This newly independent nation is one of the most stable countries in Africa. It takes hardy people to live in this harsh desert environment with its barren coastlines and migrating sand mountains. Namibia is called “the land God made in anger.” But the country is teeming with exotic wildlife and unique vegetation. For instance there are desert elephants and the Welwitschia mirabilis plant which can live for 1000 years. “Big Daddy” sand dune is supposed to be the highest dune in the world. Brad and Angelina awaited the birth of their daughter at the deluxe Burning Shore Resort just up the road from Walvis Bay. Our friend Hilda came face to face with a spitting cobra on her hotel room lanai while spending several nights on a desert safari.
As soon as we entered Walvis Bay we were engulfed in an acrid sulfuric odor that was pretty awful. Apparently all of the waste from sea life drops to the ocean bed and ferments. Without a strong current or wind eventually the organic matter erupts and sends plumes of sulfur into the air. This odor takes a lot of getting used to. If you grew up around sulfur hot springs or
The shifting sands of the migrating dunes.
in Rotarua, NZ then you know the "rotten egg' smell. Since we arrived on a Sunday virtually everything was closed in Walvis Bay. So we hired a taxi and went to see the flocks of pink flamingos which line the coast. We visited the local golf course where the greens and tees are covered with grass while the fairways are hardened clay. Since they didn’t have rental clubs we weren’t able to play. We toured the salt ponds with their massive mountain of mined salt which looked like a snow covered Mt Fuji.
Regent held a special event for all of the passengers—a dinner in the desert. They hired every available vehicle to transport us from the pier out to the desert. This caravan of buses, vans and four wheel drive cars created a mini dust storm as we made our way over the rutted roads to the oasis. Our van driver worked for Angelina and Brad for three months as their personal aide. He spoke of their kindness and generosity. Three sided tents and a huge bonfire protected us against the night cold. There were camels for riding, dunes for climbing, millions of stars for gazing, lots of
African food for dining and wine for imbibing. There were fire eaters and a chorus of Namibians chanting popular songs and haunting melodies. This is always a memorable event and best of all there was no sulfur odor in the desert.
The next day we went on a boating safari—probably one of the most interesting ones we have ever taken. About twelve of us boarded Nick’s fishing boat and away we went for four hours of interaction with the local sea life. Our first encounter was with the white pelicans. Nick would let out a loud whistle and bid the pelicans to “come to Daddy.” They came for the fish treats and it was amazing to watch them water ski to a stop right beside our boat. Nick’s favorite Cape Fur seal actually climbed onto the back of the boat and we were able to feed and pet this rather large creature. We later saw herds of seals estimated to number about 100,000 hauled out on the sand spit. We watched two jackals stalk the flamingos and shore birds. We spotted a couple of bottlenose dolphins who enjoy frolicking with the seals who in turn imitate the dolphins by
jumping and spinning in the water. What a great day on the water.
Oyster farming is a new industry in Walvis Bay. We stopped by one of the oyster boats that was in the process of harvesting as many oysters as possible. A sulfuric eruption began right before our arrival and it was taking all of the oxygen out of the water and in the process was about to wipe out the entire oyster bed. We talked to the owner of the operation and he was quite distressed and was praying for a strong wind in order to save his crop of oysters. That night on CNN there just happened to be a report on the new oyster farming in Walvis Bay. The owner we had talked to earlier in the day was interviewed by CNN. Of course, the program had been filmed several weeks earlier when everything seemed rosy. We hope they got the wind they needed to save their “crop.”
We had a four day journey up the coast of Africa. In the meantime another eruption had brought the world’s airlines to their knees. The Iceland volcano Eyjafjallajokull not only affected Europe but also people around
the world. Many passengers and entertainers who left the ship in Cape Town were stranded there for days, including Dr Tinkle. His nurse escort had to fly from the U.S. and since she couldn’t route through Europe, her fight choices were limited. She and Dr Tinkle were finally able to leave a week after he was admitted to the hospital. It took them 48 hours to fly from Cape Town to Sioux City with four connections and routing via Brazil. Dick Crumb joined Lloyd in Atlanta and flew with him the rest of the way home. We talked with Dr Tinkle while on his layover in Minneapolis and he was in very good spirits. Our mutual friend, Paulette Mitchell met Lloyd at the airport—which made him very happy. We breathed a sigh of relief to know that he was safely home in spite of the air travel chaos occurring around the world.
Our computer crashed as we were leaving Namibia so we lost our pictures from those two days there. Fortunately we have friends on board who are great photographers. Larry McCracken, Sherry and Mike Kinne and Jarmo Mustonen generously gave us the photos for this travel log. Thus
we can keep on blogging!
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