky I think I might even be able to get ice cream back) and a bunch of school supplies. Then we split up and went to different stores. Others went to Edumed (an education supplies store) or the mall, but I went off to find a cell phone. Anker is too rural to have cell coverage, but I heard that there is a type of antenna that you can hook to the top of your roof and have coverage. I was with Achalen, one of the Peace Corps drivers, and I am so glad. We found the phone that works with the antenna at Cellular Cash and Carry, but we couldn't find the antenna. Achalen talked to the cashiers in Afrikans and explained what we were looking for and he drove me all over Windhoek. In the end, we never did find the antenna, but I got a cell phone and I have a good lead on where to go the next time I'm in Windhoek. Until then, I just have to climb a big hill to get reception. It's good exercise. After shopping I took a bath that was so hot it was almost scalding; my last hot bath for quite a while. Then we had dinner at the hotel, which was amazing. It was a buffet and it tasted so good. After that we went to the movie theatre and saw Harry Potter. It was really great to see a movie and I was glad I got to see it. Others went to see Narnia. When we got out of the movie it was raining ridiculously hard (the rainy season has been living up to its name recently.) So we got back to the hotel and watched CNN and then went to sleep.

On Friday, we got up early and ate a really fantastic breakfast at the hotel. Then I got ready for the swearing in ceremony. Luckily some of the other volunteers had bought irons, because my skirt needed ironing badly. The ceremony was long and very formal. We all swore our allegiance to the US Constitution and then each language group took the oath of service (a pledge to serve and learn from the Namibian people) in their languages. KhoeKhoe got audible gasps and a round of applause from the audience. We really stole the show. Again, I am so glad I'm learning KhoeKhoe since even saying "Matisa" (How is it?) impresses people to no end. My host mother and quite a few others from Karibib were there. It was so good to see her again. She said she's coming up to visit me in February, so I have that to look foreward to. After the ceremony we had a quick reception, and then we all had to leave. It was very sudden and hard to say goodbye to everyone. The 6 education volunteers from the Kunene region went together in a ministry provided Land Rover, with a bakkie (pick-up) and a car to carry our luggage. It was still raining (I'm sorry I ever doubted the rainy season.) We were trying to get to Khorixas, where one of the volunteers is going, because he had 5 empty beds (he lives with a British VSO volunteer and a Norwegian youth sports volunteer, but both are home on holiday.) Unfortunately we got delayed by the rain and shopping (I had to stock up on groceries as Anker offers the wide selection of cornmeal or sugar and coke or beer; pretty much nothing else.) We got to Outjo around dark and decided it was just too dangerous to go on, so we stayed in a guest house. It was pretty nice. There was a room with 6 refridgerators, two tables, and an oven piled on top of each other and in that room there was an old, tilted pool table, so we played a few games and SMSed other volunteers and then we went to bed. In the morning we had breakfast and headed out. We dropped two volunteers in Khorixas and then they put all my stuff in the back seat of the Land Rover and we headed off to Anker.

The trip from Windhoek to Anker

I got to my new home at noon and started unpacking. I also managed to get my laundry done, so I didn't have to wear my filthy clothes to church. I had a little trouble cooking my first meal (I didn't realize the stove was unplugged and I ended up with crunchy noodles) but I got the hang of it. I put a little sunflower oil and some popcorn in my pot and I made some popcorn for dinner. I even melted some butter in a spoon and poured that on top. It was a top-notch first dinner. Some people stopped by to say "Hi," which was nice.

I spent a lot of money this weekend. Between school supplies, housewares, groceries, my cell phone, and the movie I spent about N$1350 (US$225.) I know it might not sound like a lot, but I make N$1800 a month, so it's quite a bit. I didn't spend as much as some, though. The volunteer who was here before me left me a lot of her stuff, so I had to buy very few household items, unlike others. Anyway, everything is going well.

PS Here's a list of what Amy bought while she was in Windhoek on Jan 6.

This is what I bought at Game:

1 ream of typing paper

Coloured paper

Masking Tape

Tippex (white out)

Eraser and sharpener

Prestik (plastitak)



Hole punch

Staple remover

Glue stick

2 notebooks

White labels (I thought they might be useful for the library)

Sellotape (scotch tape)

Cooler (so I can buy perishables in Kamanjab and get them home. If I'm lucky and I get ice, I think I might even be able to get ice cream back here.)

2 pillowcases.

Many people bought a lot of household items, but as you can see, I didn't. The girl who was at my site before me left basically all of the house wares that she had (and some other great stuff) so I figured that she got by on what was here and I could too. Plus, I didn't really need any of the stuff the others bought. She even left me an iron. I figured I could use that money to improve my classroom or other stuff. All of that cost N$368.65 (about US$60.)

I also bought a dictionary. I was considering getting a hardcover, but it cost over $300, so I just wasn't sure I could swing it. Instead I got a softcover for N$60 (US$10.)

I also got a cell phone (N$300, which is a really good deal. Mostly because it's a brick, but it's the kind that works with the antenna that you can hook to your roof. I couldn't get the antenna, though.) and a starter kit (N$80) plus $50 of phone time (I can now send 150 SMSs.) I have to climb a big hill to use it, but I don't want to be stranded here without any time, plus I had to call mom and dad and it's really expensive to call the States.

Finally, I bought a bunch of groceries, as in $450 dollars worth (US$75.) I tried to concentrate on the staples and what I'd need in the next week or so, plus things I thought it would be hard to find. Here's what I got—

White Flour

White Sugar

Brown Sugar



Split peas





UHT milk (ultra-pasturized and shelf stable, but I keep it in the fridge anyway.)



An onion

A clove of garlic

Oros pine-crush (concentrated pineapple drink mix, like Kool Aid)

2 1.5 liter containers of 100% fruit juice (it's hard to get fruit here)



1 wheel of gouda cheese

A block of cheddar

2 cans of tomato paste

2 cans of corn

1 can peaches

1 can pears

1 can pineapple

Sunflower Oil


Baking powder

Loose tea


Dish soap

Toilet paper


Strawberry Jam

Peanut Butter

3 packets of jello

Custard powder

4 packets of cookies

One large chocolate bar w/ hazelnuts

Mixed Italian herbs


Garlic powder

Hot chocolate mix

So, as you can see, I won't starve. I intend to replenish my stock in another week or two. I also can get meat from the butcher in Kamanjab. I'm really hoping they have bacon, because that would be amazing. I also am excited to start cooking for myself because it means that I can eat more chicken and I don't have to eat red meat every meal.

So that's what I spent this weekend. Plus I went to see Harry Potter which was sort of expensive ($20 for cabs and $38 for the movie ticket.) By my calculations I spent about $1350 (US$225) this weekend. It might not sound like a lot, but I got $1700 for my settling-in allowance and I get paid $1800 a month, so it's a little less than a month's salary. Anyway, that's what I got. I think it's everything I need for a while.

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