Monday, October 16, 2006

What A Weekend!

Wow, so much to say in such a short time.  I had a blast traveling this past weekend.  I started at Baumgartsbrunn Primary School (Irene's new site) to look at their computer lab and work on some problems with their office computer.  I then traveled to Swakopmund to work on the TRC computer lab and put my toes in the ocean.  Saturday I was off to Omaruru (again) to continue some work I started a few weeks ago at the TRC there.  And finally I found myself back in Windhoek on Sunday with five other PCV's.

Baumgartsbrunn PS & Middle Earth

Irene was moved to this primary school just outside of Windhoek due to problems at her original site near Gobabis.  The school is an old German school and is quite nice.  Recently the school got rid of grades 8-10 due to discipline problems and it now only goes to grade 7.

You can see the art work here on the outside of the classrooms.  It's pealing away, but it still looks nice.Here is the new library, or at least one wall of it.Lunch time.  Learners get lunch every day at the dining hall.

Here's the SchoolNet computer lab consisting of one server and six thin clients.  

The school grounds are very nice, decorated with gardens and trees.  There's a network of paths between buildings and very nice murals on some of the class room walls.  While it does appear to have fallen into disrepair, overall it's pleasing to the eye; a small oasis in the middle of the desert.

Irene has taken over the library there and revived it from the dusty mess it used to be.  It's now a colorful place that welcomes both learners and learning.  She teaches art/language classes in the library daily to most of the grades.  The first graders had a lesson on farm animals during my visit, which they cautiously enjoyed. 

Irene's flat. It's the smallest I've seen- and saying it's smaller than mine is saying a lot!Irene cookin' dinner.Irene teaching to the first graders
Irene, waiting for the line of first graders to make their way to her class room.This time she's teaching a 7th grade class.As the principle organizer of the running team Irene was scrambling to collect names to enter into the Swakop marathon.

It was great for me to see a primary school and class as I haven't had the chance yet.  Watching these little guys with their eyes wide and teeth-filled smiles was a refreshing sight.  Seeing Irene's passion and skill at connecting with these little ones was a welcomed reprieve from the anguish and stress I often endure in the world of computers.

The school has a successful soccer team.  During my visit a reporter from the Republikan (an Afrikaans newspaper) came to take pictures of the team that has won both trophies and hearts as a farm-school team in the big city.  They train on dirt roads without shoes several times a week.  Irene has worked with friends from the states to purchase shoes for the team, something they'll need as they run a team marathon in Swakopmund this weekend.

The soccer team, proud and bearing metalsHere's the photographer from the Republikan- it's a big deal to get a visitor like this from town!

It took all of two minutes to fix the Internet connection at the school, after which the principle called all the staff to the staff room to publicly thank me (and God).  One thing I never tire of is that hero's welcome and computer guy enjoys when fixing long-unaddressed problems.

After a day's work, Irene and I hiked out to an abandoned house 7k from the school.  It was an amazing sight, this old ruin of a mansion in the middle of no where.  It was complete with squeaky floors and bats in the basement.

The manson in all it's Haloween-ish glory...and what's a haunted manson without bats?  This one had several dozen 
Irene scouting the best route to descend this perilous cliff.We found this golf-resort like patch of short thick grass in the middle of a rocky canyon.Wine, PCV-style. Yes, those are yogurt cups we drank from.

After that we walked to a nearby dam and went on a Lord of The Rings-like journey over rocky crests, through barbed brush and over muddy waters to eventually reach a wonderful little grass field.  I felt like Frodo on an epic journey.  That night we recovered from our 15+k hike by eating some amazing chicken and bacon quesadillas and topping them off with chocolate & banana crapes. 

As all good things do, my visit ended at Baumgartsbrunn only to begin another journey to Swakopmund.  I got into town early and was able to get in a combi heading straight to Swakop.  Not having to wait hours in a combi while they pack more people in is quite a rare event in Namibia, so I felt like things were off on a good foot.

To The Ocean!

Swakop Pam; she takes Spanish lessons, joined a gym and runs more girls clubs and choirs than I can keep track of.

In Swakop I worked on some severely broken computers at the TRC.   Apparently someone (a local computer repair shop) had tried to fix them, failed and returned them in even worse shape 6 months later.  I found the problem to be with the hard drives and intend to return with new ones next month.  I did, however, get one of the four operational and connected to a copier, an accomplishment that produced yet another round of praise and smiles.

Pam (PCV in Swakop) and I enjoyed an amazing dinner of Macaroni & Cheese casserole and Saturday morning I was on my way to Omaruru.

Back To Ruru

After a very comfortable hike straight to Omaruru (again, nearly never happens) I fixed the few remaining problems on an administrative computer at the TRC.  Catlin & Wendy (PCV's) enjoyed the new Daily Shows I had brought and rewarded me with chocolate & cake.  We made (home made) chicken pie for dinner which was amazing.  It's odd how good of cooks we are all becoming...

Catlin and Wendy really dug the new Daily ShowsCatlin cutting into our home made chicken pie.  It was absolutly  
An empty Omaruru road at 6:50 in the morning.The road out of Omaruru.  Everyone that leaves town has to pass here, and in my one hour wait, all of three cars passed.Every time I visit ruru I get an amazing sunrise picture with Omaruru Mountain.

Sunday morning I hiked back to Windhoek, finding a free lift to Karabib (near Omaruru), and another free ride all the way back home (yet again, unlikely but warmly welcomed).

Home Again

In Windhoek Chris P. and Silas had stayed Saturday night and were staying again Sunday night.  CHris N. and Cynthia (in town just because) joined us while Mandy (in for medical) returned to the medical flat after dinner.

We all climbed the water tower and were worried about being caught by G4 security until while walking right past them, we realized they didn't care.  (obviously there's more to this story- send me an email to hear the rest)

The cone.  G4 security.  Long story.Chris and Chris on the cone.  Incriminating?  That's my job.Here's me looking at the storm that would soon make me believe I was out on the open ocean.

For dinner we made pizza which was the best I've made yet.  It went pretty quick with so many people available to work.  We also made some amazing brownies for dessert.  Honestly, with the food we make when we get together, who needs restaurants?

The gang: Chris P, Silas, Mandy, Cynthia and Chris N.  The pizza was amazing.Our wonderful pizza.  It took all six of us to pack in all the tasty goodness.Chris brought us some watermelon.  We all love Chris.

While making dinner Windhoek was hit by the largest most intense rain storm I've ever seen.  The rain was pouring down so hard that it created wind gusts that must have topped 40mph.  There were even rocks flying in the air! 

The storm of the century. Today at school, teachers talked about how they hadn't seen rain like that since they were in elementary school.

All this to top off an amazing weekend of work and play.  I feel so fortunate to be able to travel like I have been while still working at the school.  It's a great combination and keeps me energized.

This weekend I stay here in Windhoek to help out with a library fund raiser and run a workshop on computer lab maintenance (more on this later).

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