23 December 2009

And back to Nebraska...

Home again. A blizzard closing in from Kansas and Colorado. Friends and family. Too much to do before Christmas. Realizing how far it really is between Namibia and Nebraska. No really good way to close out this blog.

Maybe a toss backward to some favorite blogs of the year. A year in review:

January: Kelly's report on shopping
February: Larkin locked in the men's room
March: We tackle our first camping trip with the Bates family
April: We visit Uapii's farm (also Tristan's story)
May: Larkin blogs about wildlife ownership in Namibia and Tristan saves a ship full of sailors
June: Nebraskans visit and some insights on nature from Namibians
July: Polytechnic students eat our classroom exercise, Mom and Dad Powell visit, and we have fun at the Zambian border
August: a bit about poaching, Namibia comes apart at the seams, and Larkin is passed over in the early 'weeding out' phase of the Mr. Polytechnic competition
September: birds in the house, Kelly's pre-school kids, WIS Sports Day (Tristan's blog), and baseball
October: Larkin's brother, Noel, visits
November: We braai a turkey and Larkin is investigated by the Sewage Board
December: We look at one last sunset in Namibia

"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that
goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."
--Miriam Beard

Thanks for traveling with us this year. It's been a pleasure.

17 December 2009

Out of Africa: culture shocks and more problems with pants

We made it safely to London, and Tristan's first 'wish' for his return the northern hemisphere came true. McDonald's in Victoria Square Station in central London. A year without fast food. Wow, those fries tasted good!

We started noticing some odd little cultural things as we walked through the Frankfurt airport. One of those over-the-top jewelry stores was right next to the gate where we disembarked from our plane from Namibia. I turned to Kelly and noted that this was quite different than buying jewelry from Himba's. Quite a little culture shock to our system.

Waited for a train for London's Underground on an above-ground platform in the snow and wind on the way to the hotel. Temps hovering at about -2C. It was 38C in Windhoek on the day we left.

For those of you who remember Tristan's problem with his pants on the way to Namibia last December, you will have to laugh along with this 'pants update'. When we went to claim our luggage today, in London, Tristan's bag was nowhere to be seen. This time, it was not Dad's fault. Blame British Airways, I guess. But, once again, Tristan is living on one pair of pants for a day or so in London. One pair of everything, actually. His bag is supposed to be delivered to our hotel tomorrow.

15 December 2009

Last Namibian sunset

The house is clean. Car ("Poly") has been returned. Bags are packed. Good-bye's are said. Family is still talking to one another.

We are away from Windhoek on a local farm near the airport, spending our last night in Namibia. Still shaking our heads that this is over.

The last sunset did not let us down. A great farewell display from a country that has been a pleasure to explore.

13 December 2009

Hunting with Orion

It was a nice surprise to see Orion when we arrived in Namibia,
Although the image of the hunter plunging headlong with his sword into the night sky was odd.
A world upside-down.

But, regardless of angle, we had a friend in this new land.
A sun-loving celestial body who had joined us on our journey from frigid North America for more southerly pursuits.

Only in the southern hemisphere does Orion promise warmth and long days.
And he was true to his word.
Until, one night, we searched and realized we’d been left alone. No hunter to guard our night skies.

Winter. Planning evenings around when we could use the space heater or how long we could stand cold tile on our feet until escaping into piles of blankets.
A warm bed. A long winter with unfriendly stars.
Orion was hiding behind the sun and even the sun is shy during winter.

Last week, we looked up and realized our friend had returned.
The hunter had found us, and with him came warmth, rain, and longer days.

But we were like the houseguest who stops by to break your morning and then tells you she must leave because she has something much more important to do than to talk to you.
Orion was back. A reminder to us that we had to leave.
To apologize while walking backwards.
To travel north long after the birds have gone south.
To find ourselves in darkness and cold again.

But, still, with Orion.
Our connection between grassland and bushveld.
A messenger between worlds.

And so, we will sit in the cold and we will dream of summer.
We will dream of hunting with Orion.

--L. Powell, Otjiwarongo, Namibia

12 December 2009

"Beneath the Sand": your invitation to our photo show

If you have nowhere else to be on Friday, January 22, 2010, consider stopping by Hardin Hall on UNL's East Campus from 3:00-4:30 pm.

Our family has thought a lot about how to share our year with our family and friends. We've taken 13,500 photos during the year. Each of us (Larkin, Kelly, and Tristan) has really enjoyed being behind the lens at one time or another, and Namibia is a wonderful place to capture imagery.

So, the Powell Family Photo Show was born as one way to share our experiences and the stories behind the photos. We call it "Beneath the Sand: a photojourney of our year in Namibia."

You're invited. Stop by. Seventy-two of our best photos (in large-format) and some of Larkin's writing will be on display in Hardin Hall's Second Floor Lobby. We'll also have some of our other interesting 'finds' from the year (probably a basket or two). Some Namibian games for kids. And, a bit of refreshment. Maybe some mopane worms...

The photos will remain on display during 22-29 January 2010. Here's a little video teaser to tempt you (click play button).

Photo credits. Tristan: cheetah cub; Kelly: roller, meerkat, Himbas, and lion.

11 December 2009

If you are a glutton for punishment...

...you can bookmark my new blog, designed for everyday use in environs away from (but potentially including, again, someday) Namibia.

It's called A Land Ethic and will include: "Ideas, information, and discussions regarding conservation and wildlife management in the Great Plains and beyond."

Sorry, "Nebraska to Namibia". Kind of feels like I'm about to go behind the chicken house and put my old dog down. Didn't mean it that way...you did your job. Over 8500 hits as of today, an average of over 60 per day. Not too shabby for a blog from Nebraska written by some guy with just enough time on his hands to be dangerous.

Only a few posts left until NTN becomes a time capsule. Hope you have enjoyed the ride.

How big is Africa?

One of my high school friends, Chris, works quite a bit in Africa. Recently, he posted this graphic on his facebook page. In the thieving, sharing spirit of the world wide web, I've grabbed it to post here (it does have the original source listed). Interesting, eh?

Another 'neighborhood product' from southern Iowa, Amy, did a Fulbright stint in Malawi earlier this year. She has a great post and follow-up about people confused about where the "capital of Africa" is... The general point is that Americans don't know much about Africa. Now, be honest and admit it...when we told you we were coming to Namibia, you didn't know where it was did you? Well, until a few years ago, neither did we.

Well, after a year in Namibia, we probably don't know all there is to know about Namibia, much less the rest of Africa. But, we do know that Africa is not a country. And, now you know how big Africa is.

It is not a bad idea to learn more about Africa. China is investing strongly in many African countries as there are raw materials to be had. Namibia, for example, is bound to become one of the largest uranium exporters in the near future. There are many interesting books about the current "neocolonialism" or re-colonization of Africa. A fellow blogger in Namibia this year, Amanda, has a couple of good blogs (here and here) about people and NGO's coming to Africa. In fact, I commented on the topic myself, once. The future of Africa is up for grabs, it appears. Stay tuned.