Today we will fly to Windhoek, Namibia. That should look good on the MTJ map! Flying all over Africa just to get south!
11/19 to 22nd
From Bonnie's Journal:
Windhoek is much as we remember it from when we were here in 2009, only nicer. Things have notched up a bit. It is definitely a city on the upswing. We checked into the Cardboard Box Backpackers (Hostel) - one of the oldest and best hostels here. In 2009 we had checked here but they were full; this time dorm rooms were available (low season). Dorm beds are 110 N$ ($11 usd) and include a pancake (crepes with cinnamon and sugar) breakfast. There is a pool, a bar/ social courtyard, and an in house travel department. Plus very helpful, friendly staff. A very nice place. We wanted to go south, possibly to the dunes at Sosselvei, maybe to see Fish Canyon (an enormous canyon carved by the Fish River; tours hike it in 4-5 days, but it is too hot for that this time of year, plus too pricey for us), and if possible to Luderitz, an old German town on the coast where diamonds were first discovered back in the early 1900's.
We checked into the Intercape Mainliner bus that runs all the way to Capetown. We didn't want to go direct of course, but rather to break it up. Nonetheless, every ride would be a night bus we were told. Forget that! What a waste, we wouldn't see anything. We checked at the hostel about local buses and found that mini buses go to Keetmanshoop every day, leaving from Rhino Park when full. best to get there early, by 7 am, to get a seat. Depending on the day and how many people show up there may only be one bus that leaves. There is also a bus direct to Luderitz leaving on Friday. This was Wed. If we took the Keetman's bus they would drop us at the gas station there and we would need to find a ride to Luderitz (another 250 km). One woman at the hostel thought we could find a ride no problem, another wasn't so sure. The surest thing was to wait for Friday's direct bus. But that meant - to me - a day lost just waiting. I would have gone on Thursday, things usually work out, but Mari pushed for Friday. It wasn't worth conflict - it was possible of course that we wouldn't find onward on Thurs. So we waited for Friday and I used the day to Try to get some of this report written and off to Tim.
19 Nov. Windhoek! What a switch from "Spring Green" JoBurg! Now "Desert Red" Namibia! The airport is a long way from town. My seatmate on the plane said, "I remember when it was just a shack." Now it's a modern airport, but not very busy when we were there. The taxi dropped us a Card Board Box Hostel and unlike last time we were here, they had room. Windhoek has had good times since then by the look of the improvements we saw- a new big mall and other large buildings. I settled in with a Tafel beer and chatted with the other guests and overlanders. The next day we went out to see the town. Did my usual post office visit. Namibia is still doing stamps! Postage is affordable, unlike other countries we've been to, so I sent my Gabon post cards from here in envelopes. Soon after that while we were looking for a place to eat, a newspaper salesman became more aggressive than usual and pushed me into a wall saying " you must buy this!" As I was yelling NO and felt a hand go into my bag and take my camera before I could stop it. I yelled more and the newspaper guy said " he ran away!" I said, "You helped him! You get it back!" All this yelling attracted the police on the crowded main street. Five or six officers grabbed the newspaper guy and cuffed him. One of them lead him away to the police station and asked Bonnie and I to follow. On the way the cop had a chat with the guy and by the time we arrived at the station he had changed from an accomplice to an informant! Another cop took my statement while the newspaper guy stood beside me. Bonnie said the guy had a look of terror on his face!
Bonnie and I were then taken to the Tourist Police office, while the officer went off with the newspaper guy to locate the thief. They said that if the camera was found it would be returned to me at the hostel. Of course I didn't have much hope of that since I have never had anything stolen returned. This camera is old and wasn't working very well, but of course I was missing my pictures on the memory card. A man told me not to worry because, "They will do a little corporal punishment on him and you will get it back." That bothered me too because bad images came into my mind and I felt sorry for the newspaper man. He wasn't good at this type of work obviously, because if he was a pro he would have run off as soon as I started yelling instead of trying to talk to me! I hope he learned his lesson at not too big a price. I hear that going to jail in Namibia is no picnic. You can be there for over a year before your trial comes up even if you are innocent.
So we went off again to find food and later some time at an internet cafe. When we returned to the hostel I was surprised to be told the police had phoned and they had my camera!! Shock! Soon after the officer came to the hostel in person (!!!!) with my camera and asked if I wanted to file a case. I said no because I had the camera back ( with a couple of pictures I didn't take for a reminder) plus it would mean hanging around Windhoek. I am still amazed at the quick and efficient service of the police there. Can you imagine what it would be like to have the same thing happen in the States or most any other place in the world? So many other places it wouldn't be worth reporting a theft because by doing so could cost more in money and time due to corruption or lack of interest or staff. What a switch from the experience we had with the Equitorial Guinea police, for example. It says a lot for Namibia! A wonderful, affordable and safe country to visit!