During our psuedo-Spring Break, Jason and I spent a night with some other PCV's who have, amongst other luxuries, a laptop and DVD player. We surfeited ourselves on movies, one of which was Waking Life. I recommend renting it, assuming that it's available in Abilene. If you are prejudiced like me, you probably passed it over as "one of those lame cartoon movies," but it's the best movie I've seen in the last year or so (smirk). But seriously, I enjoyed it immenseley-- the philosophical cameos, the dynamic artistic depictions, and the play with the life-as-dream conception were not only captivating and pretty funny. It's definately a must-see for you, Jeremiah. Anyways, I had already been toying with my own skills at dream interpretation after talking to one of the PCV's here who worked for a dreamologist interest group, efforts that amount to writing down interesting dreams and then employing my acute critical/analytical skills to decipher the images that were dredged up from the bottom-most realm of the unconsious the night before. The most recent (and memorable) dreams I've had are particularly revealing and will bring you up-to-date with our stat over here in Owamboland.
I've returned home from Africa and my family is celebrating by taking me to a movie! We are all very excited, and the venue we choose is one of those vulgar gargantuin movie complexes--very, very American in that there are marketing posters plastered everywhere and there are so many things available for you to buy, buy, buy. I feel overwhelmed by all the color and people and especially the ease with which we simply waltz through the doors, plop down some cash, and walk directly to the toilets or viewing rooms or snack bar w/o having to stand in long lines or be badgered by hawkers. Jeremiah and I decide to buy some snacks while everyone else goes on to get seats. The "snack bar" has a rather special set-up; it reminds me of how the Cracker Barrel is arranged, with a curio shop at the entrance and the dining hall behind. This movie house has a full-fledged bakery reminiscient of Fredericksburg at the entrance that doesn't match the gaudy coloring of the rest of the movie house. Jeremiah and I are awed by all the baked goods we can buy; we split up. I am side-tracked by a stand of cloth purses (I've been wanting to buy a purse) and pick one out that I think Kara will like. When I get to the counter, the purse seems to be entirely different; instead of an earthy, cloth pouch it's morphed into a cheap turquoise and white plastic thing that is u-gly. But it's too late, the cashier was too fast for me and I will feel stupid if I ask to have my money back now.
Jeremiah shows up with some cinnamon rolls, and I remember that I wanted some baked goodies, too. "Hurry," he says. "The movie's about to start." I turn to go, but Mom has come to rush us on in. She sees the purse I bought for Kara and says, "Oh! That will match these other things I bought for her birthday just perfectly!" She starts hauling out all these little curios from her purse, all which are torquoise and white. I thrust the purse at her and tell her I'll meet her in a bit, have to get some snacks, will get her something special. I take off down an aisle of wooden shelves filled with breads and cookies. I am overwhelmed by the selection; I can't decide. Suddenly two little German girls with long blond hair, wearing pinafores, come skipping down the aisle. They are eating cookies; they look like fairies. One smiles shyly and says, "You should really try some of these delicious curry cookies!" She giggles and runs off. I understand that if I get a curry cookie, I'll be as happy and carefree as those girls. I set off searching. I finally find the cookies, and as I turn to go pay, a skinny Namibian boy comes through the door screaming for me. I know that he is my neighbor, and I freeze. I have to escape! "Why won't you play with me!?" he wails, running around the store looking for me. I'm scrambling to get out, but he finds me and jumps on me, chanting "play with me, play with me!" I tell him I can't; my movie is about to start, and there's no way he's going to the movie with me. I think, "He's not supposed to be here! I'll promise him some candy, and then run away." So I tell him to stop jumping on me so I can give him some candy. When he stops, I turn to run, but he foresaw my plan; he grabs my hand and bites down hard. I howl! He is biting me so hard and I can't get away and I'm missing the movie I came to see with my family.
Jason and I are sitting in Nando's in Oshakati, discussing something. We are upset; Something has happened. Jason looks at me and says, "Let's go home." I'm surprised, but then realize I want to go home, too. We go directly to Windhoek, fill out some papers, and fly home that same day. Our families are happy to see us initially, but the I feel that everyone is quite dissappointed that we quit and came home early. Jason is happy to work on his photos, but I left all my books and grad school forms and research at home in Okalongo and I'm still sorely unprepared to apply to the institutions I'd hope to join. We are dirt poor, and I have to take a really boring, cheap job in Abilene. I have this heavy, portentious feeling that I have just ruined my life and will never be content again. Most of the dream is constituted by this feeling of extreme failure and defeat.
So, the first dream was pretty funny and rather revealing. We have the utopia I erroneously imagine home as being spoiled by the demands of a Namibian I can't escape. The Owambo culture is not shy about asking for anything, be it money, food, whatever they see you with or think you might have. While this is pretty taboo at home, it's the norm here. Learners come up to me and ask for gifts or candy all the time; you can't walk down the street or go to a market without someone trying to bum a dollar or an apple off of you. Their thinking is that we are so much wealthier than them that we can afford it and, perhaps, owe them these types of things. Even though we're volunteers and pretty poor according to our standards, we are a lot wealthier than them. We aren't going to go hungry, and in two years we'll be returning to a lifestyle that would be completely anomolous in our community here. I often feel guilty for not complying with all these demands; they are, after all, quite small, but it gets really annoying after awhile and I don't want to be swarmed by additional opportunists.
The second dream rather unnerved me; I woke up feeling terrified. Leaving early has never been an option to us, so I wasn't too worried about it. However, whenever I have these dreams that are dominated by a certain emotion, I have dejavu later on in real life, experiencing that emotion in a certain milieu. As it turns out, that nightmare was prevenient of the theft fiasco we are currently dealing with. The current list of things stolen is: my camera plus two lenses, Jason's camera and one lense, his CD player, 3 leathermans, and $50. The total value is about US$4000, leaving us rather devastated. Every time I discover something else that's been taken, it feels like I've been robbed all over again.Without Jason's camera here, it may not be worth staying another year and half, going further into dept and his photography skills waning. I'll refer you to his email for more info on that.
Internet time is up; have to go have a "friendly chat" with our principal, who, by the way, says he is no longer our friend and warned us last night that "he can be difficult" if we don't know. I can't wait. The past week has been a rather rude awakening to what I might pessimistically call "the real world," where everyone you meet is a pathological liar and known thief.