Our routing

Our routing

Overview of our Southern Africa adventure

After drifting off into the blue, our first landing will be Johannesburg where we will spend the night before flying (in an aircraft this time!) to Windhoek, Namibia, to start the first leg of our adventure - a 12 day tour of Namibia. After returning to Windhoek we will fly to Cape Town, where we will spend about 10 days, then on to Johannesburg for a few days, travel to Botswana with Avroy and Beryl in their 4 x 4, returning to Johannesburg for a few more days before flying home............with lots of wonderful memories!!!

The last part of our incredible adventure

Friday, May 7th

At last I have the perfect opportunity to journal - Moremi Crossing in the Okavango Delta. The lodge itself is a gorgeous, very large thatch roofed wooden structure totally open on all sides. This is where we eat, relax and enjoy looking across the brilliant green swamps at Chief’s Island covered with palm trees interspersed with many indigenous trees. The birds are singing and there’s a wonderful breeze to make it very comfortable. Apparently the water level is higher than it’s been for a very long time.

I didn’t think I would have a chance to catch up before returning home because of all the computer frustrations we’ve had. We have had no communication with the outside world since leaving Johannesburg for Botswana on May 1st, but I can prepare my blog and know that when we return to Johannesburg I will be able to get on line to send it. Sadly, pictures will take too long!

Firstly, regarding my condition…………………all I can say is that I am extremely fortunate that I broke my pelvis when I did. Needless to say, it would have been a whole lot more fortunate if I hadn’t broken it at all!!!!!! However, I am delighted to say that it has not spoilt our trip at all. I think my poor hubby has felt more sorry for me than I have for myself!! Everyone has been extremely kind and most helpful. I’ve never been so well treated, my arm muscles have got stronger from my crutches, and I find it hard to believe it all happened only 2 weeks ago.

My mind is busy churning through all our incredible experiences since last writing - which include the joy of catching up with family and friends in Johannesburg. Since we left S. Africa in 1984 the country has gone through some major changes - from the horror of the apartheid system to independence. Over the years we have been back many times and have witnessed some of these changes through many different eyes. Through our wonderful friend and guide, Vera, we were once again able to see places, interact with fascinating people and, in some cases, learn about a side of S.A. that tourists would not be shown……………..teaching local people in a township how to grow vegetables in the hope that they in turn will pass this knowledge on to others; visiting Freedom Park a monument to unite the people, depicting the development and struggles of S.A. through eons until today; went to a very colorful, musical African play called “Umojo”, now in it’s 10th year or so, and chatted to the producer.

My worst has been getting in and out of the car and also in and out of bed - the very worst being trying to turn onto my side in bed because my poor body was very tired of lying on it’s back! I tried not to think too much about Botswana where I so desperately wanting to go through the swamps in a mokoro - from what I could make out, a type of kayak. My hope was that by then the pain in my left leg would lessen and the flexibility would improve.

We first spent 4 wonderful days in a lodge at the edge of the Central Kalahari Desert. It is actually referred to as a semi desert which is hard to understand as it looked pretty lush with all the rain. We drove up with Beryl and Avroy - wonderful friends who had planned yet another exciting trip for us. Our adventure began after spending one night in luxury tent at Haina lodge. Early next morning we climbed into a safari vehicle with our guide, Trust. Lucky for me I got the front seat. No way I could clamber up onto the higher sections! From then on our daily schedule changed - up at about 5:30 every morning, a quick breakfast and then a game drive. Amazing what one can do when motivated!!!

Two nights were spent camping - for non campers, and me hobbling around on crutches, this was going to be interesting!!!! It proved to be great fun as we had a very caring, attentive guide and 2 chefs. I’d progressed to the point where Dick no longer had to help me to get into bed, but I did sleep in my clothes - except for jeans, or whatever - so I could just sort of fall out of bed before the sun rose and be ready quickly for rusks, coffee and our game drive.

Because of all the rain there was an abundance of food and water for all the animals which meant that going to a water hole was not the answer to spotting animals - too many water holes, as well as potholes filled with water! We really, really wanted to see lion and cheetah - both being really difficult to find.

It had been wonderful, and exciting to watch the Springbok. Not only are they very fast runners, but while running they arch their backs and leap high into the air - known as "pronking". Their way of having fun!

