Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Gator Nation Is EVERYWHERE!!

A few years ago my college started this ad campaign about the Gator Nation. The idea was every where you go in the world, every profession you can find a representative from the University of Florida. I knew coming into PC that I would be working with one UF grad along side me, but I never imagined in my wildest dreams we would meet someone who was born in Namibia and went to school at UF the SAME TIME we did! Here is the story..

I spent last weekend in Katima Mulilo and to get back to my site, Rundu, we must depend on the generosity of others to give us a lift since we are not allowed to have a car. This transport can come in the form of a private car or a combi (14 passenger van). This Sunday we got lucky and got a ride in a private car. We got in a were introducing ourselves and the man asked where we were all from. When we, my fellow UF grad and I, told him we were from Florida he told us he studied there. When we found out he was a PhD. student at UF my friend and I started bombarding him with questions. His favorite place to eat? Where his classes were? Did he ever go to games? The answers in case you are wondering... Zaxby's, Norman Hall, and of course!! The question and answer portion went on for about 3 hours. He is back and working in Namibia, but still thinks fondly of UF. We were telling him all the changes that have happened to Gainesville since he left in 2006. There is something special about meeting someone across the world who went to the same school as you. Needless to say it was great to see the Gator Nation in Namibia!

We took a picture in Divundu a town half-way between Katima and Rundu!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Special Visitor

I have not had any one from America come and visit me yet, until now!! I am very excited for my new visitor who arrived on Friday the 26th. He comes all the way from Tampa, Florida. His name is Flat Stanley. My friend, Ethan, sent him to me. I am excited to show Flat Stanley around Rundu and part of Southern Africa. Since Stanley is my first visitor we wanted to share his time with everyone on my blog…

Dear Mr. Divins’ and Mr. Decker’s 2nd grade classes,

Flat Stanley arrived safely in Rundu (Roon-do), Namibia on Friday the 26th of November. He traveled over one month and 7902 miles just to get here. It was a long journey across the Atlantic Ocean, but there is a lot to do and see.

Something I’m sure he noticed right away was how hot it was. Namibia is located in Southern Africa. It is surrounded by South Africa to the South, Botswana to the East, Angola and Zambia to the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the West. The seasons are opposite here than in Tampa. Right now it is summer. The days reach 42 degrees Celsius, which is 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit. We are getting into our rainy season, it only rains from November to May then we get into our winter from May to July, which is very similar to winter in Tampa, cool but not cold. Then we have our autumn July to September where it is mostly windy and hot. It is very hot and I do not have an air conditioner so Flat Stanley would be most comfortable wearing shorts, t-shirt and sandals.

In Namibia we do a few things differently than at home in America. People drive cars on the left side of the road, we measure distance in Kilometers not Miles and we use a different type of money. For every $1 US Dollar it is equal to $7 Namibian Dollars. A liter of milk costs us about $14 Namibian dollars.

Some other interesting facts about Namibia…
1. Namibia has only been an independent country for 20 years, before it was part of South Africa.
2. There are 13 regions in the country, Rundu in the the northeast region called Kavango.
3. While the National Language is English there are over 20 different languages spoken in Nambia. In Kavango the main of the language spoken is Rukwangali (roo-kwan-gaal-ee). A common greeting goes..
“Morokeni” (moro-ken-knee) “Hello”
“Ngapi?”(N-gap-ee) “How are you?”
“Nawa, One Ngapi?” (naa-waa, oon-ey N-gap-ee) “I’m fine, how are you?”
4. While the size of Namibia is 2 times the size of California they entire population is around 2 million people.
5. The capital of our Country is Windhoek (wind-hook)

I know Flat Stanley is supposed to be home by the 13th of December, but since he just arrived I would like to invite him to join me on my Christmas vacation to Zambia and Tanzania. If this is OK with your class.

I am so excited to have him here. I hope you enjoy Flat Stanley and my adventures! If you have any questions about Rundu or Flat Stanley's adventures you can post them as a comment and I will be happy to answer them all!!

Kareni Po Nawa (care-en-knee po naa-waa) This means "stay well" in Rukwangali.

Here is Flat Stanley along the Kavango River. It is hard to see but the river is the border between Namibia and Angola. Do you see that town in the background? That is Angola!!Here is Flat Stanley with our Namibian Flag!!!

Flat Stanley and I went to go to the Regional Council, but since we just had elections last Friday no one was there. We will try again to meet the mayor!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Countdown...

As much as I am enjoying things here the 5 month deadline that I have looming over me to get things done only seems to get closer and closer. I feel like there is a lot of wrap up to do and to prepare for my predecessor (who ever gets to do this will be one lucky person)
This weekend… PARK CLEAN UP DAY!! My kids actually chose to spend all day Saturday de-bushing the park so we can get town council to plant grass before the rains come so it can set in. – Pictures to be posted at a later date
Nov. 13th ….. Mr. & Miss Kayec and End of Year KAYEC Celebration- can you believe the school year is almost over?!?
Nov. 20th….. Thanksgiving- Turkey, Friends and fun celebrating my second favorite holiday… Don’t worry Aunt Gladney I am making “Kimmies Last Green Bean Casserole in Namibia”
Dec. 9th….. Christmas Holiday in Zanzibar, Tanzania!!!!!! Perfect end to the year!

