Saturday, November 29, 2008

One more treat (Nov. 27/08 - Windhoek, Namibia)

We went to bed last night in the desert and woke up this morning on an island! It had poured overnight, and the camp was flooded. It was yet another early morning, as we had over 600km to travel today to get to Windhoek, Namibia's capital. The first hour was driving back through Etosha Park to where we came in, which meant another chance at spotting wildlife. Sure enough, we spotted two female lions lying out in the open about 200 feet from the truck, and by the time we relayed the message to the driver, they were far behind us. But the long reverse was worth it - one of the two stood up and started walking toward the road, and as we crept forward to keep up with her, we quickly realized that she was headed for a puddle at the side of the road for a drink. She watched us carefuloly as she leaned down to the puddle, and we were able to drive right up to the puddle, stopping within about 10 feet of her. She lapped up water, looking up at us several times, before walking away. We agreed that we have been very lucky with our wildlife sightings so far, considering the amount of rain there has been lately. And just to add to that, I spotted another male lion lying beside a tree as we sped past. Eight lions, ten rhinos, three elephants - Etosha has been wonderful!

The drive to Windhoek went quickly despite the distance, but with the luxury of paved roads, we were able to speed along. At one point, I spotted a field full of about 50 black baboons, but when I turned to tell someone, everyone around me was asleep, looking like a bunch of bobble heads as we bumped along the road. We pulled in to Windhoek at about 3pm and had the rest of the afternoon to ourselves. We walked over to a shopping mall to get Ken a haircut, send some emails, buy some headlamp batteries, and find a replacement for the elastic clothesline that bit the dust yesterday. It was weird to be in a shopping mall, and we quickly realized how we really dislike cities, as we both get annoyed and irritable with the hustle and inevitable to-do lists that happen when we get to civilization.

Since today marks the end of the trip for six of our group and the beginning of the trip for six more, we all went for dinner at this huge, funky place called Joe's Beerhouse that had a thatched roof, gravel floors, and big picnic tables, with a fish pond inside and random things hanging from the ceiling as decorations - bicycles, shoes, haybales, animal hides, and sausages. The menu included dishes made with many of the creatures we've been watching and photographing over the past week, including springbok, oryx, kudu, ostrich, snake, crocodile, and zebra. One guy ordered zebra and I had to look away as he ate it. Ken ordered a springbok/oryx combo, and it came with a shot of flaming cane sugar schnapps and a habanero pepper hidden amongst the veggies that he ate unknowingly and cursed for hours afterwards.

Looking around the table full of our fellow traveller friends, we realized that we haven't described the group yet. So here's a quick rundown:

  • Walli - A 67 year old German Canadian from Ontario who spends her time travelling around the world by herself.
  • Heidi - A German woman who left her other half at home to do several big trips over a year. Also an awesome photographer.
  • Ken - A fellow Vancouverite who has travelled extensively. (yes, two Kens from Vancouver!)
  • Steve - A British businessman who has been around the world three times and is an accomplished scuba diver.
  • Annie - A 33 year old woman from Wisconsin who shares the same birthday with Ken.
  • Thomas - A triathlete also from Wisconsin who has completed an Iron Man race and uses all our down time at camp to run, even in the 45°C desert heat.
  • Shawn - Another Vancouverite who works in the film industry. With his voracious appetite, he regularly cleans the plates of everyone else "so as not to waste food".
  • Brent - An American guy who is just finished a 3 year stint with the Peace Corps teaching computer skills and english to people in Cape Verde and Zambia.
  • Ben - A university student from Montana who is taking a break to travel before completing his Masters in International Business. He's so tall that he likes to ride sideways at the back of the truck with the cooler and the matresses since his knees have to press into the seat infront if he sits with everyone else.
  • Elisabeth - An Irish travel agent who has traveled the world and was offered time off to check out Africa.
  • Stefanie - A french girl from Ireland who is also a travel agent at the same office as Elisabeth.
  • Nadia - A German girl who works in education and entertains us periodically by singing - luckily, she has a lovely voice!
  • Carolin - Another on the German team who works in health care and is using this trip to practice her English.
  • Marie-Eve - A girl from Quebec City who is an actuary and has traveled to exotic places like India and Nepal.
  • Marc-Andre - Boyfriend of Marie-Eve, also from Quebec City, who works as an operator at a nuclear power plant.
  • Evan - A Torontonian who works in city planning and left his job to come on this trip without firm plans to go back. Also a fellow MEC lover, as we have many of the same clothes and gear!
  • Kristy - An outdoorsy woman from San Luis Obispo in California who is a good soul and likes to make sure everyone is happy.
  • Rupesh - A young guy from London who just completed a degree in mathematics and has traveled to India several times to visit his family.
  • Wayne - A geologist from Calgary who recently retired and is planning to travel for about 9 months a year from here on out.
  • Carole - Wayne's wife, who was brave enough to jump out of a plane in Swapokmund. She and Wayne fly to Sri Lanka after leaving this GAP trip for their next adventure.
  • Raymond - Our awesome trip leader. Born and raised in South Africa, known for his ability to eat ungodly amounts of meat. Tonight, he ate a hock off some sort of game that looked like it was out of a Flinstones cartoon. He swears he won't need to eat for two days!
  • Francis - Raymond's sidekick and our chef. She is Dutch, but married to a South African man, and owned her own safari truck that she normally uses to take out small Dutch groups. She once drove from Amsterdam to Cape Town in the '70s, which often meant cutting their own roads.


  1. Loving your trip! Sounds like such a super time.. Ah... A big Happy Birthday to Ken as well. You have all the present you could want right there with you. :) Leigh

  2. Sounds like it's been amazing so far - Etosha is definately on my must-do list. I'm so jealous of all your lion spotting!

    How about some dish on the other people on your tour? Are you two mostly hanging out together or have you made some good friends on the trip?