On to my next Adventure

well, my two years are up.

 

i COSed. which is what we call finishing (Close of Service) last Friday.

Leaving Okahitua was hard, but some how I wasn’t has much of a crying mess as I thought I would be. I think it’s because the past few months I was preparing to leave so I knew what was coming. My last week at school was also shorted to four days because we had a Fun Day.

This year at Fun Day we had a Moon Bounce with a slip n slide, and a real above ground pool! Things were much more high quality than our hole in the ground pool last year. I also made 4 pinatas, one for grades 4, 5, 6 and 7, instead of the one that I made the year before. it was great., it was so much fun and a perfect goodbye to my school. (Pictures to come when i get back to the US and have my computer again)

My last Saturday in my village the teachers hosted a Farewell party at the school for me. Teachers and community members gave speeches in English and Otjiherero, myself included.I dressed in a casual herero dress, complete with otjikaiva (the horns hat) that the teachers made for me, and that I promised I would wear again when I was back in the US.  I was described as “strong”, “persistent” and “a woman of steel against corporal punishment” . Ha, I guess these are all nicer ways of saying i was stubborn, but I agree with them. I held a no tolerance policy for corporal punishment, and tried to get the teachers to adapt to it as well. Unfortunately I failed, and they all still hit kids, but now because of me i think they at least feel pretty guilty about it and know that there are other more successful options out there.  Now it’s a problem for my replacement PCV.

That’s right folks, Okahitua and Ludwig Ndinda Primary school have received a fourth Peace Corps Volunteer, but with a twist. This PCV is the first English teacher to come to the school. He stayed in Okahitua my last two weeks at site, so I would say we got to know each other pretty well. I think he’ll do some amazing things at the school, and being and English teacher will be able to take full advantage of the library in his lessons. While I tried to use books in math, it was much more difficult to incorporate them into my daily lessons.

So now, I’m finished. i flex out of Namibia on Friday, and am now in Istanbul. I will travel with a couple other Peace Corps Volunteers the next two months and make it back to the US before Christmas time. I don’t have a computer and am terrible at updated, so I will not be posting on this blog. However, one of the girls I am traveling with for parts of the journey has created a blog for our travels, so if you want to know where I am or what I’ up to you can always look at that. Right now she’s in Tanzania and I’m in Istanbul, but we will be together in Morocco, India, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

http://c–a–l–m.tumblr.com

Where am I going?

Istanbul, turkey

Morocco

Barcelona, Spain (guest appearance from Patty Sheehan)

India (guest appearance from Julie T Bujnowski)

Thailand

Cambodia

Vietnam

 

So far Istanbul is great. I’m with another PCV, Laine, and we are staying with her friend from home. We were warned that people can be pretty persistent and harass you at the Grand Bazaar, but compared to Namibia sellers at the craft market the men trying to sell us scarves just seemed friendly. They’d make a comment, call you an angel from heaven, try to sell you a scarf, and when you said no they would back away. in Namibia they don’t back away so easily. i don’t know where they’ve convinced themselves that you need what they are selling or what, but it made the sellers in the Grand Bazaar seem pleasant and friendly rather than aggressive. With that said,  I’m now  convinced Namibia has prepared me for anything, i guess I now just have to test my theory in all these countries!

 

Fun Facts about Istanbul:

It’s the second largest city in the world population wise.

It spans over two continents

There are cats everywhere.

 

Till next time,

Kara nawa

 

 

Another Installment of 10 Things

I’ve been in Namibia for a while now, and with that I have thought about things that I no longer find weird! And when I went back to the US, I found a lot of things that I thought were weird, so here they are:

10 Things that no longer surprise me in Namibia:

  1. Z’s are pronounced th.
  2. Small children dancing in a way that would get them kicked out of my high school prom
  3. Men asking to marry me before they ask me my name.
  4. The smell of burning trash
  5. Animal carcasses, especially in the staff room
  6. People telling me I’m fat. It’s a common topic with my Omas, but isn’t meant to be offensive.
  7. Saying “Me I am having” Instead of “I have” . Example: Me I am having 3 markers.
  8. Drinking and Driving. It’s pretty common for someone to stop and pick up a 750 mL of Windhoek Lager just to drink on the drive home.
  9. Kids have 3 or 4 names. They have their home name, their school name, the name they gave themselves. This year I told the learners to tell me what to call them. So far I have a Ricardo, Ronaldo, Zidane, Gazza, Rihanna,  Ragga, Mcdonald and my personal favorite: Veteran.
  10. Picking your nose in public. It’s just something that’s done. No one likes to have a booger in there, so you might as well dig it out. If you only have a finger and no paper, a finger is what you will use.

