Saturday, September 16, 2006

Matrix (Prom)

Friday night was my school's Matrix farewell (prom).  I wasn't really sure what to expect; the girls at school had been talking about their dresses all week and all but a dozen of the 12th graders bothered to show up for school on Friday.  All signs pointed to a big event, and big it was.

The "spread".  Seafood apatizers and a selection of meat dishes for dinner.  It was all very good.The event room.  It took place at the hotel school for the Namibian technical collage.The tables were setup very nicely.  The candle center pieces I helped pick out.  :-)

The night got off in typical Namibian style with my ride showing up 45 minutes late and the opening of the doors happening a full hour after the time printed on the invitations.  After that however everything went pretty well.

A toast to bright futers and high marks.A group of girls enjoying their dinnerThe principal talked about how she knew most of these learners when they first entered Hage Geingob as 8th graders.

I setup a mini photography studio with three spot lights donated by a German documentary film maker.  Photos were the order of the night.  I spent the first 30 minutes popping picture after picture; girl, girl with guy, girl with girlfriends, girl looking this way, girl looking that way, guy holding cell phones (yes, that's some sort of status symbol here for high-school aged boys), guy with arms around girl, and on and on.

Everyone getting ready for their photographsThe guys always looking as cool as possible.Yes, that's an alcoholic drink in her hand.
Mrs. Britz is holding the camera, she is responsible for all of the planning for the event.  The learners gave her a very emotional and thoughtful tribute during the evenint.Eric, one of my favorite learners, showing his movies on the dance floor. 

The official program started by introducing each of the 71 grade 12 learners.  Then speeches, a nice toast and dinner.  Then more pictures.

Some of the studio pictures from the night.  It's going to be a mad house at the Photo Lab on Monday as all the 12th graders crowd around to see and print their photos.

The crazy part was the bar.  Can you imagine an open bar at a high school prom?  Well, there was one here.  Learners were ordering shots, mixed drinks and beers.  Some of the teachers had to have started early because they were drunk even before the official program finished.  By 11:30 I was ready to go home when I noticed I was one of about three teachers who were not drunk and the learners started stumbling over to ask for pictures which were borderline inappropriate.

That aside, everyone had a good time and I think the learners got a night they will never forget.  Neither will I.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tornado Season!

Even after living here for nearly a year, I still find things I've never seen before.  Take this small tornado for example.  The first time I saw one I thought it was pretty strange.  Then after spotting two more the following day I became suspicious.  Upon seeing another one the day after that I asked the taxi driver "what do you call those?".  His response: dust storms.  Pretty dam big dust storms if you ask me.  I've seen at least one nearly every day for the past two weeks.  Crazy!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Matrix Season

Well, it's Matrix season here.  The end of the school year for the 12th graders is a very big deal.  Hage Geingob High School has it's Matrix Farewell (Prom) this Friday and I have been busy this week making preparations.

Some girls primping and prepping for their big debut in front of the camera.Being such a small class (75 in all) they are very close and supportive of each other.
Friziana (frits-ee-anna), a very involved learner: Girls Club, choir and athleticsJuhwaney (Ge-oh-van-ee) is very involved in the computer lab: Photography Club, Tech Squad, Tech Assistant.

Another teacher and I have put together a nice package of things for them to remember their school experience by.  We made nice book marks with a picture of the school on it, glass cups with an etched logo of the school, and I am currently working on a nice picture of each learner.

The pictures are quite an ordeal to get through.  They (even the guys) are very picky about how they look in the pictures and I sometimes have to retake them five or six times to get one they like.  But perhaps that's more a reflection of my photography skills rather than the culture of picture taking...

I will also be taking pictures at the Matrix Farewell Friday, doing the typical prom thing; pictures with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, whatever.  I'm actually really looking forward to this event, which is surprising if you know me- I don't care much for big parties, especially ones where you will likely be asked to dance.  These learners may not have gotten great grades, nor will they have many options for employment once they graduate, but they can still enjoy this one night as a huge accomplishment.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Some pictures from the weekend:

Sunday night dinner at the hotel room of Erikka and Coppelia, both here for mid-service medical checkups.A nice sunset Sunday eveningThere was a fire on the horizon when I got home Sunday night.  Broc (here for... surprise- medical!) and I watched it burn up the hill side for a while before turning in.
Sunday morning we (Erikka, Broc, Carrie (in for Medical) and I) went to the Eros dam for a picnic lunch.  Pictured- a treacherous river crossing..The trail going to the back side of the reservoirWe passed a large pack of about 30 baboons on the way back.  Some of them weren't more than 30 feet from the trail.  Some of them were also quite large...

Happy Birthday Jana!

Happy Birthday to my sister!!!

She is also now engaged to be married next year.  Life has this funny way of moving on even when I'm not there...  But despite this I feel excited, proud and otherwise happy about the whole thing.  My sister- a bride, a wife!  If she's half as wonderful a wife as she is a mother and a sister I have no doubt that she will have a strong marriage and a very extremely absurdly lucky husband.

Jana, I love you and wish you the best!  I'll see you soon!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Worlds Biggest Braai!

World's Biggest Bri!

Saturday Namibia was the first country in the world to challenge Australia's 1994 claim to holding the worlds largest barbecue (called a Bri here).  It was held at Sam Nujoma stadium in Katatura and without knowing the results I'd have to say that if we didn't break the record, we had to come close.

