Outjo Travel Blog

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Reiner's farm the wide open roads

Working at a school in Namibia for two weeks see www.otjikondo.com and www.hazelsfootprints.org


Said our goodbyes to Johannesburg and boarded the flight to Windhoek after getting ridiculously confused in Johnanesburg airport. All the signs seem to send you round in circles! The flight was short but quite turbulent, found out from a guy that was on his annual fishing trip that this is the best rain Namibia has had for 30 years. The ground has never been so green. The airport is quite a way from a town so it felt like the aircraft was landing in the middle of nowhere which was a bit scray.

dinner at Oenitzaub
The airport is v. small and we were picked up quickly by our lift and off we went to the hostel listening to Bob Marley all the way.

Staying for one night at Chameleon backpackers then making the trek to Otjikondo tomorrow.


So this was the proper start to our Namibian adventure! After receiving lots of conflicting information we got onbe taxi to the taxi rank in Windhoek where we picked up another taxi who would take us to Outjo which is about 80km from the school. The taxi to Outjo was fine and it was amazing to see such straight roads on such a flat landscape stretching out into the horizon. The muscic he played was a little annoying, it felt like just one song on repeat and for four hours you end up wanting to bang your head against a brick wall! The road are also very deserted and everyone waves at you as you go past, no chance for road rage here.


We picked up another taxi in Outjo and packed into that which dropped us at the school. It was amazing and quite emotional to see the school sign we couldn't belive we were here. When we off loaded our bags and walked into the entrance the problem we had was that we didn't know where to go, but luckily some very friendly children started to lead us towards Gilly's house. Una spotted us in her car ( Denise's mum) and picked us and our bags us and took us to Gilly. We received such a warm welcome and had a well deserved fruit juice with that hot chocolate on the top of Table Mountain feeling.

The gap flat was our next port of call which is much improved from the flat of Hazel's day. It has a central kitchen and then four different gap bedrooms. We were staying in the pastoral centre and it was better than most of the hostels we had stayed in.

Painting banners
Our tour of the buildings then commenced first with a trip to the grade seven prefects meeting and then on Gilly's quad bike. I didn't realsise the scale of the school and the different types of buildings they would have. Its such an amazing achievement. We had a special tour of the weavers' nest hostel which was built with money Hazel had raised my climbing Killimanjaro, its a beautiful hostel and the children in it were so friendly. We were treated to a variety of songs and even a few dances!

On our travels we met Charlotte, Hazel's sponser child and so many other people that we had heard so much about. It was quite an emotionally draining day especially when you are introduced as Hazel's friends it really hots home how much she meant to the people here.

In the eveing it was the women's singing practice in the church.

Writing thank you letters
They are parctising for a service that will be after we leave, but we thought we would go along anyway. It was fun, but quite chaotic not like Mr Dean's choir practices!


It was an early start to our first morning as it was decided that we should be introduced to the whole school at 6.50am assembly. We dragged ourselves out of bed and made it on time. There are 250 children in the school, but because they are junior school children it doesn't look like many when they are lined up. They look so mart in their uniforms.

After assembly we tried to wake ourselves up a bit more and then set to our first task clearing out the birthday cupboard. The birthday cupboard is where the school stores donations of clothes and shoes which are given out to the children on their birthday.

Beautiful sunset which gave way to lightning on four sides of us magical
This way it is fairer to all and makes the kids feel extra special. Once we had done our sorting and organsing, which was  actually quite stasifying the next task was medical cards. Gilly and Reiner also manage another school called St Michael's and their sick bay has been updated and so the medical cards need organising. They were a bit of a mess and took a long time for us to get our heads round.

About 2pm Sara one of the teachers came into the gap flat and said that they had caught a leopard at the farm. Us and the gaps promptly piled into the back of the backie ( it was quite a squash) and made our way up to the farm. It was quite a long way and very windy, it took tow days for the knots to come out of my hair! The leopard was in a cage down one of the tracks and it did not look best impressed.

St Michael's school
It was a very exciting thing to see and you realised how powerful it can be as it shakes the cage. The leopard had been doing quite a lot of damage to livestock so I think they were quite relieved to ctach it, but they wouldn't tell us what they were going to do with it. We were told its illegal now for them to give the animal to a wildlife/game farm which doesn't really help farmers.

Choir practice was a bit more organised and we had printed sheets. We didn't have music, you just have to hear the harmonies which the women of Otjikondo do very well, but I will hopefully get better. We are singing in English, Afrikannes, Damara and Ovambo.


More medical cards in the morning and then we had a trip to St Michael's as Gilly and Una were going for a visit.

Can't get enough of the sunsets
The school is nearer to Outjo than Otjikondo, but it is set back from the road 8km down a dirt track which seems like forever. We managed to spot some Wharthog in the bushes and saw so many different species of birds. The school has been established a lot longer than Otjikondo and it was the school that brought Reiner to Namibia originally as a lay father in the catholic church. It doesn't seem as good as Otjikonod, but we are told it is a lot better than it used to be. The sister showed us round the hostel which is very neat and tidy, but there are so many beds in each room. We counted forty beds in one room! The kids like Otjikondo are so friendly and are always waving and smiling. When Gilly and Una were finished we headed back for a lunch of salad and carrot sticks which did not impress Katy.
Hazel's tree
We chatted to Una and found out about Hazel's last visit here, it is so interesting to hear about a side of Hazel's life that we knew so little about.

