Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 121 - Windhoek to Zelda Guest Farm, Namibia

RobT:  We finally left Windhoek on Monday morning after a rainy weekend, but we had a good time.  We packed up and headed out to find the guy we were told about who might be able to resuscitate RobC’s drowned Blackberry.  The shop was a non-descript place down an alley off the main strip downtown Windhoek.  We found him, Rob pleaded his case just so he could get priority service and left the phone with him.  He was told to come back at noon.  While waiting, I phoned the Zimbabwean embassy here in Windhoek to find out about visas for that country. We found out that neither of us needed a prior visa and we could just get them at the border.  Excellent!  After having some good coffee and some breakfast we had another hour and a half to kill so we walked up Independence Street and came across an old-style full-service travel agency.  We decided to verify some information about where to obtain the Ethiopian visas.  It was confirmed.  We could get them in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, in one day.  The Ethiopian embassy in Kenya wasn’t even answering their phone.  
Down the street from the travel agency we discovered a Bushman Art store.  RobC talked to the owner as I browsed the store.  We found out this gentleman had been collecting Bushman art and crafts for 40 years and a lot of the pieces were absolutely incredible!!  Original pieces from the villages.  He took us into the back room of his store and explained the meanings and cultural significance behind several of the items, such as ceremonial items of clothing, weapons and wood carvings.  Most were for sale, but he also had a display, behind glass along the side wall, that was not for sale.  These items were strictly for show.  He was asked by the Bushmen to promise not to sell those pieces.
Side note: They have car guards in Windhoek who walk around offering services of watching your vehicle while you are shopping.  The payment is a tip. Cool. Lunch done, RobC went back to the phone store and I parked myself on the curb between the bikes. A well-dressed young guy approached me asking for a smoke.  I said I didn’t have any to which he grunted and walked off.  Moments later my Camelback hydration backpack came flying over my bike.  I hadn’t even noticed it was missing!!!  Another minute later a young kid told me that guy had taken something off my bike.  I guess he thought it was a backpack with some valuables in it.  You really have to be alert!  This is twice for me now! 

Finally, at around 2 pm and after several valiant attempts to get Rob’s phone to respond, it was concluded that there was nothing more that could be done, the phone had irretrievably drowned.  Time to go.  We left town and headed east for Gobabis and on to the Botswana border.  RobC talked to a guy at the gas station in Gobabis, who informed him of a lodge called Zelda, about 20km from the border. We decided to check it out and were very impressed.  The thatched-roofed structures with wooden supports covering a bar and restaurant really added to the atmosphere of the place.  This seems to be the norm in Namibia.  They also had leopard and cheetah feeding every evening at 6 (their own leopard which used to live in the main house, but is now enclosed in a 5 hectare parcel of land) and a walk to a Bushmen village.  The campsites were pristine.  Another very cool place.  

 The bar at Zelda Guest Farm

We set up camp at site No. 8, took a peak at the leopard feasting on his raw meat and then we made it back to the restaurant for a light supper at 7:30. We also booked the Bushman walk with Jacu, the bartender/waiter/historian/anthropologist/linguist.   Jacu gave us a brief introduction on the life of the Bushmen and how things have changed for them since the Europeans settled the lands and built farms.

RobC:   So far, we have been impressed with the tourism infrastructure in South Africa and Namibia. It is easy to understand why Europeans (especially German and Swiss in Namibia) enjoy coming down here - perhaps comparable to Americans going to South America. Despite it being quite hot at this time of the year, the riding has been quite pleasant and the local people have been most friendly and helpful. Linguistically this area is also very fascinating. For instance, a young lady working at the Zelda Guest Farm spoke Afrikaans, English, German (which are all trade languages in Namibia), plus the two indigenous languages of her parents.

In addition, the roads are impeccable, clean and not heavily traveled, as the population is rather low. The air is clean, the food is good, the water is purified - in short, a travelers paradise. After Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and northern Argentina, Namibia is definitely another country to return to with the family!

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