Challenges & Sugar hangover

I woke up today not feeling so good as I have been lately… My head was pounding, legs were heavy, couldn’t get my ass out of bed and my eyes felt puffy. I retraced my steps from yesterday. What did I eat, what did I drink. I went digging in the bin and found my empty lemon beer in the trash, but no change during the night; it still said Non-Alcoholic beer… So this was not a hangover.

Me and my Non-Alcoholic Lemon Beer

Then I went over my food from the day before, which seemed not so bad. Brown rice, some meat, veggies, oven baked carrots & pumpkin & beetroot. Egg sandwich for dinner. Sort of healthy.

Aaaah finally I got IT!

When we woke up from our afternoon siesta, we both felt like having “something” but we didn’t know what that something was… So into to the car we climbed, and drove to a Shell gas station that has a convenience store with the basics. Richard opted for a soda. I on the other hand still didn’t know what I wanted so went a little overboard and I convinced myself I can celebrate since it was a public holiday. (Namibia’s 29th Independence Day) I bought peanuts, Magnum Ice Cream, Cookies & Cream white chocolate bar. I ate all of them as soon as we left the parking lot!

I had a SUGAR HANGOVER!!!

Day 1 TapOut XT

It’s been about two weeks now since I started the “New Me” project. To be honest this was suppose to start after New Year, just like everyone else’s when they make their promises of getting fit, eat healthy, loose some weight and have a dry January. But for months I came up with excuses not to start. Or as I always said to myself -I will start NEXT Monday. Week after week that Monday came and the same thing, -Next Monday. Until I just had enough! This was it! Now or never moment!

My exercise calendar

I decided to start TapOut XT again from the start, 3 months, and then progress onto TapOut XT2 for another 2 months. So a full 5 month exercise plan.  (I’ve spoken about TapOut so often here and I’m not going to bore you again with the details of the workout! But definitely google it if you are interested! An ass kicking workout program for those who love MMA workouts & the UFC). I’m on week 2, and feeling great. Sore but great. Truthfully my plan was just to get fit and get some muscles back not so much to loose weight. Well loose a little bit obviously since you cannot see abs under a layer of fat..! Hahahaa.. Plan is just basically to get back to where I was 2016, the me I knew and liked.

 

That is not the only challenge I threw at myself. I also left alcohol for a while. I have been thinking of doing it for a while now but never really thought I could do it. It was such a habit of ours while we lived in London to have a glass (or two) of wine once you get home from work everyday. That habit followed us to Namibia. To kick the habit I did really well last year and I used to only drink during the weekend and leave the week alcohol free, but since Christmas I sort of fell back in to it. So easily done here. Everyone drinks here everyday. Drinking became a norm in every occasion. If it was a “good day” or a “bad day”, visitors popped around or a evening braai; the event was a cause for a glass of wine (or BOX in our case!).

To be honest I did not think I would get further than the first weekend and would fall at the first hurdle; SATURDAY EVENING. But no, I am on day 14 at the moment and feeling quite proud of myself. I am in my “training mode” for sure! And I found out all the crap about when you leave alcohol for a while -you sleep better, -your skin clears up, -you feel energized, -you have motivation, they all turned out to be true! I feel Great! 🙂 Although the sleep thing might be due to my Spike Mat which I started up again and lie on every evening before bedtime for 10-15 minutes. I also found out not every occasion needs alcohol and I still do the same things and I have started exploring Non-alcohol beers and refreshments, they taste just like cocktails.  I am not taking this challenge that seriously and I am not saying I’ll be a non-drinker for the rest of my life, but my first goal is just to go alcohol free until Easter. If I want a glass of wine at Easter I will have one, if I don’t feel like it or don’t want to break my good streak, I will not. Then I will try go without alcohol all the way till my birthday 21st of June. Midsummer! 🙂

My Weights made out of bottles and sand

My wall of Motivation and exercise equipment, bands, spike mat…

The third challenge I threw in the mix was to start the 5.2 fasting program. I am not going to say DIET here because it is mostly a lifestyle way of eating and you could do it for the rest of your life (eventually 6.1) and not “diet your way through it”. But I was on it in Finland a few years back and I really got good results (lost 10 kg in 3 months while also doing TapOut). You feel lighter and have way more energy because you are not so “stuffed” all the time. I was in a bad way last year and I really need this!  (the method is you eat normal for 5 days and keep 2 fasting days a week when you only eat around 500 kcl.) Although this is probably the hardest challenge of the three I am sticking to it. Also on day 14. It’s harder here than in Finland where everything is labelled so you know how many calories you have left during your fasting days. Here it’s usually my home-cooked meals so use myfitnesspal as a guideline for calorie consumption. I struggle watching Richard stuffing his face in the evenings while I get a piece of salad on my fasting days…!!! Every Tuesday & Thursday. I have started to “save” most my calories towards the evening so I can also enjoy some meat with my salad. Or it’s Soup and vegetable purée all the way… I get so cranky and ill tempered towards the evenings on fasting days! Hangry!

