With one last drive through the park, we began our 6.5 hour drive to the border of Namibia. With an over night stay in Divindu, in the far north eastern corner of Namibia to break up the trip, we crossed over the border into Botswana, dropped off our rental car (as it is forbidden to take it any further), and then crossed over the Zimbabwean border to Victoria Falls.
There is great disparity between village life and city life in Namibia. As we drove along the highway, we passed quintessential African villages. There were circular huts made of grass and mud, ladies grinding corn, sticks implanted into the ground as fences around a person’s property or village, a central fire with men sitting around it, used by the community. The only cement structures in each community were the church, store, school (if there was one) and bar.
We also passed herds of cattle being moved along the highway, women carrying items on their heads, young school children going to fetch water and even younger children playing in the ditches at the side of the highway. It made Dave and I wonder if as North American parents, we do ‘helicoptor parent’ our children. Not that you will see the Danchuk girls playing by the side of highway anytime soon.
The drive and scenery were the catalysts for so many great family conversations. We discussed gender roles, poverty, quality of life, human needs/wants, resourcefulness and structure stability. What was fascinating was how the girls seemed unfazed by what they saw. Avery commented, “I was expecting to see girls my age gathering water. Everyone knows that they do this.” This, in my opinion, is a testament to how globally aware our kids are today and also to our education system. Alberta curriculum places great focus on global citizenship. Clearly, meaningful learning experiences at school and our discussions with the girls, contributed to these scenes being confirmation of what they already knew, rather than new learning moments.
As we have said many times in this blog, one of our hopes for this journey was for the girls to develop a greater appreciation of what they have. There have been many moments where this has happened so far, but there have also been times when the girls have questioned the true poverty of others. Although we have seen favelas, shanty towns and townships, often there have been electrical wires and satellite dishes attached to the side of the house. Once, in Costa Rica, there was even a trampoline in the ‘yard’. How can one truly be poor when they have these things, the girls have wondered. It has sometimes been challenging for us to explain why this is to the girls.
We discussed this challenge with Dave’s friend, Ken, when we met up with him in Windhoek. He helped us see a new perspective. As mentioned in a previous post, Ken currently lives in Angola and spent a significant amount of time there during the 1990s. He shared a story with us about his driver in Angola. A flood had impacted the driver’s house, ruining many items including the fridge and television. It was close to Christmas time, so as a gift, Ken offered him a present of money to go towards either a new fridge or TV. It was up to the driver to choose which. The driver chose a new TV. As Ken explained, food markets could be visited daily for the what they needed for the day, as was custom in this area. The driver had children. A TV was a more immediate need he felt for the family as a whole than a fridge.
His insight on life in Africa was fascinating. It helped us to explain to the girls why we might be seeing this juxtaposition throughout our trip and offered me new ways of thinking. I realized that despite my best efforts not to, I was still looking with a North American perspective. A quick, but important reminder for the journey still to come. It was certainly an ‘aha’ moment of note, but the biggest moment for the girls was yet to come.
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).