Winning at Life

Anyone who knows me also knows that I am most at home curled up reading a good book.  I was not one to tromp through nature and the closest I ever came to camping was a drafty wood cabin for a Girl Scout weekend retreat at the age of ten.  However, anyone who knows me will also say I’m not one to back down from a challenge.  For me, Africa was that challenge. 

When I first found out about my placement to Namibia I emailed a friend in South Africa to share the news.  It went a little something like this:

Me: Good news, I’ll be living on the same continent as you soon. 
Him: Huh. Well… that’s good.
Me: You don’t seem particularly excited.
Him: Well isn’t Peace Corps a bit hardcore? You don’t really strike me as the type of person who whittles her own hut and goes down to the river to beat your clothes against a rock.
Me: Wow, tell me how you really feel. 
Him: I’m sure it will be fine.  Namibia is just like the outback of South Africa.  They even have cars there now. 
Me: I’ll be fine.  I may not be able to fight a lion with one arm tied behind my back but rest assured I can teach about HIV. 
Him: As if they hadn’t heard about that before.  Well, good luck.  I won’t judge you if you leave early.
Me: Game on.

I count the last two years as a win and I’m pretty sure my friend owes me an apology for not believing in my ability to strap on a backpack, pitch a tent, and enjoy the ruggedness of Namibia.  While I still opt to curl up with a good book on occasion I am also adept at the following:

- Education.  It’s not just for kids anymore, adults can get in on the action as well and learn important lessons such as why owls are important to the ecosystem and shouldn’t have rocks slung at them with a slingshot.  And when I wasn’t sharing important truths such as that I managed to get a lesson or two in about HIV and such. 

- Tenacity.  Standing one’s ground as a white rhino lumbers your way while others run screaming means that  1) you will survive longer than them and 2) if you all survive you have a lifelong story with which to taunt them

- Fortitude.  Not many people can claim to tame the wild beasts in their ceilings.  With the aid of a mere stick and a rock you too can keep lizards, rats, bats, and other creepy crawlies at bay. 

 



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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.