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  • From my African diary, 2007:

    I spent quite some time several times daily on the Internet checking my e – mails. But I still send letters by snail – mail also. So I still go to the post office quite a bit. In Namibia the post is part of the government, which explains why everything works extremely slow and inefficiently in the post office.

    The Swakopmund post office building is modern, big and boring like many concrete buildings. There are 8 counters in the main hall, but if you are lucky, two are open. Mostly just one counter has a person behind who attends the public. That is why mostly in front of the counters there is a long queue of people. Is it finally your turn the official on the other side of the counter mostly shows an expressionless face. Hardly ever a smile. They have a computer there and calculators and use these excessively, recounting every sum many times until they give out your change.

    The other day I wanted to post a bunch of letters, but the queue had already reached the entrance door. The black people in the waiting line chatted in Afrikaans or in their click – languages, while most whites stared holes into the air in front of them I just had not the patience to put myself in the line, threw my mail back into the car and my husband and I went to our new tiny favorite Italian coffee place in town.

    I tried the post office again this morning. My husband immediately exclaimed that he would wait for me at Paola’s with a cappuccino in hand. I am lucky today as there is just one skinny black male in front of me. While I wait I muster the boring concrete benches alongside the walls of the hall. Does anybody ever sit down on them? Then at both sides of the entrance door stand huge very oxidized and crummy garbage cans. They vomit garbage. What an awfully ugly building!

    But it is already my turn. At the other side of the counter stands a young back woman, she does look at me and with a broad smile! WOW! I smile back, I relax, and I feel good. The woman looks through thick spectacles to my hands which push a bunch of letters through to her side.

    “Do you want me to give you beautiful stamps?” she asks

    I knew that Namibia has one yearly prices for having the most beautiful stamps in the world, but the word “beauty” did not seem to fit into this building and to ask for beautiful stamps would have just made all my business here last so much longer!

    I breathe deeply in,” Yes, I would love beautiful stamps!” I sigh

    The woman starts to weigh every letter and carefully writes it down on a paper. Then she puts it all into her computer. After that she opens huge and heavy leather books which are filled with stamps. She takes some out, closes the book, takes out another one, opens it, looks for the stamps she wants, closes this one, goes to a third one or back to the first. We need a lot of stamps for all of my letters! All the stamps she chooses are remarkable: there are elephants and rhinos and colorful birds, there are giraffes and even the Welwitschia plant.

    Behind me I hear peoples feet move around impatiently. Now the queue behind me is growing. But my attendant does not care. She keeps searching for beautiful stamps as if our lives depend on that. She finally chooses which stamp to glue where on each envelope. She is doing this will all her love.

    I am moved. “Now each envelope looks like a work of art!” I comment.

    The woman gives me the biggest and warmest smile and tries even harder to embellish each envelope while the queue behind me keeps growing longer.

    Finally I pay. “Thank you,” I say,” The people who receive my letters will not just enjoy what I send them, but they will appreciate the envelopes alone already!”

    She is so happy! Somebody behind me sighs. I turn around and leave, content, satisfied, loving this woman because she wanted my mail to be beautiful.

    Art by Kiki (Your Letter Lets The Sun Shine For Me!)

    More Paintings
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    Kiki en TELEMUNDO
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