i’m home.

I hope you haven’t taken my absence from Moving Wright Along too personal.

On May 24, 2018, I said my “see you laters,” to friends, family, and colleagues in my village in Namibia. It’s crazy to believe that two years of my life came and went just like that. I can vividly remember my first night in my community. I sat down on my bed in my new home and had an “oh sh*t” moment. What had I done? To say I am so happy to have completed my Peace Corps service is an understatement because there were many times and many reasons I wanted to book the next flight home.

After a “treat yo self” mini vacay in Johannesburg, South Africa (I hope to post about that soon), on May 29, I hauled 80 pounds of my most valuable Namibian possessions and traveled 8,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean, back to Philly. Ironically, where my entire Peace Corps journey began.

I surprised my family by arriving a week earlier than they expected. That was FUN!

As you can imagine, Moving Wright Along will no longer be a place where I talk about my Peace Corps service. I will, however, archive my Peace Corps service posts for y’all (once I figure out how to do that and not clutter this space).

As many of you know, I have been accepted into the Nutrition and Food Science Graduate Program at UCO. In a few short weeks, I will begin the final leg of my journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian. While I have taken a longer route than most it was the (w)right one. (You see what I did!)

I can’t wait to share my graduate school life with you on Moving Wright Along, as well as all my Trader Joe’s and Aldi hauls on IG. I considered starting a new blog and site for my nutrition journey, but I have branded myself with my blog, and letsbehonest… it’s a pretty good name.

So, if you are interested in hearing me talk about food, food, and more food, please stick around and share my blog with friends and family.

❤ Krystal

down by the river.

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The Kavango River: separating Namibia from Angola.

It still amazes me how different the landscapes are as you travel through Namibia. This weekend I spent some time in Rundu. I knew I was getting closer to town when I saw vivid green foliage, traces of water from recent heavy rains, and elephant crossing signs. Yes, seriously. I live in a country where elephants and people can cross paths (although, it wouldn’t be a great idea). How crazy is that?

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One of the many beautiful peacocks roaming around Camp YEAH over the weekend.

Each year volunteers in the Kavango Region host Camp YEAH. YEAH stands for Youth Exploring and Achieving in Health. The camp focuses on educating youth about the risk of HIV/AIDS and other issues affecting youth such as teen pregnancy. Volunteers and counterparts select motivated learners from their communities to participate.

This year, we will be introducing this camp to Ovamboland, creatively rebranding the name to Camp O-YEAH. Camp O-YEAH will be held during the first week of May. I have been put in charge of getting all the kitchen/nutrition stuff in order for camp. Since this is my first time being on the operations side of any camp, I figured this was a great opportunity to check out Camp YEAH, but also see how a camp kitchen is run.

When I completed my dietetics degree, I never thought I would use any food management concepts again. Not because I would never need to, but because I never wanted to EVER again. (Never say never, my friends!) I fell in love with the community health aspect of dietetics, and not so much with the food management or clinical side of it. Dietetic professionals know that creating menus to feed the masses takes a lot of time, math, tears, and preparation. Move to Namibia and add in converting everything from US to metric, and it turns into one heck of a good time.

I watched as a team of two volunteers with the assistance of a few locals cook and serve three meals per day to approximately 50 campers and staff. I was thoroughly impressed and mostly relieved that some school kitchens in Namibia are equipped with appliances found in commercial kitchens in the States. (They had a tilt skillet, y’all).

Mariah and Winnie cooked and introduced delicious new foods to the campers while reminding volunteers of the yummy foods we sacrificed for two years.

 

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Delicious cheese…oh, and chili.

 

For me, planning six days, 17 meals including 5 tea breaks, and 50 expected attendees will make anyone want to pull their hair out, but I think it will turn out just fine.

 

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Speaking of hair, do you like my new style? Can’t beat a new look for $10 USD.

 

❤ Krystal

 

rustlin’ up some grub.

There are a few life lessons to be learned from watching The Lion King. Particularly, “grubs are slimy yet satisfying.”

Every day of my PC Namibian life is an adventure. I learn so much from the children I share a home with. They are so adventurous and fearless. But, aren’t most children?

Yesterday’s adventure led me to oshuungu from a nearby mopane tree.

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In many countries, edible insects, such as grubs and caterpillars offer a source of nutrition as well as income. Dried mopane worms have 2-3x more protein than beef by weight. 100 g of dried mopane worms contain about 430 calories and 50-60 g of protein. For comparison, 100 g of cooked beef is about 290 calories and 25 g of protein. Since mopane worms feed on healthy green foliage, they contain many of the required vitamins as well as significant amounts of fat, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and other minerals.

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My host siblings think it’s funny when I do things that really only children do in the village. Things such as running barefoot through puddles, hanging upside down from trees and getting excited to gather oshuungu provide pure entertainment and laughs from all.

Over the weekend, my youngest host brother, Mengela, was out playing and came home with branches filled with plump mopane worms. I begged him to take me next time. Ask and you shall receive.

