WE HAVE arrived in Walvis Bay, a seaside resort. Many cruise ships come here and bring lots of foreign dollars into the community.
We spend some time with the town’s flamingo community. The birds turn pink on certain foods but today they are all white.
Our overnight stay is at Swakopmund, the historic German colonial town. It was founded in 1892 and served as the main harbour for the imperial German colony. After the German, south west Africa was annexed by the union of South Africa in 1915 and all harbour activities were transferred to Walvis Bay.
German is spoken here fluently but the majority of the population are black. The government offers assistance to the old and ill but everyone else is expected to look after themselves and unemployment runs at 21 percent.
I take a tour of the black community. Many live in housing areas away from the rich part of town. The shanty housing is very basic, but the government has a plan that works like this, you can get an area of land allocated to you and build a wooden shanty on it, then with government assistance this can be replaced over time with more modern brick home.
It takes time but even so there may be up the eight people sharing a single room.
There are three distinct African races living here; about 40,000 people in all. We meet a lady from the Hereo Tribe with a most unusual headdress. It seems that when the Germans ruled they ordered that the women adhered to a strict dress code. They wanted them to dress more like a modern women from German high society with flowing gowns.
Over time, this code slowly eroded to what became a headdress mimicking the horns of a cow and a slimmer fitting dress. Ladies proudly wear this dress in daily life.
We visit a local eatery in shanty town. It’s basic and so is the food. They offered cooked worms, spinach, porridge and chicken. I decide to pass but a group of four young people from the village choir sang for us, it just blew me away, and of course I bought the CD.
We have left Swakopmund and are heading along the Skeleton Coast. It’s named after the many ships lost on this wild stretch that then get broken up by the big seas. We stop to photograph a lost ship. It appears it had been brought for salvage and was being towed by another ship when its tow line snapped and it followed the many others before it onto the beach. This happened in 2008 and the sea is slowly breaking it down.
We are travelling to Damaraland. It’s a vast rugged region and as we move along, the weather again changes from the cool of the coast to dry hot valleys. It’s 35ºC and rising.
I see groups of people selling handmade crafts right on the side of the highway. We stop to see their wares. These are the Himba People originally from neighbouring Angola. The women traditionally do not wear any clothing at all instead to cope with the hot African sun they cover their bodies with ochre. They do not wash like us as it would remove the Ochre, so instead they smoke their bodies. A special hut is used and smoke channelled in to cleanse them.
The items they are selling are bracelets made from seeds. They are quite colourful and we know we won’t be able to bring them into Australia but we buy some as a goodwill gesture.
Travelling on, we reach our lodge for tonight, the Ugab Terrace Lodge. It’s right up on the very top of a mountain. Small 4X4s are used to ferry us up. The views are spectacular and each individual hut has a balcony overlooking the valley below. Tonight’s sunset should be amazing.
We gather in the main dining area for a braai or barbeque. The sun is setting and the view across the valley below with that golden sun in the sky is just breathtaking.
The food is good and so is the company and the staff make you feel right at home with their big welcoming smiles.
All of a sudden the staff have disappeared only to return in traditional dress. It’s entertainment African style. They sing traditional songs as only Africans can that move the heart. You can see they are enjoying this as much as we are.
By the end of the night we are dancing along with them forming a train of song as we move around the room. Yes, a great night was had by all.
To be continued.
Until next time,