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Posts Tagged ‘School’

Exploring Pripyat

June 20th, 2013 No comments

Before heading to breakfast this morning there was time to pet the hotel cat while waiting for our guide and minibus to arrive from outside the zone. He seemed to love the company so I guess there aren’t many visitors to the hotel although from the feel of various cuts and lumps that we noticed while petting him he didn’t seem too well which was a shame.

Breakfast was two courses and you’ll never guess what the first one consisted of. That’s right… cucumber! The second course was just as unusual and consisted of cold pasta, a cold fried egg and a lukewarm burger but I guess it’s part of the whole Chernobyl experience even though I hate cucumber. There was some paperwork that needed taking care of so we relaxed for a bit outside the canteen before making our way further into the zone.

Cat :)

The Chernobyl Hotel resident cat

Breakfast at Chernobyl

Breakfast in the canteen

There are several checkpoints within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The first is at the outer perimeter which is 30km away from the plant itself and is where you have all your permits checked before being allowed on to Chernobyl town where our hotel is. The outer perimeter is also where the most sensitive scanners are that make sure you aren’t radioactive upon leaving the zone. The next checkpoint is 10km away from the plant and while the scanners aren’t as sensitive on the way out you need extra permission to enter this part of the zone and resettlement is totally prohibited. There is one final checkpoint that you must pass before entering the abandoned city of Pripyat and it was here where we spent most of today.

Our first stop was in what was one of the squares within Pripyat which is now completely overgrown to the point that you can’t even see the road or lamp posts around the edge until you’re right next to them. Around the square were military dorms and you couldn’t see those until you were right next to them either but when we arrived at the main door we were surprised by our guide by being told that we would be allowed inside the buildings at Pripyat if we wanted to. Of course we all accepted but I’m guessing as we signed papers to say we weren’t allowed in, and we were told yesterday that entry into the buildings of Pripyat was prohibited, then while officially it’s only discouraged to enter the buildings if anything did happen and we got injured then it would be our own fault.

Lenin

Lenin inside the dorn

Military bath

A bath inside the military dorm

Changing room

Changing room inside the military dorm

Walking around Pripyat

Walking around Pripyat

We spent some time walking around the first floor of the military dorms and it was a very eerie sensation considering we were the only people there but 30 years ago there would have been hundreds of people at any one time. All of the bedrooms were empty, except for a few small items such as brushes and a chair, although the shower rooms still had baths and all of the fixtures. The highlight of this particular building was finding a room which had a portrait of Lenin on the wall which was at one point a meeting room. There wasn’t as much to see here compared to other buildings later in the day but all of us on this trip are keen photographers so we still spent quite a lot of time taking photos – not so much of the ruined state of the buildings but about how life just stopped and moved on one day.

Walking down the road from the dorms we passed a few apartment buildings and stores before arriving at the Pripyat Hospital. We weren’t allowed too far into the building as it was fairly dangerous according to our guide but we were able to walk around long enough to find the doctor on call list, a couple of ward rooms and an examination suite that had the remains of X-ray machines among other things. I got the feeling very early on that one day exploring Pripyat would not be enough as I could easily have spent an hour or so exploring the hospital.

Pripyat Hospital

The notice board at the hospital in Pripyat

Pripyat Hospital

Walking around the hospital

Medical equipment

Medial equipment inside the hospital

Pripyat Hospital

A chair and gas tank surrounded by debris

After the hospital we spent some time exploring the Pripyat River Port before walking down the road to another square which was hardly recognisable with all of the trees that have taken hold since the disaster. Pripyat was a planned city and was made up of several districts all around the main parade ground – each district had a square, stores, recreation areas, a school and a square but as we found out while walking around the city only the bigger buildings have survived so far and some of them are in bad shape as we found out in this square. One of the buildings that we saw was a concert hall and we were able to enter as far as the main auditorium where there were seats, or what was left of them, and a stage which still had the original piano on it. The stage itself was in very bad shape and we were a little foolish to walk across it but we got some great photos.

