Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Recent Nam 25, Nam 26 and new Nam 27 PCV blogs, news and information for the month of October

Parent, sibling, relative or friend of a PCV serving in or going to Namibia? click this link:
PeaceCorpsNamibia Yahoo group

All Nam 25 bloggers

Nam 25 bloggers active lately:
my week and my trip (10/27)
Stuff (10/12)
The educational tour (10/8)
Links to photos of our trip in August
"At what o'clock?" - Achilles (10/12)
Happy Halloween! (10/31)
Phenomenal girls of Mariental (10/15)
What I get to wake up to (10/5)
Reminder about the Mtal Girls conf $ (10/2)
Readathon in Namibia (10/1)
The beginning of the end (10/10)

Hunger Pangs (10/23)
Why do we stay? (10/4)
Pictures (10/29)
My South African Excursion... (10/17)
The End is Coming (10/16)
The wonders of Caroline 10/15)
It's a girl (10/15)
Medical (10/14)
Fun, fun, fun (10/7)
She didn't know what she wanted (9/26)
It's cold (10/10)
The prizes are out (10/9)
Time to award (10/3)
The Tech Squad goes North (10/1)
Internet outage (10/23)
Now lets just get everything out into the open (10/3)
COS Conference Photos (10/1)

All Nam 26 bloggers

Nam 26 bloggers active lately:

New Nam 27 bloggers -Leaving for Namibia October 31!

Parent, sibling, relative or friend of a Nam 27'er? Have questions? Want to ask someone who's been there? click this link:
PeaceCorpsNamibia Yahoo group

Dave in Namibia
An Adventure Awaits
Letters from Overseas
The Elephant in the Middle of the Room
A Nacerima in Namibia
A Carolina Gamecock in Namibia
A Bit Off
Life in the Desert: Beth's Namiban Adventures you might as well dance
Natalie, Namibia
Sand in my shoes
a big fat two year trip dans Afrique
Under the Namibian Sun
here goes
It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us
A stranger in a strang(er) land

Other Namibia Peace Corps Blog links

Link to previous list of recent blogs (September 2007)

Recent news from Namibia

Saturday, October 27, 2007

my week and my trip (email from Amy)


It's been a bit of a difficult week for me. Eleven of my grade 6 learners ate concentrated cleaning powder (they thought it was powdered sugar) that had, I think, caustic lye in it. Most of them spit it out and were only mildly hurt (although, by that I mean that Queen had a badly blistered tongue and Selma told me that her eyesight went yellow and then red.) But Mercia, Papou, and Thusnelde swallowed some of it and almost died. They were going into seizures with their eyes rolling back into their heads and they were throwing up white, foamy vomit. Papou in particular was very very sick. Someone had taken some of the extra cleaning powder and put it in the tap so she went to get a drink of water not knowing that it had poison in it. Anyway, eventually they took them to the nurse who gave them some sort of injection and they're all OK now, but it was very very scary for a while. I didn't see them until the next day, but they were still sleeping under like three blankets each (and, I know that doesn't sound like much, but we are approaching the middle of summer here. It's been between 90 and 100 degrees F at noon.)

This weekend I went to Otjiwarongo for a Halloween/Thanksgiving/Goodbye party. Several volunteers are leaving in two weeks so we all got together and ate good food and enjoyed each other's company and some nice movies and conversations.

As far as my crazy post-Peace Corps trip I have a tentative itinerary. I COS (close of service) on December 7 in Windhoek. I then attempt to get to Victoria Falls. I probably will hitchhike and it will probably take me 2-3 days. On the 18th I leave Vic Falls with a tour group we go through Zambia, Malawi (including Lake Malawi), Tanzania (including Zanzibar), and Kenya (including the Serengeti.) We end on January 5th in Nairobi. From there I fly to Cairo with a friend (possibly via Dubai or Adis Abeba) and spend a little over a week seeing the sights. Around the 18th of January I fly alone to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Then, near the end of January or the beginning of February I end up back in St. Paul (via Bangkok, Taipei, and Seattle.) That's the jist of the trip although a lot will probably change.

OK, that's about all I have for now. Lots of love to you all.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Stuff (email from Amy)

It rained today. You cannot imagine the sound of rain on a tin roof in October. It is unimaginably beautiful. It hasn't rained here since February. When I heard it I started laughing and I had this visceral joy. I went outside and I felt it on my skin and I started crying, my tears mingling with the raindrops. This probably seems really melodramatic (and it might be- It wouldn't surprise me to discover that a few screws are loose after my time here) but it was my real reaction. I hope it rains a lot. One drought year (like this year) is like a major depression for the people here. They have to sell some of their animals or they will starve and the prices are halved. But two drought years spell bankruptcy and World Food Programme emergency porridge and malnourished kids. The last really bad years were in the 80's. They were telling me about them and these things are recurrent. Anyway, rain is like hope. It is beautiful and it soothes the soul.

