|Day 12-13 Overland: Rundu is beautiful and drastically different from the other parts of Africa we've seen so far. The landscape becomes quite tropical - green grass, palm trees, different types of foliage we've never seen before. And built amongst all this greenery were the villages. Their huts were made out of dirt taken from the termite mounds with conical shaped thrashed roofs. Every time our truck passed these villages, the people from within waved and the kids ran along side the truck, pounding their right fist against their left chest, a sign of welcome in these parts. The women work had here; some even carrying as much as 25 Liters of water balanced perfectly on top of their heads. When we arrived in camp, we thought we had a little slice of paradise, with the exception of the mosquitoes here that carry malaria, the cerebral type. No matter how much insect repellent and DEET we put on, they still managed to find us and some managed to sting me through our clothes. They even surprised us several hours before sundown, catching us completely unprepared. Despite this, the camp was more than comfortable with several ablution blocks, a bar with a huge sitting area to lounge around, and even a swimming pool. We spent the afternoons lounging about, the first opportunity to do so on our excursion and cooled off in the pool when the sun beat down hard midday.
In Rundu, we had the unique chance to tour the village, visit the local school, and even go to church. The school here is so poor! The government provided only 20,000 Rand per year (3,333 US dollars) to serve over 700 students. Many of the kids have various problems with illnesses such as HIV, TB, or pregnancy. Besides, many of the parents, being uneducated themselves, still do not see the importance of sending their kids to school regularly. Most of the kids in school come because they want to continue. It's not uncommon to see a 21-year old student attending school at the primary level. The children at the school greeted us with a song, their country's national anthem. They were really beautiful! We found Africa and its people pulling us in daily. We are falling in love with this harsh land and everything that lives and breathes upon it. In Africa, even the earth feels alive.
After chatting with the children and touring the school, we went to visit the chief of the village. He was truly wise in our opinion, and he asked us tough questions. He wanted to know what we were going to do with our knowledge of his village once we return from where we came. Were we there simply to take pictures and leave or will we do something with what we've learned? He was especially happy to learn that we were school teachers, and told us how important it was for teachers in providing not only basic education but the necessity of teachers to step outside of their own worlds so we can learn and share knowledge about the world. After our visit to see the chief, we attended a local church. The choir! The choir! The amazing choir! We wish we could have recorded their amazing voices! They had better voices then any we've ever heard of in CDs of African songs sold in the US. The church building was simple, only concrete blocks cemented together. But the choir's beautiful voices resonated against the walls and decorated the humble building. After they sang us several songs, the priest gave a sermon, then asked if our tour group would be willing to sing for them! Our group, being made up of so many different nationalities, was totally dumbfounded; we were unable to find a common song we all knew. We finally broke out in Jingle Bells, but we were really, really awful. We could tell by the looks on their faces that they thought the same, but they were really polite about it and clapped and cheered loudly for us in the end anyway. We capped off our stay in Rundu watching a traditional dance during sunset. Africa definitely has us under her spell - her people we will not soon forget.