Let’s Collaborate goes to Namibia

My very first clients, in my very first company, for the very first time; and it was out the country. I finally got to travel for business (Check!) and to my favourite country no less, Namibia; my old haunting grounds.

I spent last week in Windhoek training 3 companies in SharePoint. What a treat. I was flown in, driven around, fed, my bed made, taken to lunch, and treated like a queen for a week. Coming home was a bit of a letdown after having all these people take care of me every day. Note to self, remedy that situation! 😉

Actually there are lots of ‘notes to self’ after this trip, like get better luggage, remember the hand-luggage weight limit, take a puzzle book or something decent to read, a notebook to write in, put passport in pocket instead of overhead …. at least I had my pen close at hand at all times. Luckily there is built in notepaper on all flights in the form of barf bags. You’d be surprised how much space you have to write when you open them nicely. And then you just wait for your neighbor to go to sleep, steal his, and carry on the chapters.

The trip down on Air Namibia was ok, smoothest landing I ever experienced and told the pilot so. However I was sitting in the middle of the plane and hence served last. They didn’t have breadrolls by the time they got to me and my sleeping neighbor was just ignored once he woke up. The stewardesses were definitely not as friendly as the return trip ones. You know that saying you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family? You can’t choose your neighbours on flights either. Having this guy snorting snot regularly and loudly the whole way down wasn’t the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard. My eggs were looking decidedly dodgy by the time they arrived thanks to that.

Pabeantas Guest House was my home for the week, (this is their link from the Accommodation Association with the rates). I am yet to meet more hospitable, friendly, helpful, unassuming and just plain lovely people. They gave up the Jhb ratrace a few years ago and bought Pabeantas. John and Anthea Ireland took the greatest care of me. They fetched and carried me from the training centre every day, and when I got sick and all I wanted was my mommy (I was really sick ok), Anthea stepped in and took charge.

These guys are so organised. They hire out their own cars if you need one. If you don’t have international roaming, they have local phones and sim cards you can hire for the duration of your stay, already loaded with airtime and data ready. Their home is your home. There is a big fridge stocked with everything you can drink and it’s called the Honor Bar, you take a drink, you mark it off on your list. And the food, Anthea cooks like a dream and is always ready to feed an army. John always has a funny story to tell and is the ultimate gentlemen because you are not allowed to carry your luggage, he jumps in and does the necessary. Lovely. My favourite story of John’s was when he flew in with SWOT analysis posters. The airport guys made him unpack every single thing he had, and the more he tried to explain it wasn’t that kind of SWAT, the more they made him unpack. He was there for hours apparantly, lol.

Definitely need to remember to take a costume next time, the pool is awfully tempting after a long day training. The best thing about John and Anthea? They are both Farmville and Jeff Dunham fans, so the whole week was about swapping farming stories, adding each other as neighbours and quoting Walter, Peanut and Achmed … (“We loooove it hereeeee”).

Sunday afternoon was blissful, magnificent weather, other guests to play with, braai, ice cold Tafels, laughter, making new friends … life couldn’t get any better.

Monday was great!! Got to meet the trainees, 11 of them and things got off to a good start. Full of the joys of spring and very impressed with myself. The training facilities aren’t as upmarket as the Jhb ones, understandably, but everything worked and everyone worked. The students were eager, the staff efficient and the VPC’s working. Namibia is a quite a bit behind South Africa it seems, they all have SharePoint installed, but few companies seem to know how to use it or roll it out yet. There is a lot of work to be done.

Tuesday and the wheels came off. Woke up sick as a dog with a massive stomach bug. Nausea, cramps, runs … and this was only day 2. The cramps were the worst. Spent the day trying to look cheerful in front of my brand new students and avoiding food. Anthea had nausea drugs thankfully and I was asleep within 15 minutes of getting home. Dinner was a brief affair for me that night. Felt awful.

Wednesday and I’m cured! Spent the afternoon helping the students with the assessments for the training and went home to celebrate. Not even half a beer was in, and all hell broke loose. I spent the rest of the evening in my room between the bathroom and my bed. Major relapse, (note to self, don’t push it next time!).

Thursday – new students, and feeling the worst I have all week. Fever has now also set in. Thankfully my class was small and my ladies very with it. But they were getting cold, so asked me to turn the aircon off, that didn’t help much for the fever that was brewing in my body. But I survived the day, and again went back home to sleep! (Great week so far, and all I wanted to do was chat and socialize and drink Tafels at night).

Friday, somebody kill me. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. AND I have a lunch with Microsoft today. Had to sit all morning, was not capable of standing and training. Again thankfully, I had a very small class and it was with very with clever IT guys who caught on quick. The Microsoft guys took me to a fantastic restaurant, and I felt terrible not finishing the meal, but I swear one more mouthful and it all would have come out then and there. Not the impression you want to leave on your future clients now is it. 😉 My class finished early and went home to bed again.

I have never been more grateful for a person like I was for Anthea, she really babied me and it’s just what I needed. Thanks ‘snooks’, I won’t forget it.

But then, all the people I met were really wonderful; so unbelievably friendly and relaxed. They’ve definitely got it right when it comes to quality of life. Us Jo’burgers can certainly learn a thing or two from our accommodating neighbours.

The flight back was interesting, I asked for an aisle seat due to my ‘condition’, and the second I got on the plane, I was asked by some dude to please swap with his wife. She was in the middle row. How do you explain to 5 people watching you that you can’t actually sit in the middle cos you need to be able to run to the loo at short notice? I decided I wasn’t brave enough to explain myself, so grudgingly swapped. And as Murphy would have it, the guy next to me was enormous. He sat half way into my seat, so I squashed small as I could into mine but had to lean to my left, which made the poor woman on my left squash into the wall of the plane. Air Nam doesn’t have the biggest seating in the world.

Then 5 seconds after take-off, they both go to sleep! And there I sat, trapped between Gigantor and Emotional Wreck (she was reading a book on healing your emotions or something). Luckily I hadn’t eaten anything yet, but the liquids were doing cartwheels around my intestines and loving every moment. I wasn’t loving them. I had to skip lunch on the plane, which was just as well because Gigantor ordered 2 lunches and proceeded to polish them both off. The landing was … creative shall we say. Brakes would have been nice, and he took the corner so fast I’m surprised we stayed on the runway. The Top Gear guys would have loved it. But I can’t complain, I have travelled all over and this is the first time I got strapped with dodgy passengers and pilot.

And just like that, the trip was over. I also had to buy a new car battery since I got back, apparently cars don’t like to stand around for 7 days and not be driven. Wusses. But it’s all sorted.

Gijima AST Namibia were extremely efficient contracting my services. I did very little apart from filling one form and they took care of everything. Nothing was too much trouble and all my needs were met without me having to ask even once. Milton Louw and Rakkel Shankala made my stay a pleasurable and memorable one and it was a pleasure doing business with them.

Pabeantas is the kind of place where their guests stay for months at a time, so my addition to their visitors board was “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. Fitting for the whole Namibia experience, and if you’ve ever been there, you’ll know what I mean.

The trip was a resounding success, my students gave me great marks on the assessments, and it energized me to strive for great things. Made some new friends and some new contacts. Life is good in the young life of Let’s Collaborate.

Thanks Team Windhoek – you rock!


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