Saturday, October 15, 2011

“The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.”

I have not blogged in a while. My apologies to those who rely on this blog to keep updated on my happenings. I have been very busy with meeting new people, doing things around my village, going on vacation, and the like. It has been a lot of fun and I have been so grateful to have these times (and to be planning ahead to many more). I will do my best to update everyone (albeit somewhat briefly) on all of these things now.

Vacation: Namibia
I recently went on vacation to Namibia with four of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. We ventured to Windhoek (the capitol city) and to Swakopmund (a German beach town on the ocean).

When we arrived in Windhoek, we were immediately struck by how developed the city was. There were street signs and traffic lights and tarred roads that appeared to have been planned and coordinated.  Buildings had multiple stories and people were buzzing around and having a drink or a meal on patios (with twinkle lights). It was exciting. It was like being in Europe, both in its aesthetic feel and its diversity.

We spent a few days wandering around (in amazement) and soaking in all that the city had to offer us. That included everything from cocktails at the Hilton Sky Bar ("you can't just drink olives!") to awkwardly talking to the Scottish national cricket team ("we live with spiders and wash our clothes by hand" - yes, we've lost our game) to shopping in open air markets to finding shisha in the mall and having a delicious meal (and meter of beer) at Joe's Beerhouse. We also made friends with two girls from Canada (Bolaura) that had just finished volunteering in Madagascar and then with some guys from Zimbabwe who lead tours around southern Africa ("I love you, you know that right?!). Then we took a four hour combi ride to Swakopmund...

I have to say that one day I will have a vacation home in Swakopmund. I am in love with the little town. It has a beach feel that is so inviting that it was hard to leave. The people were warm and wonderful (we continued to make new friends with people from all over the world) and the town had so much to offer (in terms of cuisine, entertainment, and more). Match that with being nestled between the great expanses of the ocean and the sand dunes - it's almost irresistible.

Among my favorite things from Swakopmund were quad biking on the sand dunes, watching the sun set over the ocean, eating amazing food (and a lot of spinach and feta), and meeting people from Angola, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Israel, Namibia, and Holland (including this guy).

All-in-all, Namibia was one of the best places I have ever been. I cannot wait to go back there - I'm hoping that I will be able to go to hike Fish River Canyon some time in the next year. And, of course, go house hunting! What an amazing place...

Post Vacation

When I got home from vacation, I had a little surprise waiting for me. The surprise scared the bejesus out of me as it scurried from its hiding place behind my dresser. I screamed and ran into the other room, reaching for my glasses so I could see what the heck was "attacking me". When I finally mustered up the courage to go check it out, this cute little lizard is what I found. I named him Bernard.

It appears that Bernard moved in while I was on vacation and helped himself to any and all spiders that had also attempted to take up residence in my house. Although I haven't seen Bernard since that fateful night, wherever he is, I'm sure he has a full belly. Thank you Bernard for taking care of my spider issue. You are the best lizard housemate I've ever had!

(The pictured spider was on my wall the day before I left for Namibia. It was about five inches in diameter and hairy... ick! Also, for anyone interested in knowing, I have overcome my ant problem. There are no more ants in my house! Woot woot! I was victorious!)

New Trainees Arrived!

The new Peace Corps Trainees ("Bots 11") have arrived! They came about four weeks ago and are doing their training in my "home village" of Kanye. This past week, they dispersed to different villages across the country to shadow current Peace Corps Volunteers. My village was lucky enough to host one of the trainees.

For four days, she shadowed the other PCV in my village and myself as we went to work and did our secondary projects (for instance, Debate Club). Included in this was a focus group discussion with the PACT kids from the junior secondary school. The focus group is under the direction of USAID. We asked the students questions about the problems they see in their community, about the economy, about their perception of Botswana's government, and about their views of the United States. The student's comments could bring a tear to your eye. They were so smart, articulate, and insightful. They showed a deep understanding of the issues and critical thinking skills that would make anyone proud. We all left feeling inspired and invigorated, knowing that these are the youth that make our work meaningful - these are the people that will change Botswana.

When we weren't busy doing work-related activities, we also got to show her how to cook some new things with available ingredients (pizza, garlic rolls, tortillas, etc.), had a run-in with a "skeletor" (aka a camel spider) and with a fire-breathing-oven, and learned the inside-scoop on dog etiquette in Batswana homes (bahaha!). It was a week full of laughs and learning.

Other Weekend Adventures

On top of everything else that has been so so wonderful from my last few weeks, I also got the opportunity to see some pretty amazing animals on a weekend trip to Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Included in the animals that I was able to see were rhinos (three, including a baby!!!), giraffes, kudu, springbok, gemsbok, steenbok, impala, wildebeest, warthogs, ostrich, and a variety of amazing birds (including a red-billed hornbill - aka Zazu from The Lion King). Here are a few pictures that leave me completely awe-shocked by this great world I'm living in...

I am so lucky. I am so grateful. I am living a wonderful life and I wish so much to share it with each of you. Thank you for supporting me, challenging me, and loving me. You have inspired me to do more. You are all the reason that I am here. 

1 comment:

  1. Amazing Tija...well with the exception of a 5" hairy spider...thank you Bernard for saving my daughter.

    I'm so glad you're teaching and working with the kids. You have so much to share that will inspire them and give them the courage to change the world. You are so creative, positive and brilliant...they are as lucky to have you as you are to have them.

    I love you....Mom