10 things in the US that I had forgotten about, or surprised me:

  1. There are so many choices! There are so many different types of everything, different brands, flavors, sizes, etc.
  2. The fear of gluten. Haven’t we all be eating wheat for years? Why are so many people intolerant now?
  3. Having a computer isn’t as necessary has having a smart phone.
  4. There is an app for everything. The one app that blew my mind was the one that showed you the location of taxis nearby. “My favorite app is the one before my entree” – Liz Lemon
  5. You can find whatever you need, and if it isn’t in the store you can order it online.
  6. TV On Demand. Hulu, Netflix.
  7. Internet is SO FAST
  8. Public transportation is actually public, cheap, and follows a schedule. If the bus says its coming at 10:15 it will be there at 10:15.
  9. People waste food. This goes with people eating things that are tasty, not things that will keep them from being hungry.
  10. Children understand the language you are speaking, and they are not afraid to voice their own opinions, express themselves, whine, and complain. Children are also doted upon, and their every need is taken care of for them

 

 

I am  adjusted back to life in the village! While I will always miss being close to family and friends, as well as all the conveniences in America, I am happy to be back. I have a lot of work to do, and only 7 months to do it! The first thing on my agenda is Camp GLOW. As many of you know, I am co-chair for Camp GLOW, a youth development camp for learners ages 12-19 from all over Namibia! The camp will be hosted April 19-26, only a month away! We have been working very hard to collect donations so that the camp is completely free for all of the kids and facilitators, but we still need some help. If you can help out, please donate and make Camp GLOW 2013 the best possible camp it can be!!

You may donate here: http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/camp-glow-2013

For more information about Camp GLOW, you can visit our website at http://campglownamibia.weebly.com/.

If you are curious to see what Camp GLOW Looks Like, or you are bored at work, watch this video of Camp GLOW 2012http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsXWbgZg10c

Camp GLOW is such a great program, I am really excited to be a part of it again this year!  You can be also, all it takes is Us$20!

Thanks for reading, thanks for donating, thanks for following what I am doing in Namibia!

 

norusuvera

Iwaneka

Celebrating Life Stateside

A lot of things have happened in the past few months!

I finished my first year as a teacher

I met my friend Sarah in Cape Town and we went shark diving, climbed table mountain, saw penguins, went to the Cape of Good Hope, toured wine country, and so much more.

I traveled Cape Town, Victoria Falls, and Namibia with my dad and Elle (pictures are on Facebook)

We opened a temporary hostel at school and I started my second year of teaching.

I spent the second half of February in the US.

Two weeks ago, my Nana, my grandmother on my mother’s side, passed away. When it was clear she was not doing well my mother booked me a ticket home, but I did not make it in time to say goodbye, but I was ok with that. My nana was always a hard worker, and worked hard for 87 years. I found more comfort in knowing she was able to rest than sadness that I did not get to say goodbye.

Before she left, I told my learners and colleagues about her, and asked the entire school to make a birthday card for her. The grade 6 and 7 learners made signs that said “Happy Birthday NaNa❤ LNPS!” and after morning assembly the Monday that I left we took pictures with the entire school. It  was really nice.

A few learners even wrote me really sweet letters before I left. Here is one that brought me to tears :

“”goodbye miss mathias. We will pray so Nana could be okay. I think that you must give us a lot of homework so that we can do it. We do not want to fail math. Go make Nana the happiest grandmother in the whole world”

Ahhhh I love these kids! Sometimes they are so sweet and thoughtful!

Anyway, I left my village that Monday, flew out Tuesday,  and got to the US on Wednesday, hoping to make it for my Nana’s 87th birthday on Valentines day. Unfortunately, she passed Tuesday morning, after my family partied in her room Monday night. True story.

