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Published: June 10th 2012
Already we can see we’ve left the rough life behind. Our guest house, Elegant House, lives up to its name, and we are in the city of Windhoek, Namibia population 340,000. This morning, we arrange for a city tour, driven by Laston, who operates a transfer and tour service. The night before, we had missed him at the airport because our plane was early, and since no one was waiting for us, we left with a taxi driver who was available. So when Laston arrived expecting us, we had already left!
Today, he starts by taking us to the pretty sights of Windhoek. It is Africa Day and all the shops are closed, but we are not interested in shopping anyway. As a side note, it turns out we should have done some shopping this day, because Richard notices that he is missing the USB sticks that we were relying on to offload Kayla’s photos. A few days later he noticed his iPhone was also missing, so by then we realize that a few things might have ‘disappeared’ between Maun and Windhoek. They were in his checked luggage.
But back to the city tour. Once we have seen the modern downtown area of Windhoek, Laston drives us to Nattatura, where the majority of blacks live. First we see the 10 x 10 m cinder block homes with outdoor toilet, built by the government. Then we stop at the local market. Kayla chats with a few ladies in booths, and snaps a few photos of them. Then we get to the fresh meat area where men are hacking beef slaughtered that morning into pieces for sale, on wooden tables covered by cardboard. Flies are everywhere and Kayla snaps a few photos of the whole operation.
In this market meat sales are an amazing entrepreneurial effort. Farmers bring slaughtered sides of beef in the morning, ”butchers” cut it into small pieces, “wood choppers” cut up dry logs into kindling, “chefs” cook the meat on BBQ’s made from oil drums cut in half and heated by the kindling, the public stands around waiting for their favorite piece to cook then they pay and eat it on the spot. Every part of this “fast food restaurant” business has a corner of the market for their speciality.
Finally, Laston takes us to the ‘informal settlement’ where people have cobbled together a home. They come from all over Africa, seeking work, but without any place to live. It amazes us how creative people can be with the merest of materials available to build shelter made mainly from corrugated steel and cardboard. The city provides one community street light and water source centered among the homes.
The gap between wealth and poverty is huge. Since Windhoek is a modern city with 4 lane highways, malls, newly architectural designed museum and government buildings, the contrast is even more dramatic. A few days later we were in the mall buying an external hard drive for Kayla’s pictures and it was fitted out just like Future Shop.
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