After a while we became somewhat blasé as we passed herds of the same types of animals! One afternoon we went in search of cheetah, Trust suggested we drive about 2 hours in a different direction to a particular water hole. We were all getting bored, fidgety and tired, and were about to turn around when, about a mile from the hole, we stopped to chat to a young couple who had been sitting around that water hole for a long time and not seen anything!!

Just 1 mile!!! Well, we had to at least see what the water hole looked like…………about a minute later, there ahead of us sauntering along the road was a magnificent cheetah making his way to the water hole! We followed him, and as he headed across the veld we made our way to the other side of the water hole and waited. What a treat as we watched him lapping the cool water, frequently and cautiously looking up and around for any sign of a threat. Wow! What a magnificent creature he was.

Racing to get back to camp by the required time we got stuck in the mud, in the dark, which was a little scary to say the least!! Between Trust’s experience and Avroy’s added knowledge and experience, with whirring tires, we got out. Not being able to make radio contact with our camp, our concerned chef came looking for us, encountering the head of the Park and assistant superintendent along the way. We in turn met them just before getting to our camp site, long after we were supposed to be in, which could have meant a black mark against Trust. However, some sweet talking seemed to work!

We had a drop toilet some way from our tent, making going during the night a challenge. The camps are not enclosed!! Desperation resulted in creative alternative methods just outside our tent!!! We had an enclosed shower stall, open at the top, with an upside down bucket mounted on a pipe, with a shower head and tap. Warm water was put into the bucket and you had to assess the usage to soap and rinse yourself. Worked pretty well! Thank goodness the water was warm and the weather was relatively warm too.

Our last bit of Kalahari excitement started about 4:00 a.m. on our last morning when we heard lions roar not too far away. An hour later they woke us up again as it was so loud - could almost hear them breathing. We all rolled out of bed, made ourselves a little decent and, as the sun came up and we were allowed out of camp, went in search of them. Success………………..2 large males not far from our camp, just off the road, one rolling happily in the grass. What a treat!!

Back at the main lodge we had an opportunity to have 3 bushmen teach us some of their traditional methods of hunting and gathering. One fascinating thing to see was how they had learnt to find certain edible roots thanks to observing the Oryx (very large and beautiful buck) which would dig them up and eat their juicy flesh. One of the bushmen demonstrated by peeling and grating one kind with a sharp stick. He then squeezed a handful and washed his almost naked body with it. The amount of liquid that came out of a handful was remarkable, using a thumb to funnel it into his mouth - I tried it………………. too bitter for my liking! The other kind was much more palatable.

The beauty and thrill of being in the bush is knowing that you are actually the visitors in this enormous territory that belongs to these wonderful wild creatures. The excitement is finding them. For Dick his photography was proving to be great fun, although he would just love to see more “action” - like a kill…………….which I don’t mind not witnessing!! For me it was a particular thrill to spend so much time in Deception Valley in the Kalahari. I have been reading “Cry of the Kalahari” where 2 young Americans spent 7 years researching the animals, and actually persuading the Botswana government that they need to preserve their wonderful heritage!

Flying in a 6 seater, 206, to the Okavango Delta was a hoot! As usual Dick and our friends were very mindful of what I could cope with. After our pilot came to introduce himself to us and we saw how far I would have to walk down the airstrip to the plane, a quick chat with pilot prompted him to offer to bring the plane to us!!! Most of our luggage got pushed behind the back seats, the balance placed on one of the back seats next to me. By now my left leg was moving more easily and it was not so sore to lift and slide it.

Flying over the Okavango Delta was so beautiful - a patchwork of beautiful colors with many elephant, hippo and other trails very visible over land and water. We landed comfortably and were welcomed by 2 staff members and a 2 wheeled trailer for our luggage…………..but not for me! Our pilot’s concern did not extend beyond the 20 minutes and the fact that he could have dropped us close to where we were to catch our boat to the lodge………….so I hobbled to the end of the airstrip - normally about a 7 minute walk. The hobbling is getting much better though - just needs time!

Now I am back to where I started, Dick has returned from his wander around the property where he encountered a family of warthogs and a baboon, the Shlains have had their rest, the drums have sounded for tea and I have almost caught up with my journalling. We went on a wonderful boat ride through the swamps yesterday, enjoying the birds and seeing several giraffes in the distance on the island.

