Sunday, June 20, 2010

Babies: the movie

My dear friend Ms. Hoose assumes correctly that she is the umpeenth person to ask me about the movie Babies that was recently in theaters: Rightfully so because how often do movies that has anything to do with Namibia come out, right? So she has inspired me to blog in response to all your questions.

We are no where near where this movie was filmed. Namibia is a pretty big country and fairly sparely populated. The people that live here are as diverse as its terrain. Opuwo is almost a straight shot west approx. 757 miles/1218 km from Katima Mulilo. (,+Namibia/to/Katima+Mulilo,+Namibia)

The tribe featured in this movie are the Himba. They are one of the more unique tribes of Namibia having retained most of their traditional lifestyle. Where we live is mostly Mafwe/Lozi people like Elton. Like the Himba they have maintained a tribal structure, but unlike the Himba have adopted more Western dress and some Western lifestyle. I have never traveled to the Northwest but I have seen a few Himba people selling their crafts in the capital of Windhoek. As you can imagine they draw a lot of stares when they walk down the street.

I didn't actually get to see this movie before we left the States since we were busy with our own baby but I am quite interested in seeing it. Maybe someone can mail it to me when it comes out on DVD.
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Grandpa Candy and Great-grandma Elizabeth

Last weekend, we finally made it out to Lisikili where Elton's dad is stationed as part of the Namibian Army. It happens to also be where his Grandmother Elizabeth, lives. Grandpa Candy is normally a quiet, pensive sort of fellow but he was in rare form when meeting his newest granddaughter. He doesn't get to see his other granddaughters very often. Elton's sister, Mwenda, lives in the capital Windhoek and can't visit very often. He took Quincy and I shopping on Friday and bought her some diapers, a warmer blanket and some other misc things.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Weirdest Thing Just Happened....

Last night before going to bed I was trying to clean my glasses because everything was looking blurry. I put them back on and realized they were still blurry. After taking a closer look I realized that the left lens has a bunch of cracks right through it. So weird. I don't remember dropping them or anything.
It seems like at any minute it could snap in half. Fortunately I have another pair and large supply of contacts. It's just these are my favorite pair.
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Two Months

On Saturday, Quincy turns 2 months. Hard to believe the time is flying. According to my Aunt Barbara, I need to cherish these days because it will seem like next week she's driving and the week after that going off to college. Anyway, I thought I'd post a few pics so you can see how she's grown in just this first week we've been away. She's becoming so much more animated and staying awake for so much longer. Elton and I are sure every night we go to bed that she'll look bigger in the morning.

Quincy is sending this photo to Tom Rivers.
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Namibian Laundry Mat

photo of the house we are staying at in town with Elton's Aunt Netsai while we build
So since we don't have a laundry mat or a washing machine where we are staying now, this week I've had to learn to wash clothes by hand. I don't know how many of you done this in any great abundance (except for maybe my peace corp friends), but man, is it hard work. It makes me evaluate ever piece of clothes... is it really dirty? Can't I wear it just one more day? And with a baby, it's 10 times worse because she has to change numerous times a day and usually so do I because she likes to spit up on both of us. I've washed the occasional pair of underwear or t-shirt in a pinch, but never whole loads of laundry for three people.

It basically involves using some sort of bucket or tub. You boil water. Pour it in the tub with some some powdered soap so the soap will dissolve and then add cold water so you don't melt your skin off. In goes the clothes, you swish them around and start scrubbing. You take the clothes in your hand and rub the knuckles of your right hand against the wrist of your left hand. When it is clean, wring it out, put it aside. When you are finished washing everything, fill the basin again and rinse. Its not the scrubbing that is a problem for me, its wringing them out. Quincy's clothes are no problem, but for the adult clothes or blankets, towels, sheets, etc. my hands are SO not strong enough. Having suffered from carpel tunnel syndrome in my office work days, I think I am at a disadvantage. I'm praying that over time I'll grow stronger.

Today is my third time in less than a week and I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. Though the funny thing is its quite a spectacle for people to see a white woman hand washing. Its like Barnum and Baileys has come to town. Very few people have said anything but I have gotten a lot of stares. After finishing what has been the largest load I've done since being here, I stood back and admired my work with a sense of accomplishment. Now if I could just figure out how to light this Namibian wood, I wouldn't be starving my husband. Fortunately his auntie we are staying with a great cook. Maybe I should have been a girl scout or something?
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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Our Future Home

As I mentioned earlier Elton's already been making arrangements to start building our house in the village. First order of business was to place an order for bush poles.

