Happy New Year!!

This year is quickly drawing to a close and it’s been a whirlwind, roller coaster, and tsunami all rolled into one big adventure. I talked a bit about what I’ve done, haven’t done this year, and what I intend to do next year in an earlier post, so I won’t recap here.

This post is simply to wish my family and friends, both old and new, a Happy New Year, and to offer a few suggestions for the coming year.

While my path involves what may appear to be exotic places and adventurous doings I’ll admit here, that, for the most part, it’s a 9 to 5 punctuated by the occasional “OH WOW!” moments. Many of you have just as interesting, and dare I suggest more interesting, though less far flung engagements and you should let others know what you are up to. So, I invite you to start a blog like this one.

Yeah, I know that there’s Facebook and Instagram, but I believe those places are less personal than a bonafide blog. Here you can offer up your insights, opinions, photos and other discoveries you encounter in your day to day journey without all the glitz. It’s just you and your readers. And really, that’s the interesting part. Letting people know that you and the people you meet are as human as they are, and vise versa.

So, make it a New Year’s resolution to create and keep a blog and invite your friends and family to subscribe to it. I think you’ll be glad you did.

When I say the term, “2018”, for an instant my mind defines that to mean a time in the distant future where space travel, flying cars and robot overlords are as common chewing gum on the sidewalks of New York. Yet, in a week, 2018 will be here and none of those things are common (they’ve been promised for years, but we may actually see all three within the next 10 years, if we survive the next 3). As much as the shenanigans of 2017 has dimmed the faith in humanity for many, I continue to find reasons to keep the faith because I firmly believe that we, all of us, are greater than the sum of each of us. (Did that come out right?)

In my family and friends, and a vast majority of the people I meet, I see a future of diversity over divisiveness, of acceptance over ignorance, of good will over ill will. I think it’s far too optimistic to believe, as the the Beatles did, that love is all you need. It’s far more realistic at this time to believe that tolerance is really all we need. You don’t have to love or even like everyone or their ideas. Just be and let be, and we may yet survive this.

So, with a hopeful and faithful eye on the coming months, I wish you all a joyful, prosperous, and adventurous New Year.

Stay Tuned,


Namibia: Merry Christmas!!

It’s been a bit more than 8 months since I sold my stuff, bided my family and friends goodbye, and boarded a plane with 15 other people who would become my ‘Namily’ here in Namibia.

Truth is, it doesn’t feel like 8 months, more like only 4. I don’t feel as if I’ve done enough, though my supervisor insists that I’ve made a difference. I have projects that I’m working on and am determined to make real headway in the coming months.

One such project I may have mentioned in an earlier post, Dreamland Gardens. The owners, Joseph and Elizabeth Makina, are hard working folks who are trying to make a business of growing vegetables here in the desert. Sometimes it seems that the cards are stacked against them. The biggest issue, as one might assume, is water. Oddly, there is water available, it’s just unreliable. When it’s not available everything dies and we have to start again. So, I’m trying to come up with ways to increase the reliability of the supply and more efficiently use what we have when we have it.

Spinach growing in Dreamland Gardens when we do have water

Another project is the Ûiba Ôas Miners. They are 50+ kilometers away and I have no reliable means to visit them, yet I need to help them somehow. The miners produce and sell raw semiprecious stones to tourists who stop at their kiosks on the roadside. There isn’t much I can do to improve that situation, but I think I have a way to increase their sales.

This petersite could make a great necklace!

The miners have equipment that lets them finish (turn raw stones into cut and polished gems) the stones they mine. The problem is that they don’t have the skills to finish the stones in ways that are aesthetically, therefore commercially lucrative. There is training they could take, but it would have to be tailored to them. So, that will be my focus for them.

Many other projects too, but that isn’t why I’m writing this post. What I really wanted to do was to send a big hearty THANK YOU to my family and friends who have supported me in my decision to do this Peace Corps thing.

The past 8 months has been a wild roller coaster of an adventure. I’ve felt the full spectrum of emotions, some I didn’t think I was capable of. I’ve seen and done things I know I could not have had I not boarded that plane 8 months ago. And the ride looks to be even wilder in the coming months.

