Where are the Contrails?

No where is the answer.  It’s pretty amazing really…there are no big airplanes that fly over Opuwo and thus no contrails.  The sky here is cloud free all the time, no haze and just as blue as it comes.

Have an Old PC?

And not sure what to do with your old PC?  You could recycle it, but if it’s working well and it’s not as old as you are, then I suggest you donate it.  See if you can find an organization that is willing to ship computers to developing nations, such as Computer Aid International (computeraid.org). In the U.S. you can try Computers with Causes (http://www.computerswithcauses.org/).

Mrs. H.S. Ball’s Chutney

It’s true…Mrs. H.S. Ball does have some Chutney and when you combine it with chips…magic.


New Pictures Uploaded

Dinner Guest

A scorpion decided to join us this evening in Penny’s home. The women jumped up on the chairs, James was intrigued and i grabbed a broom and put it out the door…they’re quick little buggers. Never a dull moment…well…some exciting moments, I should say, in Opuwo.

Rain, Sleet, or Hot Dusty Weather

If you’re interested in sending me anything…not that you have to of course…but if you really feel the need. You can send to the following address:

Ministry of Health and Social Services
c/o Jonathan Woodruff
Private Bag 3003 (yes, this is actually the address)

I recently broke my docking station for my iPod shuffle so if you can’t think of anything…that’s one thing I might be needing. Maybe some American air…the sweet air of freedom. Or, maybe a self autographed picture of yourself…I can pretend you’re famous and hang you on my wall in my office and show all the people here all the important people I know back home. Sushi would be awesome…I’ll just cut off the bad parts (Dad). I’ll ask for more as I think of it.

Update: Please Allow for 2 months of transit time…What I’m saying is…send soon if you’re going to send.

Grillin and Chillin

Grillin and Chillin Namibia style. Well, my first week of work is almost over and things are going smoothly so far. I am without a permanent accommodation…a minor detail.

Tuesday night was our cookout at the Kunene campsite. I was nominated/self appointed as the evening’s grill master, which I was more than happy to do. Had a few Windhoek Lagers to enjoy the cool evening while roasting everything from crazy curled sausage to a pumpkin melon thingy.


Things are slower around here and I’m ok with that. One exception would be the local shabeens (bars) where I can hear their music right now…it’s 6:30pm and I’m about a half mile away…loud and clear. Still it’s a slower pace of life and no real hurry to do anything. Not even any TV to waste away the evening…again, I’m ok with this.

Barcelona v. Man U

Joined the good doctor for a little Champions League action this evening. One of the most boring games I’ve ever watched…my team Barca just couldn’t get any good shots. Henry breathed some life late in the game, but just wasn’t enough. We’ll have to see how things go next week on Man U’s pitch.

Bike vs. Bike

I asked the good Doctor Akpabio where I could purchase a bike. We went three times to the same place where I could get a bike. Turns out these were motorbikes…they’d be sweet, but not too useful when a plain old bicycle will do the trick. Looks like I have my choice at the local supermarket between one bike…that’s it…one choice.

Update: Tree Sleeper Photos Uploaded

All photos from the Tree Sleeper event this weekend are now uploaded on my website. Just go to jbwoodruff.com and click on pictures to view them. Enjoy.

Cruel and Definitely Unusual

This donkey must have done something really bad…


I love the sound of a mosquito in my ear at 3am. EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEeeeee!!!!! Even better…kill 3 of them, go back to bed and…EEEEEEeeeeeEEEEEeeee. I am now the proud owner of a couple new bites on my face and forehead.

First Day of ‘Work’

So about my first day.  Woke up and found that the common kitchen actually has nothing in common with a common kitchen.  Thus I was forced to eat a banana for breakfast.  This energy lasted about 30 minutes as I got the day started off with a hour long meeting and my stomach was grumbling.  I think no matter what country you’re in, most meetings just aren’t that much fun.  Dr. Akpabio (my supervisor) is great though as he knows his stuff and is very enthusiastic about the possibilities that volunteers bring.  I got some time to talk to him about what his expectations are.  So the list includes:

  • IT support, planning and development for the Ministry of Health in the Kunene Region.  This includes Opuwo, Outjo and Koshaxi(something like that) districts and includes clinics in the plan.  So that’s 3 regional hospitals and 40 or so clinics.
  • Working with the Ministry of Health in Windhoek to ensure all IT practices are standardized…this is more my expectation as it is necessary.
  • Helping the Ministry of Education, Red Cross of Opuwo and the Regional Council of Kunene with their IT…these are all organizations as big as the Ministry of Health and hospital.
  • Graphic Design for the Ministry and Health Education areas.

So I really don’t have that much to do in 6 months.  First task I’ve given myself is to create a map of the hospital (they don’t have one) so I can do some assessment and planning. After all distance is important when figuring out wired/wireless communications.  Then there’s the job of seeing what works and what doesn’t…there’s the rest of my week.

All this aside I do have a very positive outlook on what I’ll be able to provide for the Ministry within the time I am here.  I get to work basically at my own pace as I’m the only IT person in the hospital.  I get the possibility of doing some traveling to see the region.  I think it’s great.

The day concluded with going to the lodge at the top of the hill.  What an amazing place.  I can’t believe it can even exist in a place as small as Opuwo.  I guess the Himba have created Opuwo as quite the tourist destination.  

Initial Impressions of Opuwo

With about 30 minutes left to go we started to see some rolling hills in the distance.  Destination Opuwo was not far off.  We started to see an occasional Zimba (pronounced Thimba) woman which is essentially the same as Himba, but they don’t paint their skin.  Being sunday their weren’t too many people out and about.  The hills began to increase in numbers and the surroundings are simply beautiful.  A large mesa is just outside of Opuwo and with the sun going down it really looks awesome. The town itself is sort of situated on the side of small hill with the main street being at the bottom.  One shopping complex exists for all your Opuwo shopping needs.  Much smaller than I thought it would be, but I love it.


