1/23 - Back in Windhoek

Our first full day back in Windhoek! It's quite a change being back in the city after a few days camping in Bwabwata, but one with much excitement as we are busy with many interviews and last minute meetings. This afternoon we had lunch with Katherine (Elon alum living in Namibia working at NUST). She has been an incredible support system for us here and we are so grateful for all that she has done. It is always so nice to see a familiar face when in a foreign place. After lunch we stopped by the American Cultural Center to say hello to Geneine, whom we will meet with tomorrow morning about going on Good Morning Namibia! After that, we had a quick stop back at the Box before we headed off for a meeting with Mr. Siyamba at AMTA, the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency, one of the government agencies working to ensure food safety and security in Namibia. AMTA works closely with the Namibian Agronomic Board and Agribusdev, so getting Mr. Siyamba's insight and knowledge from a government perspective was hugely beneficial for our documentary. From what we gathered from our conversation with him, there seems to be a disconnect between local farmers and government initiatives when it comes to what's being done to combat food security. From the perspective of the local community, government initiatives aren't doing much because community members aren't necessarily interested in the process of implementing these policies, but are rather concerned with the benefits that will help reduce food insecurity directly. After having talked to Mr. Siyamba, it became much more clear that the government is doing much more than we previously understood, however, it is still in its initial stages. He stressed the importance of the quality of produce, and instead of rushing to develop expansively and quickly in which programs and policies that will only be a quick fix to the problem, AMTA is starting from square one and ensuring that they do it the best way possible in order to benefit the nation in the long term. 

1/21

Papaya's waiting to ripen

Papaya's waiting to ripen

A much more laid back day today with no official agenda. We spent the morning venturing outside the park on the hunt for fresh produce and a place to fly our drone. There is a law in Namibia that drones are not allowed to be flown inside National Parks, which was why we made the journey to venture outside. We stopped at a number of homes to check for fresh produce, including Fidi's friend Helena's home. She had an incredible array of fruits and vegetables that she is growing, including papaya, mango, passion fruit, pomegranate, spinach, maize, and more. While her produce was not in season just yet, we were able to walk around her fields a bit and explore, which was wonderful to see.

Our final afternoon was spent amongst our human and animal friends whom we have come to appreciate so much in such a short amount of time. We took a picnic lunch and went on a game drive through the Buffalo Core area, getting the opportunity to shoot some photography of the wildlife in the park and enjoy a final afternoon of sunshine. Following our game drive, we interviewed Fidi and Andy (who will be staying and working with the Khwe on traditional knowledge in the hopes of eventually getting a cultural village for tourists started). Our final evening began with bright stary skies, giving us a beautiful goodbye to a magical place. 

 

1/20

This is how we will be acknowledging all our interviewees. We have taken a polaroid photo of them, taken a picture of it to keep digitally for ourselves and given them the hard copy as a thank you for their knowledge and time.

This is how we will be acknowledging all our interviewees. We have taken a polaroid photo of them, taken a picture of it to keep digitally for ourselves and given them the hard copy as a thank you for their knowledge and time.

Our morning was spent in the traditional village again (we visited here our very first day to act as "tourists" for the group that has been working to establish this project to test it out on us) interviewing Thaddeus. We had met Thaddeus back in June but didn't have enough time to interview him then as we only were in the park for a day. As an elder Khwe, the knowledge he has and the stories he shares are incredible. Many of the younger generations are losing this traditional knowledge about their ancestors and how they live. To combat this, Thaddeus spends much of his time with the younger generations teaching them about what it means to be Khwe. He has lived in Bwabwata since he was born, so his insight about how the livelihoods of the Khwe people have changed gave us great perspective. His passion for the Khwe traditions were obvious as his face lit up when talking about the ways of the past. Thaddeus has also served as a leader in the community for many years and is highly regarded by the members of the community.

