Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Independence in Windhoek

This past Sunday was independence day for Namibia and they celebrated the 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, and to enjoy the three day weekend, I met up with 6 of my friends in the capital, and it was a weekend of surprises. I suppose I’ll go in chronological order and try to keep it brief!
My first hike was wonderful because there was a baby in the truck with me. She spent the first 20 minutes giggling as I made faces and the next hour asleep in my arms. I was in heaven, as you can imagine. The next hike was less ideal, as I had to listen to a drunk man debate two high school boys about some of the stupidest things possible. The fact that I was sitting sideways and the smell of the man next to me’s feet, combined to make me carsick, which didn’t help. Fortunately one of the boys must have said something to the driver because after an hour he pulled over and yelled “teacher come sit here” so I got to ride up front, and he was very pleasant, telling me all about being born again and his job delivering papers.
I was the first to arrive, so I got to spend some time by myself with Jocie and Moses (my field director and her husband) which is a rare treat. I went to their house and had his infamous spinach salad for dinner and we just drank wine and chatted, which was awesome. She is currently in the middle of site visits, so I got updates on all of my friends too! I went back to the hostel to wait for the others and Kristen arrived just as I got there. We sat at the bar and waited for the rest and caught up. A brief aside- we stayed at a place called the cardboard box, which is a hopping place to be if you are a tourist. It was packed with college age people enjoying themselves, and sketchy Namibians trying to pick them up (our friend Phizel was there and we teased him endlessly about trying to find a white girlfriend). It was weird to hear so many American accents and to see so many white faces! Everyone slowly trickled in and after catching up (and meeting an obnoxious peace corps vol who rubbed all of us the wrong way) we made our way to bed.
Saturday we started with some shopping, for those of us who need to stock up before returning to the bush. We wandered around town for a bit and had a delicious lunch at our favorite cafĂ©. At around two we were at a bit of a loss for what to do, since everything closes at 1 on Saturdays, but we knew we wanted to just sit and talk more than anything, so we went to Moses’ uncle’s bar in Katatura. We spent the afternoon like most Namibians and started drinking early. We played pool and enjoyed the jukebox, made friends and shocked the people passing by who did not expect to see so many white people in the middle of shantytown… It was a lot of fun, and a very chill way to spend the day. We stopped off for dinner at an Indian restaurant (Kristen and Wes had been dreaming about it for weeks) and went to bed pretty early.
Sunday was independence day. We knew we wanted to see Moses perform, but thought we had a few hours (he was supposed to play in the evening) so we enjoyed a liesurely lunch and walk around town. Kristen, Jena and I broke off into our clique for a few hours to chat and have coffee and then we met up with everyone else at the celebration. There are two stadiums right next to one another and it was set up so that one had a concert with rotating performers and the other had a soccer match (Namibia vs. Botswana). We watched the second half of the game, enjoyed some music, and danced (which meant people for thirty foot radius around us were watching). Unfortunately, my friend Ashley’s purse was stolen by a group of kids, though. She got it back later but her camera and debit card were missing, which put a damper on the evening. We enjoyed some fireworks and Gal Level’s performance (the big name singers, also personal friends of ours, we’re so cool) and made our way out. Sadly, we missed Moses since he got bumped to an earlier time and was done before we even got there, but we enjoyed the other artists.
We met up with Jocie, Moses, and Tangeni at the hostel where we stayed during orientation. Sundays they have a braai so we enjoyed some food and hung out until Lenga (our Afrikaans teacher) showed up to take us out. We piled into a kombi that he had flagged down, and sang the Namibian national anthem (and the star spangled banner, just for kicks) all the way to a surprise destination, which turned out to be a different bar in katatura. We were a little hesitant but met his friends who were kind, fun and surprisingly non-sketchy people. We got to watch lenga rock out to some Britney spears (and other things, he is an amazing dancer) and eventually progressed to a dance club, along with our newfound entourage. We danced until the wee hours of the morning and all had an incredible time (I played matchmaker all night too, which was quite entertaining).
Sunday everyone made their way home. My trip was less than ideal, but this post is already quite long, and it’s not a good story, so I will just end here and wish you all a happy Namibian independence!

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