Vending Machines

Water Vending Machines at the River Port

Me in Pripyat

Me at the Pripyat River Port

Waiting area

The waiting area at the River Port

An overgrown square

This used to be a big open square

Pripyat theatre

The outside of a theatre in Pripyat

Pripyat Theatre

On stage in the theatre

We walked past a secondary school that had collapsed in the middle, allowing us to see into the classrooms on the top floor, before making our way around to the main parade ground in Pripyat. This is an area that you see in many photos and contains a hotel, the offices of the atomic energy department, a theatre, supermarket, restaurant and more. It was the only square that was still recognisable as it was so big in its day that trees haven’t had a chance to reclaim it yet. While in the square our guide showed us a photo of the main road leaving the square, Lenin Street, which was once four lanes wide and is now unrecognisable as a road.

Collapsed school

A doorway in the collapsed school

A collapsed school

A collapsed school

The hotel was the first place we explored around the square. It had been stripped pretty completely but you could still make out the reception area, restaurant and store rooms. We didn’t spend much time here as there wasn’t much to see so we headed straight along the square to the supermarket. It wasn’t safe to go upstairs but we spent some time exploring the ground floor of the building which still contained all of the original refrigeration units along with shopping trolleys. At the far side of the ground floor loads of beds had been set out which looked confusing but our guide explained these were available on the first floor of the supermarket but that after the disaster looters had moved them downstairs to use the area as a base for stealing what they could find.

Abandoned hotel in Pripyat

The main square in Pripyat had a big hotel

Abandoned hotel

Inside the hotel

Before...

Lenin Street before the disaster

.... and after

Lenin Street now

Supermarket in Pripyat

Inside the Supermarket

We entered the backstage area of the theatre and saw some materials which were being prepared for the May Day parade that year. One of the most striking stories to come from the disaster is how while the area near Chernobyl was being evacuated the rest of the Soviet Union just got in with their business. It was 36 hours after the disaster before the Soviets admitted there was a problem and started evacuating citizens near the zone but even while they were doing this they denied the disaster was serious – it was only when the radiation was detected in Sweden that they even acknowledged to the outside world anything had happened. During the time the citizens were being evacuated, and being exposed to huge levels of radiation, just up the road in Kiev the May Day parade happened as planned even though they were close enough to get exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.

After leaving the square we had a chance to explore the famous theme park which was due to open the day after Pripyat was evacuated. Most of the articles about Pripyat that I have read featured photos of the theme park and I was excited to finally see it. In the park there were several rides, a Ferris Wheel and a dodgem arena. We spent maybe 20 minutes exploring the area and it was great to wander around in a nice open space which was still clear of trees… although by now the temperature had risen above comfortable temperatures so while the main photo savvy people in our group finished taking photos of the Ferris Wheel I hid in the shade of the ticket office. I was very impressed with the time we spent in the theme park, however, but we would soon be lead to another entertainment facility that was even grander.

Pripyat Fairground

The famous Ferris Wheel

Dodgem time

Abandoned Dodgems!

The Pripyat Stadium was just around the corner from the Theme Park but once again you couldn’t see it for trees. Our guide told us all about the stadium and how it was used to train athletes, in addition to holding meetings of its own, but it was only when we reached the stands that we realised we had walked through a collapsed section of the stands and across the field without noticing. Our guide said we would have 5-10 minutes to explore the area so I decided to walk into the building to get a sense of the original enormity of the site by walking up to the top level of the stands before emerging to look over the field. It took some time to find my way – I got lost a few times, found the toilets, motor room, several long corridors, the commentary boxes and then had to climb over a wall but eventually I found my way to the back of the seating area where at one point thousands of people would have sat to watch sports.

The sports field was so unrecognisable even when sitting down for a few minutes taking in the view but it was at this point when I realised how a trip to Pripyat isn’t about death it’s about life. We were visiting places that once thrived and were crawling with people and even though the human population has moved on the earth is still thriving. There are trees where 30 years ago there was a big open space and even though we didn’t see any wildlife there are loads of animals in the area including wild horses and wolves. I have witnessed the power of nature on several occasions – I have seen an avalanche, skied over the remains of another even larger avalanche, felt a magnitude 6 earthquake, seen a tornado and I also happened to fly over Iran a few years ago when they had those bad nationwide floods but all of those were about what the power of nature can do to us. A visit to Pripyat is the reverse and shows you that no matter what we try to do to the planet, and no matter how important you think human life is to the planet, things seem to work better without us. Of course I had known this for years but it’s very humbling when that reality hits you in a situation like this.

