Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Seattle, Frankfurt and Namibia

It is our second day in Namibia and all of us feel we have been here more than two days—I think that is a good feeling for all even though I am not totally sure what it means—perhaps that we have already seen a lot in Namibia. 
                                     The group ready to say goodbye and head on our journey.

 The travel was long—no one really slept well on the 10 hour flight to Frankfurt.  Leaving at 2PM makes it hard for good sleeping.  Many of us watched different movies (we all had our own screens) and managed a few naps.  I think I slept a total of 4 hours.  We arrived about 9:00 in Frankfurt and then our student who was flying in from Chicago landed about 20 minutes later.  After talking with Lufthansa people, we realized she landed at terminal Z, we were in terminal B.  Steve and I went to find her, while Paula stayed with the group and tried to figure out the train tickets into Frankfurt.  Negotiating the Frankfurt airport was complex, and after finding the right terminal, identifying her travel gate, and walking back to the service desk, I all of a sudden heard my name.  Megan had been wandering a similar back and forth path and it was great we found each other.  We started to try to get back to terminal B via the same train we had come on but never found it.  It was actually a good thing that we went a long back way through baggage claim because Megan’s luggage had not been check to Windhoek, and she spotted her luggage as it was circling the baggage claim conveyor belt.  We probably were gone an hour before reuniting with the group.  We were all glad to see each other, and then Paula and I with the help of someone hovering near the automated ticket stand, got day tickets to Frankfurt. 

We arrived into the main area of Frankfurt around 11:00, but managed to get off at wrong stop first.  The station read Frankfurt Main, but that wasn’t the stop we needed to wander the city.  The weather was cool, about 45 degrees and it felt like the cool weather we left in Washington.  The city was rather quiet on a Sunday and we wandered along the river and the students really enjoyed the bridge with the locks.  We got a great group picture and it was really nice to have some fresh air.  The walking mad the group hungry so we found a restaurant in the square.  Because we were such a large group, they seated us in our own upstairs room overlooking the square.  Eating together was a lot of fun because there was a widen range of conversation. I could tell we had a group that were comfortable with each other because there was a lot of sharing food and passing of plates to taste their authentic German dishes.  As we were talking, we heard opera noise in the background.  Initially we thought it was from the speakers, but then I looked out into the square and saw a man singing.  After we finished eating, we went out and were treated to some good singing.  It was like we were listening to a male version of the “Britain Has Talent” Boyle woman.  We visited a cathedral and I always find it interesting to realize how well they build so long ago.  After a little more wandering people felt really tired so we made our way back to the airport and had a little more than 3 hours before leaving.  The Frankfurt airport was bustling with families—both Paula and I felt like we had never seen so many kids—not sure if our feeling were because we were hanging near a wonderful kids play area or if many families were traveling at the end of the winter holidays.

                             The bridge of locks
                                                                                                                      Opera Singer

The Air Namibia flight from Frankfurt to Windhoek was only about 2/3 full.  Josh, our only male student got to stretch out on all four seats so he had a great sleep.  The seat next to me was vacant and I was able to sleep about 6 hours so I felt rather awake and ready to navigate our first day in Namibia.

Staying at Wadadee House is different from arriving at Casa Blanca after a long flight.  I had request 2 dorm rooms for the students, and they had put all 8 female students in one large room.  The house also has 12 Norwegian nursing students which is great and there has already been so much interaction between the  2 student groups, but they are in the rooms I anticipated and was expecting for our group.  The house manager’s sister and brother in-law are also here, and occupying a room that once they leave on Thursday, will become a room for two of our students.  The girls are amazing, flexible and so willing to make things work.  They organized the cupboards according to bed location, and there are “night stands” arranged the same way. Josh is in a single, has a great room with more than enough closet and cupboard space—the girls are a little envious. I love my room  around the corner from the girls’ dorm.  The curtains make it dark at night and I feel quite cozy.  Paula and Steve’s room is small and there isn’t a lot of extra room.  It reminds me of the little room Ann and I stayed in on our Fulbright. I think the rooms are good for a single leader, but not a couple.  The adjustment is harder for Paula, but she recognizes the students are so happy.  We had a braii (barbecue for those of you reading Namibian for the first time) the first night and Shaun, the house owner barbecued the meet for us, and our first cooking group made a great green and fruit salad.  All the fresh food tasted great—it had reached about 94 degrees during the afternoon.  I really enjoy the interactions of cooking and sharing a meal together—we all ate outside, enjoyed the breeze and all marveled we could sit outside in t-shirt and shorts in the daylight at 6:30 PM.

   Definitely a temperature difference from Germany and Washington!

Most everyone went to bed at 9:30—definitely hit a wall but that was a good day to push through the hard traveling time and jet lag.  I went to sleep around 10:30 and managed to sleep until 6:00 so that felt good today. I am determined to finish writing about the time, but it is 9:30 and I find myself beginning to fade.  This entry is getting a little long anyway, so I will try to be brief about our second day in Namibia.

Uanaee arrived around 9:30 for our tour of Katutura and Windhoek.  It was so great to see him again.  Unaee is so informative and I learned some new information.  We drove past the restaurant that serves Namibian food and it’s a name I can never pronounce.  The name is the first 2 letters of the 4 major tribes in Africa.  When he was describing the township of Katutura and comparing it to Soweto, I learned that the South Africans created the name Soweto to indicate it was the South West Township of Johannesburg. Uanaee talks openly about apartheid and the discrimination and oppression that occurred during South African rule.  When we were debriefing tonight and sharing insights, and wonderings one student commented that she was struck by the fact that all of the changes have occurred during her life time.  She said all the time during the entire tour she kept thinking that it was only when she was born that Black Namibians became free. 

Katutura housing
Taking advantage of a business right next to the house

Introduction to the Soweto Market and Katutura Single Quarter

Uanee with Eveline (I also got to hold this darling girl)

Enjoying the people and sights of the market.  The cow's head and hoofs were a little shocking for some.  Check out Alyssa's face--the student right next to Paula.
You can purchase Mopahne worms while having your shoes repaired.  The man is repairing shoes with old tires.  The Namibians take advantage of lots, and here someone else will benefit from a "new pair" of shoes

Sam Rise was waiting for us when we returned from our tour.  I am so happy we decided to stop at the house, drop off the cameras before heading into town.  Sam is a Peace Corp volunteer in Namibia and he was on our program last year.  Some of the students knew him (they are a couple years apart) and it was fun for them to hear so of his reflections and advice from last year.  The students have heard a lot about safety from Shaun and Edwin and it was good for them to also hear Sam’s perspective.  He talked to them about sharing food in the staff room during the tea break—not bringing food all the time, but he said it was a great opportunity to interact with the staff and become connected at the school. 

1 comment:

  1. Jan~ I love looking at your pictures! I can't begin to express my appreciation for you and Paula... So sad I am not there! I can't imagine what an amazing experience this is for all of you all! I am jealous.

    Love you all!