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Like Disney September 17, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Beauty, Hot, Weather.
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Spring has officially arrived in the southern hemisphere. The skies are still bright and blue, but now the sun is shining stronger and the winter chills are no more. The Namibian newspaper weather report now reads “hot to very hot” with temperatures at a comfortable 25-30oC. I no longer have to worry about layering up, and can now ride around on my bike in just a t-shirt and flip-flops.

This change happened overnight. One day it was sunny and cold, and now it is sunny and hot with all the trimmings of the beginning of summer. The sun sets at a more reasonable time, allowing us time to dash from the office to a decent bar to catch sundown. The burning sky over the mountains at the end of the day feels so much more powerful when the air is warm and the wine is cold.

What really gets me is the nature. Bougainvillea sprawls over fences and buildings, bright pink and red with fresh green leaves, clashing brightly with the purple jacarandas which have sprung into bloom. Jasmine headily fills the air, thick and sweet, encouraging me to bend over and smell all flowers that I pass. As I cruise around the neighbourhood on my scooter, parades of luminous yellow, blue and green birds burst out of trees and bushes; mongooses race along the street ahead of me before ducking into redundant rain pipes. Hornbills and fat doves chill together on the telephone wires, chattering away about their winter holidays.

I think Walt Disney might have had a hand in designing Windhoek in the springtime.


A global education May 29, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Creatures, Eco-goodness, Education, Home and away, Hot, Namibia, Oh..interesting, Out of the city, The job, Time out, VSO.
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One of the perks of being a VSO in Namibia is that we get Global Education trips (other VSO countries don’t get them!). VSO subsidise trips for about 30 volunteers to go to a particular part of Namibia to learn about an aspect of the country. The trips are decided and arranged by volunteers, and are a great opportunity to meet other volunteers from different backgrounds and living in different regions, as well as a chance to catch up with some of the group that I came out with. This trip was to look at Desert Conservation and Tourism, based in Swakopmund on the coast with a night camping at Gobabeb Desert Research Station in the er.. desert. And being a Global Education trip, and the VSO motto being “Sharing Skills, Changing Lives”, I feel it is appropriate to share my findings and learnings with you.


Winter is coming April 27, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Hot, Namibia, Out of the city, Weather.
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Whilst the sun is breaking out and global warming is letting itself be known with unusually early heat waves, down in the southern hemisphere, winter is approaching. A few weeks ago, the clocks went back (we are now the same as the UK), which means it is dark by 6pm. This is more of a nuisance than annoying, because it limits the amount of time I have to do things, as it is not so safe to walk around at night.

It is also getting colder. After months of 30oC days, and 25oC nights, temperatures have started to plummet, and I am beginning to notice the effects of living in a desert climate at a high altitude. I’ve started to wear more long sleeves and trousers and even wore a jacket out the other night. Although each day is blissfully sunny, this morning I felt a distinct crispness in the air, giving me a waft of nostalgia of English summer mornings.

To confirm my observations, I saw an article in The Namibian today, titled “Winter extends its chilly fingers”. This is what was said…

“Temperatures were expected to drop significantly last night as a cold front moved in from the south. Odilo Kgobetsi at the Windhoek Weather Bureau said yesterday that today’s maximum temperatures in southern and central Namibia wil be below 25oc.
Tomorrow’s maximum temperature in Windhoek is not expected to exceed 20oC.”

I hope you can all understand how significant this is. Winter has certainly arrived. I’d better pop out and buy some cheap polyester jumpers and plastic boots. But not this weekend. On hearing about the imminent arrival of the Day-After-Tomorrow-esque weather conditions, some friends and I are fleeing for Botswana’s Okavango Delta, which promises a pleasing 30oC. It’s only 8 hours drive away and we will be there until Tuesday, taking full advantage of the May 1st Public Holiday. And there’s a lot of water there, which will be a change from the desert.

Happy May Day. Anyone running around the May Pole or morris dancing?

Rejected on the colour of my skin April 2, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Hot, Racism, Tradition.

For the last few weeks, Tjono, our ECO-C caretaker, has been joking that he would like to marry me. I have questioned his intentions and reasons for wanting to marry me each time he brings it up. A few weeks ago he got me rather riled by saying that he wanted “to marry a white lady because they are more clever than us blacks”. I was upset, astonished and furious to hear such drivel, and immediately embarked on a rant about racial equality, that there are plenty of stupid white people, that blacks aren’t stupid but it’s down to a whole host of factors including the inequality in distribution of educational resources and opportunities. This was another example of the sad perceptions which are upheld many years after
Independence and the supposed outlawing of apartheid.

Back to the point though, Tjono’s reasons for wanting to marry me generally come down to the fact that I am white. Often I get asked out or proposed to by men in the village or in
Windhoek (especially taxi drivers), who immediately fall into my bad favour by saying that they “want a white girlfriend/wife”. Tjono’s answers always entertain me. He often cites that he learns a lot from me, that I teach him well and help him to improve his English, and if he married me, then he could learn even more. Or that he wants to travel, and by marrying me, he would have a greater capacity to do this. One time he even said he wanted to marry me because he was curious as to what colour our children would come out.

When I arrived this week, Tjono announced that if he could not find a Herero lady to marry him, he would marry me; I would be his back-up wedding plan. Lucky me. I said that it would depend on whether he could afford me – I’d be worth more cows that he currently has.

Then Wednesday afternoon, we were sat under the tree, making our plan for the next day, when he reached over and poked my arm. The skin was white when he removed his finger and quickly flushed to a glowing shade of red. After a morning of showing the Grade 7s and 8s around the centre without sunscreen, I was very burnt.

“You are burnt. Your skin is red. I cannot marry you”, he said, disappointedly watching as I inspected my ghastly tan-lines.

“If we marry, we would move to my village. There the sun is very strong. It is very hot. You would not last a day. You will not be my wife”.

And with that, our future marriage plans were scuppered.