Images of Life in Namibia

Life in Arandis is racing by – I can’t believe it’s mid-August and that I’ve been here 7 weeks already! My first three months on site are designed to help me integrate with my new community and my work colleagues – that is all happening very nicely. To ensure that we maintain that focus, Peace Corps does not want us to venture too far afield or take any vacation time away. That’s not been a problem as there are plenty of things to see and do around town and within the Erongo Region. Here are some visual vignettes for you to enjoy…

Kids "shooting" palm nuts in Otjimbingwe with very accurate throws!
During a weekend trip to nearby Otjimbingwe (just 3 hours away) with some fellow PCVs, the local kids showed of their accuracy when “shooting” palm nuts for an afternoon snack.
02 Local swimming hole
Technically, it’s winter, but it was plenty warm as we explored the town. The kids always find a way to cool down at their local watering hole – yes, the top of the tank is open!
This historic town's main historic artifact is the Powder Tower. In truth, Namibia's history is a collection of the histories of various tribal and ethnic groups, most of whom immigrated from elsewhere on the continent over many centuries. In the mid-19th Century, the Hereros had their administration base here in Otjimbingwe. There's not much to show for it now, but the people retain a collective memory of its significance.
This historic town’s main historic artifact is the Powder Tower, built in 1870 as a fortified armory. Namibia’s history is more a collection of the histories of various tribal and ethnic groups, most of whom immigrated from elsewhere on the continent over many centuries.
One such group is the Hereros who based their civil administration in the mid-1800s here in Otjimbingwe. Visually, there’s not much to show for it now, but the people retain a collective memory of its significance. We met these two Herero women one evening.
Education PCV Leah, our host for the weekend, introduced us to many of her eager learners. There's not much else to do in their town on the weekend, so they hang out... at the school!
Education PCV Leah, our host for the weekend, introduced us to many of her eager learners. There’s not much for the kids to do in their town on the weekend, so they hang out… at the school, and with their books!
Representatives from Arandis traveled to the nearby town of Kalkfeld (just 2 1/2 hours away), are were greeted with warm hospitality!
In another nearby town, Kalkfeld (just 2½ hours away), representatives of Arandis (on the left) were greeted with warm hospitality by local members of the Shackdwellers Federation. This is a country-wide, grass roots “savings club” that helps low-income people learn how to set money aside for future home investment – and to move out of the “shacks-in which they once dwelled.” Of course, this being Africa, no welcome is complete without music! The members of the Kalkfeld Shackdwellers sing to us about their organization…
08 Simplest design
Some Shackdweller structures are the simplest of designs, but considerably safer and more functional than their old tin-roof shacks had been.
06 Expanded home
And the modular design allows residents to enlarge their initial plans or to expand them down the road.
This grandmother proudly shows off her home, including the new expansion in process. She made every brick and assembled it entirely on her own. With running water, sewer and electricity, the grandkids who live with her have a greater chance for health and wellbeing than she did at their age.
This grandmother proudly showed off her home, including the new expansion underway. She made every brick and assembled it entirely on her own! With running water, sewer and electricity, the grandkids living with her have a greater chance for health and wellbeing than she had as a child.
The Kalkfeld Shackdwellers and Arandis officials and residents photo stop in front of another new home.
The Shackdweller members of the two communities join Arandis officials to commemorate the past success in Kalkfeld, and to commit to similar success in our town.
In a great example of corporate social responsibility, Swakop Uranium Company celebrates the donation of school uniforms to Arandis' primary schools. Even with this year's introduction of free education for all Namibian children through high school, many families struggle to pay for basic school supplies or the required uniforms.
In a great example of corporate social responsibility, the Swakop Uranium Foundation donated school uniforms to Arandis’ primary schools in a public forum. Even with the introduction in Namibia this year of free education for all children through the high school grades, many families struggle to pay for basic school supplies or the required uniforms.
In another celebration, colleagues at work said goodbye to one who was moving to another part of the country (on the left) and another who had reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 (not shown). He's planning to move to his family farm, living on a modest pension, and making way for a younger worker to join our staff in his place.
In another celebration, colleagues at work said goodbye to one who was moving to another part of the country (on the left) and another who had reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 (not shown). The latter also happens to be a “headman” (read “Chief”) in his traditional village, so he’s excited to return to his family farm, live on a modest pension and make way for a younger worker to join our staff in his place.
My weekends home are usually pretty quiet. One recent weekend was a major exception, however, as the entire town hosted dozens of friends and family from around the country to a wedding. My little bungalow had a lot of neighbors, but since I was invited to attend, I had no complaints!
My weekends at home are usually pretty quiet. One recent week was a major exception, however, as the entire town hosted dozens of friends and family from around the country to a big wedding. My little yellow bungalow had a lot of visiting neighbors, but since I was invited to attend the festivities, I had no complaints!
The community hall was unrecognizable from its normal decor but the big reception (about 300 guests!).
The community hall was unrecognizable from its normal decor for the big reception (about 300 guests!). And, of course, there was music and dancing – even by the Damara memes!
As fun as the wedding (and the neighbors) were, I was pleased to get my quiet hammock back on the Sunday afternoon!
As fun as the wedding (and the visitors) were, I was pleased to get back to my quiet hammock on Sunday afternoon and enjoy another beautiful Namibian sunset and moon.

