26 November, 2014

Poor Economics

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!! Onda pandula! (I am thankful!) 
I almost forgot it was Thanksgiving - but I'll be celebrating next week...with Owambo chicken instead of turkey...

Now, back to business....

I assume all of you have completed your homework,
and read "Dead Aid", written by Dambisa Moyo.
If not, click HERE to get it :)
(AND - if you know any country leaders or politicians, 
please pass this book along to them...)

Now, for your next assignment, 
read "Poor Economics"

Click below:

There are MANY books on this topic, and now you can consider me 
your guide to these Aid books...
It's a very interesting topic, and one that can open your eyes 
to developing countries, specifically Africa, 
and all you thought you knew...

Yours truly,

20 November, 2014

Holidays and Rain...

Hi all! I know it's been awhile....
After my amazing vacation with my parents, I headed back to the village. I had been gone for a month! I had a few meetings, including our HIV/AIDS Technical Group, here for PC in Nam. We are working on a few things, to help volunteers sort thru all of the information we're given, and find the best programs/activities to use - as well as ones which we can report to PEPFAR. See, every quarter, we have to send in a report to headquarters in Washington, on our activities at our sites. Well, some of this reporting also goes to PEPFAR - since they help fund the PC and our programs here in Namibia. They've recently changed some things, so our group is trying to put it all in laymen's terms for the volunteers, and make life and reporting a bit easier...We'll see if we will succeed....

I have also been talking with our new Country Director and APCD, and we are working on moving me to Windhoek to begin my third year of service early, helping in the PC office! Although we thought it might be December when I begin, it looks as though it may be closer to February...I hope, at least. School, here in the village and all of Namibia, is about to finish their academic year. For most PCVs, this means a lack of work...

So, I was hoping to get to Windhoek soon, to start working there, but until I do actually leave, I've already come up with some ideas for next school year:

  • Continue with Grassroots Soccer - at my school, as well as area villages' schools
  • Continue to try to get more interest in gardening and my NAWA program
  • Bring my counterpart, Daniel, on any other workshops/trainings - he loves learning and is always willing to keep trying and using the ideas we've been taught (even though he struggles with English, I believe it's getting better!)
  • And here's the newest....Start a Chess Club at school in January!! I bought a small chess board, and decided to teach my brother. Well, my older brother asked me to teach him, and as we were playing (from what I remember!) he told me that especially here in the villages, kids don't know how to play - and mostly because they think that only white people can play chess. Well, I'm about to change that thinking! I want both boys and girls to join the club, and we'll even make our own boards and pieces out of different color bottle caps, if we must. I'd like to also have a tournament halfway thru the year - and maybe give the winner his/her own chess board & pieces. 
And of course, I'm still working on my Court&Field Project...which will happen sometime next year. We are in the works of an American group coming here and also collaborating with a Namibian group at a college in Windhoek. Let's hear it for Namibians helping Namibians! But I will keep you updated as I get more info and plans become more concrete....(literally!).

But yes, I do look forward to moving up to the next level, and working at the PC office. I want to learn all I can about management, admin, and technical training. And who knows where this will lead..... :)

And so, until January and the start of the next school season, I have a few trips I'll be taking...
First, we are celebrating Thanksgiving the week AFTER because on November 28, Namibia is having its national elections for President, as well as Parliament. Volunteers are not allowed to leave site for about 5 days surrounding this time. They don't expect any problems - Namibia is a very safe, calm country. But just to make sure all volunteers are safe, we must stay in our villages during the time. So, the following week, we are going to try to find a turkey (though turkey is not a huge item in the supermarkets here) and attempt to make our own Thanksgiving feast, in Opuwo, with a few volunteers who stay there. After that, we are going camping at Epupa Falls! It's now the beginning of the rainy season, so we are hoping the levels are high enough to see some nice water falls...

And then the big trip: Around the New Year's Eve time, my friend Crystal and I are headed to Victoria Falls to meet up with my sister and her boyfriend! We'll be there for about a week and a half. Some things we're planning on is a 2 day/2 night camping safari in Botswana at Chobe National Park, a lion, cheetah and elephant walk, rafting on the Zambezi (!), a traditional Zambian dinner, checking out the local markets, volunteering at nearby schools/villages, seeing Victoria Falls, viewing the Lunar Rainbow over the falls, and possibly trying out the gorge swing and zipline! This will be my Christmas/Birthday trip to myself! I can't wait to see this part of Africa, and share the experience with my sister as well!

