Thursday, May 26, 2011

Almost Home

Currently I am sitting in the Vancouver airport waiting for my final flight to John Wayne at 7:25 this evening. Its wonderful to finally be on the way home. Rachel won't be home for a couple weeks as she is helping her sister take care of their soon to be born baby boy. Right now she is on a train to Seattle and will actually be to Anthony and Beth's long before I get home. Home again home again jiggity jig...I will put pictures up of our trip once I get home and can go through all this stuff. Thanks for all your support through our time in the Peace Corps and we can't wait to see all our friends and family again!
Stephens, Hennessees and Lee at Shaolin Temple
(Its the birthplace of Kung Fu
We saw a guy hurl a pin needle through glass like a bullet!!!)
love,
Caleb and Rachel

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our trip thus far April 25th 2011

We left Windhoek after a whirlwind last week involving teaching a Peace Corps training and insanely closing our service out with the Peace Corps. You might think this sounds easy but most PCV’s have 3 months to finish some things and usually a week or so to finish the rest; we had two days coupled with Easter Week holiday which meant half of PC staff was out. We finished everything just in time though I(Caleb) had a doctors form that was to be turned in the next week. Rachel and I both got a clean bill of health and were off to Johannesburg, South Africa the next day. Good Friday to Monday night was a blur involving a long bus ride, almost getting mugged, free cargo shipping to the states, a lightning fast pyramid sightseeing in Cairo, problems with our passport, and finally arriving in Istanbul, Turkey at around midnight just in time to make the last train to our hostel in old town Istanbul. Phew. Oh yeah and we had awesome Egyptian falafel which is really really good. We had never had it and both loved it. Also we got to ride a camel around the Giza pyramids. So Cool!!! Asam a maleku (spelling?)

So lets explain we almost got mugged because our bus from Windhoek arrived in Joburg at 7:30 pm which meant all public transport was shut down and either we pay for a cab to the airport then take a shuttle from there or find nearby accommodation and figure it out in the morning. Fortunately Rachel befriended a local journalist who helped us find a local hotel for $299 rand which is a great price. The bad part was we had to walk about 200m down a dark alley to the gates of the hotel with two full backpacks, 1 duffel bag, 2 smaller backpacks, and 2 shoulders bags. As we breached the exit of the bus station we immediately noticed a group of transients in the shadows on the left. These would be the people I would inevitably drop kick and throat punch in defense of my dearest Rachel…ok that didn’t happen but it could have. Anyway we made it to the motel and when I asked if it was ok to go get some food from the local store they said it was not safe to go outside. Praise God nothing happened. Next is free shipping at Joburg.

After a night in a shady motel next to the bus station we easily got a taxi ride to the airport for $240 rand (outrageous but unavoidable with all our luggage) Just taking the bus and getting to the airport showed us carrying all these bags was not going to work. Once we arrived at Joburg International we started asking around about shipping from airport to airport and really didn’t get anywhere. Finally we were referred to the Delta offices and found one of the most helpful people I had met in our experience overseas. He seemed to completely buy into helping get out things shipped at a reasonable price, this being Easter Sunday and a public holiday. Being a master of the inter-workings of airline luggage systems he figured out a loophole for us to get our luggage shipped back to John Wayne at no cost. This was awesome and a complete blessing because it could have cost us upwards of $200 USD to ship all that stuff home. As it was we got to stuff my backpacking (4800 cbi) and the duffel to the brim for free. Wahoo!!! Now we were down to 1 large backpack, 1 small backpack and 2 shoulder bags which is must more doable.