As you may well know, my family comes from an Irish background. My Nana was born in Ireland and moved to the US when she was only three years old.

An Irish funeral, and especially an Irish funeral in my family, is more a celebration of life. We sang, we ate, we drank, we danced.

In the end, my Nana’s passing was a bit of a blessing in disguise. These past few weeks I was able to reconnect with family and friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. While I didn’t feel like I needed to come home when I was in Namibia, It was really quite comforting and I am glad I did it. I was also able to spend some time with my dog Casey, who at 15 years or so probably won’t make it until I return for good in December.

Right now I’m on my way back to the Namibian heat on a layover in London. With bags full of girl scout cookies, American candy, and a t-shirt with Obama’s face on it that I bought in the airport in DC, I am ready for the last lap of my Peace Corps Service.

While in the States I kept seeing things that I wanted to take back with me. I had a bit of an issue going into dollar stores and Target, both places have a great selection of teacher aids and learning materials!

I thought about my learners all the time; what they were doing, whether my principal was teaching them like he told me he would, whether it had rained yet. I even missed speaking in Otjiheraro (or at least attempting to speak in Otjheraro)

So, while I wait in Heathrow Airport I am eager to get back and get to work! I have so much to teach, and not enough time to do it in! Technically the school term does not end until April 20, but with Easter Break and a day off on March 21 for Namibian Independence day, there really isn’t much time left in the term. I have about three and a half weeks to teach everything I am supposed to get through in the term: whole number operations, common fractions, and data handling.

As I mentioned, my school is very different this year. In an effort to increase the number of learners and avoid having multi-grade classrooms, a temporary hostel was opened at the school. And by hostel, I mean two classrooms were emptied of furniture and filled with children. According to the principal we have over 80 kids living in these classrooms. They brought mattresses from home, and every morning they stack them on the sides of the room so they have space to move around. I really don’t know how they do it, I can barely sleep at night from the heat and I am the only person sleeping in my two room flat.

Ludwig Ndinda Primary is SO DIFFERENT THIS YEAR. There are more learners, more teachers, and overall there is more energy at the school. So far I really enjoy having the kids around, but I do miss having small class sizes.

Last year I taught 42 learners total; 21 in grade 5, 11 in grade 6 and 10 in grade 7. This year I have 35 in grade 5, 30 in grade 6 and 15 in grade 7. Those are the numbers when I left in mid-February, there could be even more kids now! While these are still relatively small class sizes compared to many schools in Namibia, it’s a huge change for me! I had to scavenge around the school to find pieces of furniture for the kids to sit on and write on. I ran out of scraps, so three kids in grade 5 lay a piece of wood across three broken chair frames to make a bench. It isn’t ideal, but it’s better than standing.

This year I am only teaching grade 6 and 7 math, and grade 5, 6, and 7 Basic Information Studies. The principal has taken over grade 5 math classes, and a volunteer from the community comes and teaches computers. All of my most frustrating and least favorite classes have been taking over by other teachers!

Without the frustrations of those classes I have been free to get more involved with other activities as school, like our track and field event (which they just call athletics) , and a beauty pageant for valentines day (which is really just kids in little amounts of clothing walking around a stage) .

When I get back to school I am also looking forward to starting a Grassroot Soccer group at school. Grassroot soccer (http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/) is an afterschool soccer program that incorporates life lessons on HIV/AIDS, gender awareness, etc into the practices. I have heard great things about it, and cannot wait to start a club at Ludwig Ndinda!

That’s all for now. I am curious to see what my school will be like when I return. We could have new teachers, new buildings, new learners, new chairs, or everything could be the same. Either way, I am excited and cannot wait to get back!

Stay well

Mo

We must not EAT the play doh!

When I joined the Peace Corps I didn’t realize how hard it would be being on another continent during election season, and especially election day. My election day started 7 hours before the polls even opened on the East Coast, and lasted until 6 in the morning the next day when I woke up to two text messages, one from my Tate (host father), and one from my Dad that both telling me that Obama was reelected.