We have a bad habit of eating heavy meals in the evening as it is our main warm meal of the day. So imagine stuffing meat, potatoes, rice, gravy and veggies at 21.30 then sleeping by 22.00. That was our life for years, even in London already. I obliviously  know it’s not good to eat so late or so heavy but that was our way. I’ve made adjustments lately so even on normal eating days I tend to just have protein and veggies and leave all the pasta, rice, potatoes out of my evening meals. Richard can eat as he pleases!

I threw so many challenges for myself at one time, one is surely to fail! Which one, I don’t know yet… So far 2 weeks and all 3 challenges are going according to plan. 🙂

Motivational quotes on my wall

As I mentioned earlier yesterday was Independence Day. It was a public holiday and Richard was off as well. Most companies had planned to be closed for Friday as well so many people had a long weekend here in Namibia. The road to the coast has been super busy. The school hostel opposite us was closed too and the kids had a long weekend so we didn’t have the annoying alarm on at 4.30 am this morning! Independence day didn’t seem like big deal here, but there was some celebrations in bigger cities and the capital.

Oubaas supervising the braai

Morning walkies and breakfast at the riverbed

Oubaas is growing fast, he is already 4 months old! And he did his first “big boy pee” with the leg up yesterday, such a proud mom moment!! His character is also growing, and we need to be firm with him sometimes, he’s just like a hurricane if he wants to be! I really suck as a trainer and I’m sure he just sits because he sees the treat bag and not because I ask him to sit. I’m still trying to figure out how to get him to -stay and -come with the commands, sometimes they work sometimes not… But I’m enjoying the Beagle ride!

There might be big changes happening in our lives in the near future but more about those when our plans clear a bit later on…

 

I can also report: Still NO RAIN! Not a drop… And rainy season is nearly finished. Another dry year. Days are getting shorter and shorter as well. Soon it will be dark already by 6 pm and winter is coming our way.

 

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Welcome to 2019!

Sooooo after so many months of “quiet time” in my blog I have finally managed to get going again… 🙂 I’m a slow starter to 2019!  Frankly, I did not feel like writing anything and every time I started, absolutely nothing came.  Zip! Zero! Nothing!  Nothing to make you guys an interesting read anyways. A lot of crap came yes! Those were all deleted.

I’m not going to dwell on the last few months gap or do a big recap of our Christmas & New Year except to mention they were nice, peaceful and full of joy and baking!

I’m going to mention though that the joy came from my new puppy, which I bought beginning of December last year.

And Yes, I know I know I know… ALWAYS ADOPT before you SHOP!!! This has been my mantra for years now. Since my last hound dog past away nearly 3 years ago, it’s been my dream owning a beagle. A pure beagle or a mix, didn’t really matter. I had been looking for one for over a year already and I was scanning all nearby SPCA’s pages every month religiously! No beagles… And I kept on seeing Facebook adds in different groups -Beagles for Sale, all over Namibia. I started slowly contacting people through the adds in September last year, but I did not found the correct fit, or the location was too far for us to go collect the puppy. And my mantra was kicking me inside my head.  -Don’t buy a puppy since the shelters are full of brilliant pavement specials! Argh!

Until finally November, I had been speaking to a lovely couple and had seen a lot of photos of their puppies that were for sale and pictures of the pups parents. There and then I made up my mind. This little fella is coming home to me! Paid a hefty sum (+ a deposit) and a week and a half later I was on the shuttle bus on my way to the capital Windhoek to collect him! (I had managed to hush my nagging mantra voice but still feel SO SO guilty for buying and not adopting. Maybe I will do donation to the SPCA to help with the guilty conscience)

Let me introduce you to :  (drumm roooollll…..!!!)  OUBAAS!

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Valentine’s Day

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Finland’s Independence Day -Blue and White

Oubaas is Afrikaans and translates ruffly to Master, The Big Boss, Maestro… You know, the Man of the House! We started calling him that as a joke, but it eventually stuck and no other name we tried just compared.. (funnily I actually thought we were calling him Oupa’s which means Grandpa, until Richard corrected me.)