We took a flight from Joburg to Cairo to enjoy our 12 hour layover in Cairo. We took a quickie tour with Karnak tour company accompanied with EgyptAir. Would not recommend them as our guide didn’t speak English well and rushed us around from site to site only slowing down when we refused to move so we could take in the wonder of the Giza Pyramids. It was a total tourist trap which we knew was coming but try another tour company if you’re interested in seeing the pyramids in a day. Part of me was wondering whether I would really marvel at the pyramids having read about them and seen videos etc. but there is really nothing like seeing them with your own eyes. When you stand next to Cheops in the Giza complex you realize how amazing they are and how absolutely enormous they are. The Egyptians essentially built mountains with stone hauled from as far as 1000km away according to our guide. The biggest is approx. 140m tall (420ft) and built with stones some of which are over 100 tons whilst cutting them so precisely you could not put a piece of paper between the seems, aligning them with stars and seasons as well as precise angles and measurements throughout. How is this possible? I have no idea! Well done though guys because these babies have been around for 5000 years and they seem to be doing pretty well:)

A few warnings for fellow travelers when doing a day tour on a layover in Cairo you will have fun but if you choose not to go through customs they will keep your passport all day and reluctantly give it back to you an hour before your flight. After asking for it like 6 times we literally went and stood outside of the glass walled office of the customs agent who was supposed to do our passports and just stared at him until he did it. I guess that works too.

Istanbul

We spent two days in Istanbul which was a lot of fun. Istanbul is pricey though so watch out! Highlights were definitely the Aya Sophya (Hagia Sophia), underground cistern, channel boat cruise, the food and the people. People in Turkey are SO nice and helpful!!! At every turn people are helping us find our way and figure things out. And this country gets millions of tourists!More picture to come...
Caleb and Rachel in front of Cheops Pyramid

Caleb and Rachel on a camel ride in front of Cheops complex pyramids

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Random pictures from our phone


Caleb and i went to the hardware store the other day. As we pulled up this is what we saw! These men were tasked with making some kind of repair to the sign. You would think that a hardware store would have a ladder for these guys to use. . .but what would be the fun and adventure in that?! They were wobbling back and forth very precariously. . .a law suit waiting to happen in the US, but hey, this is Namibia so no worries; all in a days work!;-)

Favorite Namibian Bar Name


We pass this bar everytime we hike out of Rundu and it makes me giggle every time i see it - even after 2 years!

This Dog Really is Hot!


This is Donnie, Gary and Elizabeth's jack russell terrier that I have grown to love. He is a very funny, stubborn dog. He has a thing for water - he will sit in any dish of water he can find - his freshly poured water dish, the mop bucket or even these bins for catching the rain from our leaky roof. . .if there is an open container of water, Donnie will find it! It cracks me up! I took this picture on my phone yesterday and found it particularly funny and ironic when coupled with the previous bar picture that i also found on my phone that I took months ago! Maybe this is what they were thinking of when they named that bar??;-)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Broken Brakes



Hello All,
Currently we are doing great here in Tsumeb. The rain continues making this an unusually long rainy season for this region, or so I'm told. This last week Rachel and I have been doing many things around the compound not least of which is grant writing for By Provision. Rachel will be doing this fulltime next week when I'm going drilling in Rundu. We had some Peace Corps friends over yesterday and played a round of Pandemic which was a lot of fun.

Life around here consists of drilling, putting pumps in after drilling, repairing wells, preparing for drill trips, grant writing, administrative work for BP, doing hygeine and sanitation trainings with people in villages, going on walks, reading, watching movies/tv from our computer and playing with the dogs. Honestly most days we aren't drilling we don't get off the compound for much else than shopping and exercise because of all the other work we have to do. I have also been asked to preach at our church every other week until May so that has been a fun adventure. I have never really preached consistently like this so it has been a good experience.

Last weekend was Independence Holiday for Namibia and we had the only other married couple in PC Namibia over for the weekend. We took them to Etosha and had a great time with them. Funny thing we found out on Friday of that weekend is that we have the same anniversary to the year August 4, 2007. How crazy is that? But this story is about what happened while at Etosha National Park for animal viewing. I (caleb) drove most of the day but then was tired and let Rachel take over early afternoon. About an hour after she starts driving we begin hearing a faint whining coming from the undercarriage. Thinking its just a stick or something we stop and look but its nothing so we just ignore it for the time being. Then it turns into a clunking, grinding sound coming from the back rear tire. This is disconcerting, especially since we are in the middle of Etosha with very few tools to fix anything (not that any of us could actually fix something on a car) Needless to say this sound said pull over and check me out because I am destroying something internally.