Not being able to watch constant , updated news coverage, and being 7 hours ahead of the action was frustrating to say the least. My host family was gracious enough to let me park myself in front of their tv and watch CNN for an hour or two. Watching international coverage of the US election was pretty interesting, but most of the important news coverage didn’t happen until I went to sleep.

I must say, after this election I am proud to live in a state where marriage equality and a version of the dream act passed by popular vote! Go Maryland!

The past few weeks I have fallen back in love with Okahitua, my village. I love my school, the learners, and my host family.  My learners even come in on Saturdays, voluntarily!

A few weeks ago I asked Grade 6 to come in for extra classes on a Saturday. They really didn’t understand fractions and I wanted them to get some extra practice before we got more in depth with decimals. Some of the kids came an hour early! And some grade 7 learners stopped by as well. I wanted to make our Saturday work more fun, because it was the weekend after all, so we made fractions with homemade play doh!

The only problem was, the kids kept trying to eat it! They loved the salt, which made cleaning up easy but getting through the lesson a bit more difficult. Look at these kids having fun and learning:

Once we finished I opened up my classroom for the kids to practice some more problems, but it turned into a dance party. I taught some of the kids the Cavanaugh Enrique dance. Since they don’t know the words it was harder for them to pick up, it’s a new goal of mine to teach them so they can do it on their own. ND Fight song will be next. Maybe that will be part of my Basic Information Science lessons next year.

Last Friday we hosted a Fun Day at school. It worked a lot like a Field Day. Andy by that I mean that most of the games the kids played were versions of games from Spring Ridge Elementary Field Day. Crabwalk soccer, sponge races, three legged races, bag races, treasure hunt,  thanks Mr. Bowers! The principal was also determined to have a swimming pool. He came from Otjiwarongo, a town where Fun Days included bouncy castles, swimming pools, and all sorts of games like that. In Okahitua we don’t have money, or access to those types of things, so we make it work with what we have. What we had was dirt and plastic tarps, and the principal made a swimming pool that the kids ! And I mean L-O-V-E Loved! After about 20 minutes it turned into a giant mud pit but that didn’t stop the kids from enjoying it. They splashed, jumped, twirled and had a grand ole time. Oh, they were also naked. My principal wanted me to take pictures so I did, but I’m a little weary of putting pictures online filled with naked children. I’ll try and find some where the kids are clothed. They really did enjoy themselves SO MUCH. It was so great! Seriously, the whole day was non-stop fun. Even the teachers had a great time.

I also introduced Ludwig Ndinda Primary School to a piñata. Kids and adults thought it was hilarious. It got a little scary when it finally broke. Kids actually jumped on top of each other. One girl actually bit a kid, earning herself a time-out in Ms. Mathias’s classroom during lunch break where she wrote an apology note to the learner she made a late morning snack.

Ahhh so many great things have been happening lately. And all in the middle of the teachers strike everywhere else in Namibia (http://allafrica.com/stories/201211020728.html). My school is one of the few that is not on strike. I think it’s because we had the Fun Day, Picture Day, and our Prize Giving Ceremony during the weeks the strike became more serious.

I organized a picture day at school this past week as well. Having a picture of yourself is a pretty big deal , not many people have cameras or printers. I go to Otjiwarongo, where there are photo printing places, often enough that I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to print photos of the kids, as long as they paid in advance. So we sent letters home to parents telling them about the day, charging N$5 per picture. I went class to class, taking individual and class pictures. Some of the pictures are just hilarious. Especially the older kids. They really don’t like to smile, but LOVE to crouch. I don’t know why, maybe they saw a rap album from 1996 or something, but girls and boys alike love it. Anyway, the photo day was really successful. Learners in total ordered 86 pictures, which is a pretty big turn out for a school of less than 150. Plus, a lot of the kids got to take pictures with their friends and now will have a memory of their friends from LNPS when they go on to other schools. YAY!