Pripyat Stadium

This is a view of the Pripyat Stadium grounds

Pripyat Stadium

The stands at Pripyat Stadium

Pripyat Stadium stands

Looking out over the track and field

Relaxing at Pripyat Stadium

Relaxing in Pripyat at the stadium. Disclaimer – do not sit down in Pripyat it is against the advisory notice.

I was sad to leave the stadium as we met up with our minibus and I thought that the trip was over but we were told there were still a couple more sights to see. The first was one which I had looked forward to since seeing photos of the first Regent trip here a few years ago – the sports centre that included the main swimming pool. We spent some time exploring the area although we had to stick together and be quiet and I got the feeling that this was one building we definitely weren’t supposed to be in. In addition to the swimming pool area we saw a motor room, basketball court and gymnastics arena but the batteries in my camera ran out at this point so I wasn’t able to get too many photos.

Swimming Pool

The famous abandoned swimming pool

Basketball Court

The leisure centre also had a Basketball court

After returning to the minibus and putting new batteries in my camera we were taken to what ended up being by far the highlight of my visit to Pripyat – the secondary school that you see in many photos of the area that has a huge pile of gas masks in one of the rooms. Our guide showed us up to the first floor before giving us 15 minutes to explore at our leisure as long as we stayed on that floor. What made it the highlight for me is how most things there had been left exactly as they were before the city was evacuated. The hotel had been stripped, the dorms had been completely emptied and the supermarket had been looted but the school was still full of items. The entire corridor was littered with books where they had been tipped off the shelves by the decontamination team but walking around the rooms I discovered geometry text books, paintings that students had created, postcards, a model of The Kremlin and even a science room still with experiments out on the table and test questions written up on the board. I genuinely believe that I could have spent half a day exploring this building so it’s a shame we didn’t have an extra day in the zone to be able to take in things at our own pace.

The Kremlin

A model of The Kremlin

Geometry time

A Geometry text book

Science Lab

A science classroom at the abandoned school

Abandoned corridor

A corridor in the abandoned school

Painting

I wonder what the teen who painted this is doing now!

School dinners anybody?

A very old looking cooker in the school kitchen

After meeting back up with the rest of the group again we were shown town to the ground floor where the kitchens still had plates in the sinks, there were bike wheels in vices where they were being repaired and even the huge pile of gas masks which I mentioned previously. We asked our guide about these and she said these were all made available for the children but they evacuated Pripyat in such a hurry once the order was given that they were never used.

Our final stop in Pripyat was the old Bus Station where workers at the plant, and residents at the city, would have been able to board buses to Kiev and other towns / cities in the region. We only spent 5 minutes here but we took some great photos, including the below photo of me in the ticket office, and I also now finally know what the mechanics of a locker look like due to one of them being broken open.

Me at the bus station

Me in the ticket office or Pripyat Bus Station

The time had finally come to leave Pripyat and head back towards Kiev. There would be a chance to stop for one final late lunch at the canteen first but unfortunately we were told that we would be unable to visit the resettlers houses inside the zone as we had taken too long in Pripyat. This was a shame as it would have been nice to see the residents who have come back to the exclusion zone to live but it would have been a set up meeting so I not sorry about missing that opportunity to be able to explore the building which, officially, are completely off limits. We would have missed so much by not exploring the buildings that seeing the resettlers would not have made up for.

Cucumber... again

Two different types of cucumber to start lunch

Main Course time

Main course… it was mainly barley!

