Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weddings and Final Farewells

My last few days in the village were a whirlwind of packing, goodbyes, and mixed emotions. Saying goodbye to the people and the places in Onamutai was one of the hardest things I've ever done. On Friday the learners came to pick up their reports. Seeing the joy in the faces of those select few lucky (and hard-working) enough to earn the requisite points to be promoted to the next grade made every stressful day this year worth it. Yet looking into their faces as we said goodbye, knowing full well that it would likely be the last time I would do so, simply broke my heart.

After school, Kristy and I took one last walk through the village, visiting our favorite market and shebeen and taking pictures. Most of the learners were gathered at the church for some event, and as they came up to hug me goodbye one by one, I wanted nothing more than to spend a few hours hanging out at the church with them. Instead, we went out to Omupanda with the guys for one more night out, one more bakkie ride, some hugs goodbye and promises for an August reunion in Boston. 

Saturday morning I woke up early and went to a wedding with Kristy and TK. We arrived at the homestead where people were milling about, busy with wedding preparations. As TK headed out to attend the ceremony, the women in the family stayed behind to do all the cooking. Never in my life had I seen so much food in one place. Imagine the largest amount of meat you can picture in one place and then quadruple it, and that's just the meat. There were also 3 huge washing basins full of pasta, the largest plastic storage container filled with potatoes, bowls and bowls and bowls of vegetables, 40 kilograms of mayonnaise, and enough Tafel Lager to satisfy and army. Amid the chaos, I managed to find some jobs to keep me busy and helped out by chopping veggies, assembling beef kabobs, and making green salad (because only an American could be in charge of making a non-mayonnaise based salad...). By the time the wedding party returned, the food was ready and the music was bumpin. I spent the night dancing, eating, and talking with new friends. I was even distracted enough to forget for a few hours that I was leaving the next day. But, the end the night came and we returned to the house, driving into the thunderstorm rolling in across the desert. 

In the morning, we woke up, finished packing up my things and piled into TK's truck to drive into town. I said a tearful goodbye to Kristy, TK, and the north, and was one my way to Windhoek.

I think I am still in a bit of denial about the fact that I am leaving tomorrow. As excited as I am to see everyone back home, I can't say that I am ready to go. Namibia has truly become my home over the last year and I will definitely be leaving a large piece of my heart behind. I hope that someday I will be fortunate enough to return for a visit, but until then, I will have to be satisfied with facebook contact, a million happy memories, and pictures of my learners' smiling faces looking down at me from my classroom wall. 

Looking forward to seeing you all soon. Until then, enjoy a few photos from my last days in Namibia.

Last braai at my farewell party.
Two of my favorite grade 9s that came to visit.

View from my stoop.

The market.

Fresh Ideas Bar-- a favorite shebeen.

I'm going to miss these African sunsets.
Last visit to Omupanda.

Just a fraction of the meat at the wedding.

Gift line for the happy couple.
TK and I at the wedding. Doesn't he look sharp
in that yellow jacket?

1 comment:

  1. Wow Jamie, it sounds like you had such an amazing year in Namibia and I can't wait to hear all about it in person! It's so tough saying goodbye to a new home and family and friends, but at least you have so many people in the US who love you and can't wait to see you!! Miss you and can't wait to give you a BIG HUG (and return the sunglasses that you left at my house a year and a half ago).