Sunday in Omege
On Saturday, we were supposed to go visit the king of Owamboland (the Northern region that we’re in). However, when we all showed up at his homestead at the appointed time, he was not there. He had gone to Windhoek for some emergency meeting. I was hoping to have something interesting to write about that, but no. When we got home we told our Tate about the unsuccessful visit. He said, “aahh, the king, he is a very fat man. I do not like fat people. Maybe there is something wrong with him, I don’t know.” I originally wasn’t disappointed about not meeting the king, but now I am. He would have been the first fat Namibian I’ve seen. Here, people’s knees are the widest part of their leg. They are very thin. Some of the older people are less thin, and a few tates even sport beer bellies as a sign of their wealth.
Today was Sunday. Sundays in Omege are long days. There is really nothing to do. After these two years, I think I will forever and always feel lucky to by busy – to have things to do. The six of us in Omege decided to be bored together, so we went to the green Cuca shop (about a 40 min walk for us.) Because it has rained nearly every night for about 4 days, there were many Oshanas. The oshanas are huge puddles, or shallow lakes, that form during the rainy season. We heard about these before we saw them, and people described them as if they formed in prescribed, contained places and served some sort of practical purpose. In reality, they tend to form in the “road” (the tracks through the sand that the cars drive on) and on the paths. Anand’s compound is entirely enclosed by these oshanas. Maybe no man is an island, but a homestead can be. Omege is really beautiful with water everywhere – it even looks like a place where people might want to live. Until the mosquitoes come that is.
So we spent our day sitting on the porch of the Cuca shop, drinking cool drinks, playing cards, and watching the people and goats go by. Occasionally, someone would come and introduce himself to us, comment about the weather being nice, and then we just stare at each other awkwardly for a while. It would seem there is nothing to talk about except your own name and the weather. Life is too simple here. The only other variation is “where are you going” or “where are you coming from” – but since we were pretty stationary objects at the Cuca shop, those questions were eliminated.
We met a person claiming to be “The Headman” 3 times today. The first time, about noon, he was drunk already, and he greeted us while we were on the gravel road. He was wearing boxer shorts and a sweater (you have to bundle up when the temp reaches 70F here apparently – everybody had coats and sweaters on.) He kept saying “The weather is nice, the weather is very nice”-etc. The other two times, he was drunker and even happier about the fine weather.
Later, just as we were about to leave, an old man wearing a bright yellow rain suit, an over-sized cowboy hat, and large red sunglasses greeted us. He spoke some English, but it was still hard to know what he was saying. He was carrying an empty whiskey flask and a bag of cooked omacaroni with ketchup. He would talk to us a bit, then dance away, then come back, talk to us, dance away. Very strange. We tried to escape once again, only to return after they shouted at us that he bought a coke for us. So we went back and drank the coke with him. Then he said “sing song” again and again. So we sang “Row your boat”. As soon as the coke was gone and he danced back inside, we ran. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, this happens. We walked home to the sound of distant thunder.
Our neighbor, who is also the principal of the school we train at, has just had 40 of his goats die, somehow from the rain. So there is a big pile of dead goats at his house, which he is selling to people in the village, presumably before they go bad. Our family bought one. So now they are carving up the dead goat in our kitchen. Of course. Oh, just now Desheshe walked in with the goat brain in a bag. Does it get any better than this?