After passing the first radiation checkpoint and making our way back to Chernobyl town we had lunch which consisted of two courses. The first one, you guessed it, had cucumber in it but this time not just one type of cucumber it had two – sliced cucumber with cucumber fritters. The second course was much more pleasant as you can see from the photos below, however it was soon time to leave the zone for good. We made our way back out the main road, were scanned again at the outer checkpoint, before saying goodbye to our guide. She was an amazing guide and showed us far more of Pripyat than I ever hoped to see so I’m incredibly pleased with her service.

When we arrived back in Kiev it was already early evening so after checking into our rooms and having a well-earned shower we met in the hotel bar to discuss dinner plans. The unanimous decision was to go back to the Bavarian restaurant from the other night as those of us that went had been talking about it so much the others wanted to try it.

Over dinner there was a little bit of a disagreement with one of the group in relation to missing the resetllers. I agree with that it would have been nice to have seen them but on any trip that’s into the unknown you can’t expect things to go exactly to plan. Our plan, according to the brochure, said that we weren’t going to be able to go into the buildings and even missing out the resettlers the trip still went more to plan than any trip to Africa that I have done. The disagreement didn’t spoil dinner, however, and I’m glad we came back here. I highly recommend the restaurant to anybody that visits Kiev. I can’t remember the name of the street but once again if you go along Khreshchatyk Street from the Lenin statue in the direction of Independence Square you’ll come across the political protest tents on the left. Go past those and it’s the first road on the left where the tents end, a few doors up just past the bar.

Back in Kiev

Back in Kiev

The night finished with watching a pyromaniac display with the group, before exploring on my own again for a little bit, but I’m now back in my room and completely exhausted. I have a feeling that I will sleep well tonight after what has been a very long and exhausting but extremely worthwhile couple of days visiting Chernobyl. We still have one more day left and have arranged to start it by visiting a shooting range which should prove very interesting!

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Africa Day 4 – Gilgil to Eldoret

August 24th, 2009 No comments

This morning we got up early and started getting breakfast together when, on time, the baboons arrived. Den decided to scare them away by running at them waving cooking utensils above his head and somehow I got volunteered to join in to stop them stealing food, raiding the bins etc which they continued to do anyway. It was quite an experience chasing them away but I would have been in trouble if they decided they wanted to confront me – plastic plates would have been no match for teeth!

Baboons guarding the toilet

Baboons guarding the toilet

Me and Baboons

Me and Baboons

After breakfast we went for a game drive and managed to get some good photos but saw mainly the same animals, with the exception of Hyena which we saw for the first time. The drive took us back along the lake to the park entrance and after leaving the park we travelled to the town of Gilgil to visit the Ngumo Primary School which is part of the Kariandusi School Trust Project that Dragoman sponsor.

Hyena

Hyena

It took a while to find the school – Den had to ask the locals for directions several times but eventually somebody knew where it was. The final road up to the school was rather steep and rocky and Oscar really worked hard to get there but we were rewarded with an amazing view from the top. While waiting for a teacher to greet us we relaxed and took in the view.

A senior teacher met us and took us on a tool of the school, showing us the old classrooms that were in a horrible state of disrepair, then onto the new rooms, the staff room and the new ground before we were given an opportunity to meet some of the kids. I talked to two of them that were sitting next to each other and they were asking very intelligent questions. It was the same day as the Kenyan Census so a lot of the questions were census themed but they were so inquisitive and well thought out that it made me feel really sorry for them. Maxwell wants to be an engineer and Dorothy wants to be a nurse and they have so much enthiusiasm I really hope they are able to achieve all of their dreams. We spent some time compareing our countries and I gave them some photos of my hometown before we had to leave.

Old classroom at the school

Old classroom at the school

Me, Maxwell and Dorothy

Me, Maxwell and Dorothy

New Classroom at Ngumo

New Classroom at Ngumo

Me painting at Ngumo

Me painting at Ngumo

The others

The others

I had a good signal on my mobile phone so decided to call home at this point while the others played football when, to my surprise, I saw a tornado going along the valley floor. It was only small and wouldn’t have caused any damage but seeing one was on my travel bucket list so it saves me a trip to Tornado Alley.