This morning I managed the 15 or so foot mokoro (like a long, open fibreglass kayak) very well…………so I have now realized most of my dreams for this trip. Just after sunrise we set off, Avroy and Beryl in one mokoro and Dick and I in another, We sat on a seat with a back, legs stretched out, resting on the bottom of the mokoro , and were poled through the swamps by a guide. Off we went with me in the front to start with, making our way through the reeds - enjoying the water lilies and birds etc. After our island stop for refreshments and I practised how I’d been taught to use a “bush toilet”. Perching on the edge of a fallen tree works well!! I then switched positions in the mokoro with Dick as I was tired of “swatting” my way through the cobwebs strung between the reeds!!! The peacefulness of it all is just magic!

In the afternoon we went on a 3 hour boat ride. It got a tad boring seeing reeds, water lilies and, as Avroy said, 984 African Jacana (birds - or water lily trotters - for the first 2 hours or so. The boredom was suddenly broken when we spotted a very large bull elephant. This was followed by a lot of excitement as we entered an open piece of water and heard the hippos moving and grunting in the reeds. Several heads popped up at various intervals so we stopped to watch for a while. As we then had to speed to get back before dark we hit a hippo - scary feeling! Tipping over would not have been too much fun!!!!!!

Monday, May 10th

Even though we did not see an abundance of animals, the whole Botswana experience of the Kalahari and then the Delta was just magic. We continued to enjoy the peacefulness of being poled through the reeds in a mokoro, the sound of the birds and thrill of seeing a bull elephant spend several hours making his way across the swamps in front of our lodge, just a few hundred yards away. So much to eat all around, there was no hurry to go too far to find it; certainly no shortage of water to quench his thirst and splash himself with to keep cool. Dick and Avroy also enjoyed a morning trying their hand at fishing………………….their guide scoring on the deal by catching a pike for his dinner!!!

Wednesday, May 12th

We are now back in Johannesburg. This morning we had another wonderful treat - Avroy took us up in his 4 seater plane for a couple of hours. It was a gorgeous clear blue sky day and we flew up to the border of Botswana, landing on a bush strip on a friend's farm. The landscape was wonderful and we even saw giraffe, wildebeest, and some other buck.

This will be my last entry before we return home next Monday, 17th. Between now and then we will enjoy spending time with family and catching up with friends, some not yet visited.

Whoever has had the time to read my epistle, I hope it has given you an insight into a truly wonderful trip for both of us. I have certainly had fun reflecting on it all.

Thank you to those of you who have emailed us. Really appreciate it, and will be in touch when we get home.

Lots of love and hugs from us both.

Beautiful Cape

Saturday, April 17th

It is always a thrill to see Table Mountain with Cape Town nestled below - to experience the nostalgia of where I was born, spent my childhood, and where we got married. Our friends, Lawrence and Bev, with whom we always stay and who make us feel so much at home, got engaged and married on the same day we did, and Lawrence was at university with Dick!

We are spending a few days in the gorgeous holiday home of Sharyn and Neil Cowley, friends of ours in Tellico (how amazing is that!!!!) who come here for 2 to 3 months every year to relax and enjoy the many wonderful wines and magnificent scenery of the area. Fransch Hoek is where we spent our honeymoon, about an hour outside of Cape Town. What a great place for us to chill out and spend some real quality time with Settie and Colleen, Dick’s brother and wife. Thanks to the Cowleys we were also able to have some family members and friends visit us there.

Saturday, 24th

Last Thursday I had a most unfortunate experience - descibed in the next entry "Eina".

Our visit to South Africa is primarily to visit family and friends, and I would like to acknowledge all the love and wonderful hospitality we’ve received from everyone. There's, unfortunately, not enough time to mention them all.

We certainly gathered many, wonderful memories as we enjoyed reunions with family, friends from our young days, MBA and High School friends, some for the first time in 55 years!!!! I was not able to climb mountains, so to speak, but continue to enjoy being royally hosted and cared for. THANK YOU ALL FROM MY HEART!!!

Because of all the computer frustrations we are experiencing I might not even have a chance to tell you about Botswana until we get home...........

The time involved in downloading photos is just not worth it!!!

Eina!!!!!! (translated - VERY, VERY SORE!!)

