Going Mental Down in Mariental (aka ICT2) 26 OCt
on Susan Somers (Namibia), 06/Nov/2009 15:13, 34 days ago
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The week long training session (called ICT2 or In Country Training, part 2) began on Saturday 17th when I was picked up by the Canadian family plus Jelda on their way from Rundu/Etosha to Windhoek. We met up lots of other volunteers (some newly arrived and Mignon after a 10 hour combi journey) for supper at Alan and Jo’s (yummy baked potatos, roast veg and beer/wine/crisps.) After lots of catching up ad stories of ‘life up north’ we camped out on all available floor space.On Sunday we had breakfast, we did some shopping, sorting and had a quick lunch before heading off to meet at VSO for a 2pm leaving time. We left VSO just after 3pm (TIA after all!) and after a 3½ hour drive south we arrived at Lapa Lange Lodge 35km outside of the small provincial town of Mariental in the Haardap region. The lodge was on a large farm (part game reserve and part actual farm.) Our tents were all set around a lawn with a large pond (with a pagoda in the middle) and 100m awaythere was a water hole where eland, giraffe, orynx, ostrich and springbok came to drink. There was also a large bar/restaurant area under a pretty thatched roof and a small conference room. My only complaint about the place was that there was only one shower for all 10 girls, although it somehow sorted itself out with no major queues or traffic jams!Breakfast was at 7.30am every morning and the sessions ran for most of the day (usually until 5pm) so despite our luxurious surroundings and the holiday like atmosphere we worked hard. The week included reviews of our placements and guest speakers on issues like history, politics, business and agriculture. I learned quite a bit about land reform policies, a little about history but not enough about the culture, language and customs of some of the regional tribes.We also worked on group presentations on various local issues. My group’s presentation was on local politics - so we interviewed the regional coordinator of SWKOP. It wasn't as interesting as I’d have expected but I guess politics can’t be too exciting when there is really only one party - they got 2/3 of the vote last time. Still with elections next month, things could change...The presentations were entertaining and surprisingly creative. We had role plays and reports, a trading game and the Coq Time* Quiz Show (with condoms as prizes!) Our presentaion involved a pass-the-parcel political quiz , with a SWAPO t-shirt as the prize!We also visited Mariental to hear a presentation on AIDS (which was very tedious, mainly because of the heat) and hear an informal performance from the Haardap Youth Choir– who sang amazing songs with beautiful harmonies – I’d love to get my hands on some of them to produce a musical! Performance seems to come so naturally to Namibians, they all seem to have rhythm and be able to sing in harmony. No one seems to be the least bit shy about singing or dancing either.We also had a presentation about the dangers connected with spiders, snakes and scorpions! It was kind of freaky in a‘aggahhh we’re all going to die horrible painful deaths’ kind of way until I really thought about it and realized these creature are not the most dangerous in Africa. Nope it’s not the hippo or damned mozzie either – it’s humans. I’m far more likely to be attacked or murdered by a human than a snake lurking in my loo and far more likely to hit by car/bus than bitten by a poisonous spider hiding in my footwear. So I’ll be careful but not paranoid!The training and seminars were interesting, useful and well presented but the social side of things was, for me, the high-light of the week. We’ve played football and frisbee (with some violence) lots of cards (Asshole, Shithead, and Cheat– with lots of violence, spilled beer and philosophical arguments on the limits of cheating allowed in cheat) and drank rather a bit! We went on a game drive (didn’t see much but it was nice to getout) ‘played’ in the pool (very small and a bit dusty but nice in the hot weather) invented games (‘Bugger’ by Steve and ‘Pool Runnings’ by Katy and Steve) and generally enjoyed ourselves!The food was good all week, especially pizza night; although the early pizza were burned and a bit experimental and the later ones had a limited choice of toppings, mine was fantastic!! ON the final night we had a farewell party (also to celebrate Jo and Mignon’s birthdays) with a braai (Brian killed and help prepare the lamb) and cake! And lots of dancing to Coq Time*!*The Coq Time phenononem began the first night when the owner played an Afrikaans pop tune called‘Captain’ – I think its about a the sea or a ship – but with the accent it sound like he was saying ‘cock time’. Steve was captivated by this and made an effort to work it into all conversations until the week became ‘International Coq Time’ instead of ‘In Country Training’ The bloody tune is kind of stuck in my head too!The week was rounded off with another chilled weekend in Windhoek. We got back on Saturday afternoon, in time to have lunch in Paul’s Café and later headed out to celebrate Mignon’s 30th bday some more. It was also Louise’s last night so it was a great excuse to party. Went to El Cubano – a Afro-cuban bar/night club that played everything from hip hop and salsa to Jive Bunny and Boy George!On Sunday afternoon we headed to Katutura Municipal Pool for a birthday picnic (part 3 of Mignon’s 30th bday celebrations) We were the only white people there so we attracted a lot of attention (that and we had quite a bit of food with us) we ate, swam (or splashed about) and played some more cards (Uno this time – one of the local boys watching us remarked it looked like a great game as the idea of it seemed to be “keep insulting each other as much as possible”) We – Jelda and I – spent the evening at Kat and Steve’s (more eating, more card playing) before Cam and Yvonne picked us up for the trip back to Okahandja. They stayed the night before their long trip back to Rundu/Mpungu, which meant another late night of beer and movie/photo swaping.This volunteering thing is a tough life , but now back to reality!