I’m not much of a sports person but I decided to join in with the football game while lunch was prepared s I wasn’t ready to finish interacting yet. Lunch consisted of mainly sandwiches but it filled a gap and was quick as it was soon time to drive back down the hill and head the town of Eldoret. On the way the scenery changed from dry to a lush rainforest-like area with thatched huts instead of corrugated iron and we also passed into the northern hemisphere.

Oscar and scenery

Oscar and scenery

A view towards Gilgil

A view towards Gilgil

A tornado outside Gilgil

A tornado outside Gilgil

Change of scenery

Change of scenery

In Eldoret we’re staying at the Naiberi Overland Stop and it seems really really nice although it was already almost dark by the time we arrived. We just enough time to set up the tents, refresh ourselves and relax in the bar for a few minutes before dinner. Dinner tonight was a group Indian meal, as the owners are Indian, and it was really nice. During the meal the owner let his dogs out into the building but even though they were really friendly there were 13 of them so they did get in the way occasionally.

Indian Food at Eldoret

Indian Food at Eldoret

Who let the dogs out?

Who let the dogs out?

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“Table for 18 please”

August 8th, 2002 No comments

Right now we should still be in the school in Gibeon but we decided to leave due to the ongoing issues that I mentioned in my last post. We did as much as we could for the school and enjoyed every moment there but the Principal was making us feel less and less welcome every day and made it obvious he was looking for a financial contribution which we just weren’t prepared to give. One of our leaders made some calls back to the UK and we were told that within a couple of days somebody from the trucking company would be there to take us on to a temporary campsite while we waited for our main truck driver.

We decided to make the most of our time there. On the 3rd, the day after the BBQ, we had a last day of work on the school before making a castle and giant domino set with the remaining bricks. Harley made a video – I’ll see if I can add it on my site later. In the early evening we made a giant bonfire with any loose wood or dead plant material we could find by wandering the local area. All of the material was dry and easy to light and we quickly got a big bonfire going. Some of the kids joined us until Dan, the instigator of most of the drunken behaviour so far, decided it would be funny to throw a full cigarette lighter onto the fire which exploded and scared all of the kids away. Thanks Dan :(.

Later that evening after the bonfire went out the two American teachers at the school invited us out to sample the local nightlife. Most of us accepted, although we didn’t know what to expect, and we were taken into the centre of Gibeon in their cars. We didn’t spend much time with the teachers but they were great and were the only other white people to visit the town in the last few years – something we found out the second time we went to the post office last week. That day we stopped in the cafe next to the post office for some cold drinks and one of the kids said something to the lady behind the counter. She said “he says he wants some money for you burning his eyes out” before apologising and sending him out. We didn’t take offense – we know he didn’t mean anything by it.

Although back to the nightlife. Their local nightclub was basically a shack with a bar, pool table and DJ inside and a courtyard outside. The drinks were incredibly cheap as is everything in this part of the world and it was only the equivalent of 8p for a 500ml bottle of Fanta! Some of the others had beer but I stuck to the Fanta. We enjoyed the surroundings for probably about an hour before gunshots started sounding outside. Our leaders decided it would be a good idea to leave before anything happened so we walked the quarter mile or so back to the school. Apparently what was happening was there was a fight outside and the police arrested them both. One of them got away and went running off so the police fired some warning shots into the air to make him stop…. but better to be safe than sorry I guess!

On the 4th we were scheduled to have another football match but our transport arrived early to take us to the Hardap Dam resort – just up the road next to Mariental. It was only a small minibus so it had to make the trip 3 times. I was given the job of going into town to the one remaining phone box that worked to make the reservation. On arrival back in the school the kids were disappointed to see us go, and the feeling was mutual, but we told them due to a problem with transport we had to go to our next place now or we wouldn’t have got there at all. We took some photos with the kids, exchanged addresses, had the principal ask for money again and then went off to Hardap. We spent that night setting up camp and eating at the restaurant there. I was in the last minibus so got a lift back to the restaurant. The 5 or 6 of us that arrived first were the only people in the place so the waiter got a shock when we said “table for 18 please” although the others came along after a few minutes. After dinner we mainly tried to work out what these weird creatures were that were running all over the park. We found out later they were called “Rock Dassies” but we nicknamed them “Monkey Hamsters”

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Leaving Gibeon

Hardap Campsite

Hardap Campsite

Monkey Hamster!