Not sure if excitement is quite the right word...............I broke my pelvic bone on Thursday!!! We went to the Mount Nelson hotel in Cape Town for a pre lunch drink with some Westerford High School friends . Went flying over a "spherical protrusion" in a speed bump as we walked from the parking to the hotel entrance. Fell very hard on my right side and grazed by pinky finger. However, my left leg was not that eager to follow, stayed behind and twisted. Was VERY, VERY eina (S. African expression for VERY sore) each time I moved my leg or put pressure on it. Because I was not in pain sitting down I was able to continue to enjoy a very happy reunion at the Noon Gun restaurant, sampling ethnic Malay food - had to be almost carried though! After many very helpful suggestions and great concern, we went to a Medicross Clinic. Wonderful, friendly and attentive staff and doctor. From the X-Ray the doc could not see any break, gave me anti inflammatory and strong painkiller injections, and felt that should take care of it. I used one of those thermal wraps over night and the next morning the excruciating pain was more bearable. As they only had radiographers the X-Ray would be sent to Jo'burg for scrutiny by a radiologist.

Not such great news from the doc's phone call later that morning though - 3 small fractures. After throwing up - result of the painkiller - off we went to the orthopedic surgeon who confirmed and pointed out the breaks. The good news is I have crutches that enable me to walk pretty well, and although it will take at least 6 weeks to heal, I can continue with our holiday. Hooray!! I will only take something for pain if necessary, will have to have a wheelchair for flight departure and arrival, but my arm muscles will no doubt get stronger!!!!

Last 5 days in Namibia - 10th to 14th: Saturday, April 10th

Well, here we are the Etosha National Park (about the size of Belgium) - a place we have wanted to visit for so many years. Worth waiting for as it could not be a more perfect experience! We spent the whole of our first day driving through the western end of the park for which we required a special permit as it is used for research and breeding purposes. It was an amazing exercise in bladder control as it took 5 hours to get to the first “drop toilet”!!! You are not allowed to get out of your car a all. In fact, we chuckled watching Milner squeeze through the opening between the driving cab section and where we were to have our picnic lunch at a waterhole - really funny as he is not a small man!!

The park is made up of lots of plains where you can see for miles and miles and more miles, and then vast areas that are pretty dense - small, different varieties of acacia thorn trees, as well as other interesting indigenous trees.

During our first day we saw a multitude of animals - huge herds of springbok and zebra, lots of wildebeest; several very large birds - the Secretary bird that struts around looking for snakes, lizards etc.; Kori Bustard that disturbs the ground releasing bees for the bee eaters (beautiful little birds); different types of eagles - the Marshall being the largest; 2 young male elephants and 1 old bull. In the middle of the road we watched with amusement as a mother jackal and her youngster rolled around in a large pile of maybe elephant droppings, obviously enjoying whatever was in it!!!

Sunday, April 11th

Today we were up at 5:30 a.m. and out the gate at 6:00. Saw lots of jackals, large birds, a rock monitor backing into it’s hole, but the piece de resistance was when Milner spotted a lion, reversed very hastily and sped back along a no entry path (for which you can be fined!) where we came upon a pride of 11 lions - a male, 2 females, a juvenile and 7 cubs!!! WOW!!!!! It’s the largest pride we have ever seen, and it was just magical to sit and watch them for quite a while - as they moved around, each keeping one eye on us!

As I make this entry I am sitting down at the waterhole - been here at several different times of day, including at night when it is floodlit, and up to now have just enjoyed the birds. However……………. things suddenly became very active, and we have been thoroughly enjoying watching the antics of 2 separate very large herds of zebras that have come for their early morning drink, crowding together in the water, lapping it up, playing and making noises that sound like a mixture of a dog’s bark and horse’s neigh! Just delightful to watch.

Almost above me is one of the largest sociable weaver nests (one of the darling birds just pooped on my head!). The nest must be kind of 10 ft. long by 6 ft. wide - actually somewhat of bird shape from underneath - where the holes for the multitude of nests are. Must be like a rabbit warren inside!

