Saying my Goodbyes

The last week in Mayana was a tough one. Although I was happy for the change brought to my daily routine by Nzodi being there and MCP arriving and therefor experiencing some deflection but I was still highly aware of my time here coming to an end.

There were various occasions when I teared up because I was so proud and touched to see and hear the team talking to Monika about what we have accomplished or to see the change in their attitude and confidence when telling about our experiences together. They were also giving their thanks to Monkia for hiring me as an interim advisor and bringing me to Mayana. Especially in Klaus I could see how happy and full of pride he is when now finally being able to use the manuals we created for his computer classes. Or how much he appreciated it when I showed him how to send an email. He pointed out many times that those were his personal highlights.

I was also very touched when John said on my second to last night that he is very sad that the following day would be my last day or Ratio saying that he doesn’t believe I was already leaving and I could tell that he was tearing up a little there. This to me was the highest compliment because you don’t see the people here showing many emotions like that. For one thing it is part of their culture to always keep a straight face since they are very proud but also I think they lacked affections in their childhood and therefore don’t understand what a farewell or goodbye means sometimes.

Since I would not be able to have a big speech or face to face talks with everyone, but still wanted to tell a few friends what they mean to me and how they made my time here wonderful, I decided to do it the old fashioned way. So I sat down to write lots of letters by hand – which I haven’t done in ages. But actually it came quite easy to me what I wanted to say and let them know. I started to hand them out to everyone and since I had written a few personal things and proposals I was waiting for reactions. Because I didn’t get any after a few days, I was wondering if they had read the letters at all. I asked Klaus but he didn’t have the time yet and Gerhard told me that he only managed a little bit of it. He said I write like a doctor and he has a hard time reading it. So I sat down with him and basically explained the most important parts to him. I was surprised that I could do this without bursting out in tears. Maybe writing everything down and getting it out – because that was a toughy – really wasn’t such a bad idea. After knowing that Gerhard had a hard time reading my letter, I gave Joseph not just his own but also letters for the team as well as Julia and Albert because I also figured that they might have not just a hard time reading it but also understanding. On my last day out of the blue he approached me and thanked me for my kind words and advice and help I offered. And then of course I was in tears…where are those sunglasses when you need them the most???

Two days before leaving I started packing and sorting through my stuff what I would not need anymore and even though all my clothes are way too big for everyone here I was sure that they would like them and could use them. I gave Martha a big bag with dresses, shoes and T-shirts and she told me how happy she was about that. At the same time I was glad that she took it off me and I was able to reduce my luggage to one big bag and got rid of my carry-on suitcase as well. Gerhard was happy to receive it especially because it locks. I guess he will be storing some treasured items in there – or food. But I still will have to post a parcel in Cape Town back home since I also bought some nice and traditional souvenirs in Rundu at the Open Market to remember my time here.

IMG_1053One tradition of MCP is also that every guest to Mayana plants a tree on the premesis. Monika went to the nursery and bought some plants. She said I could pick any one of those and of course I chose the pink Bougainville over lemon, guava or fig trees. I found a nice spot for it next to the hammock and planted it on my last day. Digging the hole for it was a challenge since the soil is so hard.
Klaus assisted me on making manure out of cow poo, charcoal and water and tying the branches to the pole of the hammock. This is going to be a very nice spot next year to return to. Klaus also promised to take good care of my tree and only water it with river water. IMG_1058IMG_1055I also left my “footprint” at the guesthouse by nailing my Birkenstocks next to my favorite morning-breakfast spot. Those shoes walked all over Mayana since I wore them every single day – my very unique tan lines proof this, too.

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I also went to Berthold’s house to say goodbye since he is the headman of the community which welcomed me with open arms, I felt like I owed him that much. He was very sweet and told me that I am always welcome here and that I should greet everyone back home and that I am family. Awwwwwww!!!

Also Andreas who I met during my last week here and who just impressed the shit out of me at two meetings at the center came by in the morning to say goodbye and thanked me for coming here. I got a lot of “bless you” or “may God bring you home safe”. It was very nice to see, that people cared about me being here and are going to miss me. Also I got a lovely letter from Gerhard. It was the sweetest thing!

But there is also one very sad goodbye and that one is forever. One of our donkeys Mema who was injured nearly two weeks ago had to be put down. Unfortunately his wound got infected although we cleaned it several times, put disinfectant and new bandages one. On my last day I saw him up the road and checked his wound and I could see worms and larva on his leg. Also his wound smelled horrible the last time I changed the bandage. Mema had to be put down after all. He was just two years old. Also Puzzle, the oldest one of them, was recently hurt by someone who is apparently jealous of John running a transport business with them now. I just hope that his wounds which luckily aren’t as bad as Mema’s won’t get infected. I hope it will come out who did this to our donkeys and he will be punished for it.

At night Joseph’s boys and Klaus prepared a traditional dinner for us. Of course we had pap with a relish made of fish, veggies and tomato sauce. It was very yummy and a nice change to watch them cook instead of doing it myself. IMG_1074     IMG_1079

After dinner we sat around the fire and were sharing our highlights and challenges of the day. Nearly everyone was saying how his or her challenge was to see me leaving. I was so touched by what everyone had to say about me, my time in Mayana, how I helped them and how much they were going to miss me. At the end we were all in tears but luckily Monika had prepared for some marshmallows to roast so it was a truly bittersweet farewell after all. Mpandu nene to everyone who made my time in Mayana wonderful. I know that it is not a goodbye forever and I will treasure my time here forever in my heart.

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The next morning I left Mayana at 7am. Monika, Joseph, Glorian and Klaus took me to Rundu. On our way we dropped Ratio at the clinic and I could give him a proper goodbye hug. Also John who lives in the next village was standing by the road to say goodbye. In Rundu we quickly found a minibus going to Windhoek but of course we had to wait until all the seats were taken which took nearly 2 hours because apparently the bus could fit 27 people. When the driver started the engine it was time to go. We hugged our goodbyes and I hopped on but it took another 20 minutes or so until we left. IMG_1102I was wondering why we were going the wrong direction but the driver explained that we had to get gas. It confused me a little since there was a gas station right across from the taxi rank. But oh well…After that we came back to the taxi rank to load another passenger and I lost my double seat in the front. Then we proceeded towards the city limit but had to turn around because something was wrong with the tire. We went back to the taxi rank, then to the gas station and finally to TrenTyre were they could pump some air. So just after 10am we were out of Rundu. It was going to be a long drive and unfortunately the radio was not broken so the driver was listening to Afro House extremely loud. I tried to block the speaker in front of me with my jersey but that didn’t really work. Even plugging in my earphones and listening to my own music on maximum volume couldn’t cancel it out. Of course we kept on stopping along the way to pick up stuff or for reasons I will never understand. I was really worried that we would not make it the 750km because the driver kept on checking the tire, it smelled of gas and he opened the front hood several times to check something. We finally arrived in Windhoek after 8.5 hours and besides the music and the stopping for no reason, it was a great drive. I saw warthogs, impalas, antelopes, giraffes and baboons along the way. Also my pick up worked out just perfect and we could proceed to the guesthouse straight away. When checking into the guesthouse I was given an upgrade which was really nice because that way I was able to take a nice hot bath. I have to admit, I really missed the luxury of hot and running water.

I have another day to just chill out before the next part of my sabbatical is going to begin: TRAVELLING. I am very excited about flying to Cape Town and to start off my trip to Dar es Salaam from there. I am also looking forward to see the rest of Namibia since I will be reentering the country and to get to do the touristy stuff, too.

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