Thursday, 21 July 2011

Arrival


"It's pronounced veeeeeendhoooook" replied the official at Johannesburg airport, as I told him where we were heading onto.
"Ah... thanks," I replied
"Is that your guitar? Can you give us a tune?" He motioned towards the case I had tucked by my side.
Having not slept much for the 10 hour flight, I doubt that I could've found the E string at that moment if you'd reminded me there were two on the guitar. So I said the only thing I knew would put him off hearing me play.
"I do a stunning rendition of Kumbayah."
"Kumbayah is over-rated" he replied, quickly handing back my passport and waving me through.


It's been a fabulous week so far: arriving in Namibia was an amazing moment after spending 26 hours travelling from Cardiff. Stepping off the plane into the heat and the stunning Namibian landscape brought the same excitement as seeing India for the first time as fresh-faced 19 year olds. We were met off the plane by VSO and brought to our apartment in Windhoek, given coffee and breakfast items, and then went out for dinner with the other volunteers who had also just arrived: three lovely Dutch ladies and a gentleman from Uganda.

Having lunch at the guesthouse

The VSO training has been comprehensive. So far, we've been briefed on security, culture and working relations, and the infamous 'drop-off': volunteers are dropped off in the middle of the Katatura district with a list of three locations we had to visit and people to talk to, before making their way back to the VSO centre. If the VSO staff were annoyed that my group took over three hours to complete the task (2 hours longer than planned: we were having a lot of fun talking to
people and getting to know the area), they didn't show it, but calmly explained that we might have to condense the next sessions. The VSO staff here at VSO Namibia are amazing, amazing people and we feel very supported.
Coming in to VSO Namibia's base

So we've finished our first week of in-country training and tomorrow are heading to our placements to meet our colleagues and see where we will be working for the next year. Alex and I are a little nervous, of course, we want to make a good impression. I will be starting work full time next Monday, Alex will start mid-August, and we both will work for a year. After not working for the last nine months - which has been both necessary and allowed us time to travel - it will be great to return to work.

We've also been introduced to Namibian food - very meat-based but I've been really pleasantly surprised by the vegetarian options. Windhoek is very well supplied by supermarkets so I've
had no problems with getting vegetables and other bits to cook at home. Even at the barbecue held at VSO, staff very kindly made me a lovely feta, peppers and mushroom dish. In the middle of the week, the VSO volunteers already based in Windhoek organised an evening out, which gave us a chance to meet them: all very passionate about the country and their placements, and full of useful information. We've started looking for a car to buy, as there's little public transport to many areas, and many volunteers testify to how useful it is to have a car here.

Alex and I have also started learning Afrikaans and we're hoping to get a tutor or do a course. We've also popped by the Goethe Institute here in Windhoek in the hope of continuing our German courses. Windhoek is a very modern city, and there isn't anything you can't get here. What is noticeable is the high prices for many items, which are imported, relative to local salaries.


It looks like the next year will be busy and challenging! We're really looking forward to getting started now that we've managed to kit out our flat a bit and have settled in.

Of course, we're thinking of family and friends back home too - we hope you're all well and ok! And thanks to those who are organising coming to visit already...
Our flat in Windhoek

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