If I said that my life has been turned upside down I would be making a gross metaphoric understatement. But I’d say it as a good thing.
As of today (Wednesday, April 19) I have been essentially living out of two duffel bags since the last week of March, I’m essentially homeless, but man-o-man, what a ride so far. Let me recap.
The last time I updated this blog it was Saturday, April 15. If Saturday was a down day, then Sunday marked the true beginning of our in country Peace Corps training.
After lounging about earlier in the morning and enjoying a final breakfast at Penduka Compound, we loaded our bags onto a truck and climbed into buses for our hour long trip to Kukuri Conference Center in Okahandja.
The scenery along the way was beautiful. We passed through some of the oldest geological formations on Earth. It’s hard to think of mountains as anything but ancient, but on a geological time scale peaks like the Alps and the Rockies are kids compared to the worn and weathered formations in the Central Plateau region. We were on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, a highway that stretches from Botswana to the north vertically through the center of Namibia to Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a modern road being made wider, so our travel was smooth.
To my surprise, at least, we found our accommodations at the Andreas Kukuri Convention Center quite comfortable. Though each room could sleep four I had a room to myself. A good thing since I’m a restless sleeper, but it turned out to be not so good because the fan in the room clicked so loudly when running that I had to turn it off, leaving me at the mercy of tenacious mosquitoes. But this too is part of the adventure.
We rested and prepped for Monday.
The Kukuri Center we are allowed to leave the compound, but they recommend not going alone, and only to and from class. Wise in almost any new environment.
Our classes are held about 1/2 mile from the compound and they started throwing information at us at a blistering pace. It was tough for me because the hall we were in echoed badly and my hearing aids just couldn’t handle it. Turns out I wasn’t the only one suffering so they moved the training to a smaller room and I had no problem hearing. I still felt like I was drowning in info though, but at least I could hear it.
The Peace Corps does everything it can to make volunteers feel safe. They need to overdo it because most of their recruits are fresh out of college and may not be wise to the ways of the world. For an old guy who’s been around the block a few times the precautions seem excessive, but it’s best to warn loudly than to fix quietly. In that regard many of our classes had to do with safety: What not to do and what to do if you are in a fix. They also outlined the agenda for next 8 weeks. WE WILL BE BUSY! We have three major projects to complete all while learning a new language, moving in and adjusting to our host family environment and dealing with the mental baggage that comes with the prospects of being away from heart and home for the next 2+ years.
Man! I sure could use a glass of wine!!
To that point, there’s a small mall for shopping and a restaurant called Rhinos where PCVs (Peace Corps Volunteers) hangout. I’m told they sell good food, beer and wine. Unfortunately I may not get a chance to sample any of it because classes run from 7:30 to 4:30, often later, and we have mountains of homework with little to no fast access to the Internet! Life can be cruel!
Because I’ll be so busy and because I’ll only have my phone and a fairly costly data plan, updates to this blog will be done less frequently until I’m out of training 8 weeks from now. My updates also won’t so verbose. Words chews up data bits.
Please feel free, however, to ping me via WhatsApp or iMessage. My WhatsApp number is +1 (407) 405-3465, my iMessage number +264 (081) 475-1335. That last number is my Namibian mobile number. I don’t have to pay for incoming calls, but I’m at least 5 hours ahead of you, so I’ll take it as a kindness if you didn’t call me while I’m sleeping.
I’m writing this from a desk inside my host family’s home. Nice folks. Modest, but comfortable accommodations.
I gotta get to work.