Swakopmund = "Bowel Opening"

Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Namibia  ,
Sunday, September 30, 2007

Swapkomond's tourist slogan is "A place between the ocean and the desert." While not particularly exciting, it is better than the original meaning of the town's name, which is a Germanization of the native name meaning "bowel opening." Understandably the tourism board has not spent a large amount of time or money publicizing this fact.

Swakopmund is an odd place. It is a little slice of Germany laid out in a desert directly next to the Atlantic Ocean. After the baking, dry heat of northern Nambia, Swakopmund was welcome dose of chilly goodness. At first. For an ocean playground, it was cold, windy, and grey. It was also the first time I had seen the Atlantic for over a year and a half. Being from Nova Scotia, the ocean is in my blood. Over the following week I sat and watched the waves roll in and felt something therapeutic in the crashing waves.

My week in Swakopmund consisted mostly of eating sausages, and wandering around aimlessly. Probably the highlight of the week came with the arrival of Andrew and Jaye. Andrew is South African and spent a number of years driving over trucks throughout the world. Jaye is Australian, and spent years living in Japan running the JET program (an international English teaching program). Jaye is chirpy and extremely pleasant. As much as she would probably hate the description, you feel happier just hearing her talk. Andrew is a bit sarcastic, and his occasional sardonic sense of humour appealed to my own. They have spent the last 8 months or so driving their Land Rover from London, heading towards Cape Town.

They invited me to come with them for a day to drive down to Walvis Bay and check out some of the dunes of the Skeleton Coast. We drove out to Dune 7, the most famous dune in the area, and proceeded to climb up to some of the peaks.

Afterwards, we spent a few hours driving around the lagoon at Walvis Bay, sneaking up on flamingos and scaring them into flight (I'd like to point out it was Andrew doing this, but in honesty, it was my idea). On the way back to Swakopmund, the road stretches between the rolling waves on one side and the huge sand dunes on the other. Driving along, Andrew and Jaye recognized another Land Rover belonging to another couple also tripping around Africa. We pulled in to say hello.

They had been sandboarding on the massive dunes in the area. Sandboarding is basically taking a piece of masonite board (we would probably call it particle board in North America), polishing it with wax, climbing up the steepest and highest dune around, and then throwing yourself down it on top of the board. Speeds can be in excess of 80 kmh. They also just happened to have three sandboards they were leaving behind with a container of polish. What's a person to do?

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you do don't need an answer to that question.

Legs tired, lungs burning (mine anyway) the three of us made our way to the top of the dunes. The events that followed rivalled the skier from the beginning of ABC's old Wide World of Sports (you remember, that guy cart wheeling down the mountain, skis flying everywhere). See the photos. I particularly like the one where my legs are making a perfect "v" in the air, while my head and upper body seem completely buried in sand.

It took two days to get the sand out of my hair, ears, and other random orifices.

After a week in Swakopmund, I packed up and headed to the capital of Windhoek. Just outside of town I was picked up by Tim, a businessman from Cape Town, in Namibia on business. Hitching can sometimes be a bit of a dice roll, you never know what you might get. Sometimes, however, travel karma smiles on you and you get a ride like Tim. He's a great guy in the music business, and the ride flew by as we swapped stories and laughed.

I'm currently in Windhoek and trying to figure out a way to get down to the dune of the Namib desert and onwards to South Africa and Cape Town.
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