So we pulled over at the only rest stop near us which constitutes a 5 ft fence, not very reassuring when their are lions, cheetahs, leopards and elephants all of which that little fence means nothing. With our 5ft peace of mind ,and that's all it was, we pull the truck in and jack it up to take the tire off and see what we can see. After taking the tire off we can't see anything so we go further and take off the brake cover, and as we do this two little pieces of metal fall out of the brakes. Yeah! I'm sure those weren't important. As we look further we find that another large piece had broken off and wedged itself in the brake assembly, grinding on the wheel hub. After a little work we were able to get this piece out but then thought, what do these pieces go to? It seemed like the brakes but we don't know anything about brakes so to be sure we needed to take off the other side to make sure. So we put the right rear tire back on and proceed to take off the left rear tire and brake cover. Here is a picture of the left rear assembly.
As you can see there is a cog looking thing in the middle and a s-shaped flat metal piece next to it. These things had fallen off and the cog thing was grinding on the wheel hub. So now we have decided that everything is "ok" because these parts obviously had something to do with the brakes and only having one wheel out isn't so bad. So as we try to put the brake cover back on we find out next problem, getting the brake cover back on. We pushed and pulled and prodded and forced and jerked and still after about a hour of this the cover was still not on. Well the sun is getting low in the sky and its about 6:15pm at this time so our options are sleep in the aegis of a worthless 5ft fence or do something drastic to get this dang thing back on. So we decide to disassemble the left rear brakes as well until we can get the cover on. We started by taking out all the parts in the above picture and then started pushing and prodding again and presto magico the cover went back on. Don't know how or why that worked but I'm just glad that it did because if had taken any longer we wouldn't have made it out of the park. So then we rushed out of the park, probably a 40 minute drive from where we were, and just made it at 7:25pm which is the exact time the park closed. Now all we had to do was drive home with front brakes only at night with headlights that didn't work very well...piece of cake:)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

1 Hour of Water well Drilling - Time Lapsed Video

Hello All,
Its been a while but that's because we've been busy. We've been drilling almost everyday for the past two weeks and it can be kinda grueling sometimes. On one of our recent drill trips I decided to test making a time lapsed video of 1 hour of drilling. It took me a while to get all the software right but here it is. I plan to make a time lapsed video for an entire well from start to finish but I need a few more gadgets to make that go smoothly. For this video I literally sat there taking a picture every 15 sec for 1 hour, and that was horribly tedious. I can't imagine doing it for 8 hours for drilling plus 1 hour to put in the pump. All I need is an intervalometer for a sony dslr, ac adapter for the camera, and 12v car adapter. It will be a while before they get over here and I can get the whole video done.

video
To explain a bit of the drilling process you can see that our drill rig is quite large. It weighs somewhere around 8-10 tons. The drill is a hydraulic rotary drill that uses 5 ft steel rods and bits of various sizes. The drill forces water down through the drill steel into the end of the bit which is turning and grinding away at the bottom of the hole. Stuff that the bit breaks loose is collected by the water and forced up and out of the hole into the green trough. The engine on the ground to the right pumps the water out of the trough, into the drill and down into the hole. That's why people are shoveling stuff out of the trough because you can imagine how the soil and rock builds up in that trough. As we put additional pieces of steel into the hole we have to add chemicals to the water to help collect the drill cuttings and to keep the wall of the hole in place while we are drilling.

Hope this is interesting,
Caleb

Also let me know if you think pictures seem too fast. This video is at 15fps. When I do a whole day I think it will be between 15-30 fps