We woke to African birdsong.
The travel was from St. Louis was long. Three planes, more than 36 hours travel time. Namibia is not set up for travel from the US. It’s easier to get here from Asia or Europe.
Americans simply do not have a concept of the size of this continent, partly because our maps are wrong. Africa is drawn smaller than it is. It’s really time to change our maps. But that’s another issue.
The drive from the airport to the city, about 45km, shows the beauty of the desert. Springbok were everywhere! Windhoek was founded by German Colonialists who were shown the deep water sources here… an oasis in the desert. The surface is dry but the water flows below. Life can be sustained and lived well.
It is hot. And the altitude is that of Denver. I felt it this morning on a walk to the market for supplies.
Just a brief description. Namibia is bordered by South Africa on the southeast, Angola on the north, Botswana on the east. It is the twice the size of California, but with only 2 million people. It was part of the South African Apartheid system until Namibian independence in 1990. The first free election in South Africa was 1994. This is a young country. Inequities still exist, of course, but Namibia has done a better job of finding reconciliation between whites, blacks and mixed race people. Many people still live in traditional ways, though much of their land and cattle stolen by colonials have not been returned. It’s still an issue, but one that is managed in the Namibian way.
What is the Namibian way? Slower, kinder, friendlier. People are helpful and open, but unemployment is 40%, so there are men who will watch your car for a coin or offer you directions. They aren’t beggars, but they do want a little something.
I was told that white women generally do not walk. White tourists walk. And students, I suppose! The taxis “beeped” at Hannah and me constantly as we walked to the market. The city is not “city like,” but more like a rural town with lots of room between homes and businesses. There is no bustle, there are no “blocks,” but wide roads lined by walls and gates that protect the homes or businesses within. There is petty crime, not violent. Mostly the walls create private outdoor living spaces, not armed fortresses.
The feel is organic, slow-paced, and not as materialistic or commercial as North America, Europe or Asia.
We are staying in a guest house that is a compound of smaller buildings.
We have access to a kitchen in a separate building. There is no AC but the slower pace and the building construction — and the lack of humidity — make it bearable. The city does not generate a lot of heat from air conditioning and industry, so the temperatures dip to the 60s at night and the sky is remarkably clear. The air is clean.
There is a garden of succulents, a small pool, a patio and an open eating area. The food is wholesome, fresh and tastes amazing.
Today, we rest and explore a bit. Still I hear the African birdsong.
View from the garden.