Tag Archives: Windhoek

In the footsteps of the San People

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Day 55: Windhoek, Namibia-Sandunes Lodge, Gobabis, Namibia (1 November 2009)

Well, we woke up this morning and just about missed breakfast but boy was it nice to actually sleep in real beds in lieu of those sleeping mats and our trusty sleeping bags. Food and bags were done and as we left Lee, Christine and Carsten waving at the front door of the hotel, we chatted with Maria (who’s allergic to tomato) and Bernardo and met Ian (British aeronautical engineer in the British Royal Air Force) and his wife of a few years Louise (who can‘t eat milk products), a British lawyer living in London…and immediately we were excited to make new friends! Young couples, our age…not something we had found a lot of on this tour so we new the next few days would be really great!

We drove through Windhoek on a quick city tour as we didn’t get to do one yesterday and then we were on our way to Sandunes Lodge, run by a nice man named Andrew. Andrew’s lodge was known as the home of the San People, Bushmen, and Andrew easily communicated with the people who lived in these small villages on the property. We arrived to find beautiful rooms, available wildlife and a possible interaction with the San people. We were introduced to Andrew and his staff over a lovely lunch of chicken (well, not for me) and salad and then we had some time to hang around before we would go to the Bushmen village if we wanted. We relaxed, I did my nails and everyone was kind of enjoying the lazy afternoon before the ride.

Our drive to the Bushmen village was short, but our transportation was the interesting feature of the afternoon. There were two jeeps with some room inside but one had a whole separate seating section on the top; yup, that’s right…we sat on the roof of the car! (this is something to definitely tell your mother after she knows you have all of your limbs after the journey was over) We felt every bump as we drove and gripped onto those bars for dear life; but I have to say that the ride was awesome…scary, but awesome! We drove through the actual bush on sand tracks that were nowhere near close to being considered roads by any stretch of the imagination and then we got out and walked further in the bush after we had parked by a bunch of reeds that again wouldn’t be considered a car park spot by anyone…but it was amazing. We continued to walk through the bush, swatting the flies and mad that even when we asked Paul if we could wear skirts/shorts and thongs he said yes but of course we would have preferred long pants and shoes, and eventually we arrived at what looked like a makeshift village where at least six adults, two teenage boys and a few children were staying in stick-made huts around a man-made fire. They wore very little clothing, stayed in these tee-pee huts, spoke their own language, used old school methods of hunting and trapping animals, were totally nomadic, played with sticks, drank out of ostrich eggs and sang and danced for us as Andrew translated our conversations. They demonstrated how they lived, how they trap animals and how to make a poison to place on the end of the arrow, how to make jewelry out of ostrich eggs (they put some pieces in the fire to get a different color for the necklaces but they were all created from the same shell) and altogether how they lived. When a very young boy (less than two) kept grabbing for Gayle’s water and she wouldn’t give it to him I gave him ours. His eyes lit up and he was ecstatic. He needed help lifting the bottle and the water dribbled down right onto his bare belly which you could see growing bigger with every sip he would take. He was adorable. Those big eyes looking up at me as he drank and then he attached himself to my leg when he was done and I had wiped his belly of the extra water. Andrew told us later that the reason he had trouble with the water bottle and tipping it and holding it was because he was used to drinking out of ostrich eggs which were a completely different entity altogether.

When our visit was over, after we attempted (poorly) to shoot the arrow to a target but got a good laugh out of it, we waved goodbye, jumped back on our dangerous seats perched high atop the jeeps and were back at the lodge just in time for dinner. Dinner was lamb on a spit and I chose not to join the others as not only was it too difficult for me to see the lamb but the awful noise of the cutting in the back just ripped right through me. Paul said that it certainly was not the first time that someone had chosen not to join this dinner and Andrew generously made me a separate vegetarian dish of the best pad thai I had in all of Africa and had it brought to the room for me. Not only was the food out of this world but the service was so sweet. I finished eating and brought my empty plate to the kitchen and joined everyone else for ice cream as they had finished eating as well. After witnessing another amazing African sunset on our journey home and the great food for dinner, we thanked Andrew and headed for bed as tomorrow was a long driving day to Maun after a bit of time on the bus.

