This is a long post, but made up only of photos and captions so I hope you find it fun and easy to go through during this busy time of year. You’ll see a bit about the work I’m doing and a lot from life in and around my home and some recent travels.
The town of Arandis would not exist but for the discovery of uranium nearby. Rio Tinto built the Rössing Mine in 1975 and 3 other mines have been established in the area, hence its self-proclaimed designation as the Uranium Capitol of the World. At one point, Rössing was considered to be the world’s largest open pit uranium mine. The town itself, just 12 km away, was created by Rössing to house the black miners brought in from the north of the country while their white managers lived 60 km away in Swakopmund. This was during the time of South Africa’s apartheid administration of the territory, known then as Southwest Africa. These two aerial images show how little the town has changed, physically, during the past 26 years. One change that you can see in the aerial photos is our new shopping center, home to the town’s second market, a bank, a couple of clothing stores and other assorted shops. I’m working this week on certifying a new meat and biltong shop as we continue to fill the complex with new tenants. Another new development is the Town Council-owned Trade Center with 11 retail and office units that we manage. There are two hair salons, a second-hand (pawn) shop, a bakery, and a laundry/dry cleaning business amongst others. I’m pleased to say it’s fully occupied and has a waiting list! Our newest development, celebrating its grand opening last week, is the town’s 3rd supermarket, part of the large Namibian chain of Woermann Brock. The regional governor and other dignitaries from around the country were in town on Friday to inaugurate the new store. To give you an idea of what we’re doing, here’s the aerial photo from 2015 against our land planning map (with the red outline showing the current town boundaries). Because we need time, funding and regulatory approvals, we don’t know how long this growth will take, but the commitment from our leadership is in place and most residents talk about the new vibe coming from the town. One goal of Arandis is to be “a town of choice” in Namibia. A critical task we undertake is to allocate residential and business plots to applicants when they become available. Here’s detail of a planning map for a new extension that has just been serviced with water, sewer and underground electricity. Of the 100 available plots, 50 have been allocated to several contractors to build spec homes and the balance will be allocated in January to applicants who may wish to construct homes themselves. Our applicant list for residential plots is nearly 1,000! New road construction underway near the shopping center. Everyone enjoys getting their picture taken! Another exciting development announced in October is the construction of a new 3.8MW solar power plant on the edge of town. Studies have shown that we are in the place on Earth that gets the most unobstructed sunlight throughout the year – perfect for such solar energy projects and this is only our first! I look forward to the day when we can be considered a renewable energy capitol of the world! The groundbreaking ceremony for the solar plant brought dignitaries from around the world – investors include South Africans and Germans – and we were proud to welcome them all! Before these special events, we held a day-long clean-up campaign in the town. A lot of work on the part of many but the facelift sure looked nice! A colleague asked me, “do you do clean up campaigns like this in America?” “Yes, we sure do,” I replied, “but we don’t light fires in our wake!”
When the learners are not in school or helping with our clean-up campaigns, they like to practice their dance and gymnastic routines. Kids will be kids!
Namibia has a lot of birds and bugs. The birds make their own homes but the bugs seem to want to share ours.
Photo credit: PCV Jared Public Service Announcement Someone asked to see my bike, on which I’ve taken many of my adventures. Here’s my trusty steed! But no suspension – ouch! Someone else asked if I did my camping alone or with others. So far, it’s just been on my own, though I hope to join together with others soon. Then again, I understand that not everyone is into camping… Besides biking, hiking and camping, I’ve also enjoyed some more domestic activities at home. For example, I’ve learned to bake bread… And make my own hummus! Nothing I do in the kitchen can compare with my talented PCV colleagues who prepared these delicious dishes for our Thanksgiving celebration together. Speaking of home, a few of you have asked to see where I live. It’s modest but has everything I need and is very comfortable. The favorite part of my home is the view of incredible sunsets from my front porch each night. Here are a few recent examples… I can’t believe how fast my time here has flown, so it was particularly nice when my PST host family passed through Arandis on their way to the coast for the weekend. Damien has grown taller and Kiara has grown camera-shy. Wonderful to see them again, even if just for a few minutes. On my way to a traditional Damara village wedding this past weekend, here was a roadside attraction that will never get old! The wedding reception included the entire village and a lot of visitors from around the country. Most are not shown here as they were in “the back room” where the food and drinks were served. When the party ended at 10PM, everyone headed out to the bride’s family’s farm to continue the celebrations around various campfires. These photos were taken the next day to help you get a sense of the expanse of “the farm” and the various gatherings of friends. At 4AM, I ended up sleeping in one of these tents (I don’t remember which one and no one else seems to care). The sleep was abbreviated as folks awoke again at 7AM to continue the party! The farm’s regular animals were safely contained while the party animals took over the farm for the weekend. On the way home, a rare sight in this part of Namibia: a double rainbow! An even rarer site: Santa in a holiday parade, riding a zebra! Photo credit: PCV Angel
Merry Christmas everyone!