After our interview, we made an unplanned stop at a government funded agricultural research project that lies just inside the park boundary. We were curious how the initiative benefited the community members, if it did at all, and what the purpose of the research was. We learned that much of the research is looking into what sorts of crops and strains of crops grow best in the Zambezi region (previously known as the Caprivi region). We were lucky to have a worker there show us around a bit and we got to see the fields and hear about the crops that are being planted. She told us that the research that is done there is then transmitted to the field offices who are supposed to advise and assist the community with best practices. We weren't sure if this actually happens or not as we weren't able to get out to a field office, but we hope that it does. Given the issues with food security in the community though, we tended to doubt that the local people were benefitting from this research.

On that note, a common theme throughout our time in BNP has emerged, which refuted much of the previous research we had done prior to traveling. On paper and on the web, the government has some wonderful policies, initiatives, and plans in place to address the issues with food security that people throughout Namibia are experiencing. In execution though, at least from what we have heard from the local people here and seen ourselves, those policies and initiatives are not as effective as they are made out to be. An example lies in one of our previous posts about the promise of tractors and supplies to farmers in the park. While the intention is great, the government doesn't take into account many of the logistical details that the local people know best, making for a detrimental situation. It's so challenging to find a balance between policies and people, and its so simple to place the blame on someone else. If there is anything we learned during our time in Bwabwata, it's that in order for change to occur, one must fight and be proactive. It's ironic that we discovered such a sentiment on the same day that our very own nation was undergoing its own challenging situation.

1/19

Today we had a full day amongst the Khwe people of Bwabwata, learning about their issues with food security and how they are finding solutions to combat that. Our morning was spent meeting with Pieter, with whom we met with back when we were here in June. He is the chair person of the Kyaramacan Association in Bwabwata National Park (BNP), which is the official body that represents the interests of the people in the park. Other members of our meeting included John Denver, another member of KA, Johanna, a park game guard, Katonkey, an NDC worker, Fidi and others.

Following our meeting we headed back to Omega, the farm that we visited in June that served as a massive point of inspiration for our story. We were fortunate to see some people farming the fields, and even though it was raining, we got some beautiful shots. The Omega farm is about 850 hectares, yet more than half of it is not in use as it is under government control. The land that is in use is also in government control and the people that live in the Omega 1 village are not allowed to farm the land for profit and consumption. This affects the community in many ways. They are food insecure because they aren't able to farm much of the land to sustain themselves. What land they can farm they don't have the resources to do so, as the government charges money for seeds, plows, and tractors. While they do provide these resources sometimes, they are not mindful of the timing of the harvesting season, which affects many of the local people because they can't farm what they want at the time that they want. It was hard to hear of so much struggle in a community but it only further confirmed why we are embarking on this project, to provide a way for people to tell their story. We know that we are not the solution and that this documentary is not the solution, but we are hopeful that by listening and learning and sharing, change will come.

Gerria with Pieter, whom we interviewed in June who helped translate for us

Gerria with Pieter, whom we interviewed in June who helped translate for us

The second half of our day was spent in a new place for us. We were lucky enough to visit the Bwabwata village, a Khwe village within Bwabwata National Park. This village holds great significance for many of the Khwe as it was the main hub many years ago. We spoke with and interviewed Gerria, a village elder who has grown up in the Khwe community. He shared stories about how there used to be hundreds of Khwe in the area, living their traditional life of hunting and gathering. Today only 44 Khwe live in the Bwabwata village, many having been pushed out by the war for independence when SWAPO forces created camps in the park. Gerria shared many stories that few get a chance to hear. It was an incredible exchange of knowledge and one that we wont ever forget. 

Quick trip back to Windhoek

We had another busy day back in Windhoek. We started the morning with a second visit to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to secure our permit for filming in Bwabwata National Park, which is where we will be for the next 5 days. We decided to walk back from the Ministry as opposed to taking a cab to see some more of the city by foot. Having spent a decent bit of time in Windhoek now, we made it back no problem, which was a really awesome feeling to know a city well enough for that. After a quick stop back at the Cardboard Box, we departed for the Van Rhyn Primary School in Windhoek where we met up with Donovan Wagner and colleagues Ina and Stephan from Eloolo Permaculture. We had been connected to Donovan via Dr. Zimmerman at Namibia Polytechnic University, a contact that we had made (with much thanks to Katherine Carter, an Elon alum working at the Polytechnic as well) when we were here back in June. Dr Zimmerman has been a phenomenal resource and we are so grateful for all of his knowledge and insight.

