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