I’m running out of fast internet time here, but I put some of the pictures from picture day on my facebook page, check them out!  http://www.facebook.com/maureen.mathias?ref=tn_tnmn

As for my host family, my best friends are growing up! And by my best friends I mean the 3 two year olds on the homestead that I like to hang out with. Now when I come over  the girl Patye always grabs my hand and drags me to say hello to my grandmother, Always! it’s so cute. She mumbles words in otjiheraro that I sort of understand, I mumble back what I think means “Patye, where are we going? Where are we going? WHERE ARE WE GOING?!”  She mumbles something about a tree, or a goat, or a shoe, and I say hello to my grandmother, who after a year still thinks I understand rapid speed otjiheraro, and am fluent in Afrikaans. Every time. Then at some point Patye does something she isn’t supposed to, like eating dirt or spitting on my arm (that’s another thing she likes to do) and we’re out of grandmother’s house. It’s great. The kids are just so funny.  They’ve all gotten into this bad habit of trying to crawl through my legs, even when my legs are  closed. They literally stick their head where my butt is and try and barrel through. One time I let them pretend my legs were a tunnel. One time. I’ll never make that mistake again.  I don’t know why they enjoy it, but they think that little game is hilarious.

I’m loving life here in Namibia, i hope you’re loving whatever you’re doing as well!

Maureen, Mo, Maureena, Iwaneka, Mafaya, Mathias, Miss, Madam, or whatever it is that you like to call me.

What a year, what a year, what a mighty good year

A mighty mighty good year

Thaaat’s right folks, as of this Saturday Oct 20 I will officially be in my second year as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Can you believe it?

So many things have happened this year. I moved to Okahitua last October and got the hang of school.  Term 1 I started teaching a. Term 2 our principal went to a different school, so it was more getting used to working in a school without a boss. Also, in July of Term 2 our grade 3 and 4 teacher passed away unexpectedly. That hit the school and community pretty hard. Term 3 we got a new principal and a new grade 3 and 4 teacher. The school has a new energy, and I’m really excited for this upcoming year!

I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over Namibia with friends and family where I’ve seen elephants swim, lions eat, and giraffes drink water.

This past August holiday I was a part of Camp GLOW, a leadership camp for learners from all around Namibia. It was AMAZING! Kids age 12 through 18 from all over Namibia  were  nominated by pcv’s and host country organizations, and 88 came together for an amazing week of fun. During the week there were discussions about gender equality, HIV/AIDS, leadership qualities, and addressing issues in their community.

Kids in Namibia don’t get that many opportunities to be creative and express themselves, so they wen’t crazy at camp glow. Like kids in a candy store, except with crafts.

Some of my favorite, and the most hilarious memories from Camp GLOW surround the theme dinners we had. One night we had a “Camp GLOW Bling” themed dinner. No one really had bling…but we did have foil! Kids covered their teeth, shirts, arms, hair in little bits of aluminum foil. They made cell phones, microphones, glasses, crowns, kids got really creative and into it. If you check out my facebook page you can see a few pictures of some of us dressed up as well. I Made a big M and an O and wore a headband with a blinged out version of my own name, as well as a foil grill in my teeth.

I know many of you donated money to Camp GLOW. Thank you! Your support allowed for a successful week of fun-filled activities that I know inspired the future leaders of Namibia. You can check out all the fun they had in the pictures I’ve attached!

Many of the kids don’t come from the best home lives, and being able to be a kid for a week, with no other responsibilities and nothing else to worry about, is just an incredible almost unbelievable experience for them.  Thank you for helping these kids have this experience.

Beauty Pageants, Soccer Games and Wells

Hi Everybody!

I wrote two fun little blog post, and was ready to add it here to the interwebs, but  both the files were somehow corrupt, ironically while I was attending an ICT workshop.

So, here are some pictures from my second term as teacher at Ludwig Ndinda Primary School. Included are pictures from our African Child Day celebration, Mr Ludwig Ndinda Pageant, another beauty pageant that we had with another school 40 km away called Okaepe, and soccer and netball matches against Okaepe. While in Okaepe the learners also got to visit a well. They study wells in Social Studies, but apparently there are only few in the area so they were all very excited.

Enjoy!

I’mmm Back!

SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/mmathias/Documents/Blog/I%E2%80%99mmmmmm%20back.doc

I’mmmmmm back! I’m alive, I’m still in Namibia, and starting my second term as a teacher in Okahitua!

I dont understand adding pictures, so there should be an attachment to a gallery in this post. If there isnt please send a comment. I’ll fix it next time I go into town and have internet.

