Friday, March 27, 2009

Omeya oga pwina (the water dried up)

After a tumultuous few weeks where plans were never certain and floods were discussed at length, I'm now happily back in a very dry village. I spent a week with my friend Greg ( during the first evacuation and was able to experience life with another Owambo family. Although their lifestyle is, in many ways, very similar to my host family, it is interesting to note some of the major differences. We still ate Oshithima every night, but they use maize flour instead of mahangu flour. We speak the same language, but their dialect of Oshiwambo changes the pronunciation of J to G and AY to OH. Their homestead is still a labyrinthian construction of huts and fences, but there are several more cement buildings as well as, wonder of all wonders, electricity! Due to this foreign amenity, I was a little spoiled for that week, but it didn't even compare to the luxury of Evacuation Round Two! While I thoroughly enjoyed my mini-vacation at Greg's, I was eager to get back to my host family and learners. It's not that my teaching mentality was fading or that my soccer skills were rusting, because I actually taught some math classes for a busy teacher and played etanga after school with the learners. (etanga = ay tong uh = ball) But I was feeling the pangs of homestead-sickness and a little out of my established education element. It was difficult to say goodbye to the satellite TV soccer matches, the warm water bucket baths, the wonderfully cute kids who live with Greg, and my new class of grade eight learners, but I was able to return to my site and start back at school the following Monday.

My joyous return, however, was shortlived. Even though the heavy rains had ceased and there was much less goop to walk through, the higher-ups decided that all of the volunteers who live beyond a certain bridge should be evacuated to the 'safer' side. And so begins our adventures at the Seven Valleys ( The dreaded Angolan floods were again the source of all the trouble. The fear being that the aforementioned bridge would wash out and we would be stranded. So four of us were whisked away to the safety of the posh corps hotel, complete with air conditioning, hot showers, and buffet breakfasts! We could hardly complain, but as the rainless days piled up with no sign of the bridge collapsing, we started to get antsy. During the long obligation-free week, I spent my time playing computer games, watching movies, reading books, solving crossword puzzles, juggling, and thinking of the following witty puns appropriate to the situation:

(Note: omeya = oh-may-uh = water) I'm a bit beFLOODled by the extent of this unFATHOMably long evacuation. It's OMEYAzing that we haven't been sent yet, because the bridge doesn't even look that thWETened. WATER they so worried about? Ok that's enough horRAINdous wordplay for now.

Upon returning to the village, I was quick to get back into the Owambo swing of things. By then, the rainwater had almost completely dried up and reconstruction had begun on the damaged huts and fences. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to save the watermelons, so their juicy corpulent futures won't be realized this year. Other than the countless deaths of these immature fruitballs, there was no major damage to the homestead or the school. The learners did well, by Namibian standards, on their first math tests which included some Namibian-esque story problems. (That means the topics ranged from goats and frogs to Oshithima and omeya) I gave the learners that scored the best ten grades a piece of candy and they loved it. This week at school, the learners are busy writing penpal letters and are really excited to hear back from the American students.

Here are some quality excerpts: From a grade nine learner: 'I am a famous boy known not just that i am intelligent but also because i am always screaming a hell out of my voice and jumping up and down once there is no teacher around the corner or inside the class. I'm hyperactive.' From a grade ten learner: 'My name is andreas. I am sixteen year boy. My hobbies are playing soccer, dancing, signing, and reading book. I hate soft misic. I am a namibian.' From a grade eight learner: 'My favourite food is catapilla and makaloni and frog meats. Don't be scared by our culture foods.' So needless to say, this should be an interesting cross-cultural exchange!

Other than the evacuation, life in Northern Namibia is pretty simple. I wake with the dawn, walk to school, try and be a fun teacher, play soccer in the blazing heat, return home to a glorious bucket rinse, eat some fresh maize from the fields, read a book, practice Oshiwambo during the porridge dinner, and fall asleep to the drone of the mosquitoes.

As another red African sun sets, I'll leave you with one more highlight from last week. I got a package in the mail full of edible and intellectal goodies! Here's the first part of what I wrote to my fabulous friend: 'Owa ninga nawa nawa nawa nawa!!!! (you did good good good good! As they say in oshiwambo) Yes yes thank you so much for the package! It finally arrived after a month in transit and I am elated, ecstatic, and exuberantly excited by your excellent endeavor!
Everything inside is eternally essential!' So if you feel so inclined and have the time to send me some treats, be assured that I will promptly send you an email full of praise and personal updates.

Seeing as my thumbs are about to fall off from typing this whole entry on my cellphone, I think I shall take my leave from cyber-world and prepare to enter the malaria-medicine-dreamscapes.

Oshili nawa.


Ariel Kazunas said...

you're so very welcome! a real email will soon follow this - I have been rock climbing in Red Rocks, Nevada, for the past week with a quick stop in Seattle on the way home to see my family (my sis is in town for her spring break) so I've been out of email contact for a while!

Sasha said...

Parker, what kind of things would be wonderful or helpful for us to send you??

Holly said...

who was that grade 9 you quoted? Adreas in grade 10 is an AWESOME dancer by the way! Can you please tell them all I said hi and I miss them too much? kalaponawa

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