Good: I got to take a well deserved break from site in a mountain retreat with hot showers and vegetables. Being with Americans was a) amazing and b) overwhelming. At site I got used to my “Namlish” and forgot how to speak to native English speakers! But the best part of the weekend? Doppleganger and toga theme parties!
After the week of training, we got our hitch-hike on. Stood on the side of the road in the hot sun waving down cars and doing jumping jacks to get attention. Ended up cramming in a closed pickup with 9 people and a TON of luggage, singing to Adele and playing 20 Questions.
And NOW I’m on the coast! In a city called Swakopmund. It looks and feels exactly like Germany, no joke Tomorrow I’m skydiving. Get excited!
Okay, now the bad: My puppy passed away this morning. Last week he got bit by a rabid dog (huge problem in my village, I’ve already seen three dogs die from it). We took him to the hospital and the doctor assured me he was fine. But then Kovu started acting subdued and stopped eating/drinking, and finally this morning he passed away. Anyway it has been a tough couple of days, especially since Kovu was a major support system when I was feeling lonely in the village. He was a great puppy… learned how to sit and stay when he was four weeks old, and followed me around like a little shadow. My fave part was that he literally was obsessed with sitting on my shoulder and licking my ears like some weird bird. Loved it. Ugh okay the end.
This week I happened to learn a lot about the culture in my region. So if you ever come to Namibia, these are some things you need to know…
If you get a girl pregnant before you’re married: You have to pay her uncles around $500 Namibian dollars just to be able to meet and apologize for impregnating their niece. Then the men of both families hash out your final payment (usually in cattle) while you sit silently on the ground.
If you want to propose to your girlfriend: First you write a letter – again to her uncles – asking permission to propose. In the previous generation, everything was organized by the men without the girlfriend’s opinion…but nowadays she usually gets to provide input. My co-worker, who just got married, explained that after he got permission, he had to pay her family: 50 liters of wine, material for her mom to make a dress, a new suit for her father, and 50 cattle.
If you attend a funeral: It’s a week long so be prepared to miss work for multiple days at least once a month. If you’re not sobbing hysterically, people think there is something wrong with you. And the women sit on the sand in a clump while the men surround them in chairs. It kind of feels like we’re a herd of goats…
If you want to get circumcised: It happens when you’re 11 with no pain killers. And always in April. Then you have to spend a week in the bush recovering with your fellow sufferers.
If you want a divorce: Sorry it won’t happen. Unless you’re a man and you kick your wife out of “your” house. Even then, she’ll come back with all her uncles and pay you to take her back…so you’re pretty much stuck.
On another note: we got a huge box of clothes and food donated this week! Despite it being a total moshpit of clawing hands, it was wonderful to see their smiling faces…especially when the two bikes were brought out. Not that anyone knows how to ride them…
Here are some pictures
Last night, I came across the biggest bug I’ve ever seen in my life. It was literally so big that I was woken up from my deep sleep by its footsteps on the floor. Think about it. I got out of my bed to look for the cat, only to find this six-legged-beast-man-cricket nesting its way under my suitcase. Too afraid to attack in the dark of night, I climbed back under the safety of my mosquito net and waited until the morning. Then at dawn, Kankala and I organized a surprise attack during which he effortlessly dug out the monster from the depths of my clothes pile while I ran in circles screaming.
And speaking of Kankala, he wrote the most adorable (totally unprompted by me, but I’ll cherish it forever) note about his future, called “My Life in 15 Years.”
“…In 15 years I will be 32 years old.
My dream is to have a family with three children; two boys and one girl, and the girl would be older than the boys. I like any animals, because the dog would protect the home and the cat would protect to the mouse. My dream is to work as a government, but I’m really want work as a doctor. Another dream is to work with children but not as a teacher. Maybe in another way, who knows.
I will tell you that in 15 years.
Definitely I want to earn enough money that I can visit my best friend Sydney in North America whenever I would like. I also want to show her my family so that they can know each other. That would be really great.
And one of the good days I would like to buy my own flat. A flat with a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room, and two or three bedrooms.”
Isn’t that adorable? I want to start a fund so I can fly him and his whole future family to visit. Any available donors?
AND speaking of donors… if you’re a close friend or relative of mine, and you have a couple of extra dollars lying around that you didn’t already donate to an animal shelter (Grandma Helen), you should invest in a box! And in that box you should put some used books. Especially ones that Grades 1-12 would want to read. And you should send it to this address:
Sydney Neuschel / Theresia OVC Center / PO Box 2428 / Rundu, Namibia