Well, that's about all for now...but all is good here....
Penny, the dog is not pregnant again. I had my hair braided for the first time (and will probably do it again! I really thought people in my village would laugh, but instead, they shook my hand and said "Thank you!"). I can open a can of tuna with a knife - therefore, it's official that I can survive anywhere! It's hott hott hott here, but it's also the beginning of the rainy season - which means cooler temperatures after the rain. My little nephew (2 years old) is learning how to speak some English - which is the cutest thing ever to hear.

Peace & Potatoes,

Here's picture of me with braids:

Speaking of Opuwo - 
here's a nice story about the Himbas - who live in the Opuwo area!
Click on the picture below:

And my mother finished making LOTS of videos of our trip! 
If you want to see all the fun you missed out on, click on the link below:

23 October, 2014

An Oryx Holiday A visit to Cape Town

 To repeat the last paragraph of the last blog.....

Cape Town Airport is very large and beautiful. One of the passengers told us it has been voted the best airport in Africa. After going through customs, and making sure we had the right date on our passports, we met Grant, our guide.

He drove us to The Paradiso and we had wine with 3 appetizers...salmon and peach salad, a veggie antipasto, and butternut ravioli. Then he drove us to our self catering apartment which had 2 bedrooms each with its own bath, and a kitchen with an eating area and a small area adjoining with a sofa, fireplace and tv. Then we went to sleep.
On the left on other side of the 8 foot high barbed wire fence was our apartment.

Wednesday morning was cool and windy. Grant came about an hour late because he was involved in a hit and run accident. Someone backed into his van while he was sitting in it with the door open. They stopped for a minute and then took off. He tried to catch him but traffic got in the way.
Nevertheless, we had a fine tour of the southernmost part of the greater Cape Town area. We drove along the coast. We stopped at Kalk Bay which was a lovely little artsy town; 

Simon's Town where we saw a statue of Just Nuisance who was a Great Dane that the Royal Navy had adopted during WWII. He drank beer, slept with officers and was given a full military funeral upon his death. (This should be a movie!) 
Touching his nose brings good luck.

an area called The Boulders- a penguin colony and we found many of them living in the bushes. 

We continued on to Table Mountain National Park which is nowhere near Table Mountain. All along this drive the scenery was spectacular! 

The highlight of our visit to the park was getting to Cape Point...which you may have never heard of...and The Cape of Good Hope which is the furtherest south western point of Africa. Cape Point was absolutely breathtaking to behold. They are only about a 1/2 mile from each other.
The Cape of Good Hope

Cape Point is just east of the Cape of Good Hope.

While unsuccessfully looking for zebra for Diane, we did spot Bontebok, an relative of the antelope, baboons, and two ostriches which walked alongside our car. 

We went up the western side of the peninsula and eventually back home, where there was a cloud covering Table Mountain which Grant referred to as a tablecloth. 

A couple of interesting observations along the way. We saw the US Embassy which was situated next to a large prison and Cape Town rush hour traffic was bumper to bumper. It reminded us of Los Angeles.

We walked to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant called The Fat Cactus. This was at the request of Miss Johanna because it's been over a year and a half since she had Mexican food. We had chips and salsa and guacamole dip. She had a large chicken burrito and 22 Marguaritas. John had a pork quesadilla and 2 Kraft beers. Diane had  a spinach quesadilla and a strawberry Marguarita.

Day 2 
Grant picked us up and we drove through the downtown area. There were brightly painted houses...buildings which were occupied by former slaves...from India and Pakistan. Now this is a big Muslim area. 

We saw a few McDonalds  and a Subway. 

Although Parliament is in Capetown, the capital is Pretoria.  We also went past the stadium that was built for the 2010 World Cup and is referred to locally as the Toilet Bowl and if you saw it from above you would understand. 

Unfortunately, it is only used for a few concerts every year. When it is used for soccer games, it is a loss because it is the poor people who follow soccer and they cannot afford to pay high ticket prices. Then we went to the Victoria Wharf Shopping Center which was down on the waterfront area...very pretty and modern. A lovely place to just watch the water and relax or eat or shop. 

