Back in the Saddle Again

Just wanted to let you all know that Shannon and I are safely back in Opuwo.  I have to say that there has been tons going on in the past few days and I’ll most certainly tell you all in about it.  Patience is all you need as I go through the hundreds of pictures and hours of video.  There’s a lot of good stuff in there, I promise.  Stay tuned.

Spoiled

Not only have I managed to have a few hot showers, but I have managed to completely reimmurse myself back into western life in the few days I have been in Windhoek.  Sushi, Pizza, Indian Food, Taxis, Movie Theaters, Shopping Centers…it’s been nice.  Strange thing is, I really could live without these things.  Yes, they are enjoyable, but not really what I need.  Part of the allure of these things is being able to experience them seldomly…they’re luxuries.  I’ve been able to find new appreciation for the everyday pleasures I once had.  I know that as soon as I get back to the U.S. I will quickly lose the appreciation, but I won’t lose the experience.  It’s something everyone should try ever so often.  Put yourself out there, get out of your comfort zone and then maybe you might find out what makes your life so great.

Now if I could just convince myself to give up on all forms of electronic communication…that would be a real trip.  But then how could I share everything with you?

Hot Shower

Just had my first hot shower in a while…easily ranks in the top 5 showers ever.  Don’t take your hot showers for granted.

Raining in Windhoek

Raining in my hotel room that is. It was a nice surprise to see so much water…too bad it was all over my bed. New room please. Oh…no water because of a pipe burst? That’s ok. I wasn’t looking forward to a hot shower since I haven’t had one in a month or more.

So I’m down in Windhoek awaiting Shannon’s arrival on Thursday morning. Planning on trying to get some work done with the Ministry as well as taking care of a few personal purchases. New bike seat (that fell off), new bike wheels (that don’t bend), new bike pedals (that aren’t cracked)…you get the idea.

I also met with a guy today about my stuff from Kenya. Yep, it’s now in Namibia. I’m about to be reunited, but not without paying about $120 USD. What? Apparently, it’s quite expensive to have customs hold onto my things and then I get to pay this gentleman 500 namibian dollars ($60USD) just to help with the paperwork…truly insipiring.

Otherwise things are good. Going to stuff myself full of Indian food for lunch and then off to buy new sandals, mine snapped, among other things. I’ll be back in Opuwo next week with plenty of tales from Shannon and my safari. Talk to you then.

Where are the Games?

This is the question that everyone around the office has been asking me lately.  I tell them that they should not be playing games at work.  For many, it’s the first time they have spoken to me.  I asked a group of people to tell me why they think games should be on the computers.  Many were speechless and merely attacked more.  Some said they like to come in on the weekends and play….uh…right.  The best response was that they want to play them during lunch time.  I admit that this was a good reason; however, I know it’s a lie.  I pulled out a jerk card and asked if they paid for the computers.  Silence.  I said if they buy their own computer they can put whatever they want on it.  As long as these computers belong to the Ministry and I am here to help improve their IT then no games.

I’m in a bit of a pickle here with the employees as I fear a revolt.  My ace in the hole is a national IT policy which will legitimize my claims.

I should start lying and telling them it’s a virus that’s erasing their beloved Freecell.

Anyone have any other ideas?  I’m thinking about installing programs that will act like the computer is erasing itself…think a scare tactic is a good idea?

Water

NASA has just confirmed that there is ice on Mars which means water.  I wonder if they can bring some of that to Opuwo.  It has now officially rained twice since I arrived in April.  My eyeballs are drying out.

Ring Ring…

Ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring…Anyone going to get that?  Doesn’t the person on the other end realize no is going to pick up?  Ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring…Doesn’t anyone work in this office?  Come on people, I’m trying to work here!  Good times Namibia.

‘My Cat’

I now have a regular visitor ever since I began putting my tuna cans out after lunch.  I haven’t come up with a name yet.  I think once I can get within 20 feet I’ll start thinking about it.  Any ideas?

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Bike Tires are like Onions

They stink sometimes, can make you cry and tend to go flat too often.  Not sure what I meant by a flat onion, but I’m becoming used to flat tires.  

The day following the overnight at the plateau, Ed, Jeff and myself hightailed it back to where we had just been for some riding.  We were a white guy bicycle gang unlike any that Opwuo had ever seen.  Ed and Jeff were adorned with shiny new helmets.  We were on fire.  I confessed my absent minded morning where I left my only sunglasses at our campsite.  Jeff replied with a ditto.  Great morning.  

