Term 2 finished successfully without a hitch – and without a surgery, and hopefully Term 3 will keep up the trend!
My parents arrived in Namibia on August 18th and drove down to my site the next day. It was the first time seeing Dad in a little over a year and Mom in eight months (we were briefly reunited last December).
The first day with them was almost surreal – it was hard to believe that my parents were in Namibia, let alone my little house! What was even harder to believe was that the night before they got sat as the same table as the Peace Corps Namibia country director – aka my boss – at dinner.
I was so excited for them to finally see where I live and to meet my friends and colleagues at school. They didn’t get to meet the learners, but maybe next time!
We stayed at my site for the first two days while I wrapped up my work for the term. My dad was able to go for a jog around the sports field track, and my mom helped me around the classroom and even made me a teaching aid! They stayed at a friend’s farm nearby where they were treated to lamb on the braai and homemade pizza.
Then, we were off! We made a short stop at the house of one of my Namibian families and joined them for celebrating the night before the Festival of Eid, one of the holiest celebrations in Islam. We were honored to be invited and my parents were welcomed in like family.
We then set off for Swakopmund, making quick stops at the Peace Corps office in Windhoek and Okahandja, where I spent my first two months in Namibia for training. We then arrived in Swakopmund, one of my favorite little towns because of its proximity to the ocean. Our first night, my mom and I split a bottle of Fat Bastard Shiraz, and my dad swore it was named for him.
We didn’t do a major activity while we were in town, we walked around (and I got to have my favorite olive, tomato, mozzarella sandwich for lunch) and also drove along the road that splits the desert dunes from the sea.
We then headed up north to Damaraland. It was a little difficult getting there due to bumpy roads and an accidental detour, but we made it to our first lodge, Doro !Nawas, relatively unscathed. The lodge is beautiful and secluded, with little cabins (which isn’t really the right word – they were more like chalets) that overlooked plains and distant canyons.
Shortly after we arrived, my mom and I went on an elephant drive and after nearly two hours of searching, we stumbled upon a family of desert-adapted elephants – including a 9-month-old baby! We followed them for a while and where able to get up pretty close. They didn’t seem to mind!
Dinner was under the stars, complete with blankets and hot water bottles to combat the chill. The staff sang to everyone and was incredibly kind. I was able to practice my KKG language skills with them, and they were super patient with me and my mistakes.
The next morning my mom and I set out early for the Twyfelfontein to see rock carvings that range between 2,000 and 6,000 years old. The site is also the first heritage site in Namibia and was well worth the visit.
We wanted to stay at Doro !Nawas longer, but we pressed on to the next lodge, Ugab Terrace, which was perched on top of a cliff overlooking Mesas and a famous rock called the Fingerklip (honestly, it looks like a giant middle finger). Mom and I explored some nature trails while dad went for a jog, and we took full advantage of our downtime to relax.
The next day we headed out early (the funny thing about this “vacation” was that I never got to sleep in) and drove out to Etosha National Park. We checked into the Mondjila lodge and immediately set out on a guided game drive through a section of the park. Joseph, our guide, was extremely knowledgeable about all of the animals and where they might be during that time of day. We saw more springbok than we could count (this made my mom feel better about the fact that they are eaten everywhere all the time). We also saw other game like kudu, oryx, impalas, and zebra. We saw ostriches. Oh yeah, we also saw lions. At one point there were two lionesses just chilling like 10 yards away from us. They calmly sat there, basking in the sun while no less than 10 cards crowded a bridge nearby in order to snap a photo.
On Monday, we left Mondjila and went on a self-drive to the other side of the park. We saw even more than the previous day and were able to get up super close. We saw several giraffes (my mom cried because she strongly identifies with them…she had a growth spurt early in life), elephants, rhinos, and about 600 more zebras. Also the weirdest looking bird I’ve ever seen in my life called a secretary bird.
Once out of the park we checked into our last lodge of vacation, the Onguma Bush Camp. The lodge has its own 200km reserve on which they have their own drives, including one at night, but we decided to relax by the pool instead. I even beat Dad in a game of chess…granted, he helped me but I still won.
Tuesday we began the final leg of our journey back to Windhoek. My parents took me shopping for home. We had excellent Pad Thai and sushi for dinner, which was the perfect way to end vacation in my opinion.
Wednesday, after a grocery run, my parents drove me back to my site to help me get settled back in for Term 3. After one last lunch and a tearful goodbye, they hopped in the car and went back to Windhoek for their final night before heading back to NC.
I am so happy that my parents were able to travel all this way to come and visit me. I wish we had more time together, but I’m happy for what we had! And now I only need to wait three and a half months to see them again, because I will be coming home for the holidays in December!