Our afternoon with Donovan, Ina, and Stephan was nothing short of inspiring. Their small team of 4 (them and one additional member who we didn't meet today) have been working at the Van Rhyn School since June establishing a garden to help educate and engage the students in topics like food security and permaculture. The amount of work they have accomplished in the short six month period together is incredible, and we were fortunate enough to see it first hand today. And to top it all off, they have been doing all of this for free in order to benefit the students and the community. The amount of passion and joy that Donovan, Ina, and Stephan conveyed reminded us again why we are doing this project and how meaningful this documentary is to us, and will hopefully be to the people of Namibia. We had wonderful interviews with all three (and even two students that are part of the gardening club who wanted to join in too). Eloolo Permaculture is in the final stages of securing NGO status and we are so looking forward to hearing more about their continued success.

Donovan with two students who are a part of the newly founded Gardening Club at Van Rhyn.

Donovan with two students who are a part of the newly founded Gardening Club at Van Rhyn.

Ina and Stephan with their beautiful daughter.

Ina and Stephan with their beautiful daughter.

Day in the desert

We spent this morning exploring a bit of the Namib Desert and learning about the Topnaar People with our guide Herman from Photo Ventures (10/10 would recommend for any that find themselves in Namibia). The Topnaar people are a nomadic group of traditional people most known for their harvesting of the Nara Melon, a fruit that has adapted to growing in the harsh desert climate. In the past, when a Topnaar person was born, they received 1 Nara plant that would sustain them throughout their life. This practice no longer continues today as the amount of Nara plants has lessened greatly, making it more of a first come first service basis. Regardless, the Topnaar people return to their same plants each harvest season. For some this requires a days walk to get there and back, towing their melons in a donkey cart across the dunes when they return. After they cut open the melon, they place it in a drum over a fire and collect the seeds which rise to the top. These can be sold in town. Then the remaining parts are boiled for a bit longer, creating a paste like consistency. The paste is pushed drained through a cylinder with large holes to catch any of the fleshy parts of the melon that remain. The paste is then dried in the sun for 3 days before it too can be sold in town.

The homestead of a Topnaar person currently out harvesting Nara's.

The homestead of a Topnaar person currently out harvesting Nara's.

Beads found in the dunes from previous Topnaar people.

Beads found in the dunes from previous Topnaar people.

The Nara Melon before it has been harvested.

The Nara Melon before it has been harvested.

We asked Herman where people can get fresh water when they live so far into the desert. He said that as long as there is a Nara plant, there will be water underground within 40m of where the plant grows. And if someone doesn't feel like digging to find where the water is, they can chew on the Nara plant stems, which have reserves of water in them with a bitter taste that also quenches thirst. Herman informed us that eating the stems is also a great way of protecting oneself from bugs. The bitter taste of the stem eventually turns the blood bitter which deters ticks and mosquitos that can carry disease.

We drove down that dune!

We drove down that dune!

Oly and Kelsey with natural sunscreen from the desert.

Oly and Kelsey with natural sunscreen from the desert.

After our morning with Herman, we returned to Swakopmund to pack up our things before boarding our shuttle back to Windhoek (and our most favorite Cardboard Box). We have a very busy day planned for tomorrow which we are incredibly excited about. First a trip back over to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to pick up our permits for Bwabwata National Park, then meeting with Dean Angombe and some faculty at UNAM to conduct a few interviews, and finally meeting with Donovan Wagner of Eloolo Permaculture, an organization that our wonderful contact at NUST, Dr. Zimmerman, passed along to us. An action packed day before we depart for Bwabwata on Wednesday, where we will be staying until the 22nd.

Day 2 in Swakopmund

Another beautiful day here in Swakopmund. We spent the majority of our day shooting b-roll (background footage), which made for a fairly laid back day compared to previous days. We were fortunate to have good weather today, which made for some beautiful shots. And we got to explore some of the town of Swakopmund too. According to the 2011 census, Swakopmund is the 4th largest city in Namibia, with a population around 45,000. 

Under the pier in Swakopmund.

Under the pier in Swakopmund.