We went off the road to begin our fun and within a minute…ppppppsssssssssssss.  Um….Ed….Jeff?  Flat tire.  I began the trek back and was thankfully able to hitch a ride back into town in the back of a pickup.  The rest of day was spent breaking my bike.  The handy man that I am my rear tire is now out of line, my gears don’t change very well and everything seems to be squeaking.

Another tire blew this afternoon so I got to walk it home.  That’s what I get for helping out the local schools with their computers.  Miracle goop I put in the tube actually worked this time though.  I pumped up the tire and it’s holding nicely.

My bike seat fell off on the way home from soccer practice tonight.

If You Want Something Done…

I did it myself.  Internet is back online.  Now if I can just remember what happened in the past few days that I wanted to write about.

Man down, man down

My online silence is not due to my lack of things to report, rather my DSL has died.  Let’s hope I get this thing fixed within the next month.

Trashcapades

Sunday afternoon I had a couple little visitors outside my house.  Two young kids were going through my trash.  Normally, I might have found this strange or would have told them to stop, but this isn’t that strange to me anymore.  They made their rounds in my neighborhood and I only asked that they put the trash back in the cans once they were finished…what is wrong with me?  I know one thing, if they don’t do it during the day they would just come back at night.

I think the kids told a couple of older people because I had more visitors today who were a bit older looking for 5 liter empty plastic bottles.  They took my old bread that I left on my porch.  Apparently the saying is true here, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Do I Have Car?

My big brother poses an interesting question – “Do you have a car now?   or are all of you splitting a car?”

No, I do not have a car and after what happened in Kenya, I don’t believe I will ever buy a car on the continent of Africa again.  Let’s hope I can use that donation to its full potential.  I currently have two modes of transportation.  #1, my bike.  I go everywhere with it.  #2, Penny’s truck.  Penny is another VSO volunteer who was given a car for her project.  She has been generous enough to invite me along on various trips to check out local camp sites.  I hope this clears up this mystery.

The Plateau

So it’s Friday night in Opuwo and I’m hanging out with Ed and Jeff from Peace Corps.  We get in some games of poker…I’m terrible…and beer pong…can’t lose.  They say they’re going out to the plateau tomorrow to do some camping so I’m naturally in for this.  It’s just outside of town and I see it every day I walk out my door.  Whenever I see a mountain/hill enough times I naturally have to climb/hike it.  We’re leaving by 10am, which sounds reasonable.  The night ends up going later than originally planned and Ed and Jeff have literally high tailed it out of the bar.  I get some sleep after a late dinner.

I wake up and contemplate just laying in bed all day with how good it felt.  No.  Must get up.  I head to Ed’s around 10am and sit around for an hour as he and Jeff get ready.  They’re locals already.

11am we’re off and walk through a part of Opuwo that I haven’t seen yet.  I’m amazed at two things.  One, why I hadn’t seen this part of two yet considering how small the town is.  Two, how much poorer this part of town is…I’ll try and get some pics some time.  

We head out of the town along the road.  The three white guys with backpacks.  Staring is at a maximum.  Ed serves as the guide as he has done this once before.  We just pick a path and head into the bush.  Goat paths everywhere, but they often lead us astray.  We are forced to make our own path.  See one snake as we walk through the high grass.  We discuss the misfortune that a snake bite would bring.  I’m the only one wearing actual shoes.  

The hike up the hill took about an hour and a half which was much quicker than we anticipated.  So much so that we really had nothing to do.  We found a campsite with few rocks.  You see, this is because I have no sleeping pad so the ground is my mattress for the night.  We build a big fire.  We sit around for a while.  It is now about 1pm.  Ed does have a Playboy, Christmas 2001…I laugh.

Ed and Jeff brought about 3 pounds of meat and veggies each.  The spent the afternoon figuring out the best way to cook their food while admiring miss December.  Again, I laugh.  They can’t quite figure out the best way to cook the food and be able to get it out once it is done.  Handles, rock cooking, tshirts are all discussed.  About 2 hours later they both eat more than is healthy while I enjoy my trusty tuna fish steaks.  Lemon Peppercorn is much better than Mesquite, but still not as good as Ginger Soy.  They both pass out by the fire.  