Monkey Hamster!

The next day we took a short trek to get used to the idea of trekking in the Namibian climate before our main trek of the trip. We had a group of Springbok run behind us, just as Will was moaning he hadn’t seen any wildlife, but they were too fast to get a photo. Apparently somebody saw a Scorpion and Baboons but I didn’t see either of those. After returning we relaxed by the swimming pool which was bar none the coldest I have ever been in! Needless to say we didn’t stay in long just mainly relaxed and enjoyed the evening before having curry for dinner and an early night.

Simon on Trek 1

Simon on Trek 1

Trek 1

Trek 1

On the 6th we took a longer (10 miles) trek around the other side of the park and over the Dam itself. We had random spam sandwiches for lunch before having to turn back early because a few of the group were starting to feel a little ill from the trek. We took it easy that night before taking a longer trek the next day – with full rucksacks to prepare us for the longer treks ahead. We returned to the campsite to find another World Challenge group had set up camp near us. We chatted for a bit before heading off to the restaurant again. I was a little more adventurous this time and tried Crocodile Goulash – the meat felt weird but tasted like Pork. That evening there was a bit of an incident involving Dan again where he decided to attack me with a bog brush – don’t ask. He denied it so we had a little mock court case to liven things up this morning. The whole thing was very pointless but was also very random which I like.

The Dam

The Dam

Sunset over Hardap

Sunset over Hardap

Eating Crocodile - I know I look bad - I was tired

Eating Crocodile – I know I look bad – I was tired

Some of us in the restaurant

We will be leaving for Sesreim soon – Rod just turned up with a big green truck for us all to travel in!

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Gibeon project – week 1

August 2nd, 2002 No comments

We’ve been in Gibeon around a week now and are having a great time in some respects but not in others which I’ll explain more about in this post.

After leaving the hostel last week we made our way into the city centre. Our main priorities were to exchange money and get supplies. The supplies aspect wasn’t too difficult as our truck parked in a huge car park right in the centre outside the Namibian Supreme Court and right next to a supermarket. It wasn’t as big as the Sainsbury’s you would be used to in the UK or the Wal-Marts you would be used to in the USA but sold everything we needed. The exchanging of money took a little bit longer due to all of the local regulations. I didn’t need to exchange so much money as I had already purchased some South African Rand before leaving the UK and Namibia accepts it as a dual-currency which has come in handy. While the others were still inside a few of us were outside and were approached by a Namibian beggar. In the UK we are used to people holding signs while begging – this guy had what looked like a flick-knife in his hand. Not as scary as it might have been though – we told him we weren’t interested and he accepted this and walked away.

Windhoek

Windhoek

After finishing in Windhoek we made our way out of the city, past a petrol station that was on fire, and into the country towards Gibeon. The countryside is amazing here. It’s not as green as in Europe but there are still some plants around and some wildlife. We arrived in Gibeon in the afternoon and went straight to the school. They were happy to see us as they were expecting us the day before and had called the British High Commission in Windhoek asking if they knew where we were. They said they didn’t – even though we left them an information pack with our itinerary. Although maybe they never found it – they didn’t open by the time we left Windhoek so it was just thrown over the front gate and into the grounds.

Driving

Driving

The school said we could have some spare rooms in the school if we wanted but we decided to camp as we had brought the equipment with us anyway. We had to be careful when setting the tents up as there were some really evil things on the ground that looked like thistle heads but were sharper and if you put your tent on them they hurt!

