Images of Life in Namibia

For 5 days last week, I shadowed Andy G at his work & living site in Penduka Village outside of the capitol, Windhoek. Originally from Sausalito, where he lived aboard his sailboat for 20 years, he came to Namibia as a Peace Corps CED volunteer last year and has settled in remarkably well. Penduka was established as a trust shortly after independence to provide income generating opportunities for local disabled women who produce jewelry, embroidery, batik and other artisan crafts for the local and tourist markets.

Quite uncharacteristic of most Peace Corps sites, Andy lives in The Bottle House, an art house constructed of mortar and recycled beer bottles. It sits alongside the banks of Windhoek’s reservoir, providing access to wildlife and beautiful views. Unfortunately, the village is located in a particularly dangerous part of town, requiring barbed-wire fences, a 24-hour guard and access to the rest of the city only via taxi or private vehicle. If you’re going to be constrained to a small homestead, Andy’s found as nice a place as I could imagine!

The kitchen at Andy G's Bottle House at Penduka Village. It is a true art house constructed of mortar and recycled beer bottles.
Andy G’s Bottle House at Penduka Village. It is constructed of mortar and recycled beer bottles.

The Bottle House at Penduka Village.

The kitchen at Andy G's Bottle House at Penduka Village.

The bedroom at the Bottle House

A view of the reservoir from the terrace at Penduka Village.
A view of the reservoir from the terrace at Penduka Village.

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We visited the Green Market in Windhoek where delicious food and beautiful crafts are on sale each Saturday morning.

Brightly-colored table clothes and runners at the Green Market in Windhoek.
Brightly-colored table clothes and runners.
Delicious Ethiopian coffee served at the Green Market.
An Ethiopian coffee shop.
Snacks or works of art? At the Saturday morning Green Market in Windhoek.
Snacks or works of art?

We dined at La Brocante, an old German-era theater converted into an antique store each day and a lovely pizzeria at night with live music.

La Brocante, in Windhoek, is an old German-era theater converted to an antique store during the day and a restaurant in the evenings with live music. A touch of Europe in Africa!
A touch of Europe in Africa!

“Shadowing” provided all trainees a chance to get firsthand experience of what our lives may be like for the duration of our assignment. While I shadowed in a “rural” part of the country’s largest city, some of my colleagues stayed with PC Volunteers in true rural environs: mud huts on homesteads, hand-carrying water for several kilometers to cook, bathe and do laundry – images that conjure up the classic impression of a “traditional Peace Corps experience.” One thing has been made clear to me throughout PST: while there are certainly hundreds of PCVs who experience this “traditional” life, there are just as many who land in what I might call a “new” 21st Century Peace Corps life. It’s nice to see the organization continue to let our host nations determine where we can best help them develop.


This past weekend was our last chance, before we finish PST and disperse to our sites, to climb Pride Rock. With all the “schooling,” these hikes have become my best form of exercise and a very welcome respite. I tried to bag another, taller peak nearby but found the bushwhacking through bushes and trees covered with sharp thorns too much for the allotted time. I hope to find my way on some future day to claim it as my own!

From the summit of Pride Rock, I can barely be seen on the rocks far below, scouting a route up an adjacent peak. I ran out of time but have new ideas for my next attempt.
In the rocky outcrops above Okahandja, the struggle continues...
In the rocky outcrops above Okahandja, the struggle continues…

Speaking of struggles, much of Namibia was overwhelmed by an unexpected series of thunderstorms yesterday. Today’s national newspaper included this photograph of a flooded street in my future home of Arandis. More specifically, this is my first glimpse of the Town Council office building where I will be working for the next two years!

Yesterday's freak rainstorms in Namibia caused flooding at my future office building. This photo made the national newspaper.
Yesterday’s freakish rains caused flooding at my future office building. Photo: The Namibian.

Author: Chris

Until recently, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia focused on Community Economic Development. Before that, I was a high-tech executive, small business owner, consultant and business broker.

4 thoughts on “Images of Life in Namibia”

  1. Hi I was a VSO 97-99 and built that house and also set up GRIP in Greenwell Matongo with the help of the locals, David, Bonnie and others and also constructed a brilliant outside bar/stage/theater in Windhoek at the art gallery with the help of the local Rasta’s. I”‘ve no photos of any of these wonderful times and would appreciate any photos you or others have could send them to me via e-mail. Thanks Paul X

    1. Hi, Paul – sorry for the delayed response to your comment. I have passed it on to a fellow PCV who lived in the Bottle House at Penduka for a couple of years. He’s now moved to Orangemund, but may know of what you speak and may have other photos to share as well.

  2. Thank you for this. I love glimpses back into Namibia. I was a PCV there (98-00) and still miss it. I’ve been back only once – for a wedding.

    I was one of those PCVs who had running water and electricity and I appreciated it very much. Just being able to have a simple bath with more than 3 cups of water – or without having to haul it from the local water supply and filter it – made my experience more about my school and less about my daily life. However, ever since, washing machines have become some of my favorite modern conveniences.

    I miss the people the most. My colleagues and students. The head of the local TRC (who is now at UNAM, I believe). My “foster brother/son” who lived with us until I left… and to whom I sent money every year until I couldn’t be sure he was still receiving it. I have been lucky enough to visit or keep in (light) touch with some of the RPCVs from my area or group. The woman I shadowed, who I later lived with, moved back to Namibia just under two years ago. If you ever have a chance, Heather Ross is a great person to connect with and is always willing to share her knowledge and experience. I am not sure exactly where she is situated but you can find her on the Namibia PC page on facebook – I’ve seen her post there several times and that is the reason your post appeared on my wall.

    Have a wonderful experience.

    1. Thank you, DK. Always nice to connect with RPCVs and others who’ve experienced this land. As you can tell, I’m still fairly new here and slowly but surely expanding my horizons beyond my desert home. So much to see and I can’t wait!

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