Marshmallows come soon thereafter and we enjoy Kraft’s Coconut and Banana Cream marshmallows.  I’m still not sure why they don’t just make plain marshmallows here. 

We enjoy a sunset.  I fall asleep by the fire.  We end up all going to sleep at 7pm.  I’m amazed I can fall asleep.  The night was good, thicker sleeping bag made this more enjoyable than my night in Onjuva.  The ground was hard, but surprisingly good on my back.  I woke up at 2am feeling refreshed as it was a normal night sleep.  I went back to sleep and got up around 7.  Jeff made a great point, waking up while camping is great.  Love the early morning crisp air.

We packed up.  Found our goat path and were back in Opuwo in about an hour and a half. It was before 9am and I had already accomplished more than I usually do in half a weekend day.  I later confess that I forgot my sunglasses at the campsite, Jeff had done the same thing.  They’ll be there for next time.

Onjuva – Day Two

Onjuva – Day Two

So night time hits and the new tent is up, my new sleeping bag is rolled out, my belly is full of good food and sleep is right around the corner.  I notice it’s a little chilly out, but the sleeping bag should cure that soon enough.  Crawl into my bag and off to sleep time.

2 hours later.  Ok…probably shouldn’t have had so much water to drink right before bed.  Stumble out to relieve myself.  Is there anything worse than getting out of a tent in the middle of the night?  Everything has to go back on.  It’s noticably colder as I make use of the nearby riverbed and take the moment to do a little star gazing.  Back to bed, but I think I’ll keep my pants on…oh, and I think I’ll add that longsleeve shirt.  Not really much warmer, but I’d rather worry about sleeping.

I spend the next amount of time waking up every 5 minutes and rolling over trying to keep myself warm.  Nothing’s working.  Hooded sweatshirt is now designated as my foot blanket.  Feet feel better.

More in and out of sleep and notice my noggin is cold.  I sleep inside my sleeping bag…full body.

More in and out of sleep.  Ok…I’m going to die out here.  What do I have?  Nothing…good.  Ah…my tent’s rainfly…bust that sucker out!  I start by putting on my lower body.

More in and out of sleep.  Rainfly over my whole body.  Tolerable.

6 am I see some sun hit my tent.  Sleeping a little better as things heat up.

7am I’m finally getting comfortable and it’s time to wake up.  Awesome night. Lesson learned.  It gets cold in Namibia during the winter.

The morning started with some delicious instant oatmeal, some peacocks hanging out outside my tent and a hike to the marble mine.  Just out of the camp there is a white marble mine which is pretty spectacular up close; blinding. (see pictures) Visited the chinese camp and said ni hao (hello) a couple of times.  These men are here as miners and no one really knows why.  I’ve added this to my list of things to do.  

The rest of the morning was spent inhaling diesel fumes from a generator, watching the chinese men watch us, snake spotting and bar planning for the campsite.

The drive home.  Somehow this drive took 2 hours longer than the drive on the previous day.  The sites were still as amazing, but the lack of sleep made things a little less enjoyable.  The giraffes were a nice touch.  No elephants again.  

Highlight of the trip: kids throwing stones at our car.  John told Penny to turn around as this is apparently a huge problem in the area.  Kids want sweets and if white tourists don’t stop the kids will throw rocks.  I spot them down a side road and we go after them.  We drive up to their house.   John gets out.  The kids see that it’s not just white tourists, but a big black man and they run away very quickly.  John explains to the old Himba man the predicament and a young girl comes over.  Both John and the old man talk to the girl.  Next thing we know, the old man is wipping the girl with a thin stick.  I don’t think she’ll be throwing any more stones.  The sunset was nice though.

We get back into Opuwo about an hour later and glad I went.

Video: Onjuva and the Marble Campsite

Epupa Falls: Day 3 Video

Epupa Falls: Day Two Video

Added Role: Business Advisor

A local musician has joined the ranks of those to be sorely mistaken in trusting my talents. I will now be providing him with advice on how to start a business as well as helping him design a website for his business and band. His name is West and he is part of the musical group Bullet. Advice: Always good to be friends with a famous local. Also, I was just kidding about the mistake part in working with me…it’s pure genius!

Epupa Falls: Day One Video