Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Many Tasty Wines of South Africa

Ah, wine. What we can’t find in tasty beer here, Namibia makes up for it in wine. We can’t wait to visit the Southern African wineries when we are done service. In the meantime, we sample and enjoy tasty wines available at our local liquor store here in Rundu. Booze is sold Monday – Friday at all times when the stores are open (generally 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.). On Saturday you can only buy booze til 1 p.m. On Sunday you can’t buy any. It’s why we like to stock up : )

Here’s a sampling of the wines we like and their cost. All prices are in Namibian dollars and are rounded up to the nearest dollar. Roughly one American dollar yields 10 Namibian dollars.

  • Drostdy-Hof Claret Select – This wine gives a PCV the most bang for their buck. 6.6 bottles of wine for $155. A bargain!
  • Swartland Winery Dry Red – A good wine. Maybe what we’d call a “house wine” back home? $37
  • Goats do Roam – A red wine blend of 62% Shiraz, 14% Mour Vedre, 11% Grenache, 9%% Durif, 2% Cinsaut, 2% Carignan. This is one of my favorite wines, ever. It goes down smooth. The winery is fair trade. And the title is a play on words for the fancy French wine Cotes du Rhone. Goats really DO roam around and live at this winery in South Africa. $64
  • Edgebaston’s The Pepper Pot – We first had this wine at Nunda Lodge in Divundu. It is my favorite here in Nam so far. A blend of 85% syrah, 24% Mourvedre, 12% Cinsault, 8% Grenache, 4% Tannat, 1% Viognier. I was so excited to see it in the store today. $85.

I’d be curious if anyone back home has sampled these in the USA. I know I’ll be looking for them when we get back home!



1 Comment

Filed under Peace Corps Namibia Blog

The Cost of Groceries Part 2

I did another grocery store run to get some other essentials and thought I’d do a follow up to my first grocery store post. The total cost for this store run was $356.

All prices are in Nam and rounded up to the nearest dollar. About one American dollar yields ten Namibian dollars:

  • Doritos – the Dorito labels here look the same as home but don’t be fooled – the flavors are different. The cheese supreme is the closest one to tasting like the one from home. You can only find tortilla chips in the capital so if we make Guacamole we use the cheese supreme Doritos to dip them in. Sounds kinda gross but I’ve grown to love it. $21
  • Good coffee- South African made. Medium Roast ground. This will last us about 3-4 months for fresh French press coffee on the weekends and the occasional weekday. It is worth the splurge. $85.
  • Bag of chicken breasts – More expensive than the chicken pieces but sometimes you don’t want to deal with bones. $83.
  • Bag of sweet potatoes – $25
  • 18 large eggs – $40
  • 2 avocadoes – $41. You can find these cheaper in some stores but they are also still hard to find. But I’m so glad we can find these here b/c I love them, and they are cheaper in certain seasons.
  • Premium Windhoek Lager, 750 ml – $14. Yep, $14, which is $1.40 American, not even $2 American dollars! Some cool drinks (sodas) here are more expensive than beer b/c the beer isn’t imported. It’s still startling to pay $17 for an Appletzier (a South African cool drink) and $14 for a beer!
  • Mama’s cold powder wash – We use this detergent to hand wash our clothes. This 2 kg bag will likely last us til the end of service in July. $52

On my walk to the grocery story I ran into 3 of my learners, at the wine store I ran into a learner’s mom, and then on the taxi ride home the Taxi driver and other passenger were grilling me about how they could get visa’s to live in the United States. “GEORGIA! NEW YORK CITY! We’ll come visit you!” : ) Pretty typical afternoon of errands.



Leave a comment

Filed under Peace Corps Namibia Blog

Teacher of the Week – Narema Bezuidenhout


Name: Narema Bezuidenhout  

From:   Cape Town, RSA (Republic of South Africa).

Tribe and Mother Tongue-  Coloured, English. **In Namibia people describe themselves as coloured if they are black and white mix. I’ll allow Wikipedia to explain in more detail**

How long have you lived in Rundu?

My husband was born in Grootfontein, grew up in Windhoek. We moved to Rundu in 1995.

Grade and subjects you teach-

Grades 8 – 12 Afrikaans 2nd Language

How many learners do you teach on a daily basis this year?

I teach 210 learners a day

How long have you been a teacher?

Qualified in 1983. Teaching for 9 years.

What inspired you to become a teacher in Namibia?

My dad inspired me. I did not know what to do in my teens. He must have seen something I did not. When I started teaching in Grootfontein I realised that this is what my passion is; teaching.

What do you think are some of the challenges of being an educator and education in Namibia?

Teaching facilities like classrooms size too small, furniture inadequate, the heat – no proper ventilation. Technology in classrooms virtually non-existent.

