Monday, March 13, 2006

The Dating Game

Getting hit on in Namibia is different than getting hit on in the US. In the states, there's generally a little flirting, and fair warning before any major moves are made. Even the really sketchy guys at least use a horrible pick-up line of some sort when approaching women. But here... there's no beating around the bush. Last week, the security guard at the post office came up to me and said, "I would like you to love me…" I'm still struggling to find an appropriate response to such a statement. On Valentine's Day, I received a bag of candy hearts, three random text messages from three random numbers proclaiming their love for me (I swear, my cell phone number must be written on bathroom walls or something), and an invite to watch soap operas at one man's house-although he had originally told me he was going to buy me a television set for Valentines Day, so I was a bit let down. Last Friday, I had a meeting scheduled with a teacher who, after about 20 minutes of discussing the obstacles he was facing in his classroom, turned the conversation to things more personal, and invited me for drinks to the makeshift dance club he runs from his house. This morning, a man picked me up on my walk to work and once we were riding along, asked if he could visit me at my house and then said, "Because I see you walking everyday and I feel that I love you." And a few weeks ago, a man came to my office in the middle of the work day (only slightly embarrassing) to ask for my mother's phone number in America so he could call her and ask for my hand in marriage. Yes, the marriage proposals are just as blunt. My co-workers think it's hilarious.

But yesterday, I got a new one. I was walking home, and a man began talking to me about the crazy weather we've been having. We conversed a bit in Afrikaans until I ran out of things I could say and he ran out of things to say that I could understand. We switched to English and began talking about the many different languages spoken in Africa, how I only speak one of them, and how he's traveled all over the world and can speak many foreign languages. We talked about our different travels for awhile, and I thought to myself, this guy seems pretty genuine. Until he began with the questions. It started innocently enough, with him asking about my boyfriend. I told him that my boyfriend was another volunteer and that we were very happy together (a response we were told to perfect during training). He went on to talk about how he was worried about me staying alone for two years. I explained that I had a roommate and that I felt very safe. Then he began talking about apartheid and how, since apartheid no longer exists, he believes there should be much more race mixing. Of course I agreed, which apparently gave him the wrong impression and the conversation quickly went from one level of uncomfortable to another, much higher level of uncomfortable. He stopped me on the middle of the bridge, grabbing my hand, and proceeded to invite me to live with him on his family farm in the north where I could "bear many beautiful mixed-race babies." I was a bit caught off guard by all of this because usually when a man proposes to me, he gets right to it. This was a sneak attack, so unfortunately, I had let my guard down a bit too much, and hadn't properly prepared my responses. I half expected him to get down on one knee right on the bridge, and my fear that he was moving in that direction left me temporarily speechless. After a few moments of stammering and trying hard not to completely lose it and hurt his feeling, I reverted back to old faithful and told him that I was actually married, and my husband wouldn't let me have two husbands. He persisted for about 20 more seconds, but he got over me quickly, and instead made me take his phone number and promise to contact him if I found a "white American girl who looks just like you" and would want to marry him. Pretty romantic, yeah?

So, if any of you single ladies are interested, there's an interesting, multilingual, open-minded Namibian waiting for your call in Omaruru:)


Blogger Randall said...
Vey interesting..They don't beat around the bush unless they are setting you up huh?
I think the peace corps blogs are the most informative that i have ran across.
Nice blog..:)

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Megan Westerkamp said...

Hey Kat, It's Keith's friend Megan here. He directed me to your blog since I have gone to Ghana twice. I know exactly how you feel with all these proclamations of love! ha. I dealt with it daily. I was actually proposed to within the first hour I was in Ghana. The thing is, you can be just as straight forward as they are to you. just say NO! I hope you are having fun. It sound like it. I'm going to keep checking in to read your adventures! I miss Africa!

5:13 AM  
Blogger LitByFire said...

I love this blog. I can smell Africa again. You have a great spirit for the adventure.

12:08 PM  
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1:34 PM  

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