 

He is not the only newcomer to this years mayhem. We also woke up on Christmas Day to a surprise and a half… A yard full of tortoise babies! They were on their way out of their hole when our dogs pointed us to the right direction. Since then we have had baby tortoises from 3 different egg holes around the yard and the total count today is 16!  Sadly we have lost a few, one was a rotten egg, one was dead inside the egg when we checked and Oubaas killed one by snatching it up from their baby pen and playing with him. Needless to say we have made plenty of upgrades to the baby pen since January.  And these little ninja turtles CAN EAT!! They could eat all day if I had enough salad in the house! We are still trying to figure out what to do with them. We cannot keep so many tortoises at the house (you actually need a license to have one, which we don’t even have for Big Momma & Scully, so sshhhh…) they will just keep growing and would eventually need more space, and our yard is not safe. We could give them away or release them, but that can’t be here in Usakos. It’s so dry here, there would be no natural food resource or water anywhere near. Perhaps a large nature park somewhere with green grass and with a good rainy season would be best for them. We haven’t had any rain yet. We did found a pet store in Walvis Bay that would maybe take them, but do we really want to be selling forward natures finest creatures.

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Other than the animal side of things, I was at work with Richard this week.

I got to go and do stock-take with them at the store.

Was a long hot day for me, but normal for Richard, and it was fun as always working with him. It’s always good to get out of the house for a while! 🙂

Mentioning getting out and about… We did a few days in Swakopmund as well this month. It was more of a “business trip” than a relaxation trip but we got both done. We had booked a cottage again by the Jetty Selfcatering Apartments, which I can’t praise enough. If you need a recommendation of a place to stay, stay there! They are always so friendly, welcoming and the rooms are just perfect selfcatering units. We had to book into a much larger cottage this time and not our usual twin room because we had Oubaas with us. We needed a room with a private yard at the back which are dog friendly units.

The reason for our two day visit to the coast was to get Oubaas his second round of shots done by the vet, and for me to get an eye exam. We also had previously tried to get both of us dentist appointments but everyone was fully booked at the time of our visit. Our Swakop trip was coincidentally booked for Valentine’s Day (unintended) and we managed to get a nice meal at our favorite place Tiger Reef with Oubaas (another brilliant recommendation for you and dog friendly!). He got his first taste of fish and calamari! He did very well in Swakop and stole everyone’s hearts. We could not walk further than 50 m until we had to stop for someone to scratch him and people wanted to chat to us about him. He was pooped-out though towards the end or our trip, and I think all the city walking tired him out. Maybe his paws were also hurting from the pavement as he was only used to sand here in Usakos. We had a really great two days by the seaside and it was a big change for us desert people, we had packed all of our winter clothes and woolly socks and relished the cold sea breeze and the noise from the seagulls.

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Richard finally went to the dentist last week after months and months of pain. He came back home with a mouth full of cotton, one swollen cheek and two missing teeth! Auts! They were apparently too loose so the dentist just pulled the two back teeth out, did a full clean and fix one hole. Richard says it’s my turn for a check-up next time… NO!

My eye-test went fine as well with a very friendly optician, no change in my prescription from the last one (2016) so I need to find out another reason for the reoccurring headaches. Also needed a new batch of contact lenses since my stash from Finland is finished. But as I found out after called several opticians in Swakopmund, they do not stock contact lenses in their stores.   (-What!?!  Why everything has to be SO hard here!) They get ordered from South Africa and take up to 3 weeks to get there… I can just order them online from London and get them delivered to Usakos in shorter time than the opticians. But then again there’s no guarantees that I will receive my lenses. Mail often “disappears” here in transit (=stolen). Last time my mom sent me contact lenses from Finland I received them 1 year later. Well at least they were eventually delivered. Many of my Christmas parcels are still in “transit” after 5 years…

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The Evening Sunset from our gate

Not to complain but it been very very hot here lately. The older I get, the less I can stand the heat. It just feels unbearable and tires you out and the joints swell up. Perhaps the heat is the actual cause of my headaches. For 2-3 weeks now the temperature during daytime is minimum 35’C – max 42’C. Evening and the night it doesn’t drop much… Maybe to 28-30’s. We sleep with cold & wet towels around our feet.

Here’s hoping for rainy days…

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Cheers!

