Hello again! We’ve been busy since I last posted. Last Sunday we left the north and made our way to our rest camp in the middle of Etosha National Park. After entering the park we came across a tortoise crossing the road which, according to our bus driver, is good luck. This turned out to be true because we started seeing animals almost immediately after. We saw zebras, kudu, onyx, giraffes, and even a few lions, all within the couple hours before making it to our rest camp.
That night we went to an observation area that overlooked a watering hole in hopes of seeing an elephant or rhino. We all waited in silence for what seemed to be an eternity until a brief blackout drew the attention of a hyena. The hyene retreated back into the trees and we were left in silence once more. Finally, after almost two hours of waiting, a rhino emerged from the trees and provided entertainment for the next twenty minutes. At 5:30 the next morning a small group of us set out on a safari. Though sitting in a Jeep for three hours might not sound like the most exciting thing, I was amazed that we were able to get so close to these creatures in the wild (almost getting charged by a rhino helped to make things a bit more exciting).
During our stay in Etosha we were completely disconnected from technology. I'll admit that when I first heard this I was a bit skeptical, but I found that, as time went on, I began to appreciate the solitude. When we were at the watering hole we had to be completely silent. Which was a big change for a choir that had been singing everyday up until this point. The silence gave us a lot of time to reflect on and appreciate the beauty of everything we had experienced so far. I spent a lot of my time in Etosha sitting at the watering hole journaling or being alone with my thumb while enjoying the view.
Tuesday evening we arrived back in Windhoek and prepared for Wednesday, our last day in Namibia. We started Wednesday by visiting the Windhoek High School where we shared about Luther and sang a few pieces. Then it was on to the Windhoek craft fair where we able to do a little bit of souvenir shopping. After a few hours back at the hotel to freshen up, we headed to the Christus Kirche church for our concert. Looking out into the audience I saw both new and familiar faces. There were church members from congregations we had visited, choirs we had met during our time in Namibia, even children from the School for the Visually Impaired. We were also joined by the College of the Arts Youth Choir from Windhoek. In preparation for competing in the World Choir Games they sang 6 selections in the middle of our concert. My jaw actually dropped as soon as they started singing and my arms were covered in goosebumps. After finished with their selections it was time for us to sing again.
One of our pieces was the song we taught to the children of the school for the visually impaired a week before. The kids immediately recognized the song and came up front to sing with us. By the end of the song, the voices of the audience members had joined with ours as a we left our places at the front and made our way into the aisles. I could see and hear the joy everyone was feeling. All of these people I hadn't known just two weeks before made me feel at home.
A few songs and a bit of socializing later, the audience had left and our two choirs were the only people left. It was then that we learned their choir had sung “Esto Les Digo”, one of the pieces we sang for the concert, in 2014. So, hand in hand, Namibians and Americans sang together in Spanish. I couldn't help but think of all the moments that led up to this, all the things that had to have happened for us to be able to sing together.
To say that this concert was emotional would be an understatement. A quick glance around after the last song revealed many tear filled eyes which, of course, prompted many more. This experience, this exchanging of music was exactly what we came on this trip for and it was the perfect way to end our time in Namibia.
Thursday morning was spent packing and then we said goodbye and twapandula, thank you, to Namibia and hello to South Africa. The last few days in Cape Town have been filled with activities as we begin to adjust to the new culture. More to come soon!