14 September 2009

Bush Olympics & Harnas Dining 101

Sundays are a day of relative rest at Harnas. The first Sunday I was here, I was on food prep in the morning, and then the volunteers had Bush Olympics in the afternoon. Group 1 (my group) named ourselves the Seven Nations Army (rawr!) since there are people from seven countries in my group. Note that there’s no relationship between Bush Olympics and any former presidents of the U.S. This is the African Bush we’re talking about here! The first activity in our Bush Olympics included a sack race right in front of one of the baboon enclosures. I’m sure they got a kick out of watching 50 humans hop about in feed bags. We then had dung spitting. Yes. Small pieces of dry game dung (who knows which animals, but definitely game of some sort). Everyone has a go. Whichever team has a piece of dung that travels the greatest distance wins that round. There was next an amusingly abbreviated tug-of-war activity. The strength and tug-of-war technique of the SNA was quickly demonstrated... oh wait...nope, the rope just snapped. Thus ended tug of war. The next two activities were an egg-on-spoon race and then an egg toss. The grand finale involved a runner and a swimmer primarily. One person from each team was in the lapa pool (for Harnas guests). One person from each was the designated runner. The rest of the team holds two bolts of different sizes and cheers. The runner has to run back and forth to the pool with nuts that the swimmers get from the bottom of the pool. Once there are two matching nut + bolt pairs, the team’s swimmer runs back to the team and you’re done.

All great fun (except for maybe the dung spitting).

Needless to say, SNA won Bush Olympics. What was the prize? A lapa breakfast. We would come to find out on Wednesday that this would be a real treat. Non-instant coffee, for starters. Fresh juice (with ice!), hot scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast!, marmalade, fresh tomatoes & cucumbers & cured meats. Wow. To truly appreciate this, you’d have to grasp what volunteer dining is like on Harnas. We have three square meals a day, to be sure; but the temperature of those meals is not what I’d call hot, generally. Moreover, a nice breakfast does a lot to get you through several hours of physical outdoor labor in the Namibian springtime. I would not recommend coming to volunteer at Harnas in December or January. Although it is quite green at that time I hear, it’s undoubtedly incredibly hot.

Maybe once I’ve got more regular internet access, I’ll try to paint a better picture of what our dining experiences are (or were, by then) like in the volunteer village. I have to say, though, that the presence of sliced bread, eggs, and syrup comes in handy if one has a hankering for french toast or, as most people here call it, eggy bread. Of course, they’re just wrong since they also don’t put syrup on it but eat it in some savory fashion with either salt or ketchup or something equally atrocious.

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