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

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

lets see how far i’ve come…

2013 has been a year of continuous growth for me. I’ve been through a lot of uphill battles and downhill slides this year, but continue to stand in awe of what has come to past this year. I’ve learned some new things, developed relationships, rekindled old friendships, moved on from unhealthy ones, ran a little, cried a little, forgave a lot, asked for even more forgiveness, and here I am.

When I created my 2013 goal list when started this blog last January, I had already set in mind things I knew for certain would be accomplished. Some things kind of fell to the wayside, but I will roll them over for 2014. For 2014, I will try to make my goals more measurable so that I can accomplish them to the best of my ability. In no way am I writing EVERY SINGLE ONE of my goals on this list. Some goals should be kept personal or shared on more of an intimate level. But, to the goals that I would like community accountability, I will share on MWA.

Twenty-Thirteen Goals:
Personal
Give time and money to those who need it more (I am almost embarrassed to have this as a goal, and even more embarrassed to consider checking this off. For me, I feel like I have been blessed with so much, and even in my times of struggle, I still have more than I need. I’ve had opportunities to give this year, and I think that God is continuing to test me in this area in my life each and every day. One valuable thing I learned this year: Some people spell the word “love,” T-I-M-E. Just spending time with someone can be a reflection of how much you care. So, for 2014, I will continue to show my love through time.)

Be more understanding (This is an understatement. For 2013, I tried to do a better job at relating more with people instead of expecting people to think and act like me. I’ve tried to take more time to listen than respond. If we’re honest with ourselves, there is something to learn from everyone.)

Stop jumping to conclusions about things (Still working on this)

Move closer towards professional goals (Back to school, back to school. Although challenging at times, especially after sitting through  my first semester of A&P, I have to continue  reminding myself it’s temporary and to stay strong. It’s going to be so worth it in the end.)  

Move closer to home (See, I told you! Some things had been decided before even writing my 2013 goals. In November of 2012, I had approached a few friends and family members about my thoughts of moving back to Texas. At the time, it was really nothing more than that. I began searching for jobs only to become discouraged that I would be moving back only to find another desk job to hate. Then, one day while listening to The Rich Roll podcast, I began jotting down notes on nutrition and several schools offering nutrition courses. I felt like I couldn’t write fast enough. And there you have it folks -the beginning of my journey into the world of dietetics.)

Read at least 12 non-fiction books (So, do my textbooks count? Can I count half-read books as a whole book? Needs improvement.)

Read my Bible or start (and finish) a Bible reading plan (Needs improvement.)

Volunteer (Check.)

Relationship
Schedule (at least) one date night a month (Discovered that dates are actually enjoyable when 1) The date likes you back 2) The date pays. Okay, okay. I look forward to dates with Josh. He always makes me smile and truly cares (or does a fabulous job pretending.) He’s the best!!!! You’ll hear lots about him in 2014.)

Have lunch or dinner plans with good friends once a month (Sometimes I take friendships for granted, and sometimes I’m just lazy. It’s too easy to be tired from work and only want to curl up in a ball and sleep. But, scheduling, in advance, a date on the calendar gives me fellowship to look forward to after a long week. I thank God for the friendships that I have in my life. At the end of the day, when everything could go wrong, I have an amazing support system and I wouldn’t replace that for the world. People are built for relationship, and I need to not take that for granted.)

Travel
Colorado (Check.)
Austin, Texas (Check.)
Las Vegas – GTC conference in April (Nope.)
Puerto Rico – Arbonne incentive trip in October (Nope.)
Missouri (Nope.)
North Carolina (Nope.)
Pennsylvania (Nope.)

Finances
Pay down debt (tackle student loan) (Work in progress.)

Fitness
Hit Goal Weight (Once I started to get closer to my “goal” weight, I realized I didn’t really like how my body was looking. I was so stuck on being a certain weight, I didn’t really factor in anything else. This year, as I continue to work on my fitness, I will experiment again with how I want to look and feel.)

Run/Swim/Bike 2013 miles this year (Drum roll please, 572.47 miles. It’s not 2013 miles. It felt like 2013 miles. This  is a rough estimate because I wasn’t very organized in recording my distances. I wrote them down on anything I had available at the time, and some miles (not many) weren’t recorded. In saying all this, I could have ran, swam, and biked the distance from OKC to DFW 3.71 times in 2013. That’s pretty cool.)

Train and complete a 1/2 Ironman distances triathlon (Sidelined this summer due to knee injury. Although, I think this will in the future, it won’t be in 2014.)

Nutrition
NSNG (Been off track for the majority of the year, especially after I moved and started school, time to incorporate this again)

Remember to take my vitamins (It’s clearly a miracle that I can somehow get a 30-supply of vitamins to last over 6 months. Does anyone has suggestions of remembering to take vitamins?)

Get enough sleep and drink enough water (There we go with measurable goals again. Also, the irony that it’s after midnight as I type this.)

No fast food in 2013 (Is anyone else still laughing about this? I’m human. I guess, I think I’m not sometimes.)

Here’s to 2014!!! New Goals here!

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