Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Finding and inserting a picture for my profile sparked memories: the picture shows me waiting for Lois to come out of one of the many delightful little shops in Swakopmund, Namibia. The sign on the bench reads: "Bored Husbands": delightful! We visited Swakopmund during sabbatical in 2003, just over three years ago now. Amazing how quickly three years have gone by.
I could write about many parts of that trip -- time in Bulawayo with inflation beyond understanding; the trip up to Victoria Falls and then on to Choma, car sputtering all the way; driving out to Sikalongo and seeing Dorothy's grave; the full day that Gift (the mission mechanic) put in to get the car running again; back down through Botswana along country that looked and felt like a hot, hot Manitoba; from Johannesburg through the Kalahari to Windhoek (two breakdowns, and five hours in the desert sun waiting for relief); back to Pretoria for another month (with an office at UNISA and living at the Operation Mobilization headquarters); and finally Cape Town. Five months of stimulation: mental, spiritual, family, academic.
But Swakopmund. We drove from Windhoek through more desert, of which much of Namibia central and south appears to consist. The countryside moved from dry underbrush to sand and rocks, progressively dryer and bleaker. One had the sense of a moonscape (as part of the area is actually called). This link gives the official Namibian Tourist Board's description of the area.
Then suddenly, Swakopmund. Water, palm trees, delightful German village on the beach of the Atlantic Ocean. The dunes south of the town had sand-boarders, as well-practised as any snow boarders in western Canada.
We climbed dune seven: well, Lois, and Vaughn, and Nevin climbed the dune. I waited in the shade of the trees, which were being gradually engulfed by the dune. We saw signs on the road warning of drifting sand, with sand plows designed like snow plows in Manitoba to keep the road clear.
And next to all of that: the ocean. Spray and rocks and swell after swell rolling in. Vaughn stood a little too long next to the rolling swell, and one wave drenched him completely as it broke on the rocks. Lois found a pile of rocks facing out towards the ocean, screened from the desert behind, which she pronounced her own secret spot to sit and watch the waves. Whether eating supper with the sun sinking into the ocean, or walking through the shops of this little German community buried on the south-west coast of Africa, or talking to travellers in the backpackers' hostel where we stayed: we enjoyed Swakopmund as an unexpected treat in the middle of five months of a true sabbatical.