q&a peace corps namibia edition no.1

After living in Namibia for a year, I constantly forget that friends and family back home still have many questions related to how I survive and function here.  I thought it would finally be nice to answer some of these questions for all you curious people out there.

Q: What do you eat in Namibia?

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A: Pretty much anything I can afford within my PC stipend. As a PCV, I am given a monthly stipend to buy essentials- food is obviously one of them. So, I am in control of many things I eat. My normal grocery list contains items such as bread, protein sources such as tuna, beans, or lentils (if the prices are right), vegetables, and chocolate. When produce is in-season, I typically purchase it from my neighbor, but all other times, I will buy from the store in my village or shopping town.

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Kapana and oshifima from the open market in Ongwediva.

 

When it comes to traditional foods, I typically eat those foods with my host family, because, I really don’t know how to prepare them well at all. Since my host family is large, there is usually more than enough to share. Some nights, I am in the mood for oshifima (traditional porridge) and ombidi (wild spinach), and my host family lovingly shares with me. I do enjoy trying new foods and traditional staples and snacks.

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On weekends, I may find myself away from site to run errands or visit volunteers. If I am in a town, there are typically a few decent selections of restaurants to dine at. Not necessarily chain restaurants, but some tried and tested places. Local hotels or guest lodges serve burgers, pizzas, or green salad, but it also comes at a high cost on a volunteer budget. Volunteers also enjoy cooking together.

Q: What is a koombi?

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It’s hell on wheels. Okay, it’s a large van. One or both of these statements are true.

A koombi is a large van which is a common form of transit when traveling across the country. For every koombi in this country, I have a comedic story to follow. Koombis are one of the most frustrating forms of traveling IMO. Most fit between 15-20 passengers, and drivers won’t begin the trip until almost all of those seats are filled. So, the trick is to get to the koombi early, but not too early, or you’ll be waiting for it to fill up. But, not too late, because then that means you may be on the road well after dark, and then the driver won’t take you to the location you paid for him to take you, and then you’ll have to pay for a taxi, but because it’s so late you’ll have to sit in a taxi for 45 minutes while the driver takes a nap waiting for more customers, then it will rain because it’s not dramatic enough unless there is rain…

Koombis suck.

Q: Do you shave your legs?

A: Sometimes, but not most of the time. I mean, as a PCV there is no requirement to do or to not do so. I personally have found it to be a chore these days than anything. I live on a homestead with an outdoor shower. So, shaving requires extra time for me to stand outside naked. I’ll pass. I could shave my legs in my room. But, then that requires me to make a trip or two collecting water to lather and rinse while trying not to end up covered in sand while doing so. No thanks.

Q: What time zone are you in?

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Namibia is in the West African Time (WAT) zone. During daylight savings time, most of Namibia moves to West Africa Summer Time (WAST) for the summer months (beginning of September to beginning of April in Namibia) so we share the same time as Botswana and South Africa.

So, throughout the course of the year, I am anywhere between 6-8 hours ahead of CST.

Q: What is the main religion in Namibia?

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Many Namibians identify as Christian. The two largest Christian groups in Namibia are Lutheran and Roman Catholic. Other religions practiced in Namibia include Isalm, Judaism, Buddhism, and Baha’i Fatih.

Q: Do people in Namibia speak English?

English is the official language of Namibia, although there are multiple langauges spoken in the country. During apartheid rule, there were 3 official languages of Namibia: Afrikaans, German, and English. After Namibia’s independence in 1990, English became the official national language. Although English is the official language, it is regularly spoken by a small percentage of the population and rarely the first language learned by Namibians. Oshiwambo and dialects of Oshiwambo are spoken in nearly 50% of Namibian households, followed by Damara/Nama (11%), and then Afrikaans (10%).

❤ Krystal

two months down.

Today marks 2 months I’ve been in Namibia. Tomorrow, I will officially swear in as a US Peace Corps Volunteer.

The last week has been jammed packed with meetings and presentations and special events to wrap up our stay in Okahandja.

Last Saturday, our group hosted a special American Culture and Host Family Appreciation Event.

Each volunteer split into groups based on the region of the States they lived in, and prepared favorite foods from the region

My group, the Southern group, made BBQ and sweet tea.

