expectations vs. reality. at first glance this may appear to be an activity that a teacher gives to his or her learners to distinguish between perceptions and fact. but for those who have spent the last 30+ days with me over our seemingly never-ending vacay, its, more accurately, my favorite scene in (500) days of summer. so im chilling outside the pc lounge in rundu (for those of you who haven't been paying attention, thats the largest town in kavango) flanked by my flea covered puppy, suffering from some writers block but i pressed play on the 500 days soundtrack and immediately realized what was so prevalent in my life over this past month. expectations of namibia ≠ reality in namibia. much has happened in the past month (most that just cant be articulated in the confines of this blog) but heres a go to give you a glimpse of december in nam.
expectation#1: when i made the decision to join peace corps, i did it accepting the following proposition: i would spend my birthday alone, in a hut, minus electricity, perhaps playing a few sudokus, and squashing insects that landed on my computer screen as i attempt to watch episodes of roseanne before the battery fades.
reality#1: so it was the night before our journey to swakop and (coincidentally) the night before my 23rd birthday. laine, vegs, syd, and i had made it to okahandja but with no place to stay, thankfully were in nam where people get married…often. so as we paraded around oka, we came across our training center from our first week in nam and noticed quite the pre-game going on. must be a wedding, eh!? so as we do best, we schmoozed. syd and i laughed with our arms around elder men who couldn't care less about their lack of teeth because the beer just filtered right in. as we subtly (alright lets be real, im not the most subtle person but just bear with me) nudged in a comment that we had no place to stay, one man who took an interesting liking to me offered for us to sleep in the back of his truck (so we could all star gaze together, of course!) and thats when our other "friend" grabbed our hand and announced that he is the father of the groom (images of father of the bride swirled around in my head) and thus he begged our attendance at the wedding. uhhhh, is this like wedding crashers but we were almost forced to crash? of course! so following the popping of the grape juice (some people prefer champagne, not these peeps!) and pictures with the bride and groom….the 4 of us made our way to club opouri (a classic spot) and from their syd and i ventured off…and stumbled upon…ya guessed it--another wedding. i danced with a 40year old woman, attempted to mimic the khoe khoe clicks with the girls, and proceeded to share a cupcake with them (thanks again syd), the night ultimately ended with a photo shoot atop a truck headed to o-land.
the following morning, we made our way to swakup (8 of us crammed inside a truck) but its seemed so peaceful thanks to the soulful singing of "someone like you". and the 8 of us reunited with the 30 others in our group on the coast of namibia, in swakopmund, a coastal town that mirrors a german town…probably more than most german towns do. and thats when the expectation of my b-day completely disintegrated in my head--spending my bday on the beach on the coast of namib our fellow pcvs….kinda perfect.
expectation #2: so if you google namibia and choose images, you will certainly come across the sand dunes that tower the desert and the coast of the country. this most certainly could not actually exist as they appear in pictures. there has to be some artistic interference going on.
reality #2: well the truth is, they exist and we went sledding down the dunes. walking atop the dunes with your flat board that will soon serve as a means to travel down the dunes (80 km/hr), you have to just pause and stop and think. its almost like walking inside of a google image but with no internet access, you know its real.
expectation #3: the first baby i get to name will be my own.
reality #3: as you already know my host brother is mashika. so while i was still on the coast on vacay (it was on the 28th of december to be precise) i got a phone call that interrupted us watching "inglorious bastards". he informed me of the birth of his first son. when i asked the boys name, he said "i want you to give the name" uhhhh ok…ill be honest i don't have much experience naming babies. so i asked for a few minutes (i mean no one wants a rash name, right?) and after deliberating with my friends i called him back and told him "michael"--after my brother.
expectation #4: following our 9 day joinery in swakop, we headed down the coast (part of the time on an overnight train which would better be described in person!) to luderitz--claire's site. luderitz is not your typical peace corps site--its a coastal town and claires backyard is a cliff and the front looks out onto the atlantic ocean. so i assumed that heading back to my rural village in kavango, would be a difficult transition, after being teased by the cool ocean breeze and cliffs looking out over us…how could i be excited to go home again?
reality #4: ludapalooza was perfect. 11 of us were better known as fun czars (groups of 2 whose sole purpose was to facilitate fun in any way imaginable for a day). syd and i befriended a couple in luda and they had us at their house (they essentially live in a museum so we reciprocated the following day with buttered noodles and hot dogs), we opposom walked, braiied, peeps got boarded, jumped into the ocean as warranted by kjudi, had a pseudo christmas tree thanks to mo, had a christmas brunch overlooking the ocean, experienced the new years atop a cliff and saw (count em) one fire work go off.
and then we headed back to kavango--where the infamous gin coefficient was on sharp display. it ought to be emphasized that namibia is the most unequal country in the world, and while the economic disparity is so evident so too is the cultural differences as you cross the red line. and as we crossed the line and into the kavango, i couldn't help but smile. so even though when i greeted my puppy she was flea ridden, and when syd and i entered my house in ndiyona it was smothered with upwards of 1200 cockroaches, it was perfect--to be home. for those of you who don't know, im now living in teacher housing on the school grounds. and more importantly, im working on making my house a home. so what does that mean?? PAINT…and yes, we painted a giraffe. (alright syd you can take the cred now)
expectation #5: it should take perhaps max 2 days to get back to kavango from luderitz.
reality #5: it took 5.
expectation#6: dogs should just be given one name. perhaps 2 if you're indecisive.
reality #6: syd and i went to the SPCA to pick up her new dog and his name is george…aka bunt, punchy, mowgli, pettey, zatara, rocco, scorsebey, or copper. you choose.
expectation #7: typically i'd assume that i would get sick of people if i spend over a month straight with them.
reality #7: never did.
alright the school year kicks off next week, preparations are underway. ill surely keep you updated on the chaos that will undoubtedly ensue. in the meantime, much love and peace.