Friday, March 26, 2010

Postings from Pretoria #30

26 March 2010

Hello there... Rodger French here.

Photo Update Alert:

“Namibia” “Namibia: Sossusvlei”

When we first arrived in South Africa in 2008, A.J. and I made a list of places we wanted to visit during our two-year posting. Our record of touristic accomplishment is mixed, but I am extremely pleased to report that we have just returned from a week in one of our Top 5: Namibia; which is, IMHO, among the most physically beautiful places on Earth.

A bit of historical background: Namibians have suffered much torture and violence, notably at the hands of German colonizers (1884-1920). Following WW II, the League of Nations mandated what was then known as South West Africa to South Africa, which imposed their laws, including, after 1948, apartheid. Inevitable insurrection ensued and much black blood was spilled, but on 21 March 1990, the Republic of Namibia (Motto: “Unity, Liberty, Justice”) came into being. The German influence, however, is still pervasive, not least because of the large numbers of German tourists and retirees.

[Sidebar: Being of pink and blondish hues, I am often presumed to be an Afrikaner or German. I therefore make a point of identifying myself as an American as soon as possible when interacting with black Africans. This usually results in greater respect as well as lots of questions concerning immigration and President Barack Obama. I might have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.]

This being a DOS bidness trip, we stayed two nights in the capital Windhoek (“Vind-hook”), a pleasant small city (and home to our current favourite beer, Windhoek Lager), then took off for the coast with several of A.J.'s colleagues to visit an American Corner in Walvis (“Valvis”) Bay, which is much more a working harbour than tourist mecca. Our hotel overlooked the Walvis Bay Lagoon, home to thousands of flamingos and the biggest f**king pelicans I have ever seen.

We also visited Swakopmund (“Swakopmund”), which is a very quaint town, and home to many of the aforementioned Deutsche pensionäre. Lunch was taken at a scenic restaurant at the foot of a lighthouse, where we were joined by three resident, and very well mannered, chickens. That evening, we dined at the Walvis Bay Yacht Club, where I scored some really excellent tourist loot. Anne and I were most reluctant to leave the coast, but we had to book it back across the desert to Windhoek, where transport awaited to take us to an altogether amazing place.



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