Mark, Chris N., Cynthia, Matt P., Copellia, Carrie and myself all went to the bri, but since we had to take taxis there we got split up.  This is what the stadium looked like as we drove up...Standing in one of the many lines outside the statium we tried to figure out why there were several different lines all going to the same place.The main entrance, after going through the security check point where officials from the Guinness Book of World Records were also verifying that no one was re-entering.
Waling up into the stadium.  There had to be at least 10,000 people on the field at the time.We stood in a very crammped mash-pit like line for nearly 30 minutes waiting to get our hot dog and coke.The moment we were waiting for- Copellia here is getting her coke after having a hot dog shoved in her hand. 
Carrie and Copellia with their amazing free meal.Proof that I was there.There were some Namibian singers who entertained the crowd.  The stage had lights, smoke and fancy lasers- it was pretty cool.
We found a bus to go home, which was an adventure itself.  The bus driver pulled over after leaving the stadium to ask where everyone wanted to go.  A few minutes of chaotic yelling later, we were headed to town.They marked our thumbs on the way out to make sure that we don't go in again. 

Friday, September 08, 2006


The rain in Windhoek falls mainly in the north.  At least that's what Henry Higgins would have rhymed had he lived here rather than London.  I don't think it would have helped poor Eliza with her A's though.

Well, it happened.  The first rain of the season was yesterday and last night, although I wouldn't call it rain so much as drizzle.  The teachers here say that rain usually doesn't come in September, which means that the world is now coming to an end.

Sarcasm aside, I'm happy to see any weather at this point, and the fresh rain is a welcomed change.  As I type this the clouds swim overhead, some dark with moisture, promising more wetness soon.  I have to say that I'm actually looking forward to the summer.  Despite the scorching hot days, the rain makes up for it all.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ice Cream!!

I have a favorite ice cream shop now- Sardinia, an Italian restaurant downtown.  After getting finished earlier than expected Wednesday, I met up with a few volunteers who were in town for medical (Chris P., Chris N. and Cynthia) to have ice cream and watch a movie.

Myself, Chris P., Chris N. and Cynthia all enjoying ice cream on a hot day.

The weather recently has been getting hotter.  You actually sweat a little during the day and you no longer need blankets at night.  Summer is coming!

You may have noticed that my posts of late have been primarily vacation-oriented.  Now that school has started I hope to get "back into the groove" and start doing some serious work.  Seriously.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dams, Cones and Goofin'

Dams, Cones and Goofin'

Another week of hanging out, chillin' and otherwise not working...

Elissa, Myself, Angela, Matt, Janet, Andrew and Dan all enjoying some great Ethiopian food... again (for me).I don't know how this came about, but Mark, Dan and myself wanted to see just how bad corporal punishment was for the learners in Namibia.

Chad, Dan, Matt and Andrew all chillin' on the balcony outside the apartment provided by Peace Corps for those doing their mid-service medical exams.Tuesday was taco night in room 4.  Elizabeth was quite happy with her taco, but Broc doesn't look happy at all...This is the rear enterance to the medical flat.  As you can tell, it's pretty difficult to go in this way.
Elizabeth and Lindsay demonstrate how to blend into the local community while in town.Andrew,Dan, Mark, Matt, Pam, Snoti, Angela and Amy... three groups of PCV's collide on the streets of Windhoek: the result, a picture of course!Storm clouds on the horizon.  We actually got a bit of rain in parts of Windhoek last Saturday!

Thursday Janet, Matt, Dan and myself all walked to Avis, a small town outside of Windhoek to find the Avis dam.  With a little help from the Avis locals we were able to find it and spent some time dinking around.

Here's a shot of the dam.  It's pretty much like you'd expect... long cement wall.We jumped a tiny gate to see what was inside of this mysterious room with valves.Here's our group shot.  You can tell I just barely made it in the shot before the timer went off.
Dan was brave enough to crawl down into this hole. This guy knows no bounds.After climbing up a hill we, of course had to try to huck rocks to the water below.  I was the only one who managed it.  I rock.The water at the Avis dam is really bad- part sewage and part chemicals.  I wouldn't jump in this water even on the hottest Namibian summer day.

These towers are all over- no one seems to use them though.  

On Sunday Dan, Matt P. and I returned to the Avis dam to hike around the reservoir.  We had a good time on the hike.  Here's a few pictures:

We surprised a large group of baboons.  There were also two warthogs and a bunch of ground squirrels.  We felt like we were in a game park.
Here's the river tributary to the reservoir.I wasn't sure it was even safe to stand near this water... no problems keeping me out of it!Another shot of the water from the other side.
Some cliffs and water.  It was here that I skipped a rock farther than I've ever seen a rock skipped before... honestly.  I rock.  

Now, if you've gotten this far, you'll enjoy this last section.  On Saturday Matt P., Dan and I walked up to the "Cone" which is a large water tower up the road from my hostel.  The Cone also is host to several cell phone towers, police-band radio transmitters and microwave internet towers.  Suffice it to say that it's a valuable and closely guarded compound.  I say all this to give you an idea of what we felt when we noticed that the guard was nowhere to be found and the gate was unlocked.  Let the adventure begin...

Here's the "cone" and the gate.  Usually there's a guard standing here, but not this particular day...Imagine our suprise when we found that the gate wasn't even locked! Just held shut with a piece of wire!And the inner gate to the cone itself was also unlocked!  Imagine!
...So up we went!The cone is about 50 feet high: high enough to make taking this picture a very scary ordeal.Dan did eventually make it to the top.  His smile is not one of joy for the camera but rather relief at not dieing along the way up.

Here's the star at the top of the cone which is lit at night during the holidays.Some shots of the view from the top.  You can see quite a bit more than when you're just at the bottom.

Matt opening the hatch to the water.  It stunk pretty bad, but was full of water, putting to rest at last my theory that it is no longer used.