13 January, 2013

What to expect...when you don't know what to expect...

Weird fact of the day:
Grinning or repeatedly pulling the lip is a definite sign of hostile aggression in monkeys.

hmmmm...may be good to know in Africa...

Ok, so my brain is a little fried...lol. I have had sooooo much going on in my head...but slowly, I've been making lists of what to buy, what to leave behind, how to get everything done before leaving, lists of more lists, etc....

I received another email from the PC. This time, it had LOTS of specific info - an itinerary, packing list, a letter from past PCVs (very helpful!) and a security and safety test I need to take...

Finally got my yellow fever vaccination, and sent in the passport and visa applications! I'll be getting another email about 4 weeks before I leave to let me know the info for booking my flight from home (Albany) to Philly - where our staging will begin, and from where we fly out of to Nam on March 12...

I finally have a day off from work. I've been so busy with work and seeing friends before leaving, planning a going away party here in Nashville, and checking off things on my to-do list (doctors visits, pets to the vet, car issues getting resolved). Oh, and that's another thing - how to get back to NY. I'm selling my car, either here or back in NY. I'm not taking any furniture - just boxes of stuff. And wow - I have lots of junk I've accumulated over the years! But it'll be nice to get rid of most everything....and start new. :)

Thanks to social media, I was able to find a Peace Corps Namibia group on facebook! And there, I found a few future PCVs who will be joining me in Namibia!! We've started our own facebook group - to discuss packing, etc, and will plan on using the online group to stay in touch, network, help each other out during our service, making our programs successful, etc. I think we're all pretty excited to have found each other! And since then, we've had a few more find us. I emailed our Country Desk Officer in Namibia, forwarding her the link to our facebook group, and hoping she will forward this along to the rest of our gang, so we can all connect before actually meeting in person on 3/11.

And to be honest, it's been nice to have people who will talk PC talk all day long....I know my friends and family are probably getting tired and bored of it! haha!

The group has definitely helped all of us. A few of the people know other PCVs over in Namibia right now, or have been to different parts of Africa. So, between the info the PC sent us, and all of our contacts, we're getting our packing lists in order. Some things that have been recommended to bring are:

  • Clothing - cotton, if possible. Business casual - for work and training. This includes long skirts, pants, close-toed shoes, dress sandals, nice shirts,etc. In America, your style of dress is a form of expression. In Namibia, it's a sign of respect. So, if I wear a short skirt and tank top (mainly at work), I am disrespecting you. Pretty interesting! I love it! As for non-working clothes - I think we can pretty much wear whatever we'd like. Apparently, Namibians dress very nicely. 
  • Leatherman swiss army knife - So, I guess we have a day of "Cultural Food Day" - and we have to kill a chicken. Yikes! And apparently, the knives over there are pretty dull. Believe me, if I have to cut a chicken's head off, I want it done with one swipe of a very sharp blade! 
  • Hammock
  • Sheets and towels
  • Pillow - though we can get that once we land
  • External hard drive - 1-3 terabytes, if possible. We will be sharing movies, tv shows, books, etc., and will need lots of memory space!
  • Lots of toiletries - though we can buy more once we get there. But we should pack lots of deodorant - I guess the quality over there isn't too great. One thing that has eased my mind is that in Windhoek, the capital, you can pretty much buy anything you need. So that helps!
  • Bathing suit
  • Hiking boots
  • Casual sandals
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Portable air pump (not sure if I'll bring this)
  • Flashlight - ideally, one that is solar powered
  • Solar powered charger
  • Backpack
  • Things to do if I have no electricity - cards (though I've heard they don't play card games much, due to the gambling problem over there), frisbees, games (i.e. chess), books...and I'm still trying to come up with other ideas... Obviously, I plan on doing lots of hiking, exercising, etc. But I'm thinking of the time I'm at home at night...and need some entertainment! 
  • Items to bring to the 2 host families I'll be staying with - hmmm...ideas anyone? Please send any thoughts my way!
  • Guitar - this is a definite!!! Another volunteer who I'll be joining is bringing his guitar as well. I have an older guitar - not the best, but will work. I plan on leaving it with a Namibian friend when my service is over :)
  • Music - hmm...may get an iPod?
  • Kindle - again...maybe?
  • 2 pairs of glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • 2 weeks worth of underwear and socks (well, I may not need THAT many socks!)
These are most of the items we need...I'm sure there are still more, but like I said earlier, my brain is fried haha!

I am also setting things aside that I won't necessarily need during the training. I'm planning on having my mom send me a box of other books, French press (need my coffee!) etc...

