Hello everyone 🙂
Last week (2-6 October), I spent some time with my family in western Namibia. We stayed in Langstrand, just off the Atlantic coast, and spent our time between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The closeness of the desert and the beach really are quite a sight.
My experience of Namibia is that it is almost identical to the old South Africa but with an undertone of the new one. Think Mowbray, Cape Town and perhaps, a more clinical Brixton in Johannesburg circa the 90s and early 2000s. It’s neat, boxy and well-kept. Its architecture reminds me so much of a dutch town’s and it’s no coincidence then that almost everyone we came across speaks Afrikaans. When making this observation, my dad reminded me that Namibia had been a territory of South Africa and then later, been colonized by it and its black people subjected to the same Apartheid laws and gross human violation and violence as in South Africa.
There’s also a complete segregation of the haves and have nots and this could be clearly picked up upon our drive through and experience of the Mondesa township, a stone’s throw from the suburban-like innercity of Swakopmund. Reality set in, as we realized that, Namibia is set up just as South Africa is: double, if not triple of the number of people set up in the cities, are cramped into half or a quarter of the size of land: left there and made to feel like outsiders even though the city cannot function without them.
During one of our drives into the township, we visited Hafeni Traditional Restaurant for a taste of Namibia’s traditional dishes. We had the marathon chicken; mopane worms; gizzards; their Mahangu porridge; pap; and Oshingali (mashed beans). Although quite similar to our traditional foods, I enjoyed the variation in flavours. I did not enjoy the fried mopane worms at all. I’m quite adventurous with what I eat, but I did not feel that they were something I’d like to try again.
While in Swakopmund, I hoped to visit a place that would spark my love for interiors yet again. Lately I’ve been feeling bored and desperately looking for something new that would remind me why I came into this industry. And as usual, the universe answers our deepest desires. While searching for goods in a small alleyway, next to a petrol station, we happened upon Karakulia Weavers, a world of hand made wall hangings rugs and carpets, individually created to your design to provide a product of quality and beauty. It was phenomenal to stand and watch each step in the process of producing a rug or wall hangings. The spinning of the wool into different colours; the weaving; the shaving of fluff on the pieces: a well oiled machine. I wished I could be a little fly on the wall watching them everyday: their skill and attention to detail was dumbfounding. This tour through the workshop was by far my favourite experience in Namibia. It sparked an interest in weaving which I did not know I had. I’m looking forward to working with them in future by commissioning them to produce a special wall hanging for my home.
One thing I love about traveling is experiencing something for the first time. Here is my Namibia 2017 list of firsts:
- Eating mopane worms
- Sandboarding down the highest white dune at Dune 7. By the way, carry a tissue up the dune, your nose will probably need it. Also, don’t wear a really expensive tracksuit, you may be inclined to hold back just to protect it.
- Seeing weaving being done before my eyes
- It was very cold. Do not let Windhoek weather fool you into believing it’s warm in the west. We all wore jackets pretty much all of the day, regardless of the false sunshine.
- Walk! Walk around your area. If driving past a beach, stop and try to experience the different beaches. Walk in the little alleys, you never know what you’ll find.
- You can drive there using your South African licence
- It’s cheaper to hire a car than to use taxis. We paid R170 each to go from the airport in Walvis Bay to our resort, Sandpiper Dunes, in Langstrand. Hiring a car for the week was less than R3000.
- You’re in the desert at all times, even when you can’t see it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience that. Be open to learning about and experiencing all that comes with. Greet people and ask lots of questions.
- Get an MTC sim card and make sure to convert your airtime into data. You’ll need that data for mapping your way.
P.S: A lot of my footage from this trip is on video. Once my site accommodates video, I will be uploading that footage.
Have you been to Namibia and how did you find it? Share your experiences of traveling in Africa.
Enjoy your weekend,