1) Your veins show through your skin, meaning that many children ask you what on earth are these lines all over your hands? I tell them that this is where the blood goes and try to show them on their own hands but this is not always easy.
2) Some white men have hair on their chest – freaky! So freaky it needs to be looked at and touched.
3) Your hair is very ‘soft’ and must be stroked and played with at every opportunity. Even Mike’s hair gets a good work out at times by both boys and girls!
4) The concept of a bald patch is hard to grasp. Mike has been asked why he took the trouble to shave a circle in the middle of his hair rather than leaving it all on or off. Good question!
5) It is impossible for braids to stay in the soft hair. Many children have tried to make Kate’s hair African all to no avail – within a minute all their hard work has disappeared. We keep trying to tell them this but each one thinks they are the hairdresser to make the breakthrough.
6) Your eyes are not brown unlike all the other eyes around you.
7) You only have one teaspoon of sugar in your tea or coffee. Most people we have met here take around 3 tablespoons per cup – apparently Africans generally love their sugar.
8) You need to wear a hat and sunscreen in order for your skin not to turn red. There is very little concept of sunburn here.
9) You do not constantly walk around with your cell phone (mobile phone) in your hand. Young people in particular are very surprised that I have a phone yet do not take it with me to many places.
10) You wear a watch to tell the time rather than go with the flow of the moment. Our wrists are often being looked at to see what is the current situation.
11) Kate wears a ring, actually 2 rings (an engagement ring and a wedding ring). Kate tells them this is to show that she is married. It would appear that this is not all that common in Namibia.
12) All our children have the same father. When I was asked who that was by one of the volunteers at the After School Program they were genuinely quite surprised that I said Mike, even though she knew we were married.
13) We have very small families. One young person we met could not believe it that even though we have been married for 27 years we only have 3 children – most unproductive. Families are large here in Namibia and extended family is enormous. We have been told that if all the relatives of the family we are staying with got together, which they do now and then for weddings etc, the number of people would be over 400. Many cows are slaughtered for the occasion!
Kate with some of the After School Program children & volunteers
Mike with the daughter of our host Namibian family.