Tuesday, April 13th - Etosha

As I sit outside our little cottage at Okonjima, home of the Africat Foundation, I see 2 warthogs amble by and some oryx grazing in the distance. The birds are chirping and the sun has set. It is unbelievably peaceful as I reflect upon our remarkable few days in Etosha. It is hard to do anything really briefly as I wrap up our very bumpy, rock ‘n roll drive. With all the rain the roads/tracks have been very muddy with lots of potholes. This has certainly been one of our most memorable trips. Etosha has so much more to offer than animals. The landscape is so varied, as I mentioned before, and the Pan itself is really fascinating - about 60 miles east to west and 30 miles north to south. We were able to drive right onto it - an extraordinary experience as there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING there. During the rainy season(which is almost at it’s end) it is filled by rivers which bring down lots of fish, including catfish, for the many birds to enjoy. When it dries it leaves an impermeable clay surface behind which covers any bones etc. It is striking in it’s barrenness. On the other hand, we drove around one section that still had water - and the scenery is just lovely.

Our other exciting animal sightings……………We came upon nice fresh elephant droppings in the road, as well as some broken branches in the road, leading us to a herd of about 8 elephants - babies, youths and adults. Lingering behind was a young one who came almost right up to our truck, sort of half trumpeted, kicked up his hind legs, turned his back on us and walked off, munching all the time. No shortage of food that’s for sure!

On our last day in Etosha we saw one of everything seen so far and my eyes were getting very tired staring into bushes hoping to see something new. Milner, being the wonderful spotter that he is, stopped suddenly - there was a black rhino very close to the road. We spent time watching him graze and snort as he rolled around in a mud puddle, and then go scampering off. Fun, fun, fun!!

Our accommodation everywhere has been just amazing - far better than we ever expected. Of course, having grown up in S. Africa, the smell and the feel of the bush is something special, as is the African décor and architecture. It is very uniquely African, something we just seem to relate to. A custom they have here in Namibia that we have not found anywhere else in the world is being met on arrival at our accommodation by smiling faces and a welcoming drink.

Wed. April, 14th

Another early morning wake up call at Okonjima, muffins and coffee and then an exciting game drive to track leopards. Although we were unsuccessful, it was most fascinating to see how this is done with telemetry devices, and the frustration of getting really close to one of the males, TJ, but because of the extremely dense vegetation he was just too well hidden and our vehicle could not get through. As the guides communicate with one another, guess what, about 10 minutes later another group saw him as he walked across a dry river bed, so very close to where we had been!!! That’s nature…………….

We did get to see a leopard in one of the AfriCat enclosures. What a beauty. Wahu was raised as an orphan cub by the owners, but they discovered he was just too dangerous to humans to be left to roam. He is kept safely in his own large territory as are many cheetahs that are rescued as a result of their program. One of their programs is to help the farmers manage their cattle farms and not lose their animals to the cats.

Back in Windhoek, Milner took us to his home where we met his twin brother and other members of his family. What a wonderful way to end our Namibian experience. We arrived at this tiny, neat home, shared by 5 adults and some children - 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and a toilet. As we arrived there was a group of young girls practicing dancing. We stayed for quite a while chatting, and taking pictures which they all just loved of course.

Ombili and the San (Bushman)

We also visited Ombili which is a bushman settlement where they are protected and able to live their traditional lives if they so wish. However, they no longer live as nomads, but do still live in reed huts that have been built to last longer than about 6 months, way back when that was about all the time they stayed in any one place. Some of them still go out and do their gathering of whatever they can find in the bush. There is a foundation that is funded mainly by Germans that helps them maintain their lifestyle, but at the same time tries to encourages education to help them integrate into the world outside of their village.

The kids are an absolute delight. We visited their school - Grade 1 - 7, and as we walked into a classroom of little ones they burst into song - those smiling faces and beautiful voices touched our hearts!! A rather weather beaten old lady (just 72!!!) suddenly appeared from one of the huts, sidled up to Alfred our white guide, smiling broadly. What she wanted was a cigaratte!!!! I think this little ritual takes place daily! She often takes the kids and goes into the veld to gather roots, caterpillars, fruit, wild onions etc., telling them wonderful stories.

A scary experience was seeing what I thought was a harmless little snake - turned out to be a very poisonous cobra which reared it's head at us. It was necessary for it to go and meet it's maker as there were too many children wandering around who could be badly bitten..............

Friday, April 9th - Damaraland

Here we are, both up at 6:00 a.m. (really early for us!) watching a magnificent sunrise from our own little chalet perched up on a hill overlooking a stunning view of Damaraland - blue mountains in the distance and flat topped plateaus with a “finger” called Vingerklip” (finger stone) between. A well known landmark in the area. We had to park our truck down below and be shuttled up to the lodge because the road is so steep.