Noora

Summer rains, already?

Hellooo again everyone! 🙂

October held a lot of surprises for us. Starting from the beginning…

There had been again many break-in’s at the farm and my mother-in-law lost most of her ducks. The thieves usually come over the fence on a Friday or Saturday evening and pick a few at the time. But one weekend most of ducks were gone, their pens were broken and bent as the thieves tried to catch as many as they could get their hands on. Only a few really young ones and their mothers were left so we decided to bring the rest of the ducks home while the pens needed a lot of fixing and securing.  And just to mention, -Yes, we have told the police and we also know the people behind all of this robbery, but as we have not caught them in the act, there is pretty much nothing we can do.  The police were going to go around the farm and visit the neighbors house to question their workers and get statements from each one of them … but they never did.  I do not have any faith that the police will do anything to help us in any way.  We also don’t have any fancy cameras or night vision things to put up there at the moment. The neighbors are telling us they do not hear anything or any strange noises over the weekends the ducks go missing, but that’s because it’s their own workers who steal the ducks and all of them are probably having nice roasted duck dinners every weekend, so why mention anything to us…

Dill, Mint and Chives are gone…

Well anyways, I had ducklings to look after for a few weeks in October. They were a bit scared at first but got used to me walking around the yard and I filled food & water buckets for them to have a dip and a swim everyday. (they ate all of my rocket, chives and mint from the yard, the little bastards!) We took them back to the farm already, and the pens have been repaired. At night times we lock them up in a big separate “store room” with a lock and open them up again in the mornings. Glad to say, no robbery has happened yet… Fingers crossed!

Thunder & Lightning

The weather has turned hot and Summer is truly knocking on the door.  Also October was officially the start of the rainy season. Usakos does not usually get rain immediately but later on, around December or January (if we get any at all). This month we were surprised, as were a lot of other Namibians around different parts of the country. We got rain! I mean not just a few lousy drips but real rain downpours! Also heavy thunder and lightning surrounded the town.  On the first day we received a whopping 25 mm in a few hours, which is a lot for Usakos. The second day another 22 mm. Other places around Namibia also received plenty of rain and many rivers started flooding, including our own Khan River. It was truly an amazing sight to see! They say the Khan River only flows once every 10 years here…

Sunset over the Khan River

Pond

The heavy rain was very unexpected this time of the year, and it was all over the media and news for days.  Some farmers around Namibia also lost their farm animals due to the heavy rains, floods and the cold weather snap. The goats and the sheep do not fair well in wet and cold conditions here. We are all praying for a good rainy season here and this October start is looking promising for the rest of the season. As happy as we were to receive rain, our yard truly looked like a pond! There was nowhere for the rain to go, so our yard flooded from the outside water tank into the backyard. The ducks loved it!  Everything was wet for days and the rain even came down the gutters to our inside patio. The days after the rain were spent cleaning the mess and drying carpets…

Count 123,1234,12345…

I also went to work last month! 🙂 Richard’s company where he works had stock count so like the previous time in June they asked me to come in for two days to help out and count. They were long days over that weekend and we did nearly a 12 h shift that Friday. But it was nice to get away from the house a bit and do something else, and I earned myself some pocket money! 🙂

 

I have also been baking my own rye-wholemeal-seed bread every week. Mostly because it’s cheap to make your own loaf rather than to buy one and secondly cause it tastes so much better! The shops here only sell white toast bread or brown bread. (But to a Finnish person, the brown bread here is also like the white bread!) I mean it does not even look brown… In Finland we would call that Graham toast, but not by all means is that what we consider as brown bread. So I have in my

Rye bread and white rolls

cupboard Rye flour, Wholemeal flour, Bran flour and a mixture of seeds, which I throw together to make a delicious and filling bread. I always pack Richard some breakfast sandwiches to work, and lately the colleagues there have been asking questions about my bread. Richard also gave them a taste of his sandwich and they loved it. So now I am getting “bread orders” from the colleagues and I am baking loafs of seed-rye bread for them too!!! This week I have already made 6 loafs! Soon I will be running low on my Rye flour, and that is the perfect excuse to go visit the coast to go buy some more and spend a few days by the beach in Swakopmund! (you don’t get this rye flour anywhere near here) Also Christmas is slowly creeping in and I always do a shopping trip to Swakop for my Christmas foods and gifts at some point. One more month and I can get the tree up and start decorating!! 🙂

The African TV

Many Saturday evenings in October where spent outside watching TV = fire , just because it was too hot to stay inside the house. The house seems to keep the hot daytime air & sun in the walls and it does not get enough time to cool of during night time. There were a few days where daytime temperature was 39 ‘C and evenings 22 ‘C, all throughout the night… I still walk Luna every evening but tend to keep the walks short on the days where it gets so hot and only after the sun has nearly gone down. I don’t want her to get too hot! Lot’s of animal activity in the river bed after the rains, we have seen goats, horses, donkeys and many different kind of birds during our walks.

