Day 9 Dec. 21 Sunday
It was early in the morning and once again, we were under way. It was a beautiful day, sunny and cool. Leaving the Sossusvlei dunes camp was bittersweet ….. beautiful as the dunes were, I was happy to bid the fine red sand (that got into every tiny space), adieu. We were looking forward to seeing the flamingoes in the coastal town of Walvis Bay and almost equally interested in the larger, German- influenced town of Swakopmund; shopping and a night in a guesthouse – funny how one’s priorities can change.
We stopped early into the day’s journey at Soltaire for “the best apple pie in Africa” according to Richard. Since my clothes were getting tighter and tighter every day, I declined.
Thoughts of artwork ….. sitting on the bus, taking in the landscapes, thoughts of art projects filled my mind. I saw such a variety of greens blending together. I saw dunes of every hue, tone, and shade in the red – orange – yellow range and visualized myself using chalk pastels – smoothing a swathe of red and adding greens. I thought of all the abstracts I could make based on patterns taken from nature.
It was around 11 am and this was the landscape I was seeing. We were about an hour SE of Walvis Bay and the ocean. It was getting much cooler too … 22 degrees. Finally we were closing in on Walvis Bay and I saw signs for “Dune 7”. I took some pics of what I thought was Dune 7.
At this point, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and couldn’t resist the photo opportunities that presented themselves.
We lunched beside the lagoon in Walvis Bay, treated to an ever-changing kaleidoscope of pink and black as the flamingoes took off and landed, almost continuously, on the ‘lagoon stage’ in front of us!
Entering Walvis Bay, I was fascinated by these trees, which we saw everywhere. I never did find out the name of them.
Here was our first sight of the Atlantic Ocean!!
After lunch, we continued on our way, traveling north along the coast. It was only about another 30 km. As we drove, we discussed the adventure opportunities available to us in Swakopmund and decided to take a township tour followed by dinner at a local eatery called “The Tug” recommended by our Kiboko crew. Dumi made reservations for both the township tour at 4 and dinner at the Tug at 730 pm.
The township tour was great. Our leader, a member of the Ovambo tribe, went by the name of ‘Nadi’. He picked us up in a small bus and as we drove to the township, he filled us in on some of the history of the township, how it came to be, and some other interesting facts:
- 12,000 people are living in the township which is called the DRC (District Resettlement Colony if I remember correctly).
The township is basically a shantytown with no electricity or water. People spend most of the day outside, using their “shanties” only for sleeping in.
During the apartheid regime, blacks were separated according to their tribes: Ovamba, Damara, and Nama. They all lived in the township but were kept separated. After apartheid was dismantled, many stayed living there – building bigger houses – it had become home.
When we got to the township, we walked along a few of the unpaved streets, where Nadi was greeted by everyone we met. He was very specific about where we should and shouldn’t walk and when it was or wasn’t appropriate to take photos. Some of the best subjects were the kids. They were as fascinated with us as we with them and happily posed for us.
After our walk and initial introduction to the township and what we were seeing, Nadi took us to visit a an orphanage in the township.
The woman we met there was of the Herero tribe; she was in full Hereo dress, characterized most by the horn-shaped head cover resembling the horns of a cow. (The Herero people measure their wealth in cattle, as do many other African people, and this is evident in the women’s traditional way of dress.) She had the sweetest toddler with her – I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos, hoping to get a good enough one to draw from. There were no there children that we could see – the other children were all off on some outing, I believe.
Our next stop was a local craft shop, supporting crafts made by women from the township where we bought a few crafts …. for us that meant baby clothes for Mike’s eagerly anticipated first grandchild.
Our last stop was the most highly anticipated one – a local restaurant where we sampled the local fare: spinach, pap (a traditional porridge made from ground maize, a staple of the Bantu people of South Africa), chicken, a kind of bean mush, and Mopani worms.
In the food department, I was definitely not the most adventurous of our group. I didn’t eat anything but the chicken. I tried the spinach but it was terribly gritty, the beans …. I didn’t like the taste of and the mopani worms …. I could hardly look at them, let alone eat them.
It was hard enough taking a picture of Mike putting one in his mouth and chewing it!!!
Hmmm ….. ! Do you think he liked them?? Afterwards, Dumi explained to us that there are different ways of preparing the worms and that the ones he likes are deep fried. We had another chance to try them that way and then Mike liked them better.
After we had eaten our fill, we were serenaded by a local African apace vocals group. They were a group of 4 guys and not only was their music great, their energy was fantastic. They pulled a few of us up to dance and share in their fun and love of life. In this next photo of them, you can see each of them making a gesture with their hand …. it is the symbol of Namibia, in the shape of their country. The thumb sticking our horizontally represents the Caprivi Strip, the small strip of land along the northern border between Namibia and Angola, extending westwards from Namibia into Zimbabwe in the north and Botswana in the south. A great ending to a great township tour.
We bid Nadi farewell and went to our respective rooms for “comfort” stops – a shower and a snooze and after a while, set off to find ‘The Tug’ restaurant at the jetty. It was packed and looked like a the recommendation was well-deserved. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Although a reservation had been made for us, somehow, the restaurant had no record of it. Apologetically and and most helpfully, they sent us off to Kuchhie’s, also highly recommended. We sat at a long trestle-like table and ordered a variety of dishes ranging from a gourmet burger to a dinner of wild game meats served with ….. the ever – present wine and beer of course. In the middle of pre-dinner drinks, who should appear but Dumi and Richard. Originally, their intention was to find us at The Tug but ended up on a kind of treasure hunt, eventually finding us at Kuchie’s. Our invitation to “join us” was accepted and the evening progressed in fine style from that point the ‘young and the beautiful’ of our group, renamed “The Bush-Babies”, and Jan (our Dutch Dancer) went in search of the local nightlife. (Not sure f they found the ‘nightlife’ or became it!!!
The older and wiser of the group, Mike, Rhea and I, wandered home and trundled off to sleep.