We continue to be amazed by this beautiful country and friendly people. Since last writing we have passed through the sands of the Namib desert where virtually nothing grows - sometimes we didn’t even see a tuft of dead grass. We visited an enormous Cape fur seal colony - some 80,000 of them with their now 4 month old pups, many of which do not survive through starvation, or by over heating as a result of no wind. Some poor little ones just can’t make it to the water to cool down.

We are now in the woodlands of Damaraland en route to Etosha. Here they have had rain and it is lush and green. We have witnessed some of the destruction of the desert elephants that roam through this area, but sadly it is the wrong time to see them. They are one of the reasons why the locals cannot grow any vegetables!! Fences are trampled down and all telephone poles are surrounded with white stones which seem to be a deterrent.

We hiked fo about 2 hours late one afternoon when it was a little cooler, with a guide, along a very rocky and sandy trail, to see a very famous rock painting called The White Lady - actually a medicine man!! This dates back about 5,000 years and is in incredibly good condition. The Namibians cherish and really look after their heritage sites. Yesterday we went on a somewhat shorter, easier hike to see the rock engravings which were done over a 2,000 year span 4 - 6,000 years ago. They were a form of communication and also teaching. In spite of erosion they are still in very good condition.

An amazing stroke of luck is having an experience I’ve been waiting a lifetime for - to be able to exchange cultural stories with an African black person. Milner, our personal guide has provided this wonderful opportunity. He is 32 years old, full of life and fun to talk to. He has shared many interesting tales about his culture as a Herero man. He chats to everyone and wants to help out wherever he can.

Our very large van has become somewhat of a taxi - entertaining for us! Yesterday we gave a lift to a young black girl who worked at the Living Museum near the rock engraving site we visited. She had to go and see a doctor. We also picked up 2 young black guys - one had been injured. He had been stabbed in the leg by his girlfriend - apparently fighting is a frequent occurrence among the Damara people!! He and his friend were going to make a case at the police station. The rural Namibians have to rely on lifts to get them anywhere, the distances from town to town are so great, with nothing between. Today we picked up several young boys who would have had to walk miles and miles or wait, goodness knows how long, for a ride.

Dick had been really keen to try game meat…………well, we’ve certainly had plenty of that - prepared in a variety of ways, and all very tasty. I think I mentioned that we can tell the difference between beef and game but not between the different game.

I’m trying not to freak out - there’s a little field mouse scurrying back and forth around the fireplace next to the table where I’m working. As long as he doesn’t run across my feet it’s O.K!!!!!! We are spending the night at a real family lodge and were amazed to hear that they had a wireless connection for us. We have to use a flashlight to get to our room, mainly to frighten away snakes that might be curled up along the pathway!

Another amazing experience was getting to know something about the Himba people, Went to a village . where they live in their traditional way. The women wear very little in the way of clothing and rub their bodies with a red ochre mixed with grease. The are really beautiful, as are their children. We had also seen a group of them at the side of the road selling some of their beaded jewelry. While standing and observing them, a phone rang and one of the women grabbed her bag, grabbed her cell phone and started chatting - talk about a sign of the times!!!!

All for now - off to Etosha tomorrow, and pretty sure we wont have internet reception till Cape Town.
Loving every moment of our adventure………………

Sorry, still no pictures!

First 5 days in Namibia

I can’t believe we have only been away from home for 5 days!!!!! What incredible memories we have already made. We had a wonderful, warm welcome from our dear friends, Vera and Rob Harvey, in Johannesburg, had 2 hours to do some preliminary catch up as we crept home along totally congested roads and lots of rain, were well fed and finally got to make up for sleep lost on our 18 some hour flight!

Early the next morning we found ourselves winging our way to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. What a fantastic surprise we had in store for us. Several of our friends had commented on how much they loved this country but never explained why. We were about to find out.

Before telling a little about our experiences, let me say that it has been the greatest fun, and amazing learning experience, chatting to so many different people who have given us so much insight into various aspects of life, and so much food for thought. Loved every encounter - a colored South African man; a young married Indian S. African woman; a group of women of all ages from, of all places, Minneapolis-St. Paul, staying at our b & b, all with some sort of medical/nursing background, in Namibia to work with black children with HIV; a S.A. couple hoping to be able to get permanent residency in Namibia; a young family from Zimbabwe who’d received death threats and as a result given an opportunity by the company to relocate to Windhoek; a couple from New Mexico; several young people here doing work with HIV or studying the culture; our wonderful black Namibian guide who has been teaching us so much about his culture……………and on and on.

