Weekend in Swakopmund! 4th-7th October 2012

 

On Thursday 4th October Fran and I had our first weekend off from Otjikondo so we decided to travel to the coast to a town called Swakopmund! We set off at 8am, hoping to hitchhike to Otjiwarongo or Outjo. After about 5 minutes of standing at the side of the road a man stopped and told us he was travelling straight to Otjiwarongo which was really lucky. On the 2 hour journey he told us about his wife and children which made us feel a bit more safe even though it was pretty daunting being in the car with a total stranger. He dropped us on the outskirts of Otjiwarongo so we walked in random directions for about half an hour until we found a wimpy burger, result! After a massive club sandwich (this is like my traditional ‘last meal before we go somewhere’) and muffin we tried to start the next part of our journey, from Otjiwarongo to Swakopmund. Somehow we ended up on a combi bus, paying around £10 for a 5 hour drive. Fran complained about how hot and stuffy it was but seeing other combis on the road with the double the amount of passengers piled in made ours feel like luxury… I chatted to a really nice Namibian woman who told me all about South African Idol and how they’ve just had the first black winner since the show started; I love hearing about TV stuff even I don’t even know any of the contestants! I read the South African version of Heat magazine which was strange and fell asleep and woke up about 20 times. There was nothing interesting to look at out of the window but we did manage to see 2 giraffes by the side of the road which was amazing!

Arriving in Swakopmund was a shock because of how cold it was there; it was probably warmer than England but it was different after being in constant heat for 5 weeks. We stupidly didn’t have a map or directions to our backpackers so we wondered through the industrial part of the town, walking over train lines and passing miners for over an hour. After being pointed in endless different directions we reached our backpackers and the owner knew of Gilly and Reiner, our hosts at Otjikondo! It reminds you of how small Namibia actually is in population. On our first night we went for a romantic meal (I swear me and Fran have turned into a married couple) and had an early night. On the Friday morning we treated ourselves to a well-deserved shopping trip around Swakopmund; not even stepping into a shop for 5 weeks is hard for 2 teenage girls. We found a cheap shop called Mr Price and stocked up on cheap clothes (living the high life!) then went to the pharmacy to buy boring things like oil for our hair that’s drying in the sun 😦 On Friday evening we decided to go Swakopmund’s only club, Gruniz. You can’t really compare it to anywhere in England because it was full of over 50s and German tourists but we managed to have a good time. We discovered that Namibian men can be quite possessive and think that because you’re talking to them you are now their girlfriend.. Luckily not all of them were that bad and we made friends with someone looking a lot like pitbull and his friends.

On Saturday morning Fran and I went sand boarding! We were picked up by the company and drove into the desert; after having a safety chat and meeting the others in the group we climbed up a massive sand dune to do our first run down. We realised that we were probably the only people there who weren’t in a couple, how depressing! Going down the dunes on a board was so much fun but a bit daunting as you just get a face full of sand if you do it wrong. Which me and Fran both did the first time round. I cried out the sand in my eye and we climbed the next dune. We spent a few hours there which was really fun but hard work as you have to climb back up after going down; I was knackered but the instructor seemed to think I was ridiculously athletic for some reason. Maybe because I felt like I was on a film set or something so didn’t stop running around. They measured how fast we each went and I managed 67kmph on one slope and managed to go down twice as much as Fran because she liked to ‘rest at the top’!

When we got back to the hostel we noticed the 2 beds beneath ours were taken; we spent ages trying to guess what these new guests would be like by looking at their bags and pyjamas. We guessed 50 year old travelers but a few hours later they arrived and it was George and Jamie! They’re 2 of the other Project Trust volunteers in Namibia, they’re teaching at a school in Guina. We were both so happy to see them and hear all about their projects; we decided our kids were cuter and smarter at Otjikondo but George and Jamie are treated much more like teachers than we are. They even have to wear smart shoes!? That evening we had a pizza together then me and Fran went back to Gruniz; we had a really good night, meeting a friend we’d made in Windhoek in August and watching a wet t-shirt completion (very strange!). We also met a group of stunt men who were in Swakop working on the new Mad Max film; they were all pretty cool and made us very jealous by telling us all the different countries they’ve worked in and all the celebrities they’ve met. The next morning we packed and said our goodbyes to George and Jamie and headed off to find out how we’d get back to Otjikondo! Our journey home was a lot more stressful than the way here as tour buses told us they had space for us but would then tell us they didn’t. It was a long day traveling back home but somehow between combis, hitchhiking and dodgy taxis we made it back before it got dark. It felt great to be back even though we had an amazing weekend away; it’s nice to be back ‘home’, feeling safe and knowing that the kids are around to talk to and play with. Being away for our first weekend was a totally new experience for us both and the first time I’ve felt properly independent; I kept thinking my parents were around to pay for activities and choose the restaurants. Somehow we managed without them though 🙂 Luckily me and Fran will definitely be returning to Swakopmund; for the Grade 7 outing and for music week. We can’t wait! 🙂

lots of love

Mary x

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