That evening we were invited to the school hall where the kids gave us a presentation. They sang and danced and also performed a scene depicting life in Namibia (although that part was in Nama so we didn’t understand it). They then sang the Namibian National Anthem before inviting us on stage. We all introduced ourselves before singing our National Anthem – WAY worse than they sang! One thing I will always remember from this evening is how embarrassed Dan B looked. He’s the smallest member of our group but has one of the deepest voices which some of the kids found this hilarious although Dan went all red 🙁

Setting up camp

Setting up camp

Our campsite

Our campsite

In the school hall

In the school hall

The next day (28th) we played a football match with some kids from the school. We won on penalties after a 3-3 draw but they quite obviously let us win and were a LOT better despite none of them wearing shoes during the game. We found out later that the school team was the best in the region! We were then shown around by the school Principal – Mr Fleermuys. We were shown the facilities, teaching rooms and accommodation before being told his vision for the school. He’s thinking big!

Playing Football

Playing Football

In the afternoon we started getting to know some of the kids. Bradley is the one that stands out the most. He’s only 4 years old but has attached himself to a few of us, including Sam and myself, as if he’s another member of the team – he doesn’t speak English and we had to ask him his name in Afrikaans but he’s great! There are other kids that are hanging around that I get on well with overall – Kakashol and Sebu…. although they have outstayed their welcome after ruining somebody’s sunglasses and biting me. That evening we sampled the local beer (Tafel) but unfortunately some of us the team got very drunk and caused us to miss the church service we had been invited to that evening. An alcohol ban came in place quite quickly!

BRADLEY

BRADLEY

A bad pic of me and Bradley

A bad pic of me and Bradley

Some other kids at the school

Some other kids at the school

Teaching Rugby

Teaching Rugby

The next couple of days were mainly dedicated to working on the projects in the school, getting supplies and sending letters to people. We won’t finish the projects on this visit but Mr Fleermuys said he knows this and that his vision is a five year project incorporating several visits by groups from World Challenge Expeditions. Supplies have been a little more difficult to find. The shops in town only really sell everyday essentials so groups of us have gone to the nearest town a few times, Mariental, which is almost 70 miles away. The first time we went to the post office it was closed by the time we found it. We got lost in the town but some local kids showed us the way and we gave them a small amount of money for their help. The next day it was open and we sent letters home.

They got this in to help

They got this in to help

Starting work

Starting work

Working on the volleyball court

Working on the volleyball court

Bradley trying to help

Bradley trying to help

Walking into town

Walking into town

Phoning home

Calling home

Over the last couple of days things have been going downhill. The principal seems to be more interested in the money we have than our help and we recently found out he has been hiding things from us. The school does need improvement but one of the students showed us to their computer room – it only has one PC but we were told there were no computers in the school. Lots of little things like that, too many to list, have just been making us feel a little unwelcome although nothing that is enough to make us leave on its own. We’re going to do what we can do realistically then move on somewhere else I think.

However tonight was a good night in that we were invited to a BBQ (braai) that some of the teachers had set up for us. It was fresh goat that had been slaughtered that day for us and I’ve never had such fresh food. They could have been a bit more tactful and not said “Do you like our goat? We slaughtered it for you this morning” while I was eating a mouthful but it was very tasty. We all sat around the BBQ eating goat and homemade bread while talking with the teachers – the food was a lot better than the random cardboard chicken we have been having and a lot more successful too (see below)! I showed them the school prospectus and they were thrilled to see it and asked if they could keep it. I knew it would be a good idea. A fairly late night tonight but it’s been a good day although these little things have been mounting up a lot.

BBQ with the teachers

BBQ with the teachers

Dan makes fire!!

Dan makes fire!!

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I’m ready for Namibia

July 24th, 2002 No comments

[Please note: This is a re-transcript of my original notes from the expedition to Namibia in 2002 combined with the notes/blog from another member as my original diary was lost. It was also edited in 2016 to remove photos of one of the group members – see my post containing a statement at the end of this category]

I’m all packed and ready for my expedition. There are 16 of us plus 2 group leaders from World Challenge Expeditions going to Namibia for a month – firstly to improve the sports facilities of a school in the town of Gibeon but also to have some fun. We have dune boarding, trekking, town visits and more planned and are meeting at our school today for last minute preparations before leaving for Heathrow in the morning.

All packed!

All packed!

I’m hoping I didn’t forget anything – not sure how easy it’ll be to get things out there.

Location of Namibia

Location of Namibia

Wish me luck!

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