Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
For those with only a vague sense of geography, Windhoek is the capital of Namibia. In turn, the country is a former provice of South Africa, to the north and fronting the Atlantic. It is the part of the continent that was called the Skeleton Coast, and it has only one port, Walvis Bay.
Windhoek is a low density sprawling city portraying little of its former existence as a German colony. Standing on top of one of the surrounding hills, it is not that easy to see it for the chaldera that it is. The prehistoric volcano must have been truly vast, dwarfing those that we saw on Tenerife.
The city itself is a mix of fairly modern buildings interspersed with more recent international developments such as shopping malls and the Hilton Hotel.
There are historic buildings evidencing the colonial past, such as the church and some of the government buildings (eg, the Ministry of Finance – Debt Management department!), but the most challenging are the new Museum of Namibia and the Presidential building complex. To the right of this amazing edifice is the original museum, single storey and colonial in style. What is not visible is the historic church and the government buildings and the state park that are alongside. It is certainly a building that makes a statement, perhaps that the architect deserved shooting…..?
No photos were risked of the Presidential estate given all the watchtowers surrounding the estate. The former presidential buildings are low level close to Parliament, very much in keeping with the surroundings, and modest reflecting the reality of the country. In contrast, the new one takes over an entire hill, and one might think more appropriate for the President of China, for instance.
The reference to that ancient civilisation is not accidental. The Chinese influence here is deep and spreading. As with many African countries, investment has been made in resources, and the Chinese embassy is said to be the largest in the city. Amongst the biggest new houses are those with Chinese characters next to the house numbers, and it is Chinese building contractors driving housing developments very near where I am staying.
Anyway, yesterday was an unusaul one for many reasons. First was the outing to watch Daniel’s brother-in-law play kayak polo, a sport that combines waterpolo with canoes and strange rules. Fast and furious, it is one for only the fittest. By some quirk of the rules, one is allowed to paddle over the top of your opponent, or roll him repeatedly upside down!
The evening saw us driving out to Okapuka. All the family was piled in the car, and in truth, we were doing just over the speed limit (120 kph). On the dual carriageway, we were flagged down by a police officer who’s colleague wielded a speed camera. Having been invited over to view the film of the outrageous transgression (132 kph), my friend was further offered the opportunity to hand over the equivalent of about £80 in cash. Some of the ceremony was then spoilt by his request for the speeding ticket, not least to evidence the importance of the occasion, (probably being the first time that a Land-Rover had been proven to achieve such a speed). The policeman rummaged around his car, but was unable to find his book of tickets. How surprising that we were soon on our way with funds intact………?
Okapuka restaurant is set in a game reserve. A slow drive up the track was interupted by some kudu wandering across, and our drinks were taken in company with a large family of warthogs plus some springbok. The meal was truly superb, (carpaccio of antelope followed by oryx steak for me), and set in stunning scenery. Watching the animals in the sunset made for a contemplative reflection on life and the beauty of God’s creation.
Oryx steak! AKA Gemsbok – I thought these things were endangered. Now I understand why. It would be so much better if the politicians and petty officials were extinct. Any thoughts on a new line of business to import said reworked Landies?
Great travelogue. Look out Lonely Planet guide.