Well we made it, Africa, and what a day we had. I really can’t wait to get started, the hardest part being to try and select a few photos to show you out of 100+ I took today (Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010). If you will forgive me I just can’t tell the story of today in ten photos, so again I’m going to break my rule. I think the story is in the photos today, so let’s get going.
I took my first photo about 6:30 AM as we approached the African coast. You can just see the costal lights through the mist. As the sun began to rise the second photo shows the port of Walvis Bay. It doesn’t look very nice, strictly a commercial port, but what it has around it makes the stop worthwhile. The third photo is my port sign photo, this time the water tower at the front of the port.
We left the boat at around 8 AM (yes, believe it or not Susy was up) and joined up with three other Latin couples to negotiate a tour. With Susy at the front and Sergio (our new friend from the other evening) we got a mini-bus, with driver, at about 1/3 the normal rate, and off we went for a half day tour of all the major sites in the area. Our first stop was near the port at a place called Pelican Point. The fourth photo shows Susy with our driver, Cody, and Sergio (right in front), Jorge, and in the background a large pavilion on the Bay (Pelican Bay). We were supposed to see a lot of pelicans and flamingos, but only saw one or two. We had been warned that seeing animals and birds in Africa is a matter of timing. In this case the pelicans and flamingos come close to shore with the tide and go out far when the tide is out. You guessed it, the tide was out. We were still in high spirits as we jumped in the bus and headed into the famous Namib Desert. Almost immediately after leaving the Walvis Bay area we saw nothing but desert and in the fifth photo you can see us approaching the sand dunes of the Namib Desert including the famous “Dunes 7”, one of the largest sand dunes in the world, sometimes higher than 1000 ft. (depending on the wind). We pulled up at a small park at the foot of Dunes 7 and the sixth photo is my attempt at a panoramic view from out away from 7 and the seventh photo is a panoramic view taken right at the foot of the dune. In this last photo, please stop it for a minute (push the pause button below the photo) and look at the small figures at the top of the dune. Sergio, Trish (his wife), Jorge, and Diane (his wife) actually climbed up to the top of the dune and that’s them. Leo, Jo Ann (his wife), Susy, and I decided that we did not want to risk our lives so early in the trip. After the dune climbers slipped and sledded down, we headed back out of the desert and north toward a small tourist village called Swakopmund. If you haven’t figured it out from the names (our next port is Luderitz) this area was very German at one time. In the 19th century Germany annexed Namibia (except for Walvis Bay which the British kept hold off because of the port), but lost the country to South Africa at the end of WWII. Namibia only became independent in 1990. Getting back to our day’s journey, in the eighth photo, before exiting the desert I wanted to show you a “welwitschia tree”. This tree may look like nothing because its few leaves above the desert floor are not very attractive. It shouldn’t be surprising that most of the tree is below ground, but what is surprising is that many of these trees have lived for more than 1,000 years and some to 2,000 years. Leaving the desert we enter the seaside resort of Swakopmund (9th photo). This place is like a desert oasis, with the largest Royal palm trees we have ever seen and street after street lined with palms. Our first stop in Swakopmund was a lovely (and they said typical) hotel. The tenth photo shows Leo, Trish, Sergio, Jo Ann, Susy, Diane, Jorge, and yours truly in front of the hotel. The eleventh photo is taken in the court yard of the hotel and shows a beautiful swimming pool. We didn’t ask how much it costs to stay a night, but I’m sure it was reasonable based on all the other costs we saw in the area. The twelfth photo is a picture of Susy and I standing in one of the side courts. The thirteenth photo shows one of those streets with palms leading up to the ocean, which was our next stop. At the ocean we found a market, and in the fourteenth photo you see Susy beginning her search (this made her day, although in the end she didn’t buy anything). The fifteenth photo is of Susy looking over the necklaces. From the small native market place we walked down to a museum and I was able to take many photos of all kinds of animals (the stuffed kind) for Nickolas. Walking out of the museum we came across a lovely, long beach. The sixteenth photo shows Susy with the beach in the background and the edge of a little outdoor café on the right. To end our day in Swakopmund we sat at the café on the ocean and drank a nice cold beer (German brewed, of course).
We motored back to Walvis Bay and the ship, arriving about 1 PM and although it was only 4 and a half hours it seemed like we covered the globe (at least Africa). Speaking of Africa, I bought one of those African safari hats so look for the “hunter” to appear in the future.
That’s all for now, onward to Luderitz tomorrow,
Love you all, Gary (alias Gagu)