17 Sunset & new moon

My local bike shop (just 1 ½ hours away): Mr Elephant's Bike Garage outside of Swakopmund.
On another weekend, I finally found my local bike shop (just 1½ hours away) and bought a secondhand mountain bike. Thanks to Mr Elephant’s Bike Garage, outside of Swakopmund, I can now cover a lot more ground in the surrounding desert!
Mr Elephant works and shares stories with his regular clientele.
Mr Elephant replaces a tire and shares stories with the regulars outside his shop, a repurposed shipping container.
Mr Elephant himself
Mr Elephant…
Swakopmund has a touch of Europe, even down to the ironic comments...
Swakopmund has a touch of the west, even down to the ironic comments…
Can't afford to eat out much, though, so I rely on local fare like South African Chakalaka.
While Swakop has a lot of restaurants, the budget of a PCV doesn’t allow us to eat out very often. And my vegetarian diet forces me to try new local fare such as South African Chakalaka, which I eat over brown rice for a tasty meal!
In one direction, the Atlantic ocean 1 km away (through the coastal fog).
On a foggy day, 30km north of Swakopmond and just 1km inland from the Atlantic ocean (barely seen here though the mist), I had the rare treat of visiting the largest desaflination plant in Sub-Saharan Africa. Undrinkable seawater is pumped from one direction…
In the opposite direction, a pipeline heading 60kms into the desert, carrying fresh desalinated water.
… and on the opposite side of the plant, another pipeline carries clean, desalinated water deep into the arid desert. The concrete tank seen in this photo stores water just temporarily – it fills up in 30 minutes with the plant’s current 24/7 capacity. At its designed capacity, it will fill up 4 times as fast!
I got to watch our local soccer team win the last game of the season to earn advancement to the region's 2nd division. While a small town, there was a good turnout of several hundred people to cheer The Bucks on! Off-season now, with play picking up again in October.
I enjoyed watching our local soccer team win their last game of the current season to earn advancement to the region’s 2nd division next season. While we’re a small town, several hundred people turned out to cheer for The Bucks! Play will pick up again in October and I intend to wear their colors (along with Liverpool’s and the Earthquakes, of course).

Hard at work aligning goals and activities

Hard at work
At the Town Council, my colleagues and I have been working hard lately, aligning goals and activities with our strategic plan.

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.

One thought on “Images of Life in Namibia”

  1. Hey Chris! Great to read an update. you look happy and well and your days are jam packed. So far so good.
    School is about to start for Natalie Scott wants to head back 9/14 to set up his rental house w 4 other guys
    School starts 9/22 so I am sure they will need to throw a few parties to break it in

    I am driving up the coast to SF today a thrice delayed trip to clear my head before post labor ramp up consumes me. Will miss having a coffee with you mid route but happy this is going so well.

    Take care and keep the updates coming.

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