Archive for April, 2007

Back on the homestead

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

After 5 days in Windhoek, I came back up to Omuthiya where I was a Peace Corps volunteer. I was impressed at how the place had changed. When I left, Omuthiya had been slated by the government to become a town, which means it needs to look the part. Now, instead of a tire- road straight through town, a few tire-track spurs leading away from it in various directions, and a couple hundred small cuca shops (bars made of corrugated irons, most around 9×9′ or less), the town looks as if it has been planned. Gravel roads now outline what will become Omuthiya town. They look a little silly because many cuca shops were moved to accomplish this task, and now it looks as if the roads go nowhere, turn without reason, and outline nothing. I suppose with time, offices and stores will fill it up.

With the development work happening, I was quite surprised to see that the people haven’t changed at all! Every teacher I was teaching with at school is still there, save for one. Some have bought new cars, some have painted their houses, and some have moved into new flats. Everyone remembers me and I was given a very warm welcome.

I went to visit the family I stayed with while I was a teacher here. Upon arrival we did the run to eachother and hug thing, which was welcoming. The baby I knew now speaks and has manners, the unfinished building now has a roof and one finished room, and there’s a new building with a sitting room/kitchen. They served me ontaku and immediately prepared a room for me. *WOW, a warm welcome indeed*. Its nice to be back here, although I miss my bike – it’s a 40 minute walk to the village where everything happens. If anyone’s interested in Google Earthing my homestead, the coordinates are 18.37807° S lat, 16.59070° E long.

While I’m in town I’ll be rehabilitating the computer lab – while I was gone somehow most of the keyboard’s and mice’s plug pins were destroyed, and can’t be repaired. So I’ll work on getting new parts for that, and also creating a system to prevent users from destroying their own desktops. Hopefully it’ll last until the end of the year.

Hello Namibia

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I arrived in Namibia via plane. It was cheaper than the train plus a bus, and anyways I can travel through South Africa later when I’ve unloaded my bag a little.

Upon arrival, I was directed into the red customs line, and some Ghanaian fabrics I had upset the customs officer. He really wanted me to tell him they were gifts for people (taxable), but instead I told him I was going to have shirts made out of them, and wear them home (not taxable). After leaving the customs area, I was expecting the standard harrassment for ridiculously overpriced taxis, but instead I was greeted with a shuttle service with a standard price for transportation into the city. Nice work, Namibia.

I’ve been staying in Windhoek since Thursday, and on the first day I found two Peace Corps volunteers, one of whom I’m staying with now. I’ve got a cell phone – the number is +264-81-328-8852. We’re working on a quick project – PCV Connections – which will allow volunteers send emails to any other volunteer who might be interested. Volunteers can also register to recieve any emails sent whose subjects fall in selected categories.

I think around Tuesday I’ll be headed up to the North of Namibia to see my old family and friends, and I really look forward to that. It’ll be a homecoming of sorts.

Flying to Windhoek today

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

I’m flying from Jo’burg to Windhoek today. My bags are too heavy to carry across South Africa, and the plane is cheaper than the train/bus combination I was planning. I’ll be able to travel through South Africa after Namibia, when my bags are lighter. See the contact page for contact information.

Goodbye Ghana

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

You were a wonderful escape from Francophone Africa. You were half the price of any neighboring country. You were very friendly and helpful when I needed it, except when one of your people stole my iPod. But other than that, very friendly and helpful.

I’ll miss the nomadic salesmen in the towns: the shoe repair men that carry around wooden boxes of shoe repair stuff, and hit them with shining brushes, earning the nickname “town drummers”, and the seamsters who carry around hand-powered sewing machines who charge a modest US$0.20 to sew up a tear. I’ll miss the eager salespeople who walk through lines of cars in traffic with goods on their heads – anything could be there – water in bags, ice cream long since melted, meat pies, shower sponges, leather belts, Tampico (like Sunny D), sunglasses, basically whatever’s fresh off the cargo ships that month. I’ll miss all the good people I met, and I thank them for sharing their culture and time with me.

I won’t miss the cockroaches in my room the last week, or the power outages (which now occur for 12 hour spans every 60 hours) but that’s about it (need that computer!). Ghana gets most of its electricity from a hydroelectric dam on their large Lake Volta, but this year, water in the dam has been very low, so the whole country shares power, with certain places on and certain places off all the time.

It’s good news then that the rainy season is almost here. It rained for some hours last week, and it just started to pour again right now. Rain in Africa is great – when it rains, it really freaking pours! And not just for 10 minutes, but 3-4 hours! If you’re living as I did in Peace Corps in a room with a corrugated-zinc-rooved building, it’s loud! Louder than the generator which is running right outside my door right now! But the sound is strangely comforting too. The day after a heavy rain, things spring to life. Trees and plants start to flower. The ground which was cracked and dry yesterday has frogs croaking and seedlings growing from it today. All because of the saying which is so popular in Africa, “Water = Life.” Lots of people who can’t speak English can at least say this. Or maybe they’ll wear a t-shirt with it. And soon enough, maybe the electricity sharing schedule will be brought to a halt soon.

So, I’ll miss Ghana, but I recommend anyone to visit it. It’s probably the best place to start in Africa if you’re going to try Africa. It’s modern enough when you need it, traditional enough when you want it, and the missionaries really did a bang-up job here, so everyone here loves Jesus more than you would like to find unconditional happiness. (Consider “Christ Cares Bread Shop” or “Jesus Saves Cellphone Store” or “Unless God” [interpretted: we couldn’t be here unless God let us] or “Odo Rice, Motto: God gives us the power”, and this list could go on forever…) If you don’t love Jesus (or Allah, or God, or whatever) this much, or you aren’t ready to denounce evolution, you might have a couple uncomfortable/interesting conversations.

Tomorrow, to South Africa. Winter approaches. Good thing that I packed for all seasons! Bad thing that it made my bag really heavy.