Friday, 1 May 2015

Study Tour Number 2 (The West)

For our Easter Break (aka Spring Break), our group of PLU students went on another study tour!

The first day, we left our hostel in the late morning and drove for 4-5 hours to Sossusvlei. We stopped for lunch in a cute little town called Solitaire—which is infamous for its delicious bakery—and we reached our campsite at about 4 pm. We set up our tents at Sesriem campsite, and then we went for a “sunset” drive (actually a night drive because everyone and everything is always late in Africa) to a small-ish dune. Tickey and Scobie (our tour guides) told us about the dune formation and other fun facts about Sossusvlei.

The next morning, we woke up super early to get on the dunes before it got too hot. We got to “Big Daddy” (the dune we climbed and one of the tallest in the Namib Desert) just as the sun rose. It took an hour-ish for most of the girls to climb to the top, but it took me about an hour and a half because I kept stopping to look around. IT WAS SO DANG BEAUTIFUL. I think I have a new favorite place. When we reached the top, we took a bunch of pictures and I made a sand-angel! The descent was so so so fun. It was like walking down a grass hill when you can’t help but run. For 300 meters. At the base of the dune, there are a bunch of dead trees. These trees are Camelthorn Acacias that have been dead for over 40 years, but the intense heat of the desert prevents bacteria from decomposing the trees. After Sossusvlei, we came back to the campsite for lunch and then explored Sesriem Canyon.

We packed up our tents the next morning and drove for another 4-5 hours to Swakopmund, where we stayed in a traveller’s lodge. On the drive there, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn (which is pretty unexciting, but there is a cool sign)! The next morning we went quad-biking!! It was so much fun! After that, we checked out the cute little shops in downtown Swakop, and I found some pretty neat things. Then we got back in the van and drove to Brandberg, where we stayed the next night. We all went to the pool at the campsite, where we saw some meerkats! Then we had a “traditional” Namibian meal (consisting of pop porridge, meat, and a vegetable dish, all eaten without utensils) for dinner. While we ate, a Damara singing group sang us some traditional songs and danced along with them.

After packing up our campsite in the morning, we travelled to the site of the famous White Lady painting. It was a decently long hike, but it was worth it to see the cave paintings. The White Lady is colored with rocks, treebark powder, and ostrich egg shells. The paintings are 2000-5000 years old, and a milky substance from tree branches were used as a glue-like adhesive to mix colors. We then set up camp in Twyfelfontain and went swimming at the hotel that Jan and Tony stayed at. Our swimming time got cut short when we went on a drive to see a bunch of nearby desert elephants! We even saw a baby elephant (which is my new spirit animal).

While in Twyfelfontain, we explored the Bushman engravings. There are over 2000 engravings in this area, which is the largest concentration of engravings in southern Africa. These engravings were used for teaching in the hunter-gatherer society; they indicated how to track certain animals and which animals to avoid. People also played games—like mancala—by engravings. Specific animals—such as elephants and rhinos—were carved more frequently because it was believed that they would bring rain. After seeing the engravings, we went to the Damara Living Museum, which was very informative about how traditional Damara people lived and it was super fun! We also saw the Organ Pipes in Twyfelfontain! They are a really neat geological formation and I was nerding out so hard.

On the drive back to Windhoek, we stopped at the market in Okahandja and went shopping! It was stressful and we were swamped by every person in the market, but we got some really neat things. It was a fantastic week!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


Hey y’all! Happy Spring!

Not much has been going on since I last posted (like two days ago), but here are some other highlights from this spring.

Carly, Eslie, Megan, and I have been to capana with some of our friends several times. This is a big, open market that serves street meat. There are carcasses lying around, flies everywhere, and SO MUCH GOOD MEAT.  You can sample lots of beef from many different people and dip it in capana spice. Then we eat it with fat cakes, tomatoes, and onions.

On March 21st, Namibia celebrated its 25th year of independence. We went to Independence Stadium for the inauguration of Namibia’s third president and a nice lady let us sit with her in the special section with all sorts of important people. The celebration was very neat to be a part of; it is awesome to see how much Namibia’s independence has meant to this nation and all of the people here.

A couple weeks ago, the president of PLU visited Namibia! President Tom Krise and his wife Patty came out here to see how this program is going because this is the pilot semester program in Namibia. (Also because they are awesome and really care about PLU and all of its programs!) We had dinner with them for a couple days—one dinner at the communication center on campus, one at Joe’s Beer House, and one at a restaurant called NICE (the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education).