Look how green after the rains!

Nothing much else to report on October… The Treehouse bar next door still remains closed, which guarantees peaceful and quiet sleeps during the weekend. Except the mosquitoes which are attacking me in full force! They are like a little army!  Thankfully we now have our net up over our bed so night time they can’t get to me.

So November has begun… Today also marks for me 1 year of staying put in one place! The last 3 years have been exhausting moving up and down between Finland and Namibia for work, and not seeing my husband unless through Skype. Last year this time I left Finland and have been by my husbands side for a full year! Let’s see where I will be next year… Hhhmmm…

Until next time… xxx

Noora

-Edit:  Typical!!!  After 8 hours from writing the last bit… The owner of Treehouse appeared, and started cleaning & stocking up the bar. They told us Treehouse is opening today, Friday night!!!! Aaaarghhh!!!! There goes my sleep….. 😦

 

Life in pictures

Without going into too much detail here’s the last few weeks in picture form:

(Note: Vegetarians or people who mind seeing dead animals, close your eyes now!)

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The weather has changed and the Summer is coming. So it was time to bring the old mosquito net back on, since I have been eaten alive every night.

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Big Momma woke up from hibernation due to the warm weather and started doing rounds again in the garden, but ended up on our patio and parked in the middle of Richard’s tools.

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A few customers ordered pigs, so slaughtering started again. At home Richard’s job is to cut the pig.  (into smaller pieces, legs and head off.. then the pig gets cut into chops etc. by the meat saw and packed)

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My breakfast moment in the garden with Papagaio. Note my homemade rye bread -Ruisleipa! 🙂  Papagaio just had butter…

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Testing Richard’s first Fire Stove. We made a nice lamb stew, -potjie pot.

We bought 4 huge chickens from our neighbor. 2 kg chickens. We cut them into drum sticks, thighs, breast pieces etc. and packed them in the freezer. Yesterday Richard made lovely chicken soup!

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A few things I collected from our garden to add to my food and salads. Cherry tomatoes, Wild Rocket, Mint, Basil, Dill, Chives and Rosemary.

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Our evening tea moment. Rooibos tea & Ouma biscuits. And one food obsessed bully.

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This last one is from today. Friday = Cleaning day. Do I need to say any more..!

Have a nice weekend folks! 🙂

Noora

 

Harassment & attempted robbery

Last week Richard had booked some time off from work, a week to be exact. This was great news to me because of two things: 1. I had someone to talk to ! 🙂  2. I did not have to walk on my own through town.

We discussed going to Swakopmund to spend a few days at the beach, but with booking accommodation & high shuttle prices we decided it was a bit of a waste of money for a few days trip. Our other option was to go camping at a nearby guesthouse, but with one car broken and only one running we could not go and leave Richard’s mother without a vehicle to travel back forth the pig farm. Also in fact I knew Richard had his own little projects around the house he wanted to accomplish during that week so I didn’t want to pester him with too much stuff to do and left him to his own devises.

As I resumed my normal routine last week, he kept busy with garden work, fixing the Land Rover, building his own Fire Stoves and other little jobs around the house & farm.  He mostly did the cooking that week, I got the chopping duties, and we had plenty of movie nights. We did manage to get away for one day and went again to Big Brother Guesthouse for a whole day of swimming and braaing (well I swam, Richard did not. Too cold he said!).

As for the second thing I mentioned at the beginning, about walking alone around town, I was glad to have him with me as I don’t get harassed at all while walking with him.