Then there is a bit of a gap but the BEST thing to look forward too…

APRIL 17th…. MOM BALAGUER comes to NAMIBIA!!!!! I am so excited to show my mom around. I have already told my kids and we are working on things to do for her (Dance, Drama, etc.) It will be so much fun and I am beyond excited to have my mom over here for a couple weeks to show her my second home!

21 Kilometeres Later

After a year and a half of talking about this we did it. I ran a marathon relay with my fellow Kavango 29’er. We each ran halves of the marathon. I had first half (I think he had the prettier run). The race was from Walvis Bay to Swakopmund (right in the middle of those towns is where the famous Angelina and Brad had their baby, our driver actually showed us the house and all I could think of was my sister JB). My part was mostly running through Walvis Bay then finished running on the highway between dunes and in the distance I could see the ocean. It was great! I may or may not have been the last person to cross the finish line, but my partner made up for it and hauled it to pass some people. The town of Swakopmund reminds me so much of Jacksonville… I felt like I was back in America just walking on the beach! It made me so happy to get to see the Atlantic Ocean again. In case you’re wondering, it looks and smells the same you are just sitting backwards. I knew I missed the water, but I didn’t realize I missed it so much. Now I just can’t wait to get on the beach again. The race was fun and I am glad we did it. The whole weekend was really enjoyable. There are some fabulous restaurants to celebrate the race being over we went to a nice restaurant and I got a grouper equivalent filet. The people who sponsor the race also have it worked out so kids from all over Namibia come and run. One of my schools went, they had a 4 person relay (the second to last runner was one of my KAYEC kids), they got second place for the boys relay!! The kids who went had so much fun they get medals and for most they get to see the ocean for the first time EVER!
This was taken about a year and a half ago when my partner and I first started talking about running the marathon relay... this is how our training progressed (notice neither of us running)

This is a shot of part of the group who ran the first half... its a good thing there were no pictures after!

It's getting HOTT in HERE!!!

It’s officially summertime in Rundu; you can’t even sit in your house with out sweating. I am drinking 3-5 liters of water a day and I am still so thirsty. Obviously, when I go to bed at night I don’t drink water in my sleep and from the time I lay down to the time I wake up my lips are so dehydrated that are super chapped!! Last week we had our first rainy night and we woke up to a cool morning. We are told that the rainy season is coming early this year. We have had some rainy nights since then, but only one really good one. I love the sound of rain on a tin roof. I hope everyone is right about the rain coming early, because I think I blocked the memory of last year’s heat. All I want to do is sit in a pool or be on the beach!! The good news is cold showers feel wonderful and it saves money on electricity!!

Hazards to look out for this summer:
1. I have to keep a fan pointing at my computer so it doesn’t catch on fire.
2. There might be a possibility of me melting this year.
3. I might get banned from the bank! I go into the bank just to cool down because they have air conditioning!! If I keep going in and not doing anything they might start to notice.

I am actually looking forward to summers in the South with a cold glass of sweet tea and being able to run and hide in air conditioning.


I was traveling to Rehoboth for a workshop and after too many people trying to take my bag and yelling at me to come travel in their car. I ended up in a private car (you pay the same amount as you do in the van transport, but they usually get you there faster because there are only 4 seats as opposed to 14). We were about 10 km from Grootfontein, the next closest town to Rundu heading south. All of a sudden, the driver pulls off the tar road onto the gravel shoulder. We get out of the car and looking at the flat tire the driver says “I saw the tire was low when we left Rundu (200km ago!) I should have pumped up the tire”. The driver needed to call someone to bring a spare, because he did not have a extra tire and did not think to pump up the tire before we started. Did I mention that he did not have credit to call so he had to borrow my friend’s phone! When the man with the spare tire came we had nothing to put the tire on because neither the driver nor the man with the spare tire had a JACK!! Some random guy pulled over to help us and turns out the tire the guy brought for us to use was not the right size, so the two of them left us with the car on the side of the road as they went into town. In fast Nam time about 2 hours later we were on the road again after a random man pulled over and yelled at our driver for not being prepared when driving! It was an interesting hike day for sure!

My New Roommate, Larry

I was sitting in my bedroom getting ready for bed one night and I noticed everyone else congregating in the second bedroom in my flat. I asked them what they were doing and they said they had seen some animal under my pile of sheets. They thought it was a mouse or lizard. Being a Florida girl … I WAS REALLY HOPING FOR A LIZARD!! Lizards I can handle. When the mattress on the floor was moved … there he was running into my bedroom… my new friend LARRY!!! He was such tiny mouse (did you know mice could lay flat and crawl under anything) and he would have been cute if he wasn’t living in my house. Needless to say that night I slept with the light on and my fly swatter! Thinking he wouldn’t come near me with the light on.The next day my two friends went to the store and got mouse traps to put in my house. We only saw Larry a few more times after that. Once a friend was sleeping on the mattress on the floor (where we first saw Larry) and he heard Larry under the curtains by his head. The next time I was cleaning my kitchen and when I moved an outdoor mat. He was there again hiding in the corner in my kitchen. I was home alone and I ran out the door screaming (my neighbors must have thought I was crazy). That was the last night we saw Larry alive L I have not seen any of Larry’s family and I hope I don’t have to see them ever again! From now on my house is only welcoming Lizards and Wall Spiders.