To accompany the most recent Damaricans video where we showed everyone clips of our town and our wanderings, I wanted to take you through a typical work day in word format (a few pictures included for funsies). This is certainly not inclusive and the diversity of the types of days I experience is astounding, but I have included some of the more interesting or ridiculous parts of my last 10 months living in Namibia. I have also included the link to our YouTube channel and our “Day in the Life of a Damarican” at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!
6:30-7:00 am (no alarm clock needed) : Wake up to my cat either biting my toes or munching on a friend fish head that she stole from my dinner with my neighbor the night before. Spray her with the water bottle and fume about how I have to find something else to eat for breakfast now that the fish head is gone.
7:00-7:59 am : Grind beans of choice using my hand coffee grinder (thanks Kelsey and Craig!) and boil water after deciding whether to unplug my refrigerator or my neighbor’s electricity from the four adapters coming out of one outlet. Try not to burn the flat down or cause an explosion by a circuit catching fire (again). Drink coffee and write in my handmade journal from DanaMom that is slowly running out of pages. Bucket bathe in my shower that leaks constantly and flooded my place before I attached a hose piece to send the water out of my shower window. Attempt to flush my toilet that I know will not flush, yet still hope for. One day. Walk 200 feet out of my door to the office I share with my neighbor.
8:15-10:00 am – The office opens on “African time” and I get to the office where I set up my things for the day on the corner of my colleague’s desk. Try not to knock anything over or kill the wifi by being in front of the antennae on her computer. Check emails, catch up with colleagues, greet everyone in about 4 different languages, laugh about something we read in the online newspaper that we read daily. Say hello to everyone who walks by my window and sees a white person, tell them that I do not speak Afrikaans and make their eyes go wide when I greet them in Damara. Try not to be offended when they say “ayyiiiiiii! /husa ge Damara !hoa, etscheeeee” (ayiiiiiI! white girl speaks Damara, etscheeeee).
10:00-11:30 am – Power goes out unexpectedly. SMS a few people in different locations of town, trying to figure out if it is just at our Ministry or town-wide. Most likely discover that it is just our Ministry and a miscommunication about a bill (or four) being paid. Determine if I think the power will be out for a few hours or a few weeks and whether or not I need to transfer my cold food to my site-mate’s flat so that it does not go bad. Decide to stick it out and hope for the best. Sit outside with colleagues, answering questions about my opinions of the LGBT community (in lesser phrasing) and what a “boy who is a girl” is (transgender), why I chose to live in a place like Khorixas (I did not) and when I will start dating a Damara man so I can learn the language more (I will not). Try to read a book but get distracted by the man who lives in a shack in the settlement behind the location who comes to the office thinking he is the Director of the Ministry. He usually wants me to fax or sign something, or give him the receipts for the multi-million dollar program I am “helping him work on.” Calm him down after someone upsets him or security removes him. Ponder about what his life must have been like before the mental illness took over. Thank whatever higher powers there are that he is sweet and non-violent.
11:30-1:00 pm : Contemplate how hot it is getting and whether or not I will do yoga or go for a run later. Probably neither, since the blazing sun’s death rays don’t go down until almost 8:00 pm. Check time regularly to see how close lunch is. Scream hysterically and stand on top of a chair while an 8 inch long spider casually crawls into the office and almost mountain climbs up your foot. Wait for your colleagues to calmly herd it outside with a rake while wearing a club dress and 8 inch high pumps. Admire the spider’s pink color from afar and run around trying to take a photo of it without getting too close again. Get stared at for being white again. Explain that I do not speak Afrikans. Amaze someone by greeting them in Damara. Fend off proposals for me to marry their son (or cousin or brother or father). Check the time again, hoping for 1:00. Try to read a book again, get interrupted by four languages speaking quite loudly in the general vicinity. Finally reach 1:00, walk the 200 feet back, dodging people asking you what is for lunch, to the flat and exhale relief.
1:00-2:00 pm : Look at contents of refrigerator and pantry-table. Decide if turning the stove on to cook will make it feel more like Hell than it already does. Hope that there are leftovers from the day before. Feel an epic adrenaline rush when the homeless kids in your town throw empty glass bottles at a tree nearby your window (making it sound like someone is glass bombing your home) for entertainment. Thank whatever higher powers there are that they are only annoying and non-violent. Eat whatever found/cooked lunch is available while watching an episode of Law and Order: SVU or entertaining one of the site mates who came for internet. Hide and pretend to not be home if local kids who have figured out where you live stop by. Try not to get Giardia again by drinking the local water – force yourself to use the filter that Peace Corps gave you, but end up using your creativity instead.