The first term ended in April. I spent Easter with a few other volunteers at a friend’s site along the Kavango River, attended a gardening workshop in Omaruru and then came back to the village just in time for the second week of exams. The last two weeks of every term are spent taking exams. At Ludwig Ndinda Primary the entire day is dedicated to the exam. With Easter at the beginning of the month, April was lost as a month for teaching.

 

As part of my classroom management plan the grade with the fewest names in the discipline log was rewarded with a class movie party. So, the last Saturday of the term my grade 7 learners came to school to watch movies, eat chips and cookies, and drink cool drink. In true village style, the electricity went out an hour before the learners were to show up. I spent that hour trying to come up with a plan for watching the movie incase it did not come back on (I had neglected to charge my laptop that day, so running the battery was not an option). As the learners showed up I was about to give up, and the electricity came back!  We watched The Lion King and Pocahontas, the learners ate snickerdoodles and brownies, and we had a photo shoot. Here are some pictures of grade 7 at their party (and picures of my entire vacation)

 

The term ended and a few days later  my mom came and the May-ventures began. Yes, I did just combine the month of May and the word adventure. Why? Because Patty and I were together for almost all of May, and we went on many an adventure.

 

We started our adventures with a safari around Namibia (Wild Dog Safaris, Tuhafeni was our guide. I highly recommend them). With 10 strangers from England, Australia, Germany, Texas and Canada we headed to AfriCat at Okonjima. AfriCat is a conservancy where they take wild cats that have been found on cattle farms and either reintroduce them to the wild, or give them a place where they can live safely, away from human danger and outside of captivity. While there  I pet a cheetah* and we got pretty close to a leopard.

In Etosha not only did the dream I’ve had since August of seeing a giraffe drink water come true, we saw three giraffes drink water with  elephants and zebra! It was amazing! We also saw lions eating a zebra, lion cubs playing, and countless other anmals !

After Etosha we stopped in a Himba village.You may have heard of the Himba in the past, or seen them in the documentary Babies. Traditional Himba don’t wear a lot of clothes. As part of the safari we had a stop at a Himba village. Traditionally Himba people are nomadic, this village was on a farm, as a place for tourists to visit. The whole thing felt sort of weird- I did not like looking in on people’s lives as a thing to be seen. But, Himba is very similar to Otjiheraro, so I got to talk to some of the people at the village. It was fun to show off my minimal language skills, and to know that the women were talking about us and thought we couldn’t understand them. Still, even with that it felt invasive. I mean, I know the people there were making money out of it, but I don’t think I would like it if a bunch of strangers came and watched me eat dinner or wash my hair. It just seemed weird. I only took pictures of a few children because I know they like to see themselves on the camera. You may see some balloons in the pictures I have. The Australian couple brought them to give to the kids. They were a big hit! All the kids loved them! I only wonder what happened to all the pieces of the popped balloons. Those could really mess up a goat’s stomach.

We hit up the Skeleton Coast and Cape Cross, where there are more seals than you could ever imagine. The smell was abysmal. Seriously, it was disgusting. Pictures don’t begin to grasp the overwhelming number of animals there were on the beach. There. Were. So. Many.

 

And then… Sky Diving! My mom and I both jumped out of a plane while we were in Swakopmund and it was AMAZING! Not only was the free fall one of the coolest things I’ve every felt, but the view was spectacular. Once the parachute is pulled you just slowly float back down to earth with lots of time to soak in the surrounding beauty. I could see the ocean, the sand dunes, and desert for miles and miles. It was incredible. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

 

Our last stop on the safari was at Soussosvlei and the red dunes. The sunrise and sunset over the red dunes were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my entire life. We woke up at 4 am so we could climb one of the dunes for the sunrise. It was amazing. It seemed like the sun was a giant ball of fire reaching over the dunes in the distance and peeking through the clouds. The light from the sun also made a beautiful contrast between the red sand and the green grasses around it.

We climbed one dune before breakfast, and then after breakfast we climbed another dune, rightfully called Big Daddy. At over 300 meters high, this dune was huge!  It was absolutely worth the climb though, the view from the top was amazing, although the wind can get pretty strong. While we were at the top there was a sand/wind storm that was so strong it busted my mom’s camera. If you take a closer look at the picture of us at the top, my arm is completely covered in sand.