Tomorrow I go to Windhoek for a week for my final medical checkups (so they can make sure I'm not bringing back Ebola or Typhoid or something.) Exciting, but I'm trying to save up my money for travel afterwards and Windhoek is not conducive to frugality. So, hopefully I can resist the movie theatre and the used book store and the restaurants. Other than that, it's been a thoroughly ordinary week. Take care.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The educational tour (email from Amy)

Sorry I haven't written in a while. This weekend was the educational tour to Etosha. We thought that we were going to have to travel in the back of three bakkies (pick-up trucks) but the day before we found out that we had procured a bus. The bus was big enough (unlike the one last year) but it was on its last legs (which here means that it will probably be half-repaired and limp on for another dozen years or so.) Every time we stopped, started, turned, or accelerated it would backfire and lurch into place, throwing people and luggage in every direction. There was also a ten cent coin stuck in the horn that completed a circuit, so every now and then we'd have 30 seconds to a minute of solid honking. Before we could leave Etosha we had to hunt down a fan belt because, apparently, we had been driving with a terribly threadbare one. Plus it didn't help that every time we moved the driver ground the gears something terrible. I am not entirely certain that he ever actually used the clutch.

As to the food situation-it was rather ordinary for here. We left with a goat carcass, 12 cabbages, 30 loaves of bread, a case of margarine, plus a large bag of rice, so the kids were eating mostly rice, cabbage soup, and lots of margarine sandwiches. The teachers, however, brought extra "good" food (i.e. strange meat) to supplement the diet. Perhaps you have never been in a situation where you were unable to refuse a pickled fish sandwich for breakfast, but, trust me, I'm speaking from experience her, you start eying the kid's plain margarine and jam sandwiches with more than a little envy.

There is nothing quite so culture-shocking as Etosha with village kids. Etosha is very touristy and fancy. One of my kids pointed out a two story house with astonishment and told me that he would never stay in a house like that because he was afraid he would fall off and die. Stairs aren't necessary in a place with ridiculously low population density. Even in Outjo, the nearest large city, there are only a few buildings with two stories. Almost everyone in Etosha dresses in khaki on khaki with a large camera on a neck strap and a German accent. They eyed my kids with just about as much curiosity as my kids eyed them.

My kids were separated by the gulf of their poverty and naivete about the world outside the village just as the tourists were separated by their wealth and their ignorance about the realities of life in Namibia. They cannot conceive of each other's worlds. Both of them are stuck just looking at each other. We hold apartheid in our hearts- black from white, rich from poor, young from old, Western from African- all of these are small potatoes compared with the true isolation- me from everyone else. We are stuck in the provincial homelands of our own heads. People ask me sometimes why apartheid is still a problem 17 years after it ended. To me it's not strange that it's still a problem, to me it's a miracle that it's not more of a problem, bridging, as we are, the bottomless abysses that separate us, one from another, with the toothpick and dental floss bridges of our own resources.

As for my plans after the Peace Corps, I think that I will not be home for Christmas (you can't count on me.) I will be doing a little traveling with some friends. Right now the plan is to go to Victoria Falls, then Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, and take a plane from Nairobi to Cairo, a little while in Egypt and then probably home. Just a little jaunt through Africa. I'm going to try to do it on some limited resources, so it'll probably be a bit of an adventure. I'm hoping that I don't run out of money and end up living on 20 cents worth of bread in Cairo or Bucharest or something, but (to comfort my parents and grandparents and all the rest of you who worry when I say stuff like that) I'm pretty clever and I have young, tough bones. I can survive a lot. I'll be going with friends, as I said, so I'll be pretty safe and, particularly, I'm going with a guy to Egypt, which is nice because it's hard to go to Egypt alone as a woman. Anyway, I'll let you know more as I know more.

As for the reading update- Read Collapse by Jared Diamond over the holiday (very good- not quite as good as Guns Germs and Steel, but few things are really paradigm shifting like that book was and still definitely worth a good thorough read), also almost finished Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky (very dense, but very good), and I'm halfway through Middlemarch. I haven't really been reading as much lately, but I'm hoping to change that.

Anyway, That's the good word from this corner of the world. Hope everyone in that neck of the woods is doing fantastic.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yahoo group for relatives and friends of PCV's in Namibia

If you are a parent, sibling, relative or friend of a Peace Corps Volunteer who is in or going to Namibia, there is a Yahoo discussion group set up for you. It was originally set up by a parent of one of the Nam 24 (2004-2006) volunteers and was quite active through the first year of the Nam 25 group (2005-2007). It hasn't been active for a while though. I would like to see if there is any interest to continue it and am willing to continue coordinating it for a while.

It is meant to be a forum where widely scattered (or nearby) friends and relatives of PCV's serving in Namibia can contact others who are in the same situation. It is also a place where those of us who have been through it already can answer questions, and offer ideas or advice. Discussions can be about just about anything that you are interested in relating to your PCV who is away from home. Topics have included: phone calling tips, mailing advice, travel and trip advice, sharing stories/photos/links, communicating projects and fund raising, announcements, emotional support, news, blog links and many other areas. There is a place to post photos, files and other items of interest.

You can look through past messages without being a member. But, if you want to participate in the discussion, you should become a member of the group. If you are interested or know someone who is, you can sign up to become a member and I will add you to the group. You can then decide how much you would like to participate: ask or answer questions, have new posts sent to your email or just listen to others.

The group is moderated by me but information about who you are and whether or not you want people to contact you is controlled by you. You can subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. The list will not be available or given out to anyone else and messages not involving the purposes of the group will be deleted.

So, if you want to check it out click this link: PeaceCorpsNambia Yahoo Group and browse or follow the directions to become a member. Pass this post on to anyone who you think might be interested or contact me via the comments link below this post if you have questions.