We have been doing karaoke pretty regularly each Thursday, and last week was sang No Scrubs! (we wanted to sing Baby Got Back and Bust a Move, but they didn’t have them.) I have been going out too much, spending too much money, and having too much fun.

Yesterday was Easter, and, boy, was it a fantastic day. Alice, Bryanna, Megan, Shelley, Jan, Tony, and I went to church at Inner City Lutheran Church. The service and most of the hymns were in English, but some songs were in Oshivambo and Damara (two local languages) and it was INCREDIBLE to hear these songs. There were over three hundred people in attendance, and we were some of the only white people. I sat next to the dean of the polytechnic university in Windhoek, and she was very friendly. While the pastor was preaching, she gave me a caramel and pointed out some important people who also attended the church. The Secretary of State was sitting behind us, and the new President of Namibia was sitting two rows in front of us.

After the service—we left early because communion took literally over an hour—we went to Jan’s house for brunch. Heather made scalloped potatoes and a delicious egg dish, and Jan made some HEAVENLY (ha, see what I did there?) blueberry buckle/coffee cake. Then we came back to Emona, took a nap/studied and watched Across The Universe as a whole group. It was a great day.


Gossip Girl

Saturday, 4 April 2015

All of March in One Post

Hello everyone!

I have just started my fifth week of classes at UNAM, and I figured that it was about time I write another blog post (if only so that you all know that I have not been eaten by a lion or died from Ebola). (Also note that I say ‘you all’ as though more people than my parents are reading this.) Anyway, classes are going well here! I am taking Drug Discovery and Development, Medicinal Chemistry, Bioenergetics and Metabolism, and Immunology. Each of these courses has a practical session—aka prac, aka lab—and yesterday we got to make Acetaminophen! We are also isolating the serum in sheep’s blood for immunology to learn more about agglutination.

The courses are very interesting, but it is very difficult to motivate myself to get out of bed for class because the professors read word-for-word off the powerpoint slides, so going to class seems unnecessary. That being said, THE COURSE MATERIAL IS SO INTERESTING! Because this is Namibia, the professors usually let us out of class early, and sometimes they cancel class for no reason. (I don’t hate it.)

Outside of class, we have been very busy making friends and exploring Windhoek. One night, we went to a bar called Dylan’s and did karaoke! It was so much fun! Carly, Eslie, Megan, and I sang Party in the USA, Firework, and Bohemian Rhapsody. Fun was had by all. We also have spent a good amount of time at the clubs London and Vibe. London is a very American club (or so it has been explained to me, as I have never been to an American club), and Vibe plays ‘house music,’ which is more popular for most Namibians. The first night we were heading out to Vibe, we got stopped by a girl who lives on our floor, who told us that half of our group looked like they were going to church—not to a club—and she made them go change. (Don’t worry, I made the cut.) It was HILARIOUS.

In Namibia, Valentine’s Day is a very big deal. Our group went to the mall and everyone was dressed head-to-toe in red, pink, and white. (Also, while we were at the mall, we saw Fifty Shades of Grey. DON’T GO SEE IT.) After that, we went to London, which was very exciting because we got the whole group to come out!

Also, I am very surprised that many things that I consider ‘American’ are also present in Namibia. For example, there are KFC’s everywhere! I have also found M&Ms, kit-kats, mentos, pantene shampoo and conditioner, Dove soap, Doritos, Fanta, a Croc store, and many more name brands here. There are several cinemas in Windhoek, and they all have been playing movies at the same time they are released in the US (WHICH MEANS THAT WE CAN GO TO THE MIDNIGHT PREMIERE OF PITCH PERFECT 2 IN MAY!)

While Namibia is still shiny and new and magical, we have experienced a couple grievances. Firstly, Eslie and I are supposed to be doing research at the medical school, but we keep being sent back and forth between faculty members. We have now gone to about five meetings and none of the professors/deans have been able to give us access to the facilities to run tests on our samples yet. The other major struggle we are encountering is the internet. To no one’s surprise, wifi in Africa sucks. (However, I am kind of happy for this because I am spending more time in conversation with the people I’ve met here than posting pictures on Instagram.)

