Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Namibia Vacation

I spent the last few days in Swakopmund, Namibia. Swakopmund is on the Atlantic ocean and has a mild climate because the ocean is so cold. The temperatures were between 50 and 70 F -  just what I needed after having a solid week of above 100 degree temperatures in Botswana. It is always interesting to get out and see other countries around Botswana. Despite their proximity, I have found the other countries in southern Africa to be quite different and Namibia was no exception. 

Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world after Mongolia. It was a protectorate of Germany for many years, then became part of South Africa, and has only been an independent country since 1990. There is still evidence of German influence, especially in Swakopmund.

The town is quite interesting. The architecture is quite German and there were even restaurant menus and signs in German. There was fog each morning that would burn off in the heat of the day only to return later on in the afternoon. It vaguely reminded me of San Francisco.   

The highlights of the trip were the food and the ocean. 

Each morning, I got up and went to a little German bakery for an apple danish and a big mug of coffee. 

We also ate at a sushi bar. The place was at the end of a long pier and we sat outside looking out into the ocean. When I saw the first sushi roll I could have cried for joy. It was the first sushi I have had since leaving the US and it was quite good. I ate 8 rolls and could have eaten more. 

I also was craving fresh seafood, which is difficult - not to mention expensive - to come by in landlocked Botswana. We searched high and low for a fish market but couldn't find one. Then on the way back from the beach another volunteer and I saw some guys clustered around some faucets cleaning fish. We figured they would know about a fish market and asked them. As it turns out, there really is not a fish market in the town, but they offered to sell us some of their catch. We bought 3 large fish for the equivalent of 18 US dollars. They were even cleaned, gutted, and salted for us. That night we smothered the fish in butter, garlic, and lemon and threw them on the grill. The fish was bony but delicious and we even had enough to make fish tacos the next night. 

Another highlight was eating at the Brauhaus. Ever since traveling to Germany, I have loved German food and beer. The Brauhaus did not disappoint.  I had a liter of dark beer and an order of eisbein, which is a favorite of mine (and one of the better foods I tried in Germany). 

I also really enjoyed getting to see the ocean again. After being in a desert for 18+ months, I relish getting to swim in any body of water. The South Atlantic ocean is quite cold, and despte being a huge wimp about cold water, I got in and swam anyways. We got tossed around a good bit by the waves but it felt good to be swimming in the ocean again.

As with all vacations, this one was just not long enough. I could have stayed for a week or more exploring the streets and trying out new cafes and restaurants.