Published: May 6th 2012May 6th 2012
A rough and misty morning as the cold air off the ocean meets the warm air from the desert
Well hellooooo Swakopmund!!! Swakopmund is a german town on the west coast of Namibia. It is set between the vast Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean which provides a play ground for every kind of person. We were immediately thrown into this playground upon arrival as we went to book our activities for the next couple of days. The choices were plentiful, varying from dolphin watching, fishing and township tours to sandboarding, quad biking and sky diving. Megan and I chose dolphins, quad biking and township tour while the other girls were braver and chose sand boarding. Sadly though as I mentioned our dolphin tour did not go ahead, however, this gave us time to explore the little town and have a walk along the beach before we set off on our quad biking tour. After all the instructions were outlined (most of which I didn’t really understand but figured it would make sense should I find myself in trouble) we hit the road/ gravel/ sand. This was an incredible 2 hours as we wound our way around the dunes, seeing how high up one side of a dune we could go and holding on for dear life as we plummeted
A square in Swakopmund
German architecture meets the ocean
down some steep dune. Going over the sides of the dune was something you built up to and while initially I tried to stay low I tended to lose control and end up higher up the dune than expected which led to me trying my hardest to go higher and higher from then on. Every once in a while I got lost in how incredible to sight that surrounded us was, there we were 6 people souring around a land of sand. There was literally dunes as far as the eye could see and it amazed me that the guide knew where we were. While our thumbs, thighs and knees were shaking and in pain by the end of the trip, this was an amazing way to while away 2 hours.
Our second day & activity was something just as fantastic but very different. We were picked up by a young man wearing an arsenal tshirt and dreadlocks (shhhh Ben & Elsbeth!) in a small car to take us to the local township just on the outskirts of Swakopmund. This township was created in 1960 under the apartheid regime of the South African government and is made
.... and a whole lotta sand!
up 3 tribes and each tribe were given different levels of housing. These levels vary from 1 bedroom and toilets out side to 3 bedrooms with toilets inside. Today the houses have been extended and re modeled but still house more people then you could ever expect to fit in. We walked the streets of the area called Mondesa where many of the residents were happy to greet us and the children happily ran alongside us rolling their tyres. We arrived at the Chief’s house, however, as it was a sunday she was unavailable but her granddaughter explained that as chief her duties involve legal consultation, marriage counseling, resolving neighbourhood disputes and assisting the pastor. She was also the first female chief and is currently 83, we all listened in awe of this woman of many talent. During the tour we learnt the different ways of saying hello and thank you, including the hand shake. While I was counting my way through the hand shake, a helpful young boy ran up and counted me through it helping me practice.
Following this we drove to visit a Heroro lady who ran an orphanage of children who’s parents have died of
Just to prove I actually did ride the thing!
HIV- Aids. This woman was from the Heroro people who originally were cattle people, dressed in a large puffy dress of bright colours and a head scarf which was pinned on her head with two points on the front. This outfit is to honour their desendants and resembled the cattle that are in their history. This tribe also was a part of the first genocide of the 20th Century which occurred between 1904 & 1907. The tribe protested against the violation of treaties and the lack of punishment of germans who raped the women and girls of the tribe. This resulted in the authorities shackling the strong men and sending them into the desert to starve and die of thirst. This fate met many of those who fled the area into the Namib desert. Concentration camps were also set up for those remaining and they were used for research, where many skulls were sent to Germany as they wanted explanation as to why these people were so stubborn. There are many descendants within the tribe who have lighter skin than others due to there being a strain of Germanic features remaining. She also went on to tell us about her
Kids & Tyres
These guys are pro's at this form of entertainment -- we all felt we'd fail
project Tears of Hope which is her orphanage and raising funds for HIV treatments. The township has a HIV testing centre and the medicine is free to those who require it but the funds are running low and it is predicted that in 2015 they will run out. This is a scary fact considering 17% of people in Namibia have HIV and 40% of that group is young adults.
We also visited another area called the DRC (Democratic Resettlement Community) which is basically a shanty town full of houses made from various scrap materials found at the nearby dump where people live while waiting for subsided housing to be built. With this said, there are many who choose to remain on this land as it is free to live and they only pay for water. Here, we met with a medicine woman who showed us different roots, droppings and seeds that have healing properties. We also had a lesson on the clicks of the Damara language which caused us great amusement. The clicks can completely change the meaning of a word, for example, the word for ‘love’ and ‘kill’ had the same ending but different clicks, so
Children Chasing Car
Local kids in the DRC saying hello as we drove by
this could cause a few problems! Once again a young boy who was watching on assisted us by repeating the words with a huge smile on his face. Finally we finished up at a local pub called the other side of the moon. This pub was behind someone’s house but had an outdoor area, pool table, jukebox and even pokie machines. We were then directed to the ‘restaurant’ which was another small building with 2 levels and we very much felt like we were sitting in a tree house. Here we were introduced to some local delicacies, porridge, wild spinach, white beans, BBQ chicken and caterpillars. This was all accompanied with some local homebrew! I’m no going to lie here and say it was the most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten but it was certainly different. The caterpillars are boiled, dried and fried so when they are eaten they retain their crunchy texture but surprisingly taste like seafood.
We hit the road back to our hostel, but leaving I could help but love the way these communities approached life. They live a much harder than we could ever imagine but are still happy to see tourists and
happy to share they lives with us. They also painted their houses vivid colours after independence and seem to have a real zest for the community life. Overall the last two days have most definitely been the best so far, tomorrow we head north via Cape Cross where we visit a seal colony which will no doubt be one stinky experience!
There are more photos below