Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let’s Turn Back Time Part One

Alright, let’s begin with the series of posts about my memorable month of December. First up, traveling to Windhoek for the Reconnect Conference Group 34 was to attend, during which we would see each other for the first time since training! If any of you remember how ridiculous my trip down to Luderitz after swearing-in was… this one was even more so. After a late-night move-in to my new house [yay!], I got the last spot in a combi at around 8 in the morning Saturday December the 3rd and was on the road to Keetmans. Sadly, yet again my seat was in the middle of the front seat, for 3 and a half hours of blazing heat, with the driver continuously nudging and gesturing to me as if I were his friend on my left that he was rambling on with in Afrikaans. The combi was going all the way to Windhoek, but I had to get off in Keets to meet my travel buddy Brett so we could go up together [leave no one behind!]. We headed out to the hike point with our super heavy camping packs, and I was so excited because I’d not yet hiked [note: this kind of transportation, though creepy in the US, is a form of transportation many Namibians rely upon and is completely accepted and common here]. We found a nice spot under a tree to put our stuff and got started. Well, suffice it to say that literally every combi and car that passed us was full or just going around town. Skip ahead 4 HOURS, when a police security checkpoint guy came by and was like ‘hey, I’ve noticed you’ve been out here a really long time and are having trouble getting a ride. Come down to the checkpoint and I’ll help you.’ It was so nice of him to offer to help! After another long walk to the checkpoint we started hanging out with the 5 or so guards as they stopped every car going out of town to try to get us a ride. Unfortunately, this still wasn’t working. At this point, I had run out of water and, having become accustomed to Luderitz weather, was unprepared for the intensity of the heat. As I was feeling really weird, I started staring at the guard’s bottle of ice water longingly. Then, without asking he poured Brett and I a glass, simply saying ‘In Africa we share.’ How kind!! Anyway, fast forward to almost 6 pm, I still felt bad and it was getting late so we decided to head back to a PCV’s flat with the same awesome police who agreed to drive us there. Just then, a combi came through the point – it was pretty full, but the guards said it was promising that it’d fit us! Naturally, this was the point at which heat stroke decided to fully kick in, and I simultaneously felt the intense effects of dizziness and nausea. That ride wasn’t happening, so we called it a night. The police helped us set up spots in a combi for the next day and we were to leave at 8 – still enough time for me to get to Windhoek and see Breaking Dawn – I was really looking forward to a movie theater!!! You’d think this would be the end of the NAMbles, but ohhhhh no. The next morning, we waited until 8:30 to get picked up… then we drove around town for the next hour and a half trying to find passengers. Finally, at 10 we left town. About an hour and a half into the trip, the trailer carrying everyone’s suitcases broke. We stopped for a while as the driver figured out a way to adequately hook it back up. Back on the road, we had two more stops in the big towns [relative statement] on the way to fill up petrol, Mariental and Rehoboth. We needed to be at the PC office by 3 to get the combi to our Reconnect Conference Center in the mountains outside town. We were going to cut it extremely close, but still thought we’d make it [even though my Breaking Dawn and mall experience dreams were shattered]. In Rehoboth the problems started. It was quite clear the the combi was extremely janky/literally falling apart, hence why people hike , but since we’d had no other options we had just taken what we could get. In Rehoboth, the combi wouldn’t start, so three guys pushed it while the driver attempted to start it. This tactic eventually worked, phew! BUT THEN, literally 40 minutes from Windhoek the engine broke down. We proceeded to wait on the side of the road for the next hour until someone came to fix the problem. We were so doomed to make it to our fellow Group 34s, who I envied because they’d been hanging out together for the past day and a half at this point. At this moment a lady in the back of the combi, noticing my mounting frustration/irritation with my bad luck, decided to say very loudly, ‘we must be patient!’ Patient?!?! I was extremely patient… 24 hours ago. By this time it was almost 36 hours into a trip-from-hell that should have taken 8! It took so much effort to hold my tongue. Finally, we fleed the dreaded combi at around 4:45, and our PC combi was awesome and waited for us at the entry to the highway outside Windhoek! Long story short, traveling in Nam = worse than my worst nightmare. We knew things could only go up from that experience, and oh how they did!

1 comment:

  1. My name is Jackie Rakers and I am a junior at Aurora University. I found your blog through peacecorpsjournals.com and have enjoyed reading your posts. As a member of the honors program I am currently conducting research that will be compiled into my senior thesis and presented at the university’s Undergraduate Research Conference. I have chosen write my thesis on the educational systems of various sub-Saharan African countries, the problems that they face, and ways that education and access to it can be improved. I am also interested in teaching abroad once I graduate in 2013 and would like to get the perspective of US citizens who are currently working in education in Africa. I would love to talk to you about your experience teaching in Africa, and what you see as the biggest problems education faces and the most effective ways to combat these issues. If you would be willing to talk to me I would greatly appreciate it! I am hoping to mail or email out a few questions by May 2012, and wouldn’t need answers back until late August 2012. In the meantime, if you would be willing to help me with my research could you could send me a quick email just letting me know the best way to contact you?
    Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!
    Jackie Rakers