And I’ve grown since coming here (not just in girth), and I feel that my path for growth stretches out in many directions, and all are positive.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the people who are the foundation of my social life, and who mean so very much to me. Again, to you I offer a deeply felt thank you.

To my new friends, those I have met physically and those I’ve met virtually, thank you as well. You’ve added to my adventure, and will continue to do so in ways I can’t imagine now. I hope that our meeting was mutually beneficial, and that our friendship continues.

To everyone, a Very Merry Christmas from beautiful Namibia.

And I hope that you will continue to…

Stay Tuned


Namibia: Cuisine

Meat! It’s what’s for dinner in a vast majority of Namibian homes.

When I first came to Namibia I stayed with a host family as part of the Peace Corps’ efforts to acclimate volunteers to their new environment.

My host family were transplanted farmer, they still own and operated a farm in southern Namibia, but choose to live further north and visit the farm from time to time.

They were also butchers. The day I arrived they had just received half a frozen cow, which was sitting, in parts, in their kitchen. For the following week their time was spend cutting up, packaging, freezing, and otherwise processing the cow. They got up early and worked until late in the evening. Often we wouldn’t have dinner until 10-11pm. And as you might imagine, the main course of every dinner was meat, in this case, beef.

It was a bit off putting at first for me. I wasn’t used to the amount of meat and how it was cooked and consumed. For instance, my American eating habits avoided large amounts of animal fat (except for bacon, which I’ll eat any time and anywhere), here that fat is relished. In fact, my host mother asked me several times why I would cut away the fat from my steak or chop.

Now that I’ve been in-country for 8 months I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the many ways meat is prepared and eaten. By far, the most popular way to cook meat is over hot coals. This is called a braai (pronounced ‘bry’), and while it may sound like our American barbecue, there are distinct differences.

Braai coals are created using local hardwoods. It takes 1-2 hours to get the wood reduce to coals suitable for cooking. The meat is prepared hours ahead of cooking. It is seasoned or marinated and then left to ‘age’ at room temperature. More on the meat in a bit.

Like barbecues, braais tend to be social gatherings, but unlike barbecues, that tend to occur on special occasions, braais happen on any occasions or for no reason at all other than to socialize.

I should mention here that there are different ways to braai. Around lunch and dinner time you can walk down many streets in every town and find a braai stand where you can order strips of seasoned beef to be cut up, cooked and served, usually with a type of salsa that I can’t seem to get enough of. More on the salsa in a bit.

Braais may also feature cast iron pots where meats and vegetables are cooked in whats called a ‘potjie’ (pronounced “po-tgeez”). The resulting savory stew is eaten with ‘pap’, a thick maize porridge that is eaten by hand. (Note that the three-legged pot is called a potjie, but the meal may also called potjies.)

My favorite type of braais are the social ones where a host or hosts provide a place and a braai pit and people come with whatever the want to share. The last few braais of this type I was asked just to bring whatever I wanted to drink (but you bring enough to share).

Social braais can have so much meat that it’s unlikely you’ll get to taste it all. You’ll see people’s plates stacked with steaks and chops of beef, mutton and game. You might find some pap and salad buried under the meat.

And every social braai has wors (pronounced “vorse”) (lengths of savory sausage). Wors is always cooked last, and when the wors is done, the eating starts.

The last braai I attended I wound up being the braai cook, which is somewhat of an honor. I’ve become adept at starting braai fires, which can be a bit of a chore in windy conditions. When I get back to the States I’ll be brining the braai idea with me, along with several recipes. One of which, I’m still perfecting, is for the salsa I mentioned earlier.

The basic salsa consists of finely diced onions and tomatoes combined with a savory-hot spice. To that I’ve added other ingredients resulting in a salsa so tasty I have Namibians asking me to make it for them. Some have suggested that I package it and sell it. I may just do that.

MEAT!!! Typical braai

Potjies. The white stuff is not mashed potatoes, it’s pap.

Strips of beef with my Salas

You eat with your hands!

So, to experience true Namibian cuisine you have to go to a social braai. Bring your own bottle and come hungry.

Stay tuned!