Back in my other life...


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Africa » Namibia » Windhoek
August 21st 2009
Published: August 21st 2009
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Back into the warm comfort of my other life. Where the sky is blue and the sun shines all day long… at least at this time of year. Where the worry about my mother’s health is softened by distance. Where solving the latest problem with my house can be delegated or postponed for another six months. (I won’t thank myself then, but there’s little option now). Where I don’t have bills to pay, or errands to run. Where I can sit out on the stoep in the daytime and read my book, or chat on the phone in the evening, watching the chattering, swooping swallows gradually concede their dominance of the skies to the bats and the dazzling stars. (I always forget how dark the skies are here, and how fabulous the starscape.)

On Sunday night, we went round to Marco’s, picking up takeaway pizza en route. I remembered not to order the vegetarian one. It lists garlic first, and I could well believe - from a prior, initially delicious but subsequently antisocial, experience - that this is actually the main ingredient. Marco and his delightful young blond bombshell of a son, Svennie, were unchanged. The last six months continued to evaporate rapidly, within hours of my landing, as I slipped back into my Windhoek life.

On Monday afternoon, we went to the Brazza coffee shop in Maerua Mall, still producing the best coffee in Namibia, even if the prices have gone up in the last six months. And the familiar faces of its friendly waiting staff were delightfully unchanged.

Checkers has the same unpredictability of goods on its shelves - sometimes the very thing you want is not only not in stock, but its shelf gives no indication it has ever existed. I was disappointed to find that my favourite make of fruit juice seems to have disappeared off the market, but pleased to find the best type of “chakalaka” was in plentiful supply. You just can’t beat chakalaka and pasta as an easy but tasty dish in town or in the bush…

Next door, Clicks - the South African equivalent to the chemist, Boots, back home - has had a major re-vamp, with a new check-out area and some changes to its shelving. Like Checkers, its supplies can be a little hit-or-miss, but I eventually tracked down most things that I wanted, the names and appearances of the South African brands soon coming back to me.

Amazingly, the roadworks at the intersection nearby have finally been completed - they seemed to show little progress between my visits last year - but the road from there into town has been ripped up, to locals’, businesses’ and taxi drivers’ palpable frustration. Getting a taxi back that evening, I was treated to a real live exercise in bumper cars as the driver tried to manoeuvre his vehicle around and out onto the main road, navigating temporary intentional and amateur barriers as well as other drivers who were still determined to use this part of the car park without thought for anyone else.

On television I found that South Africa has re-acquired the rights to broadcast the English Premiership to Namibia. For the last year or two, this had been taken over by a Nigerian company and, as we didn’t have access to their channels, live football was limited to European matches. While I confess I slept through Manchester United’s relatively dismal performance on Sunday, I did come to in time to see Spurs’ excellent start to the season. Later in the week, it was the Athletics
Hoanib elephantsHoanib elephantsHoanib elephants

Fingers crossed for catching up with these guys in the next week or two...
and the Ashes which dominated the screen - a veritable sporting feast… and my fingers are VERY crossed for England this weekend…

Back in the gym on Wednesday where I was greeted with a huge and unexpected hug from a beaming Rosanna, now promoted, she told me, from the reception desk to assistant administrator. How long had I been gone? No! Was it really more than six months? (The workout was depressing, but heartening: nice to know what levels of fitness and flexibility I had achieved in three months’ relatively regular exercise in London, though depressing to discover how quickly the improvement seems to have evaporated. I blame my UK friends’ generous hospitality!)

The seafood at Luigi & The Fish is still good, although we agreed that the platter of prawns that evening was not up to the seafood platter in terms of sating our appetites. Still, the Boschendal Pavillion chardonnay/semillon washed it down nicely and there was still space when I got home to tuck in a wee morsal of Cadbury’s rum’n’raisin chocolate without my then feeling too guilty. Meantime, I had been charmed by the kind attentions of the waiter, Josiah, checking that he had correctly filled the wine glasses, that we were enjoying our food, that we were happy. Cynically, I thought he must still be pretty new there, still to be giving off such an air of caring and wanting to please… But I rebuked myself. The staff there are great, if usually a little more offhand.

So it’s been a tough first week back, catching up on sleep, relaxing into a couple of not-trashy-but-not-brain-demanding-either thrillers, enjoying not having to run around and “do stuff”. This second life of mine is an enormous luxury without doubt; this life where I feel so at home, but without any attendant responsibility. It’s coming to an end, at least for the foreseeable future, but I’m going to enjoy every last second.

And on Monday, we’re hitting the road….


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21st August 2009

good stuff
Nice to see a picture of clear skies - it's raining so much this summer in NYC that even the ducks in Central Park are waterlogged! Keep sending up dates of your travels - and hope you get to the big apple this year or next.
22nd August 2009

Back to ...Namibia
Good to hear the latest ..as always. Even more so when I can picture the place and the people (well Marco anyway!). Hopefully next year I will be back ,albeit not to the wonderful Haonib maybe ,but with Tony ,my husband so he can see some of the places I was priviledged to visit. Enjoy it all and travel safe! Jenx
22nd August 2009

Bringing good memories
Hi Elizabeth. Your blog brought back memeories of my incredible time in Namibia. Actually, we first "met" (virtual meeting) when I read your blog and ansked for tips on Namibia 4 years ago. Wow! Time passes fast. I can't wait to read more about what you are up to over there. Enjoy your other tife. Patricia
23rd August 2009

glad you're back in Windhoek
Hi, Elizabeth-- I've been thinking of you and of Keith, since last year about this time we were out in the Hoanib together. Glad to hear that you're back in Namibia and heading out to check up on the elephants. Can't wait to hear about your adventures in the bush. I went to Tanzania and Kenya for three weeks this spring and saw amazing wildlife...but still love southern Africa (and especially Namibia) the best. For a chance of pace, I'm headed to Russia and Finland for three weeks in September. I've never been there, so I'm madly trying to read up on it. Lots to learn! Hope your travels go well, and please give Keith my best wishes-- Cheers, Rosanna
24th August 2009

You go, girlfriend!
Liz, loved reading this blog -- just to know where you are! But you give a great sense of the atmosphere out there. Lovely to keep in touch. Take care, Robs x

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