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!

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