First of all, thank you so much for your notes of support and encouragement. It is so nice to read them and know that you’ve been thinking of me so far away from home. I’m just sorry that I don’t have time on the internet to write back to them all just yet. But thank you.
As for Namibia, I’ve been here just over a week now and things have been going at hectic pace. The flight from NY to Johannesburg was an exciting 17 hours (I slept most of it), we touched down briefly in Dakar but could not leave the plane. After spending the night in South Africa we flew to Namibia the next afternoon and debarked in Windhoek.
Since then we have been staying at a place called the Omaruru Rest Camp in the town on Omaruru (population ~6000, about 2hrs drive from Windhoek) and undergoing lots and lots of training (language, medical, safety, teaching, and culture). Some highlights have been getting our language assignments (I’m learning Afrikaans), getting our permanent site assignments (more about that later) and getting all kinds of shots (9 so far and 7 more to go- yes my arm is sore, but I’m told that beats getting rabies ;)). Every morning we meet with our language trainers for the first two hours, and sometimes we walk into town to practice what we’ve learned. As you can probably imagine, my vocabulary after one week is very limited, so this is pretty intimidating, but I feel like I’m in good hands, my trainer takes good care of us. I’m also very excited because (as far as I can tell), there are no present tense verb conjugations in Afrikaans, which makes things a little more straightforward (and maybe it also makes me a dork for saying so).
The schedule for the rest of training has turned ou to be a little different than I expected before arriving. I will stay at ORC only until Tuesday, then we all travel to visit our permanent site locations until the next Sunday. I am very excited about this since I wasn't expecting to know very much about that until January! It fel a little bit like Christmas morning when they announced site assignments on Friday, after spending so many months feeling not quite sure what to expect.
My assignment is teaching 6th and 7th grade mathematics in a village called Aranos (google earth anyone? You might even be able to see satellite pictures!). I’m told it has about 2000 people, a post office, a grocery store, and a bus that leaves town twice a week. Aranos is in the southeast of the country, very close to Botswana and also, I am told, on the edge of the Kalahari dessert. I really can’t wait to see!
So far, I am enjoying my experience in Africa very much, though I certainly have felt very far from home at times. The weather here is very hot and dry, ranging from low 80s to low 100s most days i think (we are just starting summer) but thankfully the air is so dry that most of the time I can barely feel myself sweat. I'm also drinking more water than ever before in my life. We're told to try for 3 liters a day, but i think i usually drink at least that much without really trying- i'm just so thirsty (and yes, the tap water in Namibia is drinkable!).
We had a very nice treat today when it rained for the first time- quite different from Seattle. Some clouds rolled in midafternoon and then these bug huge “elephant” drops fell from the sky for about 3-5 minutes. It sounded like hail hitting the metal roof . Most of us in the training room and some of the children in the camp all ran outside to look. It was wonderful.
Well, I imagine I should wrap up now. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! (I'll be celebrating by baking pizzas with some volunteers in Mariental on my way back from Aranos to Omaruru- I’m told it takes two days to travel). And thank you again for all your e-mails and prayers. Your support means so much to me- it really does!