Oly filming in the town of Swakopmund.

Oly filming in the town of Swakopmund.

The beach in Swakopmund.

The beach in Swakopmund.

The town of Swakopmund.

The town of Swakopmund.

Kelsey taking advantage of a great photo opportunity.

Hello from Swakopmund!

We have safely arrived in Swakopmund and are loving exploring a new part of Namibia. We took a shuttle from Windhoek this morning, driving about 4 hours through the Namibian countryside. A beautiful terrain, much more mountainous than we had expected and green with the recent rains. Upon arrival we immediately went down to the beach to shoot some b-roll and get a feel for the coast. It is absolutely beautiful here and we are excited to be spending tomorrow and part of Monday getting a feel for the coast. We are hopeful to get some interviews with locals tomorrow to hear their opinion on the food security situation in Namibia, and then Monday we head off with a guide company, Photo Ventures, to experience the sand dunes of the Namib Desert first hand. We are hopeful to get out to see Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, some of the most iconic scenes in the Namib Desert, but given the minor change of our itinerary (and our delayed arrival in Swakopmund by a day) our plans are still up in the air. Stay tuned for updates. Below are some shots of the beach that we took today.  

Fishing off the pier in Swakopmund

Fishing off the pier in Swakopmund

View from the pier

View from the pier

Oly photographing the beach

Oly photographing the beach

We made it!

Wow what a whirlwind of a few days it has been! We arrived safely in Namibia yesterday after a long flight and hit the ground running with planning immediately. Our original plan had been to head for Swakopmund, on the coast, this morning, but we decided to delay a day in order to secure our itinerary completely. We will now head for Swakopmund tomorrow, and will be spending tomorrow, Sunday, and part of Monday seeing the coast and the dunes. On Monday we will embark on a half day tour of the sand dunes, one of Namibia's most iconic features, which we are incredibly excited to film. We were finally able to secure our permits, making it possible for us to film in National Parks in Namibia, which was a huge relief. 

We were able to reconnect with many of our contacts today over the phone and are greatly looking forward to meeting with them in the coming days. We will be back in Windhoek the 16th and 17th for a busy two days before flying to the north on the 18th where we will revisit Bwabwata National Park. 

While we are still doing our best to beat the jet lag (as we get ready to go to sleep at 9pm) we are so excited for the coming days and continued success. 

 

 

Less than 1 week until departure!

In just 5 short days we depart for Namibia! While the specifics of our itinerary are still in the works, we are incredibly excited to reconnect with the connections we made in June and to get the chance to meet with and interview some amazing new connections we have made over the past months. We will be busy planning until the morning we leave and can't wait to update you all with our progress as we move forward. 

Our new equipment is here! Beholder Gimbal DS1, Polaroid Camera with film, BRNO dehumidifier lens cap, an extra battery for our Canon DSLR, 2 lavalier microphones, and an AKASO Drone backpack.

This past week all of our new equipment came in and opening all the packages only furthered our excitement. A huge thank you to the School of Communications at Elon University who awarded us a creative projects grant to assist in the purchasing of our new equipment. With the creative projects grant, we were able to purchase the Beholder Gimbal DS1 which is a handheld camera stabilizer that can be used with our DSLR's; a BRNO protective dehumidifier lens cap, which will be incredibly useful as it is summertime as well as the rainy season in Namibia; and finally a Polaroid camera and film, which we had fun testing out as you can see below.

Testing out our new polaroid camera

Stay tuned for a coming post regarding the use of our polaroid camera. We are very excited for this additional component to our project.

We will be updating our blog and social media as often as access to internet allows, so check back often for new updates. Give us a like on Facebook and Instagram as well! We hope to post photos and videos throughout the course of our journey. 

Return Trip to Namibia!

We are excited to officially announce that we will be returning to Namibia in less than a month to finish filming The Omega Project. We will be in country from January 12th-25th and are looking forward to reconnecting with our partners and friends and continuing to learn about and document the stories of the people of Namibia. While we are sad that team members Carol and Susan will not be joining us, we are excited to welcome a new member to our team, Kenny Wilson. Kenny has worked with Elon University's Interactive Media Graduate Program as the Coordinator for Interactive Projects since 2013. He has a plethora of knowledge and will be a great asset to our team. We are greatly looking forward to our upcoming travel together (and Kenny's first time to Africa!) 