We checked into the hospital compound and with the help of Jesse (vol) we were able to get into our temporary housing.  I say ‘we’ because another vol arrived with me.  With my own room I am happy and get all my stuff in one place.  Jesse invited us to dinner so I was more than happy to go eat some food, but then again when am I not happy to eat?  That’s right…earlier in the week when we had some sand with spinach…now I remember.  I met another couple of vols who are married (Jorrit, Frouke and their daughter Silka)  It was an enjoyable evening and glad to know that I have some good people to hang out with while I’m here.

– Air is Clean

– Things are Quiet

I like this place.

Travels to Opuwo

Penny George behind the wheel, we set off this morning from Tsumeb around 9am and arrived into Opuwo at exactly 5pm.  There is a whole lot of nothing running around in northern Namibia…oh wait…billions of goats and cows…they’re there.  One of their favorite pass times is to cross the road just as you approach…it’s fun.  One trick that farmers like to play on their livestock is to tie their front two feet together and put a bell around their neck…those crazy farmers.  

We were able to see some of the remains of the flooding that turned northern Namibia into a disaster area over the past few months.  You wouldn’t have guessed it now as it seems to have changed everyone’s professional title to fisherman extraordinaire.  I really don’t know how it’s possible to pull so many fish out of water by the side of the road…no joking.  All the water seems to have come from Angola and brought all their fish with it…reports of crocodiles as well.  


We stopped for some supplies along the way per Penny’s suggestion.  Things in Opuwo cost more and aren’t as readily available.  I bought the basics…couldn’t resist picking up some of South Africa’s finest sauces…Mrs. H. S. Ball’s Chutney.  Everything else seems pretty trivial next to this.  I get KFC in hopes of treating myself, but somehow they managed to ruin it so I was sad…happy when I realized I had some Simba chips flavored by…you guess it…Mrs. H.S. Ball’s Chutney.  I’m not joking on this one.


The ride was relatively painless minus my awesome back and constant sweating…even caught a nap before hitting the gravel roads.  Learned the difference between England and Britain…don’t make this mistake…kind of knew this before, but just make sure you know exactly.  Also found out that Penny really likes Bob Dylan…I just don’t know how I feel about that.

Tree Sleeper

The Tree Sleeper campsite is located in Tsintsabis which is about 60km north of Tsumeb. A fellow volunteer has been responsible for rehabing the site and I have to say he has done an excellent job so far. We arrived and setup our tents…Mark and I shared a tent…looked pretty small, but was a breeze to setup. We all retreated to the tree stand and shared some libations (gin and tonic) and sang some tunes…apparently the drinks are a useful way of avoiding malaria I am told by my british vols…it’s somewhat true. Dinner that night consisted of much better local food than we were served earlier in the week. We had some Kudu (basically some form of antelope type animal), some Pap (corn meal porridge), vegetable stew, breadsticks on actual sticks, roasted corn and some bananas with chocolate. All was excellent this time around…one form of Kudu kind of tasted like that beef jerky stuff you buy in a tobacco tin…both great in theory but not so much in practice. The rest of the night was filled with frequent trips to the men’s room and sneaky farts…did I mention I love camping?

The next day was great because I was the last person to wake up by about an hour and everyone had already eaten. Hurried cleansing and breakfast led to the Bushman’s Hike…this is where I shine. Well…it wasn’t exactly a hike as more of a walk…well…a five steps and listen trip. My initial impression was not the best, but when they taught me how to snare chickens in the wild I was sold. This was followed by how to catch elephants and how to tell the difference between a nice lion and one who wants to eat things that rhyme with me. As Dylan pointed out…just have to run faster than the guy next to you. Traditional fire making skills were shown…very cool.

Next was a tour around Tsintsabis. Little known fact…it’s in the middle of nowhere. Another one…9 out of 1800 people have jobs in Tsintsabis proper. Last one…some bearded guy in dirty pants loves orange soda and hanging out with tourists. It’s hot in the sun here so shade is appreciated.

The trip was finished up with my purchasing overpriced souvenirs and eating tuna fish sandwiches which I never eat, but for some reason they sounded good…they were. I realized I never purchased anything Kenyan while in Kenya so I decided to buy some stuff and at this rate I should have roughly 2 tons worth of useless crap after 6 months…hope you all like Namibian trinkets in your stockings.

Closing Time

Since things are slow here I can’t put out the video as fast as I would like.  Just a little comment from my time in Windhoek.  It’s off to Opuwo tomorrow for me.


He’s Alive and Kicking…

I’ve rebounded and live to fight another day.  I will not let a minor set back keep me from adventuring down the culinary path nor keeping me from an occasional drink or two to help it go down.  Tomorrow it’s off to the tree tops for a little camping challenge which should prove to be a great time.  

I learned one little fact about Opuwo today…the fruit and vegetables come in once a week and if you want some you better get them while they’re there.  Cool.

Update: Found out the place is called Tree Sleeper…looks like I’m taking after my dad.

Food that makes JB puke

I like to try new foods and willing to force some things down not to be rude, but yesterday took the gross cake. We had some traditional Namibian food from the Tsumeb area (look it up to see where I am) which did me in. We had some mystery sausage (don’t want know), unknown beef with bone, sandy spinach, white beans of bland, mountains of corn stuff and a chalk cake…oh, and one cooked Mopane worm to see if they are any better when cooked…most definitely not.


Long story short, I guess my mantra of trying new things finally jumped up and bit me in the butt and stomach.  Let’s just say I spent the whole night carrying myself to and from the bathroom.  I’m alive today and a weaker man for it.

Mopane Worms