I'm in Otjiwarongo (a main town, I feel very much like a country bumpkin coming from Anker, staring at the shops and all the people) for the weekend. I needed to get out a little and see another volunteer and have a little R & R. It has been wonderful. I've been staying with Megan Kenny and enjoying the wonderful delights of a big town. I had a nice hot shower and we ate at a restaurant last night (I had Chicken Gordon Blue… Don't ask me why the chicken was named Gordon, I wasn't acquainted with it.) I'm going to get some things I can't buy in Kamanjab today and then I'll try to get a hike back today or tomorrow and get the rest of the groceries in Kamanjab. I'm a little nervous that I won't be back for school on Monday (I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get to Kamanjab, it's that last 50 K to Anker that worries me.) but I've decided to try to relax and let the African mentality tone my more type-A tendencies down. Truth be told, I've been what can only be described as giddy this weekend. I really needed this time off and time with someone who is from the same culture. The people at Anker are great, but sometimes I just need to see an American. Megan has been amazingly encouraging; probably she doesn't even know how much she has encouraged me. First, she works as a health volunteer for the Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture and she hooked up my computer and gave me a password and user name, so I think that I can use any phone line now to access the internet. That means that Anker is now possibly an Internet connected town and I will (hopefully) be much easier to reach. I still haven't confirmed that it will work (I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much in case something goes wrong with it) but if it does I will be ecstatically happy. Second, Megan shared some of the problems that she has faced living in a big town. It really put things into perspective for me. She has had to deal with the problems of apartheid far more than I have in my village where I'm the only white person and pretty much everyone is from the same tribe. She also has had a hard time making friends and people don't really care about her- she once accidentally got locked on the ministry grounds where she lives for the weekend. Plus, her supervisor was really corrupt and bad, so bad that the Peace Corps told them to find a new supervisor. I wouldn't trade my problems with isolation and lack of shopping facilities for hers in a million years. Even if I can only buy Coke and mealie meal and get email once every 2 weeks, at least I know that I am taken care of and loved.
It was fun to be in town last week. When I get to town, I go into overdrive and start doing everything I can't do in Anker. I call and text people. I hurry off to the store (where I pour over my wide selection of canned fruit and dried soup mix.) I go to the guest house to email (where, even with the discount that they give me because they know I'm a volunteer, internet still costs an outrageous US$10 a half hour, It's $5 an hour here in O-Warongo) The Lonely Planet travel guide claims that Kamajab is an "unremarkable" town and complains of the lack of amenities, and it's absolutely right, but it still feels like I'm back in civilization when I can make a cell call without climbing a smallish mountain.
The day I sent my last email I got a new name. Mr. Ndjitezeua's (pronounced Tchew-i-te-zoo although all the school kids call him Mr. Aser) wife gave it to me on the car ride home. In Damara I am /Namdagos (the "/" represents a click at the front of your mouth, behind the teeth, it sounds a little like the "tch" you might use when you're scolding someone or calling a horse.) It means "person who I love" and I love it. Some of the hostel matrons have even taken to calling me by it. On that Saturday night Ms. Juliane who works at the hostel came over to use my oven. Her daughter was home from school for the weekend and she wanted to make her some of the vanilla flavoured biscuits. They are very easy to make and she was a little scornful that we weren't really baking since we could buy all of the ingredients here in Anker and didn't have to go to someplace like Kamanjab to get them. She was very pleased with my new name. "I'm going to call you /Namdagos and you watch how the other people look," she said. Anyway, she left me with a small bowl of biscuits and they are wonderful in the morning with coffee.
On that Sunday I went to church, which was very good. I think I have been conscripted into a church choir again. Anjelica Christiaan told me that I now belong to their choir. I haven't quite figured out how church choirs work here, since I don't seem to be expected to sing or even to show up to meetings or anything. I think that they are more of social organizations. The more committed members of the church get together in church choirs and meet and socialize. That's the best I can figure. Also, I lost electricity for most of the day. I ate crackers with summer sausage or peanut butter and I drank mango flavoured Oros. It was actually quite fun.