Same Same but Different 

I know that “same same but different” is a true Thai saying every tourists experiences when haggling at a market in Bangkok, looking for that one special souvenir and vendors are trying to convince you to buy something completely different which is exactly the same just slightly different.

But it just discribes perfectly what it felt like being back to where I spent nearly 3 intense months in 2016.

After 3 days in Namibia I had made my way from Windhoek via Grootfontein back to Rundu. Rundu didn’t seem like much had changed. At the shopping mall some stores had closed others had opened. Apparently my beloved internet café Compu Land had to shut down due to the owner being ill. There were still many constructions going on, long lines at the ATM, people asking me out of nowhere for money and taxis honking at me. In general Rundu appeared to be just like I left it. There only seemed to be even more people in the streets and more pick pocketing going on.

After finishing shopping for the upcoming days, I continued towards Mayana – thank God not by taxi this time. And thanks to that there was the luxery of meat, cheese and butter to enjoy in Mayana which I had craved for those 3 months last year.

I turned on the gravel road which was bumby as ever and everything looked exactly the same. It felt like I’d just been away for a few hours instead of a year. I passed the village of Kayengona, a few shebeens, the turn off to the lodge and then took a left at the headman’s house to get to my former home.

When pulling into “the driveway” the car was noticed but no one seemed to care that I jumped out of the car. It was just a brief greeting “Hello, you are back!” Kind of a weird reaction to someone showing up you hadn’t seen in a year – but oh well, luckily I hadn’t expected a big welcome back party anyways.

The only one who was very excited to see me from the beginning and did not bother to hide his emotions was my little nightmare Nzodi. Dogs truly are a human’s best friend! I was very happy to find him well and energetic. Although Alberth told me later on that he was a problem dog because apparently he steals eggs. I’m pretty sure though that my little baby would never do that. He was on his best behavior during my visit. And of course I had spoiled him rotten and the others, too, of course.

It was nice to see the place being in bloom and so much greener than last year since there was plenty of rain during the last rainy season which had just finished. Also the trees and vegetables had grown and were actually carrying fruits. I was so happy for the community to have a good and plentiful harvest and hope it will last long. Also  the burgonville I planted looked really good. I just wasn’t sure if it had been taken extra good care of or if it had just benefitted from the rain. Either way it looked very pretty.

Right after unloading the car we went down to the river to fetch some water to fill up the tank. I soon found out that the bore whole was no longer in use since the donors forgot to register it with the ministry and now the government didn’t want to pay for repairing the pump and generator. For the community this is a huge step backwards. I noticed so many more girls and women of all ages walking down to the river to do their laundry or fetch water for their household.

On the upside the center’s water delivery business was doing very well and provided an income to the team member running it.

At the river I had a brief conversation with Moses who was happy to brush up his German again. His garden also looked very nice and stunning as ever.

On the way back from the river I ran into a few people who greeted me friendly – even by name – and I was a little embarrassed that I had no idea who they were. But greeting them and having a little chit chat in Rukangali – which I was told is apparently the French of Namibia – came naturally to me.

Back at the guesthouse I was happy to discover that my fire making skills were still intact, although I hadn’t used them within the past year.


And of course while cooking I couldn’t help but to take another picture of the most photographed palm tree ever in the magnificent sunset.

Besides all the good memories that came back while sitting at the fire and watching the amazing sky full of stars, there was also disappointment and frustration mixing with those memories.

The place being so green and the refurbishments to the guesthouse and ablutions weren’t a good enough distraction from all the rubbish lying around the premesis. Last year I invested a lot of time in teaching the kids on how to act environmentally friendly. So I was very disappointed when questing them about it to hear that picking up rubbish was a waste of energy. At least when I was around they threw their rubbish in the bin and didn’t act all reckles.

The fridge I built was demolished and had probably never been used. All it can serve as now is firewood.

I came to think that at least it gave me something to do besides working with the team and it’s a nice story to tell at a party because let’s face it, who of you has built a fridge?! But maybe it just wasn’t something they needed or could relate to. Let’s just hope not yet, because there are still plans for a vegetable garden at the center to add to the kindergarten’s feeding scheme. So maybe in good time they’ll understand and see the point of the wooden box.

Unfortunately I also discovered that the shoes that walked all over Mayana and which I nailed next to my favorite morning spot were gone.  
I was told that a cousin took them because he thought it was wasteful and he could still use them. I asked the boys why they didn’t prevent him from taking the shoes and all I got was a shrug. I didn’t even bother to explain the deeper meaning of that symbol of my time in Mayana or why them being gone upset me a little although I could somewhat understand that my old Birkenstocks were probably still much better than whatever the cousin was wearing – given he had any shoes at all. But still to me it felt like someone had erased that foot print I left. At least those shoes proofed that I had been there because saddly my visit to the center also revealed some surprises. But more on that later.

The first night I was pretty exhausted since being back was a bit overwhelming after all. But the next day I was straight back into daily life in Mayana and really enjoyed being back since interacting with Joseph’s family was like I had never left. And after all they truly were happy to see me – not just because I came baring gifts and there was plenty of food – other than pap and relish – to eat. 😉

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