When I returned home in July I had a unique experience: for the first time I met 'Someone from the Internet'.
Leslie, (left in pic), is a dynamic American lady who, through an Aid Organization, volunteered her time and money to do a stint teaching Computer Literacy in a rural school in Northern Namibia.
She was thrown in at the deep-end when, upon arrival, she was asked to teach English instead - seemingly because the previous teacher had suddenly bailed-out, unable to handle the challenge and tough living conditions.
Undaunted by the sorry state of our education system and the cultural obstacles facing the pupils, she has bravely set about her task, determined to make a difference in the lives of the kids.
We started communicating through our Tumblr accounts before she arrived in Namibia and our paths crossed when she attended a workshop in the town close to my home. Together with her colleague Elise, she was able to visit for a few hours.
I was pretty nervous about the meeting - I recalled how, as a teenager, I had met-up with a Pen Pal from a wealthy family and had felt uncomfortable in my ordinary clothes and ways. I needn't have worried with Leslie and Elise; I dunked my cookies in my coffee and all was cool ... they were just people like me.
Also, being aware of the dangers of meeting strangers from Cyberspace, I appreciated the risk that they were taking and felt a certain angst to somehow demonstrate that I'm not a creepy old perv.
Mind you, I probably did come across as a bit of a Dufus because I'm a little hard-of-hearing and sometimes had trouble processing their Southern accents - heavens knows what I sounded like to them in my flat Effrican Inglish.
Sadly, our time together was too short to get into any serious conversations.
I have two vivid memories of our meeting. The first is that Leslie listens to Bob Dylan - I would have loved to explore her interest in his music further because Dylan had a defining influence on my thinking when I was about her age.
My second memory is that she had on the coolest pair of shoes I've ever seen - they looked like a snug slipper but they had toes, like a foot-glove. I couldn't believe my eyes but have since heard that these shoes are not uncommon - maybe I've been in the bush too long.
Anyway, if she had a quiver of arrows slung across her shoulder and a bow in hand, the picture would have been complete - now, whenever I think of her, I have this recurring image of a fleet-footed Huntress or Warrior popping into my head ... yeah, I know, ... that's just the way my mind works.
I would have liked to have taken a photo to show you her shoes but that might have seemed weird, ... eh?
Before she arrived, Leslie asked in a mail if I thought it safe for her to travel solo around Africa and I replied "No!", it's too risky ...
Well, I've changed my mind - I think she would breeze a journey through this Continent ... go places where I would fear to tread.
Leslie will be in Nam until December and I hope we get the chance to sit and chat around a fire before she returns home.