Sunday, November 13, 2005

Day 7: Omaruru

We walked downtown this morning after getting up a bit earlier than we wanted- 5:30. The various roosters and birds were just too much: there’s a pen right outside my window. There are some very weird birds here. One sounds like a crow, but much louder. There are plenty of the small cute ones that sing like birds in Disney movies, but they are easily overpowered by the larger, more annoying ones. One screeches a “Ak-ah-ooo” over and over until you feel like finding a gun to make some peace (and breakfast).

Omaruru is a small town of about two or three thousand. Omaruru means sour, which is characteristic of only the climate as the people here are very sweet. There is a downtown of perhaps a hundred buildings consisting of gas stations, coffee shops, grocers and hardware stores. We even passed a small hotel and security company. Security must be big here as nearly every residence we passed had electric fences around their yards and big huge dogs. I’m glad we didn’t ask where the laundry mat was; I think we would have been laughed out of town. Everyone hand washes their clothes there. I’m going to give it a try later today.

A bit on cuisine: We have had some of the weirdest meat here. Everything else is familiar: the bread (a bit tough, but good), vegetables, fruits (only in the nicer places), all arranged in stews and pies. The meat, though, is weird. It’s course, strong, and chunky. They eat a lot of fowl and goats, so either the saying “tastes like chicken” doesn’t apply to these animals, or they are prepared completely different to what I’m used to. Either way, the sausage is inedible, but the stews are wonderful: full of flavor. I’ve learned to resist the temptation when they lay out these big, thick, spiced sausages for breakfast.

It’s currently 8:00 am, and I’m sitting on a lawn chair in the middle of a courtyard full of sound. It’s like a zoo here; huge parrots, chickens, roosters, and array of wild birds, something that I swear is an owl, and every once in a while I faintly hear people singing and a flute. It’s about 65 degrees with a slight, nice breeze, the sky is a soft blue and the trees a faded green. A few trees in camp have large thick leaves and huge pea-pod like things that make subtle rattling sounds as the breeze shakes them. Most of the trees are typical desert fauna, big thick trunks snaking up to wide canopies that stretch out, seemingly to gather as much sun (or create as much shade) as possible. The ground is a hard shell covered by a thin layer of fine dust. In places the ground has been dug up, rock is exposed just inches below. This is definitely a desert.

Despite the climate, there are few things about this town that are different from any small American town. Most houses have electricity and plumbing. We were told the Namibia has the most advanced water system in Africa, if not the world. They actually recycle their water here! There are few, if any, water-born illnesses.

This Sunday morning, people are walking to church, being dropped off for work, doing a little shopping. Most of the shops are open. We saw three different coffee shops and one bar on our short walk into town. Everyone we passed was friendly. Omaruru is a nice little town.

Our accommodations are quaint, but pleasant. We sleep in bunk beads, four of us to a room. The beds have straw-stuffed mattresses and pillows. They are actually quite soft, but tend to hold their shape under our weight. The windows have no screens, so I stopped complaining about the mosquito nets. There is one toilet and shower for the eight of us in the first compartment. There are two other compartments that house the other guys. The showers are small rooms with a pipe sticking out of the wall about seven feet up with a huge shower head on the end. Outside the shower, a sink and 2 by 4 inch metal plate that serves as out mirror. The toilet is in another small room, and is pretty much a normal toilet.

I’m looking forward to this week’s training schedule and plenty of down time. We’ll be starting some language training and getting the final details about our sites before visiting them next week. We’ll also be getting some detailed medical training and going over more policies. But today is a break from the chaos, a short reprieve from facing our future challenges. It’s almost like a vacation today. Almost.

I was just informed that this is the only internet connection in town, and I think I’m the only one using it (so far). I’ll probably refrain making another post until mid week since mot much is going to happen; we are all staying in the same place for the whole week- what a treat!

So farewell for now. Please leave some comments below if you have read this post, I like to know who is checking in. Let me know a bit about what’s going on in the states. Did BSU win? Any more hurricanes? Is there still rioting in Paris? Has Bush been impeached yet?

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