Most of the locals know me by now, and I greet everyone on the street on my way to the store as is accustomed here.  Usakos is a drive through town so we also get a lot of people filling up with gas and supplies here, getting lifts, waiting for shuttle buses and hitchhikers.  And then there are the chance takers, the drunks and the trinket sellers (people who sell shiny little stones they say are diamonds!).  Also by harassment I mean the callings on the street by people I don’t know. Even if I am across the road they would shout from afar to get my attention. I do not mean my everyday conversations with the locals that I consider my “town circle”. With them I have conversations happily anywhere. These are some of the typical out of the blue shouts I get while walking around town everyday:

-Ppssssstttt!!!  psssttt….!!!  (if I look, it’s followed by a hand gesture to come over to beg for money)

-Hey, come here, I wanna talk to you!!  (if I go they either want money or my phone number or the reason why I am in Usakos, this happens always outside the shebeen, a local bar and the people are drunk)

-Hey, how are you, can I get money for bread? (again outside a bar and the guy always smells of drugs and alcohol, so not looking for bread money, he needs 2 N$ for a local homemade beer)

-Give me your number? (Any situation, after every conversation, usually around the gas stations or bars)

-Hey hey, where you going, come here! (take your pick; they want money, number, phone credit, booze & cigarettes or they are selling something = stones)

And my upmost personal favorite…..  -You owe me a cool drink! (translates -go to the shop and buy me a coke)

or in short  -Owe me? (meaning I owe them anything I am carrying in my hands at the time: coins, anything in my bags, cigarettes, beer, or cool drinks)

After living here on-off for 5 years, I am pretty used to this already and do not engage in any long conversations with anyone I do not know. (-Locals, Yes!) I remember the first year after arriving, a man pinched me in my belly while walking down the busy street where vendors sell their vegetables and I was outraged! How dare he touch me!? Richard was also mad, I only told him afterwords. Otherwise he would have decked the guy! He is good at telling people off anyways, if drunks ask him for money he usually tells them to f*** off.  I need to stop being so polite to people who harass me! And Finnish people like their own space, our personal space is wider than the rest of the worlds. Even hugging a relatively unknown person is uncomfortable, which happens here a lot! Namibians are very affectionate, they love their greetings, hugging and giving cheek kisses! Opposite to Finnish! I only hug my mom & dad! 🙂 

But that’s the thing about living here in Usakos, people I meet on the street will automatically assume you are rich cause you’re white and look like a German tourist, and they will want something from you. It’s sad actually that after 5 years I do not have a single friend here. Nobody to go for coffees or drinks at the bar (maybe that’s my fault again, the Finnish privacy thing…). Every time I thought I made a new friend it ends up the same; eventually they want something from me. Be it money or phone credit or free stuff like oranges out of our garden or anything else I might have.

Well going back to subject of walking on the street. The walk to the ATM is the worst! I have to walk through the whole town, the main street, full of vegetable vendors, shops, shebeens (local bars) and the ATM is at the gas station with lot’s of loiters and hitchhikers and you have to have eyes at the back of your head while walking there.  The security guard on duty at the ATM is a joke, and would rather beg something from me than to look after that I don’t get robbed. If I need the ATM I have specific times I have ruled myself to lessen the harassment level a bit. I go early mornings, like 7 – 8 am, then the drunks are not woken up yet. And I only go between Mondays to Wednesdays, then there is less traffic at the gas station = less people shouting at me. Never will I walk there on a Friday or the weekend at any time alone.

 

It’s amazing that I have not had any actual trouble so far in 5 years, robbery being at the top for most committed crime in Usakos. (knock on wood)  I so nearly did! This weekend! At least Richard was with me and acted quickly. We went to the ATM line and it was my turn, Richard stayed outside the glass cubicle. When the ATM spitted out my card, a black guy jumped in there, he was dressed very fine in black pants and white collared shirt and took my card before I could get it and started shouting -This ATM does not work, this is not working! -Go to the other one at the end! -Go! -There is another ATM there!

And all the while he was shouting at me he pushed me forcefully out of the cubicle and covered the ATM slots. Richard acted quick and grabbed my bank card out of this guys hand. Meanwhile my alarm bells started ringing…. Why is he pushing me out IF the ATM  does not work, why is he in a hurry IF it does NOT work. I read the ATM notes on the screen while drawing my money and it said clearly -your card will come out while we count your cash. It did NOT say we do not have cash at the moment. Before walking away I told myself to hold on just for 5 more seconds as I heard the machine was still busy doing something. But the guy had blocked all the ATM slots with his torso still shouting at us that it did not work! Then I heard the machine stop and my 2000 N$ came out! I had to act quickly and pushed my hand between his belly and the ATM slot and grabbed my money before he could do anything! He then knew his game was up! We had not moved away from the ATM quickly enough as he expected so he had to change his game. He then threw his hands up in the air and stepped away from the ATM machine and repeatedly said -Sorry, sorry, I did not know this one works…!