Some other Namibian info:
  • I have found a wine bar and bistro, along with a coffee shop, in Windhoek! 
  • They give us money for a cell phone - not sure if I'll just unlock my iPhone 5...guess I'll just wait till I get there to figure it all out. Apparently, communication with those at home will be a little difficult at first, but after the first week or 2, I should be able to at least call home...
  • I have also found lots of Namibian facebook pages - businesses, sports, universities, radio stations, online newspapers (see the news feed here on the left hand column of this blog) - and most of it is in English, which definitely helps. But I know we'll be having INTENSE language training! There will even be a test, that we have to be at least medium-low proficiency in order to stay. For those who are on facebook, if you would like to see these pages, and even subscribe to the list, here's the link: Namibia facebook pages.  This will definitely be useful when my family and friends come to visit. 
  • One of the PCVs and I are planning on going to South Africa to watching a Springbok/All Blacks game! I, of course, have a long Africa To-Do List as well - like Mt. Kilimanjaro, Victoria Falls, Cape Town, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), a safari, the Lion Park outside of Johannesburg (see picture below!), and well, that's just a few things....
A british safari park ranger gives a foot massage to a lion!!! This is at Lion Park - right outside of Johannesburg, South Africa! I can't wait to see it :)

Here's more info on this pic: Lion Park


Well, signing off for now.....
I think I'll enjoy a little football...looks like Seattle is having a little trouble! You know, I enjoy watching football, even though I usually don't really have a team (except maybe the Giants, being from NY and all), but I'm sure going to miss NFL football...and will DEFINITELY miss March Madness...

Have a great week everyone! Below, I've added a video - made by a PCV in Namibia - about their homes and what it's been like for them, living with host families, adjusting, etc....

Enjoy!!




p.s. On the left hand column of this blog, I've added links to the blogs written by a few of my future/fellow PCV friends!

You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps

02 January, 2013

Kalahari on the BBC

A quick post....



I just found out that there will be a new series, starting TONIGHT on the BBC!
It's all about Africa, and specifically, the Namib and Kalahari Deserts in Namibia!

You can check it out here:


p.s. for other TV fans, Namibia was the location of the latest Real World Challenge...
I guess everyone is going to the desert! 
:)


Happy Hump Day!
~Johanna



You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps

01 January, 2013

Gelukkig Nuwe Jaar!!

("Gelukkig Nuwe Jaar" means "Happy New Year" in Afrikaans)

Hello all! I hope you all had a great holiday with friends and family, and a wonderful celebration, bringing in 2013. Wow. 2013. I can't believe it's here already....Let the countdown begin!!!!!


Just thought I would bring you up-to-date where I'm at in getting my head and heart on straight for this upcoming life-changing event....


First of all....I DID get to see snow for Christmas!!! I actually got a lot of it....and with cancelled flights, I had a few extra days up north to do some more research on Namibia, and such....

  • I bought a book called Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village. It's a book written by a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Sarah Erdman, where she served in the Ivory Coast. Although it's not Namibia, I was told by another RPCV that this book is a great read...and may shed some light on what it's like to be a PCV in Africa...
  • I purchased another book (Kindle edition), Colloquial Afrikaans: The Complete Course for Beginners. In Namibia, Afrikaans, along with English and German, are the official languages. And although I don't know for sure what, if any, language I will have to learn, I figured it wouldn't hurt if I knew a little of this new speech. Afrikaans seems to be highly influenced by the Dutch language. Here's a little more info: Afrikaans.
  • Another book for Kindle I purchased is the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I've been told that reading, and even movie-watching (via my computer), will probably become a big hobby of mine, to help pass the time, entertain me, and at times, take my mind off my frustrations and loneliness that will probably occur at certain points throughout the 2 years....So, I'm slowly building up my Kindle repertoire...along with some yoga, pilates, Tai Chi and Qi Gong videos! Now, I just need some movies....
As part of my New Year's celebration, I made a traditional Afrikaans dessert - 
Melktart (Milk Tart)
I also brought some mini brownies for the party, 
just in case my creation didn't work out.
BUT, I must say, the Melkterts turned out pretty darn good!
I found many versions, but here's the recipe I used, if you'd like to try:
Melktert Recipe

Oh, and the last update for today - I finally got the correct version of my birth certificate, to prove I'm alive, so I can send in my visa and passport applications. I need to get these in ASAP. So, I went yesterday to the post office, after having to work in the morning. Aaaannnnd....wait for it....they closed at noon. Ugh. So now I have to find another time to go - and get out of work again - since they're only open 9-3 M-F (if only I didn't have a job!). 

And good news, I get the yellow fever vaccination tomorrow (I need to send in proof of this, along with a second Chicken Pox vaccination by Jan. 11)! Yippee! I wonder what more vaccinations are in store for me......

I've also been trying to catch up on the reading the PC has sent me. I'm almost done - with a little more of the HIV/AIDS info, and I've gotten through about 1/3 of the PCV Handbook so far....(See My Assignment tab for both of these reads).

Well, totsiens (goodbye) for now!

p.s. 68 days, 6 hours, 48 minutes and 53 seconds till Namibia...but who's counting.... :)




You'll actually look forward to your morning commute. Life is calling. How far will you go? Learn more about the Peace Corps