More singing in the evening and off to bed early.


Didn't feel like we did a great lot today, we had the traditional siesta between 1-3pm and then did hymn books for the rst of the time. It got more productive later in the afternoon and we did some medical cards and then helped out with justine's play group. The kids were all so sweet and hugged us lots. We watched the Lion King with them but one liitle girl insisted on giving me a running commentry about who died and who were the bad guys!

In the evening it was choir again and we had to do the dance steps. Me, Katy and the two German girl gaps could no way compete with the beat and the steps of the Namibians. They found it quite funny to watch us trying to dance and it was actually good fun to do although most of the time I had no idea what I was doing.

There was a beautiful sunset tonight which made the sky pink sending pink light on everything- magical. Then the thunder and lightning came but only in the distance.


Today the kids left for the long weekend. Tuesday is their independence day so they get the weekend before off. We watched the assembly to celebrate independance. Each class and each tribe had a different song to sing at the assembly and they were all very good although you could tell a lot of the kids were very embarassed. I still find it strange that everything in school is conducted in english even though a lot of the techers don't speak great english, but they try which is the main thing. Most people speak about three languages here which puts us to shame. There was lots of Namibian flag waving more singing and then the kids left. During the course of the day we had so many different vehicles pass the gap flat, donkey carts ( which are painted such bright colours), backies, trucks, and all sorts of cars. A lot of the kids have to travel a long way and I am not sure I would like to be cramped up in a lot of those cars.

We carried on with our work in the afternoon, and then we had a power cut in the evening. Our head torches came in handy, but we felt a bot stupid because we were sat right in front of a plate of candles and we had been looking around for ages!


Today we started the Edinburgh folder. A company in Edinburgh had read Hazel's journal and had sent loads of donations to the school, clothes, shoes, sleeping bags and books. We were compiling a thank you folder with photos of the kids using the stuff. We also helped to sort out the computer room which is new for this year at Otjikondo.

In the afternoon we went for a fram drive with Reiner and then we were going up to Oenitzaub which is where the heritage museum is. On the drive we saw lots of different animals, Steinbok, Reinbok, Springbok and lots of Mompani worms. We decided that on the back of the backie was the best way to travel looking out on an open expanse of land. We saw the hides that Peter built last time he was there and were regaled with stories about the resident giraffe called George and other animals.

Just as we pulled into Oenitzaub the backie pulled right under a thirn tree and guess who should get a face full of thorns- me. I seemed to take a whole thorn tree with me and managed to stracth my arm tear my shirt and then got a cut on my nose. It was bleeding quite a bit because it was quite a deep cut and Una decided we should go back and put some steri strips on it. Soa quick nip back to the sick bay to put strips on and back to Oenitzaub. We got there just in time to see the sun set at Hazel's tree which was so moving and so magical.

We had a Braai in the evening and looked at the stars. You can see so many more stars here than at home its amazing. Think I will have to get a constellation book so I can try and figure out waht they all are. At the moment I can notify Orion's belt, the plough and thats about it.


It was Sunday today so we decided to relax a little but we knew we still had quite a lot of work to do. Una called round in the morning to see if we wanted to go for a walk and I actually said yes. So off we trotted we walked out of the school and up the road to the dam, there's a little hide there to watch the game and we saw some Springbok in the distance. We also saw a lady colecting mompani worms, these worms are everywhere amd if you collect them you can make quite a lot of money. There are people who have set up camp all along the road to try and collect them, they are living in makeshift shelters, but they have to be able to move on with the mompani worms. Its just fascinating to see people go so crazy over something that looks like an overgrown caterpilllar!

After this we finished off the sponsorship folders for the new clinic which involved Katy's artistic skill and my colouring in, what a team!

Una decided we needed a break and took us to Charon for afternoon tea. Charon is Gilly and Reiner's first farm and it is where the kids grew up. It is down quite a long dirt track, and we were a bit worried because it looked like a storm was brewing. We managed to get there ok and sat and ate smarties and drank pop in the living room- perfect. Its such a lovely house but the garden is overgrown. They are trying to clear it though its just that they have had so much rain.

Another amazing sunset tonight I can't get enough of them.


Today we managed to get a lift into Outjo so after email silence we could finally email and pick up some postcards. We had lunch at the Outjo backery which was very cheap, and bought huge cakes and pizza for dinner tonight. The other gaps have gone to Swakopmund on the coast so we are going to Gilly and Reiner's for dinner. When we got back there were donkey carts all over the place as people have come from all over to register for identity cards. It was strange to see all these poeple invading our little place.

