Monday, October 3, 2011

Fun Facts About Life in Nam

  • The black mamba I referenced in one of my first posts is a reality in my neighborhood. In case you didn’t know, it is among the deadliest snakes in Africa, and in my ‘snakes and scorpions’ book it reads under the mamba description “deserves respect.” A couple weeks ago the school I pass on my walk every morning set fire to a huge chunk of the grounds in order to get rid of a mamba. Unfortunately, the fire only killed the baby, so mama mamba is still on the loose - little too close for comfort. I try not to think about this when I cut across the fields on said walk and look wherever I step.
  • There is a craze here that began with a chain e-mail (wait flashback to 5th grade anyone??) called the Illuminati. Essentially this epic e-mail has convinced a HUGE amount of people across Namibia (including a member of my host family and a PC trainer) that Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Jay-Z, and assorted other celebrities are Satan-worshippers. This sounds ridiculous, but it is actually not a joke. In addition, wearing or making peace signs mean you’re a part of the Illuminati aka a devil worshipper as well. It’s just too bad that I still blast Gaga every morning and afternoon in my room…some things I know I can't change.
  • Going off that I guess, people here are extremely religious. I went to Catholic school for 14 years and was active in Campus Ministry in high school, yet this is by far the most religion I’ve been surrounded by in my 22 years. It’s a little much. On my site visit a teacher yelled at her learners when she found out they didn’t go to church the day before (umm, they were 5 years old… it probably wasn’t their choice not to go?) Because of this intense presence, I’ve adapted and have caught myself head-bopping to some Christian pop-rock on the way to school occasionally. I’m going to be real weird after two years here.
  • To say that people here are obsessed with meat would be a vast understatement. It’s actually pretty funny, except I’ve learned I really hate lamb and goat, so it’s not as funny when I have to eat those… I’ve been in the clear recently, I think my family picked up when I started raving about chicken. That, or I’ve gotten better at pretending that ambiguous colored meat is some kind of cow (except for last night, which was cow... intestines. tripe mmmm.) Seriously though, it’s almost impossible to be a vegetarian here, as chicken, pork, and goat aren’t considered real meat. Also, on my drive down to Luderitz (of which I was awake for only maybe 2ish hours) with my basic Afrikaans understanding I picked up on no fewer than 3 conversations about meat. Once again, chicken was under-appreciated – they involved beef [bees], fish [vis], and pork [vark]. 
  • People here take greetings seriously, it's generally considered rude not to stop, say hi and ask how people are doing. This was one of the first things we learned from our PCVLs [Peace Corps Volunteer Leaders], so all of us promptly started greeting everyone we walked past on the street. A couple weeks later we found out that in this town you only greet people you know because it’s a relatively big place not a small village… oops. At least we were friendly!
  • This country is huge. Some of my closest friends will be a 16 hour drive away from me – I’m in the southwest, they’re in the northeast. Sad day… Similarly, the diversity of lifestyles is crazy. I will live in a house in an urban setting, in a town with plenty of people and access to modern amenities.  My friends in the north and northeast will be living in huts on homesteads, some with no running water or electricity. Long post about my permanent site LUDERITZ to come!
  • There is nothing that makes me appreciate life in Nam more than the sunrise or the sunset. They are gorgeous, and I have given up on adequately capturing them with a camera – you’ll just have to come visit and see yourself :) 

 woooo mountains! my town is surrounded by them

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