We have sampled all kinds of interesting food. Here they eat a lot of wild game so what a treat for us oryx, ostrich, kudu, springbok, zebra - all delicious, tender, but tasting somewhat like beef. I did not care for the crocodile at all, or the mapane worms!!!!!!! Yuk - too tough and mentally too difficult to deal with!

We have already seen several beautiful buck, the tail end of a leopard darting into the bushes at the side of the road, baboons and a family of warthogs darting across the road.

The trees in this part of the world are so very different, some with huge bulbous trunks at the base, some very dead ones as a result of lack of water, but still standing in the Namib desert because there has been no wind to blow them over. They are all of 800 - 900 years old camel thorn trees, and the Welwitschia plant which grows close to the ground, lives for 2,000 years with only 2 huge leaves that die off at the ends. If one leaf dies so does the plant!

Our first stop had been Windhoek, the capital, and we were just delighted that we had a car and could explore this city at our leisure. The first day was extremely crowded but the second was Good Friday, a holiday, so everything was very quiet. We did a lot of driving, visited the history museum, and chatted to people, so we learnt a little about the town, country, politics etc.

As for the scenery. Well, we thought we’d seen it all as far as variety goes. Wrong! We once again have to include what we experienced today among our WOWs!!! Just stunning and so very fascinating. 60% of this country is savannah with short scrub like bushes and these fascinating trees scattered throughout. All around us were mountain ranges to add contrast. One morning we headed out at 5:00 a.m. just the 2 of us again in our 15 seater bus and wonderful guide, Milner. We enjoyed the sunrise as we entered the Namib desert and its magnificent red tone sand dunes, some of them as high as a 30 storey buildings. We got to climb one of them - pretty heavy going as our shoes sank into the smooth sand, but it was worth it. We then walked to another area where on reaching a ridge we looked down on the other side to a dried up lake, strikingly beautiful white clay dotted with 800 - 900 year old dead camel thorn trees.

There is also an amazing area called Moonscapes, a very extensive area in the middle of the Namib which looks a bit like the Badlands of S. Dakota. We were there to watch the sunset and get the shadows falling on undulating area of all sizes and shapes of little dunes jumbled together. Stunning!

We spent 2 nights at a place called Solitaire - a guest farm in the middle of nowhere in a setting that was just breathtaking. A thatched lodge surrounded by small but beautifully kept desert plants and swimming pools opening onto a vast area of nothingness with mountains in the distance and all around us. A young springbok decided it felt like home, as did a family of meerkat that wanted their bellies tickled, chickens and dogs. Then they had an enclosure with rabbits, guinea pigs and the like. It had a real family atmosphere, with a friend of the owner’s entertaining us one evening as he sang and played guitar with children, adults dancing, and dogs all just having a wonderful time.

We drove to Swakopmund at the coast through semi and then the real Namib desert which is just sand for as far as you can see. What added interest were fantastic rocky outcrops (how our grandkids would have loved climbing on them) and mountains in the distance. The desert extends all the way to the coast where we stopped in Walvis Bay to look at the flamingoes - the lagoon pretty crowded with them. The temperature had dropped noticeably, and everything was pretty quiet. In fact we couldn’t even find a restaurant for lunch because of the Easter weekend - Friday to Monday - so we pushed on to Swakopmund to spend a day and have an opportunity to just catch up with our thoughts. We will spend the afternoon exploring the town - probably all it will take!!!

It is here that I am hoping to blog but we are having a problem connecting to internet, so I am just doing my journaling which I hope to copy and paste when I have an opportunity…………….hopefully together with a few pictures. My first opportunity might only be once we get to Cape Town which will mean that there will be a lot to read (if you feel up to it)!!

Please ignore the following heading............Test, Test, and if you want to read the last one it's just a bit on Namibia. Right now I don't know how to delete these - VERY frustrating!!!!

Adding pictures is taking far too long because of the resolution. Managed to do one fun one at least! If we can figure out how to do it more easily we will try again in Cape Town.

Mapane worms - yuk!!

Lion marking his territory

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