A scam artist! A very well dressed scam artist!  Usually you would keep an eye on the dodgy looking people, not the ones dressed like the gas station manager! I guess if I was a tourist which he obviously thought I was, the scam would have worked.  Here tourists almost always believe everything a local tells them because they do not want to come across as rude. Now as a tourist if a well dressed guy forcefully told you to move to the other ATM because this one is broken, you would believe him as he looks important, like a manager and move to the next one without noticing your money is actually coming out. I mean ATM’s here are notoriously slow, (something tourists are not aware of) the money withdraw takes ages and the time between when you get your card and when the money comes out is long. I guess his scam has worked in the past and thought we looked none the wiser. This whole incident did not last long, only seconds but in those seconds I could have lost my money IF NOT for the warning bells… I put my money in my bag, Richard gave me my card back, and we walked away stunned to what had just happened as were the other people in the ATM line. The guy left the ATM at the same time. We went next door into the gas station to buy phone credit and talked about what just happened. When we came out Richard told the gas station attendants to keep an eye on this guy and we went to our car. As we drove away from the gas station, the same guy went over to the gas station attendants and gave them high fives as to say -Hello, and before walking away from them he made a sign with his hands in his head like we were the ones crazy!

Well yes, saved by the bell, money in hand,  the weekend continued! 🙂

In our town there has been many robbery’s, I mean not just from houses, cars or handbags, but livestock theft is as common. We have lost many pigs, ducks and chickens in the last year alone. The time between October – December is the worst and we keep our house locked all the time. By the time December comes the opportunistic thief’s need money or food for the festive season. Last year Richard’s aunt who lives at the pig farm, was robbed. Her house got ransacked of belongings, then she was tied up and hijacked. The thieves took her car, and drove with her tied up at the back for hours and eventually made her empty her bank account at the ATM before letting her go. She was VERY lucky anything worse happened to her. The court case is still pending after nearly a year.

When we fist arrived here, during our first December period in Usakos, I went to the backyard and saw a man in there! He had jumped the wall into our yard! I called Richard as soon as I spotted him, but he heard me and jumped back out while Richard was busy yelling at him and running after him to the wall. He had stolen cables and pipes out of our yard. We have big high concrete walls in the yard and then the rest of house is covered with long metal fencing and we have burglar bars on every window. We did not have any dogs at that time to alarm us of anything strange. Most people here keep dogs just for this reason. In most parts they are not considered pets here. (Although Luna is spoiled rotten and I consider her my family rather than an alarm!)

Ah and as for the last note I must mention our next door neighbor, The Treehouse (Bar). I know I have complained in the past of the weekends when we get no sleep due to the music, noise and the arguments outside. Now since last week it’s dead quiet and peaceful for the first time! But for a good reason. The bar was robbed!

 

The owner went up north of Namibia to attend a funeral. After he came back 3 days later, the staff had robbed him of everything! All the booze was gone, as was all the money and everything else they could get their hands on. He closed the bar, took the rest of his belongings and left. He told us he is DONE with Usakos! (He owns more clubs and bars all over Namibia so this was not his only one.) He said he will try and find nice white people who will take the place over from him and maybe they can start another bar or a restaurant by Treehouse. He said white people will take care of his place better than renting it out to the black community(?), they just steal everything he said…. 😦 lost for words.

But nice and quiet for us and we all mentioned just the other day, this week has been one of the best sleeps we’we had for years!

🙂

Noora xxx

 

 

Let’s talk trash!

Hi again,

I wanted to write about this topic earlier in the month but every time I sat down, I got sidetracked.  This topic has been all over the news a lot lately, especially in Europe.  So Let’s talk about trash!

Plastic bags, general trash, plastic bottles, beer bottles & broken glass is what I mostly see everyday on the streets, but also garden waste, nappies and cardboard boxes as well.  I am so used to this already that it sort of blends into to scenery.

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These are a few photos I took on our daily evening walk with Luna. It’s not even a long walk, just down to the riverbed on a sanded path, heading towards the sports grounds and then back home. As soon as you step into the sand path there is a dump site, which purpose used to be for people to leave their garden waste. As you can see it’s overflowing, not an uncommon sight here. I don’t know if the town trash collectors are suppose to collect this every week as they do with our house, but I haven’t actually seen them do this lately…

Then all over the branches & bushes are plastic bags flagging in the wind. As we walk along the path the sides are full of litter and plastic.