On Monday, Mengela escorted me to the mopane tree where he had collected his harvest. After giving him a boost into the tree, I stood below, nervous yet excited to collect my very own mopane worms. As Mengela climbed from branch to branch, I stood to assess the tree for worms at the ground level while collecting a few (okay, one) mopane worm(s) in my reach as Mengela climbed his way up and through the tree limbs.

He climbed higher and higher, yelling, “Meme Krystal take,” and as he tossed down branches with mopane worms munching on the bright green leaves, something dawned on me.

“Mengela,” I shouted, “are there snakes in this tree?”

“No,” he responded firmly from above.

Not even a minute later, I saw slithering movement from the corner of my eye.

“Mengela, it’s a snake,” I squealed.

I watched as it dangled from a lower tree limb trying to hold on. But, it was too off balance and dropped to the ground. Once on the ground, it’s lateral undulation caused it to quickly blend into the grass below.

I ran quickly away. Everyone is safe.

Here’s a recipe for mopane worms:

After cleaning, heat oil in a pan and fry your mopane worms until their done.

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❤ Krystal

 

stop saying, “there are children starving in africa.”

You’ve probably heard this a time or two growing up as your parent’s way to guilt you to join the “Happy Plate Club.”

I may even be guilty of repeating this.

There is so much harm, confusion, manipulation in this statement.

What is the message we are trying to relay?

Children starving so let’s help them by eating all your food.

Do you want to become a starving child by skipping one food group?

Why Africa?

Africa is a continent. Namibia, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mali, Zimbabwe and 46 others are countries in Africa.

I don’t have children, so I honestly could be speaking out of turn, but I do not think to teach our children (nieces, nephews, cousins, etc.) that disparities such as hunger, HIV/AIDS, rape, child trafficking, only happen to other people in other places on the globe. I think this is why so many of us lack compassion. We have the illusion that these problems are never our problems.

Here’s the thing. Yes, there are starving children in ugh– Africa. But, there are starving children in America.

If it’s one thing I have learned living in Namibia, is that Namibians don’t waste food! Foods that may seem taboo to most Westerners are edible and eaten here. I’ve tried cow lungs, chicken feet, along with an unidentifiable mutton curry and people I encounter on a daily basis are not starving or malnourished. They simply use everything God has given them. They don’t waste.

We need to stop using this statement as a scare tactic to have children not waste food. It’s insensitive and caters to a false stereotype about Africa. Africa; Namibia, and other countries have their problems, but America does too.

I can only imagine the tables turned and a parent telling their child, “Finish your food, there are wasteful children in America.”

bountiful harvest.

Mahangu, porridge, pap, oshifima. Chances are you will see me use these words a lot over the next two years.

Mahangu is one of many traditional foods in Namibia. It is prepared in some form or fashion in most Namibian households. On my homestead, it’s used daily to make oshikundu (a traditional drink) and oshifima (a stiff porridge used as you would a dripping bread).

 Several times throughout the year, my host brothers head to the farm to harvest mahangu. They have been at least twice since I’ve moved in. All I know is 1) “The Farm” is very far away 2) Harvesting mahangu is very, very hard work. Mahangu is harvested and then pounded down to create a flour-like product which is then used to make oshifima.

Before I get too ahead of myself, here are a few Cultural Fun Facts I wish I would have known sooner, and I am sure other PCVN can relate.

Fun Fact #1– It is considered rude to smell your food before you eat it. Still trying to break this habit.

Fun Fact #2– It is rude to refuse food. You can usually say something along the lines of thank you, but I ate, I am full.

Fun Fact #3– It is traditional to wash your hands before you eat (and also hygienic). At a family meal, we pass around a wash basin filled with soap and water for us each to wash our hands.

Fun Fact #4– You should only eat oshifima with your right hand. Whoops again!

Fun Fact #5– When offering a homemade food or drink, it is customary to taste it in the presence of the person. It shows that it is indeed nawa to consume, kinda like a modern-day wine bearer, but of your own offerings.

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Making porridge to feed the pigs. Every man, woman, child and animal eats mahangu around here.

 

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I should really stop becoming friends with potential Namibian entrees.

This weekend my host family celebrated a season of a bountiful harvest of mahangu.

We all gathered around the coffee table.

We feasted on oshifima and goat meat.

It was delicious.

I can compare this experience to what we do in America on Thanksgiving. It’s a huge celebration. There is singing and prayer and lots of laughter.

Unfortunately, my host mom was not home at the time due to a death in the family. So, my host sister, Lucia prepared most of the meal with the help of my brothers to braai (similar to BBQ) the goat meat.

As we sat around a crowded coffee table rejoicing over the abundance of oshifima and meat for dinner, I began to realize how thankful I am for a family who has accepted me into their house as their own.

Although there is still a period of transition for me between Fort Worth to Okahandja and now Ondobe, I am at HOME.

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❤ Krystal