Well, the term is finally over. The last week was undoubtedly the most stressed I have ever seen Dan. This was because the program that both of our schools are using to generate report cards is something that Dan programmed himself. This means he is the only one to fully understand it and any problems with it must go to him. This also means that even though the program is relatively user-friendly, teachers can feign ignorance and roll their work onto us. I happen to be less kind than Dan (and much less computer savvy), so I spent a lot of the week hiding from the teachers (literally—I spent one morning in the corner of an unused classroom reading a book). I had finished my work and was determined not to get suckered into doing something that a teacher could do for him or herself, and for the most part I succeeded. When a teacher asked me to type something, I kindly declined and said they could do it for themselves. If a teacher genuinely didn’t understand something, I offered to show them how to do it a few times and then let them take over (some teachers seriously come and ask me to make copies for them, as if it’s really hard to place a paper face down and push a button). Because of this, my week was not overly stressful. Dan, on the other hand, was frazzled every day. Teachers made mountains of mistakes and then told him many reports needed to be reprinted, and insisted that they hadn’t made the mistake—the computer had. He was home late and in early, and on Thursday night he even brought a printer home to print reports.
Because he was so stressed, I tried to make his heart happy through his stomach. I would get home and make a nice lunch or snack for him when he came home for his break, which I think was a bit of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy few days. On Friday, we had expected to leave our schools by 9:30. I got home a bit late, around 10:30, and figured Dan would be home soon. I made him some toast and cream cheese and a hot chocolate, and then sat. I waited and waited, but no Dan. Then Meameno, Paulina, Joy, and Justina showed up. They made the time pass faster, but they could tell I was getting irritated. I ended up giving them the hot chocolate because it was getting cold and then, when they seemed intrigued by the cream cheese, I gave them each a bit of the bread. Then the five of us anxiously stared out of the window, waiting to see Mr. Dan appear.
At around noon, I declared that I was going on holiday myself and that I was going to kill Mr. Dan. This led to Meameno claiming that she would assist me in order to take Dan’s place on the holiday, and I agreed. Paulina then expressed concern over the imminent death of Mr. Dan, and suggested that we just beat him instead (yes, just to reassure you, the girls did know this was all a joke!!). Meameno then began picking up large objects and then pretended to scold Mr. Dan for his tardiness. Finally, at around 1, she had her big chance.
As Dan walked towards the house, Meameno flung open the door, broom in hand, and began yelling: “Mr. Dan! WHERE ARE YOU? WHAT YOU DO?!? WHAT YOU DO?!?” Justina then reached for a skein of yarn (man, I bet it sure would hurt to be beaten by a skein of yarn!) and began shaking it wildly at him. Meameno then summoned Joly to join in, and it was about at this point that Dan had collected his thoughts enough to even respond. Because he hadn’t been there for the previous two hours, I think he was really dumbfounded to see Meameno shouting at him (I think her broken English made it a bit hard for him to understand why she was yelling) while shaking a giant broom in his face. Unfortunately the incident ended rather anticlimactically, because I think the girls felt self-conscious when Dan didn’t play along (his confusion combined with his stress made him slow to react), they dropped the joke soon after and then began fumbling to help us with our bags. Dan was carrying our two bookbags and his computer bag (not because I didn’t want to, but just because he had picked them up and I hadn’t gone to take a bookbag from him yet), and the girls began laughing at my light load. Meameno then began lecturing me: “MISS KATHRYN!! MR. DAN IS NOT A DOG!” After we shifted the load around and I had a fair share, we said goodbye to the girls and headed on our way.
As we neared the road, we ran into my colleague who told us that she was going the same way we were going and that she could give us a hike. But for this portion of the post I will hand the writing duties over to Dan.
So the opportunity to ride with this colleague of Kathryn’s (Meme Shidolo) was really too good to pass up since she was driving all the way to Ohangwena—where we needed to be—and we could therefore get to our destination pretty much directly when otherwise we’d have to hike in 2 or 3 separate legs. There was a bit of a snag, though: the back of Meme Shidolo’s truck was loaded up with two gigantic sofas. We sort of thought that maybe we could fit somewhere, but a brief examination of the entire perimeter of the truckbed ultimately revealed that we really couldn’t.
I say “we” couldn’t; in fact, there was barely enough space for one person, and I think Kathryn has a photo demonstrating this somewhere. For now, let me just say that obviously I was that person, and it was agreed that Kathryn and another girl who was riding with Meme Shidolo could both squeeze into the front. (This struck us as an obvious arrangement, but to our bewilderment the girl kept moving as if to get up onto the sofas in the back despite our confused protests. Eventually it was explained to us by another of Kathryn’s colleagues that the girl shouldn’t ride up front due to strict enforcement of traffic laws by Ohangwena. You’re probably thinking, Wait, what? Three can’t sit in the front but it’s OK for two to sit precariously atop two giant sofas jammed into the back? Apparently, that is correct. On a side note, our friend Steve later informed us, upon hearing this story, that it sometimes happens that a truck driver will be pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt when he’s carrying a dozen people crammed into the back.)
Believe it or not, it was a pleasant enough ride for me. The only drawbacks were the clouds of sand and rock that were rocketed into my face whenever another car passed, the occasional feeling that I was going to fall off the truck to my death, and one particularly frightful instant when I had to duck under a tree branch to avoid being decapitated. Those concerns notwithstanding, I quite enjoyed myself up there.
After this, we met up with our friend Steve who drove us down to Windhoek. We stayed the night at our friend Weslie’s, who is always a pleasure to see, and then headed to the airport early this morning.
Our flight was fine and we were one of the first ones off the plane, meaning we flew through passport control and were the first people at the baggage carousel. We were also the last people at the baggage carousel, because the airline lost our bag. It turned out that it just somehow didn’t make it onto the plane with us, and we were promised that it will be in Blantyre tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll just have to go tonight with no toiletries. If the bag is somehow lost tomorrow, it means we’ll be headed to the beach with no sunscreen, insect repellent, or swimming suits. Keep your fingers crossed for us!!