Friday, October 14, 2011

frack it friday

a random stream of consciousness because it’s the weekend and I don’t have to be coherent, darn it. Today’s theme: Streets

The street names in Windhoek are pretty interesting.

It’s almost impossible to google map directions to anywhere because the way some streets are spelled on your paper map are different from the way they are spelled on Google maps, which are different from the way they are spelled on the actual sign posts. To make matters worse, it doesn’t

Even the language of the street signs changes sometimes from the German “strasse” to the Afrikaans/Dutch “straat” and sometimes, just sometimes the English “street”.

I got a big giggle out of Eliza, the German, trying on her phone to direct a taxi to pick her up at Steinstrasse. Obviously she was pronouncing all the german street names correctly; that is, with the German pronunciation. But it was so accurate that even I would not have understood what streets she was referring to – and neither did the taxi driver. It was only when she anglicized the street name that he understood. She wasn’t happy about that..

They name streets here after people while they’re still alive, like Nelson Mandela Avenue, Sam Nujoma Drive…and Robert Mugabe Avenue. Sometimes it’s best to wait till someone’s dead so’s to avoid potential embarrassment later. But at least they’ve finally renamed Kaiserstrasse to Independence Avenue.

The government has been in the process of re-naming a lot of the old streets to more patriotic ones. One of our streets, Koernerstrasse, was just renamed Marion Ngouabi Street, which is harder for me to remember how to spell. Joy says the government sees the street renaming as putting one more brick in the wall between them and the old regime, so they threw a big party today for the re-naming of our little street. It went from 8AM to 1PM. I was curious to know how a re-naming of a street would take five hours, so I ducked out of work for a bit to check it out. Turns out that there was a whole street party going on at nine in the morning, including a great band and a big tent set up with food and chairs. I thoroughly enjoyed the music, but left once the important dignitaries showed up to give speeches, because that was when armed cops closed in a tight circle around everyone and it kind of felt less like a party and more like, I dunno, the wrong areas of the Vancouver Olympics.

Windhoek’s streets do not use a grid system and this is why I keep getting lost.

aaaaand i'm off. vandag is Vrydag!