In the afternoon we started on the banners for the 15th Anniversary which is in April, managed to get paint just about everywhere! Dinner at Gilly and Reiner's was lovely and the Pizza and Cakes went down a treat.


Today we carried on with the banners, but then went on a farm drive with a picnic of the left over pizza. We are now getting better at opening the gates and pouring lick which is the sodium salts for the cattle. Think we will be farm girls yet. We kept our eyes peeled for the elephant which was supposed to be around, but we didn't see it. We did nearly get stuck in a stream, but Reiner managed to turn the backie round. On the way back we went through Oenitzaub and saw Springbok around Hazel's tree which was just magical.

We tried our habd at cooking in the evening and made a vegeatble curry which was actually very good. The gaps came back from Swakopmund sunburnt from the beach and wet because they had spent the whole way back in the back of a backie and it had been raining heavily.


Today we went off to look at the cattle auction in Outjo, it was fascinating to see, but we couldn't understand a word of what was being said. They all spoke so quickly and people bidded with their feet or just by winking. Reiner sold 50 cattle and decided he would come to Hong Kong with the money he has made.

We made small banners with the children in the afternoon which was a lot of fun if slightly chaotic. We tried Hazel's recipe for flapjack in the afternoon and it cam out alright but very gooey- think Hazel was more used to eating it raw!


Today we got up bright and early to go into lessons to get the kids to write thank you letters for the folders for Edinburgh and the clinic. The kids did well although we had to keep an eye on them to keep them working.

Una and Gilly decided it would be a good idea to make a Hazel's footsteps folder so that people who cam after us could luck what we have done and contribute to it. So we added that to our list of jobs and set to work. More banners in the afternoon and then more singing with a bit of dancing. I think I am getting the hang of the singing but not the dancing!


This morning we decided to sort ourselves out and get packed, but just as I was going back into the room to get the bags, I heard and scream and there stood Katy with her bag which a mouse had just popped out of and into her shoe. We managed to get the mouse out of her shoe but then when she began to unpack her bag further we found somethign else. Once she shock her sarong out these little pink things rolled onto the floor. I first thought they were maggots, but then we realised that they were baby mice and the mouse must have given birth in Katy's bag. That freaked Katy out and I thought she was goung to have a full blown paddy. She calmed down and then we went to find Una who sent Daniel round to get rid of them, we were not going to touch them. Daniel laughed at us, but he did get rid of them for us which was a relief.

After that trauma we had a bit of a subdued day, we were going to go camping in the eeving but that was cancelled due to a forecast of bad weather. So we tied up a few loose ends and then went to get Vett cookies from the dinning room. They are like donughts and have so much fat on them, but the kids go crazy for them.

In the evening we went up to Oenitzaub to sign the gap door next to Hazel's name and it turned into a full blown Braai which was great and we were able to sample Mina's potato salad. After a wonderful evening with the mouse story being regaled many times we arrived back to the gap flat.

I opened the door to our room and there was the mouse bold as brass sitting in the corner. We decided we couldn't sleep in our room any more and moved into the pastoral centre next door. The only problem is that the pastoral centre doesn't have any beds so we had to move two benches together and Katy slept on the table. Not the most comfortable night but at least we were safe from the mouse who might want revenge.


The mouse paid us a visit yet again this morning but it was in the kitchen and as soon as Una came to pick us up we got out of there sharpish. We say our quite emotional goodbyes, gave Tatty Herman his flap jack and took our photo at the school sign. We got a lift with Una to Outjowarango and then got a taxi from there with one of the farm workers. The drive was fine apart from the hereo music that the driver played, which was just the same song over and over again!

We made it to Chameleon backpackers and chilled by the pool and then watched a film in the evening.


Flew to Johannesburg in the afternoon, saw the SA commenwealth team arrive which was fun and then made our way to the hostel. The hostel was fine, so close to the airport and it had beautiful grounds. So next stop Hong Kong

Otjikondo was amazing and so full of so many emotions, its was wonderful to follow in Hazel's footsteps and we were treated so well.



Lucy says:
So good to hear about what you've been up to. All sounds fantastic and wishing I was there with you! It sounds like such a special place. Looking forward to hearing more! Lots of love and missing you girlies, Luc x x
Posted on: Mar 28, 2006
hknowles says:
Let us know how you are getting on.

Posted on: Mar 19, 2006
janice says:
Come on Laura - get something on the web! We're dying to know all about Namibia!!! Seriously tho' this is a great way to keep up with all you are doing. Glad it's going well. Thank you for your note which arrived this week - will pass Heather's on on Thursday. Love Janice x
Posted on: Mar 12, 2006
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Reiners farm the wide open roads
Reiner's farm the wide open roads
dinner at Oenitzaub
dinner at Oenitzaub
Painting banners
Painting banners
Writing thank you letters
Writing thank you letters
Beautiful sunset which gave way to…
Beautiful sunset which gave way t…
St Michaels school
St Michael's school
Cant get enough of the sunsets
Can't get enough of the sunsets
Hazels tree
Hazel's tree
photo by: Laurabob