No easily assessable resources for teachers to make specific lessons in various subjects interesting; not exposed/connected to other teachers from other schools; or a better way to teach something other than the way you have done it all the time.

Learners are mostly from a poor household not having regular meals, some are embarrassed and will not openly admit it. Learners do not have a comfortable area on the school premises to have their lunch. Learners have to carry many books in their bags every day. Text books become damaged and get lost easily

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be doing?

Office work – paper work.

Who was your most influential teacher and why?

Books have been most influential for me. Reading various books about children and their experiences, made me realize how important experiences are and the influence it can have on their lives (positive or negative). This motivates me.

When you’re not teaching, lesson preparing or marking, what do you like to do for fun?


What has been your best teaching moment? For example, something great a learner said to you, a learner who you taught who is succeeding later in life, etc.

I was arranging a class party and one learner volunteered to bring meat for the whole class. I asked him if he was sure and should ask his Mom. He confirmed and said he was aware that there were 50 learners. On the day of the party he asks permission to go home to bring the meat which was ready. He returns with a bowl of 10 pieces of fried chicken. I was upset that it was far too little and that he did not keep his promise of providing meat for everyone. (other students made salads) When the time came to serve the class, I called him to serve the chicken himself. To my surprise he breaks a piece of chicken from each piece and offers it to the students. Some learners at the end of the line did not get any but no one seemed to be upset nor complained. I was puzzled.

I asked about this and was told that people share everything, even if it is a little that they have. That is the way it is. So all his friends were satisfied with what he could offer them.

What is your favorite part about teaching? Is it in the actual classroom or outside?

In the actual classroom, interacting with learners.

Why do you enjoy working with youth?

Youth have energy and most are eager to learn. This gives me energy and trying to find new ways to teach at their level. Each of the different personalities are so interesting, and trying to find out positive or strong character traits in them.


Filed under Namibia Teacher of the Week, Peace Corps Namibia Blog

Reader of the Week – Esther Sipendo


Esther Sipendo, Library Prefect, Grade 7B, 13 years old

What do you love about books?

I love books because they tell nice stories and they inspire me to learn new words. The more books I read the more marks I get! **similar to the American system/grade point average, learners earn points or marks based on how high their grades are class. Marks/points go as high as 40 points**

What is your favourite book or author and why?

My favourite book is The Magic School Bus.  I like it because it reminds me of the time I went for a school trip in a bus.

What inspires or interests you to read books?

Books inspire me to write in English and to learn all the difficult words.

What kind of books do you like to read and why?

I like to read about advntures and about wild animals. I like stories with pictures.

What are some of your goals and dreams?

My goal is to finish my school and become a teacher. I also want to make my own library to help and feed the needy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Peace Corps Namibia Blog, Reader of the Week

Learner of the Week – Rosemary Haireka


Rosemary Haireka, 14 years old, grade 8

What is your tribe/mother tongue?

I am not very fluent in my mother tongue. I usually speak English. I am a Kavango.

What is your favourite thing about school?

My favourite thing about school is that I always learn something new each day, therefore I gain knowledge and wisdom.

Who lives with you at your house? What are some of the chores you have to do at home?

I live with my aunt, uncle and four cousins. I usually cook, wash the dishes and sweep the floor.

What would you like people in America to know about your country, Namibia?

Namibia is a very beautiful country that has a very rich cultural background. It is also very friendly and welcoming.

What are some of your goals and dreams? What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be a very independent and successful woman. I would like to be a chartered accountant.

What is your favourite thing about your culture and Namibia?

I love that a person with a very different background can feel at home in Namibia. In my culture, we are very disciplined people. That is something I really like about it.

Who is your hero and why?

My mother is my hero because she does all her best to provide my sister and I. She gives us a better life than she had herself. She struggled in life to be the successful woman that she is now. I cannot wait to attain all my aspirations in life so that I can take care of my mom and pamper her as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Learner of the Week, Peace Corps Namibia Blog

Learner of the Week – Martha Siyamba


Martha Siyamba, 13 years old, Grade 8

What is your tribe/mother tongue?

Kavango (Rukwangali)

What is your favourite thing about school?

Reading and exploring new things and seeing my teachers and friends.

Who lives with you at your house? What are some of the chores you have to do at home?

I live with both my parents and brother and sister. I wash the dishes and water the garden.

What would you like people in America to know about your country, Namibia?

The cultures and the development, the minerals and the animals, too.

What are some of your goals and dreams? What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to become a marine biologist.

What is your favourite thing about your culture and Namibia?

I love Namibia because of all the things it has. I love my tribe because of the taboos and myths.

Who is your hero and why?