Over the past six months, we have continued to research, learn, and reach out to individuals and organizations in preparation for our return trip. We have made some very exciting progress. We also welcomed music aficionado Jacob to our team, a music production student at Elon University who has been working on producing a soundtrack for our documentary.  

We expect our trip to Namibia in January to be action-packed and exhausting, but incredibly exhilarating. We are excited to see what the summertime and rainy season of Namibia will have in store for us. (Because Namibia is in the Southern Hemisphere, their seasons are reversed from ours in the US.) While we are still finalizing some of our plans, here is a brief overview of our tentative schedule:

January 12: Arrive in Windhoek, January 13-16: Travel excursion with Wild Dog Safaris to Sesriem, Sossusvlei, and Swakopmund (Did you know that the Namib Desert is one of the darkest places in the world? Kelsey is especially excited to photograph the stars here), January 18-22: Bwabwata National Park, January 23-25: Windhoek

We hope to update our blog daily (wifi permitting) while in Namibia and welcome any comments or questions from those reading! Check out our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for additional updates. As always, please feel free to get in contact with us via our contact form.

 

Our final day until we return in January

Our final 24 hours in Namibia have been spent saying goodbye to new friends and reminiscing on our experience thus far. We were able to see Katherine Carter one final time, and thank her for her immense help for everything. We had to say goodbye to our incredible friend and Cardboard Box receptionist, Kathleen, who we will miss dearly but are so excited to see again in January. AND we sent our dearest Susan off on her morning flight to Kenya this morning where she will be for the next 2 and a half months working at the G-BIACK center becoming a certified teacher of the sustainable agriculture method of Grow Biointensive. 

Our team with our most wonderful contact and friend, Katherine Carter. 

Our team with our most wonderful contact and friend, Katherine Carter. 

Our dearest Susan heads to Kenya for the summer. Sending all the Periclean love her way until we reunite again in August.

Our dearest Susan heads to Kenya for the summer. Sending all the Periclean love her way until we reunite again in August.

All the appreciation and love for Kathleen, we cannot wait to return home to the Box.

All the appreciation and love for Kathleen, we cannot wait to return home to the Box.

One of our final dinners at Joe's Beer House in Windhoek.

One of our final dinners at Joe's Beer House in Windhoek.

Our trip has been incredibly rewarding. We've learned more than we ever thought possible and cannot wait to convey all of our new information to our class. Throughout our time here, we all have felt periods of intense joy, great frustration, some confusion, yet overall the utmost of pride for all that our class has set out to accomplish. We will continue to update our blog throughout the summer with regard to updates on both the conference and the documentary, so stay tuned for more. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo for exclusive photos and clips.

Peace, love and Periclean always,
Kelsey, Oly, Susan & Carol

Our final two days in Windhoek

Though we were sad to leave the north, we were happy to return to our home at the Cardboard Box. We were welcomed with open arms by Kathleen, the most lovely of receptionists who has been so helpful in all of the craziness that we have thrown her way (including locating a pin number for our SIM card in the bottom of a bag we left in Windhoek during our trip to the north). We arrived at the Box around 1:30 on Tuesday with less than an hour to pull ourselves together before having to set out for a very important meeting at the UNAM campus in Windhoek. We met with the Vice Chancellor of the University to discuss the MOU between Elon and UNAM. Though it was a tense meeting, our conversations afterwards with Simon Angombe (Dean of Faculty of Agricultural Science at UNAM) proved to be quite positive and we are excited to continue working with him on the conference. Another crazy thing happened, it rained in Windhoek!!!! And by rained, I mean it absolutely poured, which is virtually unheard of in Namibia, let alone during their winter season. Though we were not prepared for the rain, we were quite happy that it provided at least some relief from the drought conditions that Windhoek has been experiencing. 