2:00-3:00 pm : Come back to the office and join in with my co-workers in their conversations. Decide if I want to not understand a conversation in Damara or not understand a conversation in Owambo. Make the choice to go sit outside and read instead. Surprise visitors to the Ministry by telling them that yes, I do work here, and no, you do not love me (/namsi ta ge a). Prepare for Not Just a Woman Club (name picked out by the learners – proud moment) or TADAH Club (boys and girls whose focus is keeping them away from drugs, alcohol and HIV) by writing lesson plans and coming up with activities for the kids on Tuesday and Thursday. Gather information, determine what lessons are important for the kids at site. Attempt to dispel myths such as “when a boy hits you, it really just means that he loves you more” and “can’t you use a condom twice, as long as you wash it out?”. Feel like a superhero who can never truly save their town. And who has no costume. And who really isn’t a superhero at all.
3:00-5:00 pm : Walk, or frequently get a ride from a good samaritan with a car, into town to pick up some groceries, check the mail and hope there are letters or a package from home waiting for you and run into half the people you know. After many conversations and much small talk, head back to the office to finish up whatever work is left for the day. Convince colleagues that their friend did not get fat simply from “having sex”, that instead, there are many other factors involved in someone gaining weight when they are in a relationship with someone. Also, try to explain how it is not polite to call someone fat or tell them that they are gaining weight or that they are too skinny and need to eat more. Realize that this will not change and try not to worry too much, since most people do not care.
5:00-6:00 pm : Help close the office down, shutting windows and locking doors. Try to avoid getting stuck with the office key, meaning you are in charge of opening the office the next day. Pass the keys around like a hot potato. You or your neighbor/colleague most likely get stuck with the keys, since you both live at the office in a hidden Hobbit hallway. Sit outside to finish reading some of the book you are currently reading. Realize that you will never get through a page with all of the interruptions from gym-goers and visitors. Remember that you are different and cannot go anywhere without being stared at or intriguing someone’s interest. Shake your head at yourself for thinking you could sit in peace somewhere. Go back inside and read and pet your cat under the mosquito net instead. Invite your sitemates and a visitor over to do crafts from middle school, provided by said visitor. Feel appreciative to have found people who understand your need for relaxation.
6:00-7:00 pm : Take a second inventory of the refrigerator and table pantry. Decide if cooking dinner is a feasible option or if leftovers or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a better idea (read: easier, and much more probable). Try not to sweat to death if dinner is being cooked because you remembered it was your night to cook for yourself and your colleague. Fend off cat from jumping onto stove to see what is for dinner. Fail, get second degree burns all over my body as Clementine knocks over the sauce pan of boiling water from the stove. Watch her munch on a beetle the size of my palm, try not to vomit with each crunching sound. Make the decision that I wasn’t really that hungry anyway and maybe I’ll have popcorn and an apple for dinner, provided that there are no more beetles around.
7:00-8:00 pm : Now that the devil of a sun is on its way down, the time has come to decide whether it will be a yoga session or a run evening. Attempt to gain motivation by giving reminders of how great I will feel afterwards and maybe promise myself that I will bake a cookie or eat a piece of American chocolate or some M&M’s (thanks, Mom!). Think about how many kids (and adults) I will have to scold, telling them not to call me a /husa (too many – “/husa ta ge /onsa uha, ta ti #gai te”) and how many proposals I will get (“I can tell by your body that you like to work out – let me join you someday – marry me?”). Judge myself in my one small mirror, determining if I have lost or gained weight this week. Flipping a coin also works for this decision. Usually lose the battle of exercising at all and pick out a movie to watch or book to read instead. Inevitably watch the sunset which provides endless inspiration and beauty, even if the day has made you question your original intentions.
8:00-9:30 pm : Dedicate time to talk on the phone (I know.. can you see how Namibia and finding someone incredibly special has changed me?) to my boyfriend who lives 8 hours away from me. Share our daily adventures, process the emotions of the day, console the frustrations, talk about future plans, remind ourselves to live in the moment and be appreciative for the positives about the day. Complain about something dumb someone did or how no one showed up to our club or the important community meeting we were attending suddenly got cancelled. Talk about what scary/cool insects or animals we encountered. Be reminded of how difficult a long distance relationship is, but how lucky you feel to have found a partner like this. Think about how I have lived in Namibia for almost a year and marvel at that. Only one year and four months left. Decide if tonight, that feels like an eternity or an incredibly short time to get everything done that I want to. Appreciate how, despite the ups and downs of this service and this life, I am living the experience that I always wanted to.
9:30-10:00 pm : Fall asleep, reminding myself that tomorrow could be exactly the same or extremely different from today and how grateful I am for that possibility. Almost kick the cat off the bed as she bites my toes for the second time today.