Africa Chapter I: Arriving in Namibia
Where was I the past month? Why was I even there?
Over March of 2016, I travelled to Outjo, Namibia to visit Peace Corps volunteer and girlfriend, Christine Callahan: ChroniclesofNamibia.com, on her 2.5 year tour working in a hospital. The full trip was about 23 days as I learned about her lifestyle there, travelled around Namibia, flew to South Africa for a week long trek in the Drakensberg Mountains, and enjoyed the beaches of the coastal city of Swakopmund.
The trip begins
I began my journey with a 30 hour flight from LAX to NYC to Johannesburg to Windhoek, Namibia. Christine’s hometown, Outjo, is a 4 hour drive from Windhoek, so naturally we had to rent a car. However, 99% of cars in 3rd world countries are manual, so the week prior I was taught by the one and only Hai Nguyen of Caju Company how to drive a stickshift in LA. Funny story – I got in an accident the second day practicing. Ask me about it later…
The Life of a Peace Corps Volunteer
Christine is lucky. She is one of the few who has access to: hot water showers, in-town grocery stores, and most importantly – Wi-Fi (enough to at least work online with).
She works in the Hospital of Outjo, doing administrative tasks and learning about the cultural impacts of nutrition as part of her Tulane Public Health graduate thesis. She lives directly on hospital grounds in the nurses dorm with her colleagues.
The toughest and most powerful thing a Peace Corps volunteer can do is integrate with the local customs and culture. Christine wants to make her mark in the Public Health sector – and therefore focuses a lot on teaching proper nutrition and exercise to everyone she can. She teaches a cooking class to local community members, grows a vegetable garden with colleagues, runs a health club at the local school, and plays on the nurses’ netball team (a version of basketball).
Perhaps the worst thing about being a Peace Corps volunteer – well the worst thing about living in a developing country – is hand washing laundry. As someone who can’t stand doing laundry with a machine, I now have a huge appreciation for the washer/dryer in the basement.
Outjo is a small town. Most homes are built with tin roofs and basic foundations.