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Non-stop excitement September 24, 2006

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Namibia, Uncategorized.
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Clouds spotted: 0. Wildlife spotted: 100s. Meat eaten: none. Meals skipped due to being vegetarian and not being about to find anything to eat because all people eat is meat: 3. Trips out of the city: 2 (read below). Homesickness: none yet, I’m far too excited. What a week it’s been, I just don’t know where to start. I’ve not only been doing some cool and interesting stuff, but I’ve found out what my job entails and started getting my hands dirty… I’ll begin with last weekend… my Friday night was spent at the theatre, with some of the new and local Windhoek volunteers, watching the Namibian ‘Vagina Monologues’. It was in this funky warehouse theatre. The Windhoek vols then took me on a wee bar crawl of
Windhoek’s finest bars (promising). They are incredibly friendly and have given me the inside info on life in Namibia as a VSO volunteer.
Saturday, Ben (a guy I know through work back home who is now living out here) offered to show me round town. Since everything shuts down at 1pm on Saturdays, and we only met at 1, our options were limited, but I got my bearings a bit. Mid-afternoon, standing on a deserted main street of this capital city, Ben suggested we drove out to the Daan Viljoen Game Park, just outside the city. ‘we’ meant me, since he didn’t have his license on him (which is compulsory over here – they like their IDs and formalities), so I had my first Namibian driving experience in his battered VW combi-van. This became more challenging when we went off-roading in the game park. But my! What a stunning country this is! It is properly Lion King Land (the Disney version!). The game park is non-predatory, so all the animals there are veggie (finally, another vegetarian!), and we saw them all! Hartebeest, kudu, baboon, giraffe (lots), wildebeest, wild boar (and babies!) and zebra.

Geee-raf!!

All on the stunning backdrop of rolling hills of veld and bush against a crystal clear blue sky. I’m still buzzing from it. I was like a small child in a zoo, except, there were no bars or fences. JSunday is pool day. In the desert? Oh yes. The volunteers introduced me to the Olympic pool, which is clean and cool and great place to spend a Sunday, reading, chatting and swimming (only 70p entry!). Although this was also my first suffering from the altitude.
Windhoek is 4500ft above sealevel, which you don’t really notice until you attempt any exercise. Particulary swimming. After one length I was panting like a fish out of water. I was told this is normal for newcomers. I managed 4 lengths before residing by the pool. Another example of this altitude is that I managed to tan through factor 40 sunscreen in half an hour. The pool also happens to be in Katarura, the township area of Windhoek, so we were in the racial minority. Not that it was a problem, but it certainly did attract a lot of attention.
There are a lot of white people living over here, mostly Germans and Afrikaners. But they are on the whole rich and scared, and can be found locked in their fancy 4×4 cars, in the old white districts, behind their electric fences with their evil barking guard dogs. I happen to live and work in one of these districts, and needless to say, haven’t gotten to know any of my neighbours because I never see anyone apart from the black gardeners and labourers from the other side of town.

It does mean it’s hard to get around, as no taxis come up here. But I was entertained to be woken by the sound of said guard dogs fighting with baboons, as the baboons are attracted by the swimming pools that these unenvironmentally conscious people have in their gardens. This district and my street backs onto the…er,…well nothing really. A big shrubby, veldy hill, which sprawls onto more deserty hills, hence the baboons. Need to watch out for snakes too. I’ve already had a fright with a threatening looking spider above my bed. It was relocated to the garden, as it looked like it would hurt me. Next weekend I’m heading up to the north town of Oshakati, for the second part of In-Country Training, when we find out about things that can kill you. Surely we should have had that in Week 1?! VSO sure like to test us.

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