Between the desert and the sea

Trip Start Sep 17, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2008

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Swakopmund is the place to go if you want an adrenaline rush.  Of course, adrenaline rushes cost money (often a lot of money), so we didn't engage in any of them.  The only one feasible for us would have been sand boarding, which we'd already done, and even if it was really fun, we'd already far exceeded our spending limit for Namibia with our Sossusvlei tour.  What we did in Swakopmund was still excellent fun, however, and I'd recommend a jaunt there if you've got a minute for it in your busy schedule. 

The day we arrived was gorgeous, so we naturally stayed indoors.  Travis was still recovering from a cold, so he passed out about the minute we arrived.  The next day we moved to a cheaper hostel with a significantly better kitchen, and because the weather was less than lovely we stayed in all day again.  I chatted the ear off a New Yorker we met, but she didn't mind terribly and we had a lovely afternoon.  The rest of our time in Swakopmund was full of laid-back adventures. 

First thing being first, we made our way to the shore to see the Atlantic from the other direction.  Being back on the Atlantic seaboard made home feel much less far away, but then when you consider that you're about at the polar opposite end it seems far away again.  Just before we got to the beach I made us go another way because I had developed a schedule and Travis was ruining it again.  This always happens.  A guy on the shore asked what my name was, to which I responded "Erin," which is completely incomprehensible to most languages, so when he responded, "Ellen?"  I said yes.  Eventually you just stop caring.  Unfortunately this guy was trying to sell me something and so carved "Elen" on his little nut keychain.  It was rather humorous.  I said no, thank you. 

We made our way to the Living Desert Snake Park and arrived at the tail end of feeding time.  We walked around and looked at all the snakes and scorpions, couldn't find the chameleons, and then just about when we were finished a pair of boas were fed.  One pounced right on its mouse, but the other doesn't feed itself, so we watched as the snake man shoved the live mouse into the boa's mouth.  It was rather interesting.  The little black mice were quite cute, and it made me wonder if I could handle having to feed them to a snake if ever one was introduced into my house as a pet (I can see the disgust on my mother's face...heehee).  Then the place was innundated by school kids.  I think that on account of this occasion the snake man released a huge boa into the yard.  The excited children didn't want to get too close, but they didn't want to miss anything, either, so they formed a ring around the snake and the whole body of individuals moved in a beautiful synchronous harmony wherever the snake wanted to go.  Every now and again someone would reach down to touch it and then jerk back as if the snake had somehow reacted, which of course it didn't.  It started making for the gate, so I grabbed its neck and reoriented it.  Realizing that the snake wasn't going to hurt anything the kids all took turns reaching down and stroking it. 

Then we finally found the chameleons.  They were also being fed, so we got to witness the amazing tongue action of these little critters, and one little girl endeared herself to me when she repeatedly declared that the chameleon was "so CUTE!"  Several of the school kids leaned over the enclosure and ordered the chameleons to change color.  Unfortunately chameleons don't speak English. 

Our next adventure was a walk on the beach.  As the weather was freezing and every now and again cold, wet things would hit you from the sky, it wasn't ideal.  The location was picturesque, however, and we figured that come February it'd probably be an excellent place to sun and swim.  Maybe not swim - this part of the Atlantic never gets that warm. 

We made our way down the beach to the Marine Aquarium, which Travis declared a waste of money, but which delighted me.  So, if you've got kids, it's a good place to go.  The very best thing is the tunnel where the sharks and fish swim right over you and every now and again a turtle pops out to fly through the water.  Other than this, however, the place seemed to be breeding lobsters...  And a few more lobsters. 

A walk through town is also a must for Swakopmund.  The buildings are all trying to be German in the desert, and some are painted fun colors as well.  The shapes and layout of the town is so charming, and I made us walk down every street of one part of town until I got distracted by a little alleyway.  As you progress to the beach there's a sort of promenade and the lighthouse pops out of the palms.  So asthetically appealing. 

Then of course there are the dunes.  These are not to be confused with the Namib dune sea, but they are pretty and fun to walk around (or quadbike) and there are all sorts of interesting plants you never saw before.  We took a rain-free afternoon to meander for a few hours before returning to our cozy hostel nest. 

Can you tell I love this town?

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