Today (Wednesday) was an incredibly exciting day. We had an early start to the day with an interview with Dr. Zimmerman at the Polytechnic University. Dr. Zimmerman is the Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture at the Polytechnic, and had so much knowledge surrounding the the issue of food security in Namibia and ways to combat it. Following our meeting with him, we finally were able to meet with George Beukes! George works at the American Cultural Center in Namibia and has been one of our biggest resources as he has so graciously helped us on so many occasions, including setting up a very exciting meeting today! Our whole team met personally with the US Ambassador in Namibia today, Mr. Thomas Daughton. It was an incredible experience and we cannot believe that we had the opportunity to talk to him about the projects that our Class has taken on. And to top it all off, he personally said that he was beyond impressed with all that our Class is doing, which was a HUGE compliment from a person of such high esteem. We are hopeful that he will come to speak at our conference in January, so stay tuned for updates.

A visit to UNAM!

Our final full day in the north was spent at UNAM at the Ogongo Campus. Having spent much time already with Professor Itanna, we were excited to visit his campus and meet his colleagues. The majority of the morning was spent in meetings discussing our Memorandum of Understanding between Elon and UNAM. Having only communicated via email prior to today, both sides had many questions so it was a fruitful and eye-opening meeting, especially for our team of students.

We spent the afternoon getting a wonderful tour of UNAM's campus. As part of their campus, they have a farm with a large variety of crops, as well as plots for students to conduct research. The campus also has a game park which we were fortunate enough to experience as well. We saw giraffes, zebras, oryx, and impalas. And we got to shoot some footage on the drone as well which was much fun. We ended our day with a visit to the homestead of the head-man in the local village. We were able to speak with and interview him about his experience farming the land. Having lived in Namibia for 77 years now, he had much knowledge that he so kindly shared with us. 

Meme Anita

We spent the day in Oshakati with long-time friend of the Periclean Program, Anita Isaacs. Anita became connected with Periclean back in 2003 when the Class of 2006 first made contact in Namibia. Having heard stories of the years of friendship with her, we were very excited to finally meet. Anita graciously invited us to her church this morning where we were able to celebrate her recent graduation from University, which has now led to her new job here in Oshakati! It was an honor to be here to celebrate with her. After church we headed back to Anita's homestead for some festivities. She sure knows how to throw a party! We met many of her close friends and family while enjoying delicious traditional cuisine (though most of us were too timid to try the Mopani). We also had the opportunity to visit the Ekamba Garden, which was a project that our class helped to fund last year. It was exciting to see the space and hear about the plans for the future. We got some awesome shots from our drone camera so stay tuned for photos coming soon (as WiFi permits). Tomorrow we head to the University of Namibia Campus at Ogongo where we will be meeting again with Professor Itanna, some of his students, and his colleagues. We are very much so looking forward to another action-packed day.

Many exciting updates!

What an exciting past few days! We are just now getting a wifi connection so we have some incredible updates from our past 2 days. We started out early morning on Thursday bound for Rundu, our stopping point for the evening before heading to Bwabwata National Park the next day. We were fortunate enough to be accompanied by Dr. Itanna at the UNAM Campus at Ogongo who has been an incredible help in our journey so far. After a long 7 hour drive, we made it to Rundu just in time for sunset. Our lodging for the night was right on the Okavango River, which we learned was the division between Namibia and Angola! We were able to film the sun setting over Angola which made for a wonderful end to the day.

The following morning we set out early for Bwabwata National Park, located in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia in the north-eastern most part of the country. We met with our contact Fidi Alpers, who works for the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC). We originally connected with Fidi through our contact at the Finnish Embassy last semester. After notifying him of our plans to travel to Namibia this summer, he insisted that we come and visit him and learn about the projects he is working on, which we were more than thrilled to hear. As Pericleans studying a country that is so far away from our home, we try to be extremely conscientious about our efforts, so that we can work to address an issue that would have the most positive impact on the local community. Hearing that Fidi was very eager to have us come visit meant that we were going to a place that needed our efforts would be most productive and sustainable.

