The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach nor the Namibia Ministry of Education, but rather my personal views.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm A Billionaire!

Look, I’m a billionaire!!!

Forget about the Benjamins (US$100 bills); it’s all about the Billions, Baby.
Trading artifacts is definitely an activity common to foreigners and locals in countries everywhere. Items from the United States that are very “normal” and indistinct to me can make a unique and invaluable treat to someone in a country or environment where international travel is not frequent. Similarly, items that I think are rare and exotic may be overly abundant and ordinary in communities that produce them locally. This is where trade becomes fun and mutually rewarding.
Today, my trade was in money. I should note that In addition to the Namibians with which I work and live, I have friends and colleagues in Khorixas from a variety of countries, including Nigeria, Canada, England, Malaysia, and Zimbabwe.
I gave a few US bills to a local friend from Zimbabwe, in exchange for a few Zimbabwean bills that bear numbers that most of my peers/countrymen would never see on green paper in their US wallets.
I am pictured with Zimbabwean notes valued at $1 million, $100 million, $200 million, and $1 billion. Talk about bling! BUT…..the figures can be deceiving.
According to a January 2009 BBC report (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7859033.stm), Zimbabwe “ is in the grip of world-record hyperinflation which has left the Zimbabwean dollar virtually worthless...

“Teachers, doctors and civil servants have gone on strike complaining that their salaries - which equal trillions of Zimbabwean dollars - are not even enough to catch the bus to work each day.”
Time.com reported last year that bank note denominations ran to 75 billion Zimbabwean dollars. A pint of milk, if it can be found at all, now cost 3 billion dollars, or about 30 U.S. cents.
The Zimbabwean government recently suspended the use of the local currency and now uses the US dollar.
So maybe I’m not a real billionaire, since my bill isn’t valued at more than about 10 US cents; but, it’s still a pretty cool piece of (rather unfortunate) history.
And as I now have friends from the country of Zimbabwe, I’ll be keeping a closer watch on how the country’s economy is recovering.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Winter Time

I don’t think there’s been a year in my recent past that I’ve known or remembered about daylight savings time before the actual date of the change. And, for the first 24 hours, I’m still unsure about the actual time. The same thing just happened in Namibia. I think we were supposed to turn our clocks back an hour this morning. I have the most recent newspaper (Friday), but it says nothing about the time changes.

According to my time zone internet sources, the 1st Sunday in April until the 1st Sunday in September marks “Winter Time” in Namibia. To further confuse things, Namibia, unlike its neighbors of Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, observes Daylight Savings Time (DST), whatever Daylight Savings Time really means. DST here ended at midnight last night.

During “Winter Time,” Namibia is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC, I know the acronym does not follow the rules) +1. It is one hour behind its eastern neighbors during these months. During “Summer Time” (October to March), Namibia is on Central African Time (CAT), which is GMT+2.

Here’s a description from the Center for Global Education at Augsburg College (Minnesota); they host a study abroad program here:

Namibia is generally seven (7) hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST), eight (8) hours ahead of Central Standard Time (CST), nine (9) hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time (MST), and ten (10) hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time (PST). Namibia and South Africa are in the same time zone.

However, Namibia changes to daylight savings time and South Africa does not. Also, since Namibia is in the southern hemisphere, when the time does change, it goes in the opposite direction from the northern hemisphere, and the dates of the time change are different from the U.S. As an example, depending on whether Namibia and the U.S. are currently on standard or daylight savings time, Namibia can be 6, 7 or 8 hours later than the U.S. Central Time Zone.


I’m sure it’s clear; I’m just a little slow on the time zone-uptake. It could also be because I've lived in each of the four time zones in the U.S. and have just given up on trying to tell the time.

I just put a clock on the left column that should let you know the current time in Namibia and in Washington, DC. You are on your own to figure out the time differences from other places. Note that I put Namibia time on a 24-hour clock, because that is how time is told here.