Friday, September 25, 2009

New Blog Site

For those that were following this I have changed sites. Please check it out:

http://nathaniel-n-namibia.tumblr.com/

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pictures








1st sunset in Namibia






My host mom and her sister in traditional dresses with my host niece and fellow peace corps volunteer.














The Training Center















Cultural Cooking Day!












Yep, That is a goat head in the lower left.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Aug 30th, 2009

August 30th, 2009

So I have spent quite a bit of time with my new family and must admit that I love it. Any fears that I had were swept away as I slowly have become part of the family. One thing is for certain; my family is big. Everyone seems to be related to everyone somehow. It is especially confusing when there are no things as aunts. Sisters are considered close enough that they are called mom even though it would generally be considered an aunt. I have another mom just down the road with another PCV.

First off, I have Mamas Caroline and Dadub Jacob, and a 17-year ole brother Richard. The first night we met we all went to the Spar (the local grocery) for shopping. Five of us piled into a taxi the size of a corolla to get there, with myself found in the back between my new sister and mom. While at Spar, I would have been a lost if it hadn’t been for my new sister/cousin Madeline who is from London, home visiting. She has an impervious British accent, quite strange for Namibia. My new family seems to take great delight in me fumbling through KhoeKhoe and is very patient in explaining things over and over. On the way home from Spar our taxi died partway through an intersection! He had to start it up par way though. That night we all gathered at me aunts/mom/s house and watched soapies, which is their version of soap operas. They are all from Mexico and dubbed in English. Needless to say quite different. We also watched the local music videos. It was quite interesting to see how much the States music influences the world. Everyone uses autotune now. Their idea of "balling" however involved chilling in a regular sized bathtub and shooting a video in a department store. Last night we had a bri (BBQ) where I became the chef cooking pai-e (porridge) as well as !noi(sausage). BBQing under a different set of stars was certainly a moment to remember.

Having lived with a host family for 3 days now, I can now say I am starting to feel like I am in Africa. I cannot comprehend most of the language wherever I go. I need to speak slowly and often rephrase my requests for myself to communicate. While running on a local track, a PCV and I gathered an audience of local children to run with us, while others hid in the bushes too shy. Everyone is very friendly, though the children love to heckle for money commenting on me being burro (white). I definitely stand out being a good six inches taller than most in my area.

Anyway I want to keep these short and sweet too not overwhelm individual reading. I will end with a cultural discussion I had about marriage. My host family took me outside to singing where there was a group of women two houses down singing in beautiful harmony. My father explained that they were locking the bride to be in a room for a week in preparation for marriage. She is not allowed any visitors for a week until she is to be married. She is only allowed to leave for the bathroom and fed. As ft the guy, when asking for the hand in marriage there is a process of stabbing a goat in a place where it will die quickly (and painlessly) while following up with dash towards the house where his way is blocked by a few men. The process is to show he is a man that can provide and defend. My family apparently videotaped the last one of their son and are going to show it too me. I will let you know if it is as different as it sounds.

Till the next Internet café visit.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no more hot showers. : (

Aug 27th, 2009

Halau lknotrab and lknotras, Hello male and female friend
(I do not know how to greet pleural)

Matisa? (How is it going?)

That is informal greeting for Khoekhoegowab, the language I’m learning. For those that are interested is from the Khoe-San language group or “click” language. Yes I am learning how to click. The l in lnotras/b is actually one of the clicks. There are 4 total. Even with four hours of language study, I do not know if I will be able to develop solid grasp on the language but I want to pretend I will. The language is really beautiful to listen to and I can only hope my host family will put up with my butchering of it. Speaking of host families, I met Mama Caroline and Dadub Jacob last night. They are incredibly loving and accepting seeing they are going to let me stay with them for the next six weeks. We leave the center that has been our home tomorrow and hopefully the bubble, which the Peace Corps has been in so far, will burst. I say that in a positive light due to the very accommodating staff and trainers here. It is definitely not what I expected with roughing it yet. Warm showers are a definite perk. Not all has been a summer camp. I did my own laundry for the first time without a washing machine. Approximately seven sets of clothes and two hours later I was left with blistered hands and starchy boards of fabric. Part of the experience I guess.

For the anthropologists out there I will leave you with a few cultural observations. One, don’t smell the food. It is considered highly offensive. Two, apartheid and colonial influence is a dramatic driver of social structure in Namibia. Being a minority and the attention received as such draws such attention and discussion that I could go on quite a bit and will with this dynamic as time continues. Three, nothing unites people together like song. We start every morning with traditional songs from all over Africa and the unison of harmony is inspiring. We do not all know the meaning, even the trainers, but the notes and dancing bring smiles all around. Well it is time for dinner.

!Gai!oeis, Good Evening
(! = the 3rd click)

Aug 27th, 2009

Halau lknotrab and lknotras, Hello male and female friend
(I do not know how to greet pleural)

Matisa? (How is it going?)