Through our contact in past months, we learned that Fidi has been tackling projects that are very similar to the focus of our class, so we were all incredibly excited to meet. Fidi has been working in Bwabwata with the local Khwe people of Namibia, addressing community development including things like food security, poverty, and education. He introduced us to a number of individuals that also live and work in the park including local farmers, members of the Kyaramacan Assocation, researchers working alongside Fidi in the park, and many more. We spent the majority of the day hearing stories from local people about what they are dealing with in the Park, as well as interviewing some for our documentary. We visited Omega I, a large farm located roughly 70km into the park that has not been in use since 2001. Fidi has been passionately trying to make use of the farm in order to help provide food for those in Bwabwata as well as creating jobs and opportunities for community members. We were able to sit down and listen to the wants and needs of local workers and community members, as well as the hopes that Fidi has for the future, and we are hopeful that we can help to facilitate the opening of Omega I once again. After a long, but inspiring day, we headed back to Buffalo Core Camp towards the entrance of the park where Fidi lives year round. We got back early enough to take a short drive down the Okavango river and had our first Namibian safari experience! Bwabwata National Park is home to more elephants than people (of which there are about 5,200) so we saw many elephants heading down to the river to drink just before sunset. Our evening was spent around the campfire with a homemade dinner of local foods, conversing with friends and colleagues of Fidi. Among our group of 4 from the States were a family of 6 from Botswana, sisters Megan and Ilene from Switzerland, researchers Anita and Atila from Hungary, and local friends from the Park. Our three students were fortunate enough to spend the night at Fidi's camp, enjoying more conversation around the campfire, frequent noises from surrounding elephants saying hello, and a stunningly beautiful starry night sky.

Today we made the long 9-hour trek from Bwabwata National Park back to Ongwediva where we will be staying until Tuesday. We are excited to meet up with Dr. Tom Arcaro who will be joining our team for the remainder of our trip after spending the past week in Zambia with the Periclean Scholars Class of 2018. It has been an exhilarating few days in the north and we are so excited about the contacts we have made and relationships we have developed thus far.

On to Ondangwa!

We spent the first half of our day in Windhoek, solidifying plans for our trip to the north and interviewing contact Forrest Branch. It's hard to believe that this is already our third day here and our last morning in Windhoek until we return from the north next Tuesday. 

After a quick ride to the domestic airport, we boarded our flight bound for Ondangwa! The short 45-minute flight was much easier than our original plan to make the 8-hour trip by car, and we got to see Namibia from high in the sky. Upon arrival in Ondangwa, we were met by our contact Dr. Itanna, a professor at the University of Namibia in Ogongo. We were so excited to finally meet face to face after having been in contact for so many months. Tomorrow we all depart for Rundu, where we will stop for an overnight before heading to Bwabwata National Park the following day. 

Day 2

Day 2 in Namibia and we are loving it. We spent another day in Windhoek working on logistics for both our documentary and conference that will take place in January 2017. We spent the morning meeting with Wild Dog Safari's talking about potential plans for an excursion next winter. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the morning making phone calls to our partners in the north who we will be connecting with tomorrow! Following lunch, we met up with Katherine again (our wonderful connection at the Polytechnic University and Elon alum who has been beyond helpful) and she introduced us to her colleague Shiimi, who is a professor of Agricultural Economics at the Polytechnic University as well. We learned so much from our meeting with Shiimi and are looking forward to meeting with him again once we return to Windhoek on June 7th. We are all still quite jet lagged but are far too excited about all of the exciting progress that we have been making to want to sleep much more than we need to. 

Pictures below: on the left, our team at the Cardboard Box taking advantage of the free WiFi to get some work done. On the right, our team with Katherine Carter walking in Windhoek to a meeting with her colleage, Shiimi.

Walalapo meme from Namibia!

We have safely arrived in Namibia after a long travel day and are thrilled to be here. We checked into our hostel, the Cardboard Box, (where the Class of 2006 stayed when they came to Namibia!) and then spent the afternoon getting our bearings in the city with the help of our incredible contact, Katherine Carter. Katherine works at the Polytechnic Institute and helped to make this trip happen, so we were so excited to finally meet her and express our thanks. And she's an Elon graduate too! We plan to spend the rest of our day getting in touch with our contacts to set up official meetings to start getting interviews. We are still all in shock that we are here, probably due in part to being fuzzy brained from the jet lag, but can't wait to see how the rest of our time here unfolds.