When you actually hit the dry riverbed, you really need to watch your step for the broken beer bottles. There is glass pieces everywhere and we need to watch out for our paws…  😦 The broken glass usually increases after the weekend and Monday’s are the worst as many people come to the riverbed for get-together’s and they are sitting by the fire or bbq’s,  -with their drinks.

As you hit the sports ground and the seating area (which has not been cleaned for years) you can see more broken glass and plastic bottles under the stadium and the surroundings. We had an event a few weeks ago in Usakos, a football game with many young teams playing against each other in a 2 day football cup. The trash is still surrounding the stadium after 3 weeks and this is not even the kids fault but the parents who came there to support them at the event. Again plastic bottles, broken beer bottles and wine boxes are laying all over the field.

If we are talking trash, I should also mention  -the poo! Watch your step, and do not let your dog run around without a leash. Luna doesn’t usually eat any poo, we trained it out of her. (she was raised at the pig farm surrounded by pig poo everyday) But there has been the occasional lick when it really smells good to her and I am not fast enough to notice! There is poo everywhere along the river and paths. Some are from the animals feeding along the river like sheep, goats and donkeys. Also there is a horse farm nearby so horse poo is not uncommon. But there are no free public toilets here (the gas stations charge 2 dollars for their facilities) the river has also human feces. And I can tell you from experience it’s also not an uncommon sight to see people squatting along the river or in the bushes nearby. Usually I see them on my morning run at the sports ground and try not to stare as I run past…

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These few things I have mentioned are in the center of our little town so I do not even dare to mention what the communities outside of town look like where the poorer people live in their homemade shacks. No electricity and I guess a few water points, some bins, and perhaps a few portable toilet’s.  I have seen some huge mountains of litter! Although some people here burn  their trash every week.

Also this blog is specific to Usakos ONLY , not all Namibia in general.  Swakopmund and the capital Windhoek are the most cleanest cities in Namibia. These are just my findings in our little village.

The amount of plastic bags hanging in the trees all over the roads is overwhelming as you constantly read articles about the sea life and animal problems connected to plastic. Surely there is more we can do to reduce this?! Educate people more on the damage of plastic -at least here in little villages would be the right path… More bins, (with lids I might add) more collection points for general waste & perhaps portable loo’s are just a few suggestions. Recycling being at the front row of this. The trash collecting actually works pretty good on our street, and they come and empty ours once a week. But then where this all goes? Remember we have NO recycling here. Plastic, glass, cans & tins, aerosol bottles all go to one bin and then to one dump site.

I can also mention that the plastic bags are still free in most stores around Namibia, but some stores are already changing this. I think they should all be charged thus reducing people to buy & misuse them. People in town still look at me funny when I do my shopping with my handmade bag. They always ask -No Plastic?

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I also worked in a little shop here and the customers often do demand a plastic bag with their shopping, even if it’s only one loaf of bread. And as soon as they leave the shop they take the bread out the plastic and shuck it on the side of the road. (not all people obviously, but some!)

On a positive note we have had a few Town Clean Up -events, one was organised by the school and their pupils all went around collecting trash from our streets.

Well that’s my little rant over… Compared to the life we had in London and Finland this seems worlds apart!

SAY NO TO PLASTIC!!! 🙂

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Big Brother Guesthouse

To change things up  a bit from our routine, we decided to visit the Big Brother Guesthouse yesterday.  The guesthouse is located really close to us, 10 min walk or 3 minutes by car on the other side of the Khan Riverbed. They welcome day visitors as well for a little fee, and you can relax, swim and braai the day away with stunning views of the Erongo mountains.

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We left a little bit late and were there around noon on Sunday, and happily discovered that we were the only visitors there! We had the whole pool all to ourselves!

The Guesthouse has 7 self-catering rooms, 2 swimming pools (one for overnight guests and one for the day visitors) a lapa , with bar and DSTV on the premises. They also have camping option so you can come with your own vehicle and pitch your tent on the campsite.

It’s a really great place to spend a day, very relaxing and quiet. The staff is also super friendly and will help if you have any questions. We did bring our own drinks to enjoy with our braai and had to pay a little fee for those, but it was minimal.

They also have Ostrich’s and Springbok’s  running in the area next to the pool, and on the other side in the pens goose, ducks and guinea fowls.

As we were the only visitors that day we really had a nice relaxing day. I managed to swim a lot but the water was really cold, too cold for Richard who just did one dip in the pool. We made fire and ate a lovely simple lunch before heading home.

 

We must do a visit soon again!