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Crispy and dusty September 28, 2006

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Namibia, Uncategorized.

Injuries sustained from handwashing: 2. Number of times I’ve dreamt longingly of fabric softener: 4.  Violent attacks: 1.

So I thought I’d fill you in a bit on differences between life back home and out here. You may notice the running theme of laundry being the bane of my life. I don’t have a washing machine where I live (actually my landlord has one in the room above my flat, which I can hear whirling,..like the swimming pool, no invite to use that either!), nor have I located a laundrette that is open when I need to use it. And yes, I have washed my clothes since I’ve been here; my boss kindly let me use the machine at his house, but I have also been forced to handwash. Now this is something I have only practiced on the few items in my wardrobe that require care and attention. in concept it seems rather straight forward…if only! My little hands just aren’t cut out for it, and I discovered a new muscle in my hand, when I strained it ringing out a T-shirt. Oh the pain. And another time, I near took off my nail. My hands and arms were aching more than after a 4 hour surf.

And they don’t have tumble driers either. Since it’s so hot and dry, it makes sense. So everything dries in the sun. And everything in my wardrobe now seems to be made of cardboard. I tried softener, but it just won’t hold up against this bruttle sun. But at least things dry quickly.

Another reason to discuss laundry is because it has to happen so often. Luckily it is so dry here, that even in the mid-day heat, you don’t sweat. It’s almost impossible, because there is zero humidity, which means you barely notice the 30 degree heat. Rather pleasant.
However, being a city in the desert, there is a monstrous amount of dust and dirt.  And Windhoek found it’s name due to the fact that it is so windy. So you can see my problem…. I’m crispy in the morning and dusty and dirty by the time I get home.

Just the other day I was the victim of a brutal attack. I was wandering home, minding my own business, when out of nowhere this tall, dark, fast-moving shadow advances towards me. Panic rises, and I try jumping out the way to avoid it, but it chases me and hits me with full pelt. For a moment, I was stunned, blinded and utterly confused. And then it was over and I was alone. I was left disorientated and coated in dirt. For my attacker was in fact an embarrassingly small, but viciously powerful mini-cyclone – just a whirling-pillar of wind, dirt and street rubbish. I was so dirty that when I got home and took off my sunglasses, my whole face was a shade darker apart from where my sunnies had been. And I had tumble weed in my hair.

Yesterday afternoon, the sky went dark, the birds stopped singing and the sun stopped shining. Back home this is common, but over here, where the sun shines brightly from dawn til dusk, I was concerned. I looked out my office window to see that it wasn’t just a cloud, but exactly half the sky was a dark brown, whilst the other side remained bright blue. I looked across the hills to see that the view was murky. It was the on-set of my first sand-storm.
The air became thicker, and as the sun began to set, the dust cloud glowed an ominous red. It was time to go home, and my side of town was still blessed with bright blue skies, like something out of an apolocalyptic movie. For fear of being attacked again and having heard horror stories of being trapped and lost in sandstorms, I ran most of the way home, choking on the blowing dust, anxious to make shelter before the darkness took over. I made it back in record time and shut all the windows and doors.
I waited.
And nothing happened. 
I later found out that dust storms are common but rarely come into the city itself, due to wind channels or something. Well, at least I know what to look out for when I’m out in the veld.

Welcome to Africa.



1. rachie - September 28, 2006

I noticed that yesterday, but only the weird smell and the bizarrely malevolent sunset. We didn’t get the dust over our way. It was pretty spectacular though.

Also, if you ever want to come over and stamp on your washing in my bathtub you’re welcome – it makes life sooooo much easier.

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