That is informal greeting for Khoekhoegowab, the language I’m learning. For those that are interested is from the Khoe-San language group or “click” language. Yes I am learning how to click. The l in lnotras/b is actually one of the clicks. There are 4 total. Even with four hours of language study, I do not know if I will be able to develop solid grasp on the language but I want to pretend I will. The language is really beautiful to listen to and I can only hope my host family will put up with my butchering of it. Speaking of host families, I met Mama Caroline and Dadub Jacob last night. They are incredibly loving and accepting seeing they are going to let me stay with them for the next six weeks. We leave the center that has been our home tomorrow and hopefully the bubble, which the Peace Corps has been in so far, will burst. I say that in a positive light due to the very accommodating staff and trainers here. It is definitely not what I expected with roughing it yet. Warm showers are a definite perk. Not all has been a summer camp. I did my own laundry for the first time without a washing machine. Approximately seven sets of clothes and two hours later I was left with blistered hands and starchy boards of fabric. Part of the experience I guess.

For the anthropologists out there I will leave you with a few cultural observations. One, don’t smell the food. It is considered highly offensive. Two, apartheid and colonial influence is a dramatic driver of social structure in Namibia. Being a minority and the attention received as such draws such attention and discussion that I could go on quite a bit and will with this dynamic as time continues. Three, nothing unites people together like song. We start every morning with traditional songs from all over Africa and the unison of harmony is inspiring. We do not all know the meaning, even the trainers, but the notes and dancing bring smiles all around. Well it is time for dinner.

!Gai!oeis, Good Evening
(! = the 3rd click)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Greetings from Africa

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to update all of you that I made it to Namibia safe and sound. After 40+ hrs of travel, 3 plane rides, an hour bus ride, I arrived to Okajandra, Namibia on Friday. A lot jet lagged but no worse for the wear. So much has been going on. The pressing thing so far are interviews where I will be spending 2 yrs of my life. Looks like I will not be roughing it as much as I thought. I will have a private apartment after 6 months of host family stays. I will be either a biology teacher grades 8-10 or general science grades 5-7. I will also teach Math, try to start a library and work with the Out of School "lost boys" who are in-between schooling and a career. My hands are definitely full for the next two years. I will know my permanent site in September.

The size of my town, Okahandra, currently is around 9,000 and there is a lot of sand! Winter is just finishing here so it goes from 40 degrees F to 90 F. Kind of nervous of the summer month temps. The river bed is completely dry and so is my nose. I am sorry for those that may wish a phone call. I will probably not be calling much due to it costs about 20 Namibs for only about 2-3 minutes. That is roughly a little more than 2 US dollars a day. I make that in a day. Internet is available only at the shop nearby costing roughly 2 dollars for 15 minutes. A little more productive use. I will see what happens when I get a cell phone of rates improve. The training center has been very warm and inviting. We were greeted with song and dance getting off the bus. Given our "candies" right away for malaria. And all those things you here of e side effects have proven true so far. Some pretty intense dreams. There are 33 of us in my training group. All of us are teachers of various trades mostly English. There are some IT guys, math, and the rest science. I'm sorry if my thoughts are a little scattered. We are currently watching The Gods Must Be Crazy with a Peace Corp projector, and laptop. Who says we can't have some amenities in the desert. The food is amazing. Three full meals a day with time for tea and crumpets in-between. Everyone around the center speaks English remarkably well but had my first real cultural experience today at the Heros Festival recognizing the fight against the Germans. We went to a local parade and with only fellow Peace Corps members. All the volunteers were taking pictures but a group of 15 Americans certainly draws attention and we were photographed as well. Wondering around in small groups, met a friendly pair of guys that just wanted their photo taken and see the result. They did not speak a lick of English. Using mostly hand-signs and smiles, managed to communicate names and greetings. I love it! Probably not so much when it comes to necessary items like where is the bathroom. We will be starting language training on Tuesday.


A slightly sunburned, tired, but incredibly excited,

Nathaniel Guimont
Peace Corps Trainee
Okajandra, Namibia

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Less than a month

In less than a month I will be in another country, another continent, another hemisphere. It is kind of humbling when you think of it. There is so much to see and do in this world and not many get to experience life beyond their comforts of home. I consider it a true blessing that I am given this opportunity and recognize that a lot will presented to me in a way that I never forget. I have never been to our nation's capital and I get 24 hrs to experience it minus my training, I get to ride on airplane for 32 hrs (that might get old quick), I get to maybe learn how to ride a motorcycle (I am really hoping the Peace Corps deems it necessary for my mode of transportation). It is really all the simple little changes that are going to make this experience unique and exciting. Everything I think I know will be challenged. So as the departure date draws closer August 18th now, I am growing more and more restless of the time to come. I want to have the change now but I am leery of what it may entail. Have to love summer school and the approach-avoidance theory to an opportunity. So till that day comes I want to appreciate the current state of affairs and hang out with good friends and family because in less than in a month it won't matter what the changes may entail because there will be no going back. Even upon return I imagine everything about myself will be different as well as the people I know and love. Life moves on despite not being present and I am somewhat saddened that I will not be there for some of the changes in my friends lives. In less than a month, everything will change and we'll have to see where it may lead for all of us.