 

 

Leaving Soussosvlei and the red sand behind us we finished the first phase of our trip. The second phase we rented a car, stopped by the village for  the 50th birthday party of my host mother, and then drove north up through the Kavango and Caprivi, leaving the car as we got into Botswana. The plan was that I would drive most of the trip- I am not allowed to drive unless I am on holiday, so this was a treat for me.

Well, like most things in Africa, things did not go quite according to plan. About 80 km out from the village, on a day when we were planning to drive over 300 km, a warthog ran into the road, hit the car, and messed up the radiator. A tow truck had to come from Windhoek with a replacement car.

On our first day driving, we ended up spending 7 hours on the side of the road. Lucky for us, we packed water and a package of double stuff oreos (thanks go out to my cousin Clare who sent them to Namibia) and had books to read. To make matters worse, the rental company was out of automatic vehicles, and the replacement was a manual. I don’t know how to drive a manual, so my mom had to drive from that point on. In a stick shift. On the opposite side of the road. With the fear of a warthog popping out and ruining another day. As you can imagine, it was stressful.

We spent two nights in Western Caprivi at Nunda Lodge, a beautiful lodge along the Kavango river. Every night we fell asleep and woke up to the sound of hippos. Think Bowser from Super Mario Bros laughing, that’s what hippos sound like.

We drove across the border to Botswana and left the car there. Getting through Customs was yet another adventure. Between Namibia and Botswana we had to get out of the car and walk on a disgusting carpet that is supposed to kill foot and mouth. Then we got to Botswana side customs, and the official told us that we did not have the proper stamps in our passports. So we went back to Namibia side, stood in the wrong line twice, got our stamps and went back on our way.

Botswana was amazing. Muchenje lodge where we stayed was amazing. Everything, including laundry, was included in the trip. We went on a boat cruise where I saw an elephant swim, went on game drives where we saw lions eating a buffalo, had sundowners next to elephants, and even went on a night drive . Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures at the moment. My mom took my memory card with her to print out pictures and send them back, so they will be online eventually (like every picture I take)

 

After Botswana we went to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe side. The falls were amazingly beautiful, and amazingly wet. The mist was so strong that it felt like I was standing in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. Those pictures are also with my mom.

We didn’t go bungee jumping at the bridge. Instead, we did the gorge swing, zipline, and flying fox. The Flying Fox is by far the scariest thing I have ever done. It is supposed to make you feel  as if you are a bird: you are connected to a line on your back side , and you have to run off of a platform and jump into an open gorge. Its terrifying. Everything in your body tries to fight this urge. Its awful. The zipline was super fun though! The gorge swing was amazing! Imagine bungee jumping, but instead of being tied by your feet and going upside down, you are connected with a harness. You just fall straight down, and when you think you are going to hit the water you stop. Its an incredible feeling. Sorry no pictures- Patty has those as well. She also has pictures of our walk with lions. Those will be up in a few months.

 

My mom and I separated in Vic Falls. She went back to the US, and I headed back to Namibia. Term started that Monday, and I had a wedding to go to that weekend. It was a really cool wedding. It was between a Heraro bridge and an Italian-Namibian groom, so there were both Heraro and western celebrations.

 

Now I’m back at school for term two. I decided that this term instead of trying to fit in as much of the syllabus as I can, I’m going to focus more on understanding and develop the learner’s ability to solve problems on their own. I have the learners work iindividually, in partners, in groups, and as a whole class. It has only been two weeks and I can already see changes in how they think about and answer questions. They are starting to get the idea that being able to explain how to get the answer is much more important than the actual answer. Then, once we get the basics down we can go on to more complex things in math.

 

That’s all for now! Please forgive me for my lack of updates, I only have internet on a cell phone when I am in the village and typing long paragraphs on that is exhausting. I will try to upload a short update weekly this term, but I can’t promise everything.

 

Stay well everyone! Enjoy your summer! Happy New Year!

 

 

 

* the cheetah was asleep and on a doctor’s table, but it sounds way cooler to just say that I pet a cheetah.