Table Mountain was  closed today so we headed out to the wine yards as they call them. Grant took us to the area of Stellenbosch. In this area there over 200 vineyards. Ernie Els was the first one we went to and was absolutely beautiful. We ended up having lunch there overlooking the vineyards in the valley and the mountains in the background. At one point Johanna was artistically challenged to take a picture of the Ernie Els wine glass against the scenic background. She took at least 20 pictures to get it just right. We were proud of Johanna for her uniqueness. When it was all done, the wine steward said, "Oh yeah, everybody does that!"

This is the Ernie Els Vineyard.

 John bought a golf shirt and we took some pictures of Ernie's trophies. 

Then on to a second wine yard called Muratie. The very first  owner was Lauren's Campher who fell in love with a slave girl who lived in a fort in Cape Town which was a three day walk. When she was freed, he moved her in with him. When he died he left the vineyard to her. This was very out of the ordinary...having a slave own land. She sold it. In 1763 Marvin Melck bought it and then sold it. It didn't get back into the Melck family until 1987. In 1927 Georg Paul Canitz bought it. On a regular basis he told his wife he was going to the chapel to pray. She thought he was wonderful. In reality he was visiting his mistress. When he did she found many pictures of her under the floor boards. Many of the names of the present day wines come from the people involved in this tale. 

And the third one we visited was Warwick Wine. Very nice. Warwick picked the present logo based on a story of a silversmith in love with the nobleman's daughter. The nobleman would not give his blessing and locked him in the dungeon. The daughter would not eat so the nobleman agreed to let the two lovers marry if the man could make a cup that two people could drink from at the same time without spilling. Within a week the silver smith did just that and the two were married. When the owner died he left the vineyard to his wife who became the first woman vintner in South Africa. John and Diane drank from the replica of this cup which represents love, faithfulness and good luck.

We returned at 4:45, and sat around for an hour and then went down to Checkers, a local grocery store and John and Johanna bought themselves dinner including a Lindt chocolate bar. 

We really didn't do too much today but we had the chance to see how beautiful the Cape Town area is. (And we had 15 sample glasses of wine!) 

Day 3
Today was the perfect day! The sun was shining, there were no clouds in the sky, and the temperature was perfect. Grant took us up to Table Mountain and we were able to get right on the cable car. This car has a revolving floor for its 65 passengers and an announcer with a great sense of humor. 

At the top we took MANY pictures of the Cape Town area. 

After this we went back to the Victoria Wharf and had lunch. John had steak tartare, Diane had white asparagus risotto, and Johanna had hake and angel hair pasta. 

At 1:00 we boarded the Nauticut and went to Robben Island. It took an hour to get there, with a 2 hour tour and then back home. We did see Nelson Mandela's cell but all decided we needed to read up on this part of history a little more. Our second tour guide had been a prisoner from 1977-82.He had been a student protester in high school at the time.

Grant brought us home. He was a terrific guide and we saw practically everything we had on our lists. We highly recommend him!

We had a quick glass of wine to finish it all up and then went out to DaVinci's for dinner. Africa's pizzas have no mozzarella but feta cheese instead.

Day 4
John and Diane took a walk in City Garden. It is a lovely park with families and couples strolling down the brick walkway. Many were feeding the squirrels and pigeons. We also saw 4 high school musicians- three trombones and a trumpet, playing on the street. 

We gave them a tip. Then we walked back to our place, had the leftovers from previous nights, packed up and had our driver take us to the airport. Johanna had to go to a different gate so we said our good byes early. It was a wonderful vacation and we want to come back here again.

IF our trip still interests you, I am loading videos onto You Tube almost every day. If you search You Tube for "An Oryx Holiday" there are about 8 of them. And I am only half done!!

Thans for reading our blogs. We would encourage everyone to visit Africa someday.

15 October, 2014

Global Handwashing Day

Today is Global Handwashing Day! Yes, it's a real thing....

Unfortunately, I found out about this too late - and was in Windhoek at the time - and so unable to plan anything for my village. BUT, since I will be here next year (probably not in the village though), I'm planning on getting ahead of the game and trying to set some things up...and maybe help them out a bit, even if I'm not actually present there....Plus, I can help pass along this info to other PCVs, and maybe get something going....

For those of you who are teachers, parents, or just involved with your community - 
The website for Global Handwashing Day has soooo many resources you can use - for FREE!

Check them out below (click on the picture)...and pass along this great health info...

Good luck and let me know what happens!

In Peace & Love,