African construction is quite informal... so different from American. You don't need building permits, deeds to the land or make a lot of fuss over the stuff we normally would. Since Elton is a member of this village, there was little formality other than to chose the location. We picked a lovely shaded spot under a tree just near his paternal grandmother where they recently took down an older house. And in the spirit of recycling we will reuse some of the termite mud from the old house to build ours.

The style of construction we are using is the traditional mud house with some American-friendly modifications. I originally wanted a concrete block house. But relying on Elton's wisdom in construction, I realized how much more economical and time-efficient it would be to build a mud house which is nearly as strong. It is basically a frame made out of thick bush poles as the support, thinner bush poles as the rafters which are then packed with mud from a termite mound. When its dry it looks just like concrete. It will have a zinc sheet roof and a poured concrete floor (one of the modifications). I also requested a shower and toilet inside the house which will be made out of concrete block...also something you don't normally find in a traditional home. They have more of a shower/latrine surrounded by a grass fence. If you have more serious business to do, you head to the bush. At this point a toilet and shower are almost moot because there is no running water in the village. The manual pump on the borehole well in the village has been broken for nearly 8 years without being fixed by the government. They have to travel quite a distance to fetch water. We bought a new pump head thinking it would solve the problem, but alas it hasn't. We've applied to the government water company to dig a new well but they said it won't happen until January 2011 unless we can pay something to the equivalent of $10,000 USD which is, of course, out of the question. Be praying this complication works out.

The other sticky wicket is the cost of a transformer to get our village hooked up with some electricity. We've heard it can cost nearly N$30,000 plus labor which at an approx. 7.9% exchange rate... you do the math, it's expensive! Not only would it service the whole village, but it might help solve some of our water issues if we could use an electric pump. We're exploring the other options like solar power, battery or generator. Fortunately for cooking we can get a gas stove, but for our other modern conveniences like a refridge, TV/DVD, laptops, and Elton's playstation we need to make other means.
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African Snack Time

I love to eat and I'm not opposed to trying any kind of new fruit or vegetable. I'm often discovering my new favorite African fruit. (Meats and fish... COMPLETELY different story though I have enjoyed the occasional Ostrich, Zebra or Kudu steak which are all quite good.)

So today Elton came back from buying bush poles to build our new house. His cousin Blanco handed me some reddish sticks. I thought they were samples of what we were buying. They were rather short and looked rather weak to hold up a house, but what do I know about African construction, right? Never in a million years did I realize within minutes I'd be enjoying a lovely afternoon snack. Turns out it was sugar cane! You take off the hard the bark and chew on the inside sucking out the sweet juice. Then you spit out the cane. What a treat for the whole village, young and old alike. I highly recommend it!
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Q's in the Hood

We've arrived safe and sound back to Namibia. Quincy's been busy meeting her new family. She's quite popular as you can imagine especially with all the small children. It's been non-stop visiting since we've arrived. It's been great for her to get to know Elton's grandmothers, her great-grandmothers. They fuss over her with the best of them. They are constantly worried that she too cold or too hungry. Our friends Fortune and Sophia had a girl, Ariel, 1 week before Quincy and Elton’s cousin Benstien and Doreen just had a girl named Anna 2 weeks ago. Quincy will have lots of playmates her age. She has yet to meet her maternal great-grandmother and Elton's dad.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Twelve hours

The clock is ticking.... 12 more hours from now the Mubuyaeta's will be on a plane back to Namibia.

If you only mode of communication with us is reading this blog, you're saying.... wait... back on a plane, I'd assumed you'd died sitting in the the queue at the maternity ward.. Yes, I probably would have still been rotting in the queue if I hadn't decided I had to come home to deliver. I'd had enough of morning sickness and the general, overall rough start to my pregnancy we've been in the USA since before Christmas. I'm happy to report we've had a lovely 6 month furlough in the states enjoying time with friends and family.

Life on April 17th has become a different sort of chaotic. Elton and I are used to the normal chaotic routine of almost 60 children at COZV, but its just not the same when its your own child. Let's just say I'm glad I was in the states to deliver because it didn't all go as planned. God blessed us with a wonderful midwife/doctor team and at 9:01am Quincy Naleli Mubuyaeta blessed us with her presence. She's already almost 7 weeks and showing us her personality. Tomorrow she'll begin the journey to meet her African family who are anxiously awaiting there turn to meet her.