Namibia is a neat place, but I’d never exactly look at the empty sand dunes and jump off a boat to say “wow, I want to start a colony here!” But that’s exactly what the Germans did here in the 19th century, no doubt starting to feel left out of the colonial scramble and figuring an empty desert was better than nothing. Then after the Germans lost WWI Namibia, then known as “South West Africa,” was handed over to South Africa for administration who ruled it until 1990, the last two decades of which were marred by various states of civil war. Nothing like showing up in a country to learn you’re older than it!
Anyway, one of the colonial legacies from the Germans is the seaside resort town of Swakopmund, which for all intents and purposes is a German town that got plopped down in the middle of Africa. All the white people speak German, you can get the most delicious black forest cake you can imagine at the bakery, and all Namibian beer is the best you will find in Africa. Our visit also coincided with “German heritage week” in Swak, meaning we got to see a parade that basically looked like a bunch of Germans getting pissed on the back of trucks while driving through the streets. See, totally German!
Anyway, getting on with things it turns out Swakopmund is billed as “the adrenalinen capital of Namibia.” (Which I find silly actually- I haven’t seen a town of comparable size in Namibia, let alone one where you have any touristy things to do!) Linda took this to heart by doing sandboarding and skydiving here, but I’ve done skydiving before and wasn’t completely interested in sandboarding, so those are her stories to tell. But both of us joined forces for a bit of desert quad biking!
Before anyone asks, we were wimps who drove automatics but had great fun anyway. Oh, and I learned whilst at the quad biking place that my head is “extra small” as that was the only helmet that properly fit me, so from now on I am claiming that any smarts I have are due to concentrated brain power. (I also got my hair cut short on this day- you don’t want to deal with long hair whilst overlanding- so this was my retort to my sister’s “rovid haj, rovid esz” comment meaning “short hair, short mind.” Hungarian sayings are weird.)
It turns out quad biking is marvelously fun and I can recommend it. My only comment on this is if you do it over sand you need to be very careful and not be too reckless- two girls tumbled while driving semi-automatics because they had no real experience with them, and one woman who wasn’t following the leader rolled with her bike after cresting a dune too quickly. (The latter was right in front of me actually, so I am adding that image of her tumbling with her bike and lying motionless at the bottom with part of it on her as one of the scariest things I’ve seen.) Luckily no one got hurt, but you definitely need to exercise caution over something as frictionless and unpacked as sand.
For my second activity of the weekend, I went fishing with three other Aussies from our truck and a South African father and two sons on holiday. I’ve never really gone fishing before for some reason or another but always wanted to try it, and luckily found a great crowd to do it with. Even if by the nature of them being Aussie I started drinking beer at 9am for the first time in my life- hey, it’s what you’re supposed to do whilst fishing right?
Anyway, fishing was really fun but I think I’m ruined for life. Why? Because this fish is one of seventeen I caught during the course of a morning- three catfish and the rest a species called kol. And something tells me I shouldn’t expect to normally catch one fish every ten minutes or so, right? Not to make you all think that all of our fishing went to waste, here is a picture of our fish and chips dinner the night after we left Swak, as the four of us caught enough to feed the entire group. Interestingly I usually don’t like fish, but I really liked this stuff. I guess there’s a difference if you catch it yourself!