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Namibia-a place I never knew I’d absolutely fall in love with and want to journey to again and again. It is so very easy to comprehend Angelina Jolie’s love for these beautiful people and this gorgeous land. I’ve learned so much on this part of our journey, things you couldn’t learn in a book or even on television but things you had to see and experience on your own, with your own eyes and your own heart. Things that made you feel deep in your soul and changed your view of the world and the things there are to do and the people there are to meet. Everyone we interacted with was wonderful and so incredibly genuine. Their land and way of life might be different to that of our own but it has merit and benefits beyond your wildest dreams. Each person we met seems to truly enjoy his or her life to the fullest and not take any day for granted, a lesson that is not taken lightly. I can’t wait to come back to Namibia, there is just so much peace and beauty here to experience and it gets into your soul and deep into your heart.

Tomorrow: Botswana!

A day in Namibia’s capital city!

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Day 54: Etosha National Park, Namibia-Windhoek, Namibia (31 October 2009-Halloween)

We woke up this morning in our cute little two person tents (good thing we did this as it’s a prelude to our full on camping trip that we do later) to the sounds of people in the next campsite over packing up their bags…it was five in the morning! Needless to say we weren’t so thrilled at the hour; but we got up, rolled up the sleeping mats and Mathew and Karel packed up the actual tent as I finished getting ready as I had packed up everything inside the tent. We stopped in the same two spots in the same two towns as we did on the way in to Etosha; the bakery for some snacks and internet time, Ot;iwarongo for a toilet stop and then we were on our way to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city. And of course we remembered to take our malaria pills as we were up to the part of the trip that we were now taking them every day as we had started just before Etosha.

We finally arrived in Windhoek in the afternoon, dropped our stuff in our new clean room decorated all in white and complete with air conditioning and a refrigerator and got some news. Paul told us that there were some complications with the travel of those meeting up with us in Windhoek so we would be leaving a bit later in the morning tomorrow than already thought…we were thrilled! We decided it was time for a bit of a late lunch and headed out to the shopping mall across the road for a quick wander and some food. There was a club rugby match on that Mathew wanted to watch so we were looking for a place to do that and came across a place for lunch, Mugg and Beans which is a chain restaurant almost like Applebee’s I would think. We had some lunch with Lee and then headed back to the hotel for a rest and a shower before dinner.

Mathew and Lee went out for a journey around Windhoek as I stayed in for a bit of a rest. Winhoek itself is not a very safe city and doesn’t have that much to offer; think of spending a weekend in Albany if you weren’t visiting the school or having anything to do with politics. They trundled along finding that our hotel was situated at the end of Robert Mugabe Avenue (oddly enough) and saw a few other museums and buildings. After a rest and a shower we found ourselves heading to dinner at Joe’s Beerhaus. Ask anyone who’s been to Windhoek and this is where they’d tell you to go…there’s sand on the floor, ‘jaegermeister is their house beer’, game is a specialty and the décor is filled with what would be other people’s junk but the treasure’s of Joe. We got to meet two of the four people joining us on the next leg of this journey all the way to Victoria Falls, Zambia. Maria and Bernardo, both Portugese were just here for the nine days of this part. Maria is a neurosurgery resident in Portugal and Bernardo is a PHD candidate in Biology living in London and working for Cancer Research and only has his thesis to defend left in the program. Dinner was good and conversation flowed, but it was a bit hard for me as there was game all around. I was so glad that Eveline and I wound up sitting across from each other so at least there was another vegetarian dish to look at across the way. There was game all around the table…Kudu, crocodile, buffalo and even zebra…people said it tasted like horse…YUCK!

Anyway, dinner was fun and we really liked our new members. Upon our return we found out that the other couple had already landed and we would have been able to leave on time in the morning but Paul decided to let us have a lie in. Ian and Louise would be joining us in the morning. We gave some goodbye hugs to Christine, Carsten and Lee who would all be leaving us in the morning; Christine and Lee to fly home and Carsten, who worked for BMW, would be joining a mate and continuing a journey through Namibia on motorbike. We made our goodbyes and then headed to bed.

Tomorrow: Our last day in Namibia; home of the red sand!