My hero is Hendrick Witoboa because he saved and fought for our country.

Leave a comment

Filed under Learner of the Week, Peace Corps Namibia Blog

A Typical Day and Week

Namibian schools have 40 periods in a week. Last year I taught 28 English periods in a week, with an average class size of 50 learners in a class. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) are only supposed to teach 70% of what a normal Namibian teacher teaches (we are volunteers, afterall). Most of my colleagues teach 35-38 classes a week, with the same class size. That means that most days break time is their only time off (9:50-10:20). There is no staggered lunch break here, everyone is off at the same time.

Needless to say, teaching that much constantly and consistently is a very tough task. It is part of the reason PC is asked to bring teachers over – to help alleviate the load of teaching for current teachers. I found myself very consumed with lesson planning, marking and teaching.

This year my teaching load is significantly less to focus more on secondary projects (namely the library and girls club). Now I teach 2 periods a day/10 a week – 1 English and one BIS (Basic Information Science – teaching them how to use the library mostly). Last year I had 220 kids. This year I have only 47 for my English class. BIS is a “non-promotional” class meaning the learners only have it once a week, and it’s not graded. While I have a lot less classes, I am still busy. For those out there that think PC is a 2 year vacation, I guarantee you it is not for some of us. But it’s ok, because for the most part I have enjoyed the work. 🙂

Though I feel as if there’s really no “typical day” or week when you are living overseas, here’s a rough idea of what my weeks and weekends have been like the past 1.5 years:

Monday – School 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Marking/cleaning up, etc from 2- 4p.m. Community pool meeting from 4 p.m.-5 p.m. Josh, fellow volunteer JT and myself are trying to revitalize the pool at my school that currently sits empty. Workout/shower from 5-6. Dinner, library prep or lesson prep and/or Downton Abbey watching, Modern Family Watching, Orange is the New Black watching, calling family/friends from home or reading/writing from 6- 10 p.m.

Tuesday – School from 7 am. To 1 p.m., then Library open from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Hungry Lion half priced chicken special lunch with friends from 2 – 3p.m. Since Hungry Lion is close to Shoprite, I may grocery shop after this. Workout from 5- 6 p.m. Dinner, marking, library prep and/or t.v. watching or reading/writing from 6- 10 p.m.

Wednesday– School from 7 am. To 1:40. Wednesdays school is one period longer b/c on Monday first period we have assembly and need to make that period up. Lunch from 1:45- 3 p.m. Mark/library prep/read/write/tv/workout from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Thursday – School from 7 am. To 1 p.m. Library open from 1 – 2 p.m. Lunch and prep for Girls Club from 2-3 p.m. Girls club 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Workout 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Dinner, marking, library prep and/or t.v. to decompress, or reading/writing from 6- 10 p.m.

Friday– School from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. Relax!! Do errands, laundry, grocery shop, etc. From 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. TGIF! Dinner and/or drinks/Sundowner at Kavango River Lodge with friends from 6p.m. – 9 p.m.

Saturday – Some Saturdays I start with Yoga in the morning with a few learners, usually around 9 a.m. Afterward breakfast with French press coffee or chai tea (thanks to those who have sent packages!) as a treat. You can buy French presses here (or coffee plungers as they call them) . After breakfast we will usually do laundry (hand wash), read, mark papers (me), try to catch up on email, etc. Grocery shopping may happen. If our PC daughter is visiting, we will do a workout together and have a long leisurely breakfast.

Sunday – Getting ready for the week domestically and professionally. Cleaning the flat. Hand washing Laundry. Lesson planning/marking. Workout. Read/Write. Cook a big meal so we have leftovers for the week. My best friend Laura and I have had a long standing phone date since we graduated college in 2003 and I’m happy to say we’ve been able to keep it going during our time here. Sundays are usually when we catch up for 1-3 hours. She has an iphone so we are able to Facetime (only audio, video sucks up too much data/costs more). Sometimes the connection is awful but most days it has been fine.

We are fortunate to live in an incredibly beautiful area, right on the river. On the weekends sometimes we try and get out to nearby Hakusembe Lodge and just 2 hours away is our Namibian “happy place” Divundu. In Divundu we laze along the river and enjoy gourmet meals at a bargain (American) price.

Hope that gives you an idea of what my world is like on a daily basis in case you were curious. If we lived in a rural area we may have to fetch water or do more activities in the daylight if we didn’t have electricity. But we are fortunate to have running water in our house as well as electricity.

In many ways our day-to-day is not too extremely different from what my life at home would be like if I was a teacher. We spend a lot more time at home here b/c there aren’t the abundance of restaurant or activity options. Honestly, it’s kinda nice : )

Leave a comment

Filed under Peace Corps Namibia Blog