Last Friday, I went to my first rugby game! Namibia lost 53-3, but it was still a great time. Then, we went to Vibe (shocker), and when I was getting out of the back of our friend’s car, I sliced my finger open. (Like super open; I SAW MY FINGER BONE). I think it’ll be okay… My mom is not happy that I dealt with by washing it off with tap water and bandaging it with toilet paper and a hairtie, and then proceeding to stay at the club for four more hours while it bled. Oops!

On Sunday, we had a floor potluck! It was great to get to know the girls we live with a little bit better, and they made some AMAZING food. Also, the rainy season has finally begun, and it has been overcast and humid lately. It feels very home-y.

In exciting news, I will be spending another summer as a counselor at Rainbow Trail! I cannot wait for another three months of ministry and fun.

I’ll try to post more often (so that each blogpost isn’t just mental vomit of all the exciting things I’ve done in a month), but no promises.

I love and miss you all!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Study Tour Number One (The North)

The first day of our study tour, we travelled up to Otjiwarango, where we stayed at a BEAUTIFUL hotel and had some delicious game for dinner. The next morning we woke up and travelled to the Cheetah Conservation (CCF). We met Dr. Laurie Marker, the woman who founded CCF—and then she and some other people brought out two cheetahs (named Tigerlily and Kaijey). We took a couple selfies with them, and then got to watch the interns feed donkey meat to some cheetahs.

After Otjiwarango, we travelled to Opuwo. The first day we were there, we drove up to Epupa Falls. (If you don’t know what that is, google it. You’ll be so jealous.) It was a very long drive, but an INCREDIBLE view of the falls. Unfortunately, we couldn’t swim in the falls because it is crocodile season. The next day, we visited a primary school outside Opuwo. We met with “learners” in grades 1-4, and then some of them sang us songs. Naturally, we teared up a bit, and then we all did the hokey pokey together. When we went to take pictures with the kids, they loved our front-facing cameras, so I have over one hundred pictures of seven year olds taking selfies. After the school, we visited our driver (Uanae)’s homestead. We met some of his family members there.

Our next stop was at Dolomite, a resort in Etosha National Park. (You should also look this up.) We went for a swim the infinity pool there, and then we went for a game drive through Etosha. We saw giraffes, zebras, kudu, springbok, oryx, wildebeests, elephants, and rhinos!! For dinner, we had impala steaks. After Dolomite, we stayed in Halali (also in Etosha) and went on more game drives.

We left Etosha on Friday morning, and began our homestay. Shelley and I stayed with Grandma, Beverly, and Jarome. It. Was. Awesome. We milked goats, milked cows, used cow dung to patch up a wall, ate fat-cakes, drank delicious tea, played a whole bunch of games, and had the privilege of getting to know the families that we all stayed with. I could not have asked for a better homestay experience.

Blogging Is Hard

Hello everyone!

So blogging is a lot more of a commitment than I thought it would be. I have been very busy since I last posted, so here are some of the highlights.

Jan’s friends Pam, Juanita, and Trudy showed us phenomenal hospitality and had us over to their houses for dinner. We had homemade pizza, burgers grilled on an outdoor braai, and a whole bunch of fun.

We went to a game reserve called Midgard for a day. We got to go swimming, went German bowling, and laid in the sun. On the drive back to Windhoek, we saw warthogs, a porcupine, baboons, kudu, oryx, wildebeests, springbok, and GIRAFFES!! It was a fantastic day.

We also spent a weekend in a town on the coast called Swakopmund (or Swakop). We had some [Namibian] Italian food for dinner when we got there, and then we went on a catamaran tour of the coast. This was very tourist-y, but still enjoyable—especially when pelicans and a seal came aboard and we got to pet them! After the tour, I took a nap (which I have been doing pretty much everyday) and then we went to a restaurant called Tiger Reef—which is literally on the beach—and had chicken strips in the sand while watching the sunset. The next day, some of us went SKYDIVING! It was absolutely incredible and I have found a new (very expensive) hobby. Then we went for a swim in a little cove in the Atlantic Ocean.

On my 21st birthday, I got to sleep in, and then Carly made me some pancakes for breakfast. Then we went on a class field trip to the new history museum. For dinner, our group went to Joe’s Beer House, where I had a delicious drink and ate zebra, crocodile, kudu, springbok, and oryx (ORYX IS SUPER TASTY). Then some of us stayed out and went dancing.