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That evening we held a black-tie event, which Jared and I had the opportunity to MC. I had a blast and felt like a celebrity.
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My host family attended the event as well. Each family was presented with a certificate of appreciation for hosting volunteers. My host siblings had a great time. They told me I looked like I was getting engaged. (We’ll talk about cultural norms in another post.)
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On Monday, I was elected as one of VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee) representatives for Group 43. As a VAC representative, I will serve as a liaison between Peace Corps Volunteers in Namibia and the Country Director as well as PC Namibia staff. I’ll also be able to voice interests and concerns among PCVs. I’m more excited to be able to be on the committee with Mandeep. He’s a CED (Community Economic Development) Volunteer. I’ve also been able to spend a lot of time with him during PST because we are in the same language group and we’ll also be living in the same region.

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Yesterday, we finally met our supervisors and/or counterparts for our permanent sites. I will actually be living and working with my supervisor in Ondobe. She offered a lot of insight for my primary and secondary projects once I get to site.

Plus a bonus: I’ll have Wifi!!

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Today, I’m picking up my outfit for swearing-in and packing, again.

Can’t wait to post pictures. Ya’ll will love it.

❤ Krystal

how i am overcoming my sugar cravings.

Libby's Birthday- Senior year of High School

Libby’s Birthday- Senior year of High School

Over the past few weeks, I’ve struck up several conversations with friends about how I decided to start working out, eat healthy, change my diet, find motivation, etc. I guess, I can only really say it wasn’t an easy task. I shared a little bit about my Aha-Moment, a few weeks ago, but that only scrapes the surface.  I guess with any addiction, the first step is to come out of denial, right?

I’ve always seen myself as an athletic “in-shape” person. I mean, I played a sport. I’m tall and slender. (Ok, I’m tall and could hide my weight really well, in most cases.) But, after a health check at work concluded I weight 181 pounds, I knew I couldn’t be hiding that much weight.

I had a major problem! Food! Not just any food. Foods covered in chocolate, caramel, or cheese, preferably. I’m almost embarrassed to admit. I would sometimes find myself indulging on a few Little Debbie’s only to realize the only thing left was me and an empty box. It is not the prettiest thing to imagine, but a guilty, very guilty pleasure. Some people find their “high” in drugs. I would find mine by eating as many Milk Duds as fast as I could before showing up to a dinner date with friends. It was sad. 

Christmas Party- Freshmen year of College.

Christmas Party- Freshmen year of College.


Awards Banquet- Junior Year of College

Awards Banquet- Junior Year of College

When I first began running in late 2010/early 2011, I still battled with sugar even though I had adopted a few better habits, such as running and working out more consistently. Due to this, I thought I had no reason to give up the goods. After losing quite a bit of weight, and transforming over the last 2 years, I realized one thing. Nothing more was going to change if I didn’t change. Yes, I was staying fit, but still eating a double chocolate brownie at lunch everyday didn’t balance things out. 

So, in late 2012 I began experimenting with several diets. Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Weight Watchers, etc. Then, in October of 2012, I found something that worked for me. After discovering Vinnie Tortorich’s podcast through a friend from work, I was very curious about the No Sugar, No Grain lifestyle. This is not Akin’s! When I first mentioned this to friends and family, they originally wrote it off as the Akin’s diet. Which it is not. No Sugars, No Grains is just that. Eliminating refined sugars and grains from your diet, which tend to rank higher on the Glycemic Index. These are also foods that are really “just silly.” 

Sugar was really the toughest thing for me, and to be honest, it’s still a daily struggle. I am in the process of moving, so it’s definitely been even harder for me to sit down and make a wholesome meal when beef jerky and trail mix with M&Ms taste so much better. 

Here are some tips I am incorporating to help really kick the sugar monster:

-Drink more water

-Don’t even buy sugar/sugar products (THIS ISN’T BRAIN SURGERY)

-Plan meals and don’t steer from them

-Get out and ride my bike or go to the gym

This is not a post to bash all things sugar, grains, or everything that melts in your mouth and dances on your taste buds. Like anything, in moderation is okay for you. Okay, most things, not anything. Use your best discretion.