To the Bar!

Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
Trip End Feb 13, 2011

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Flag of Namibia  , Erongo,
Saturday, June 12, 2010

Having left the seal colony reasonably early in the morning we arrived at Spitzkoppe Hills at around midday. There were two pressing matters to hand upon our arrival: firstly, as we were going to be camping at the Hills that night, we all had to find a good camping spot for our tents, and secondly, it being the 12th July, we had to find a bar (or indeed anywhere) with a television for England first match in the World Cup. The first of the item on the agenda was easily dispatched; tents erected in a nice sunny spot we had to put our heads together to solve the second issue.

For you to fully appreciate our quandary I should first describe our location to you. Spitzkoppe Hills is a beautiful, if small, national park located in Western Namibia; it has huge outcrops made up of fantastically red-coloured rocks that rise up around the camping areas. We were camping about 2kms from the park entrance, and a further 5kms from the nearest town. We had no idea if the nearest town was even a real town and not a collection of shacks in the middle of nowhere, let alone if it had a bar with a TV that would show the match. In other words - it wasn't looking good for the football. But then we witnessed firsthand what can only be described as divine intervention.

Whilst the majority of people had gone climbing in the hills in the afternoon, the three younger guys on our trip (commonly known as 'the boys’), Mark, Will and Dan, had gone for a wander down to the entrance of the park to talk to the park guards. It turned out that, for the price of 10 Namibian Dollars (roughly one British pound) per person, the guards were happy to pick us up in their car from the park, ferry us to the nearest local bar showing the match, then bring us back later in the evening. All we had to do was supply them with how many people wanted to go, and get dinner sorted early so we could get to the bar before kick-off! So whilst cook group got going on that nights meal, the boys headed off to let the park guards know that we would take up their offer and that we would need to fit in a mere 17 people into their car. Now 17 may sound like a lot of people to fit into a car even, as we later discovered upon the guards arrival, if that car is a large hatchback style vehicle. However, people who think like that have clearly never been to anywhere in Africa…

The guards arrived just before we had finished dinner, and were rewarded for their unusual punctuality with a slap up meal before our departure. Then came the crunch (no pun intended), including our two chauffeurs we had to fit 19 people into our transport. So, with one of us in the front next to the driver, and 16 in the boot, the remaining guard jumped onto the rear bumper and we were off. I can’t say it was the most comfortable drive I’ve ever had, but the cramp-filled 15 minutes were definitely interesting! When we arrived at the bar, we all spilled out of the boot and walked directly into what looked like a covered veranda leading out of someone’s living room. Slightly confused, we asked where the bar was; we were directed past the TV (at least there was a TV, even if it was sat on a tree stump!) into the dark of the night. When we eventually arrived at the toilets, we found out that he had been directing one of the girls who had asked where the restrooms were – it turned out that what looked like the lounge was actually the bar.

I think, as everyone knows now, that in hindsight the journey was a better experience than the football. However, despite the fact we were traveling with two Americans – although Chad and Xi didn’t rub the result in nearly as much as they could and maybe should have - a good night was had by all. On the return journey to camp there were rousing renditions of every patriotic song imaginable from God Save the Queen through to Swing Low. We would have even sung the Star Spangled Banner if either Chad or Xi had known the words to their national anthem…shame on them!

When we got back to our camp we found that the girls who hadn’t come with us, plus our tour leader, Iain (who is Scottish, so has no interest in major football tournaments), and our driver, Steve, had sat around the fire all night drinking Amarula hot chocolate. By this point everyone had had plenty to drink and we were all ready for bed. For tomorrow held another drive day – we were heading for Swakopmund, Calamari and financial fraud!
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