Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Comin' Back to Kansas

Well, my vacation has finally come to an end.  I have spent the last weeks travelling around the southern part of the country, seeing the sights and meeting new people.  There have been ups and downs along the way, but it was an incredible journey so far.  I can't wait to continue it in May!

After leaving Swakopmund, some friends and I rented a car and drove tedious hours through desolate (though beautiful) land to arrive at our camp sight in the Naukluft Mountains.  Now, when I say mountains, I don't mean those beautiful ones full of trees and lakes.  No, these mountains are comprised of rocks.  We camped there for three nights.  It was amazing to see the stars with absolutely no lights to pollute the skies.  During the day it was incredibly hot, and due to the lack of trees, we had no respite from the sun's rays.  So, we snuck into the lodge part of the resort and relaxed in the shade there.  Thankfully there was no one else there, so the owners were content with our presence there.  He did seem confused that we would be content camping without electricity or hot water.  We had flashlights, so we were fine on the light aspect, and the heat during the day heated the pipes so that our afternoon showers were pleasantly warm. 

Lovin' the cheap tent.  Good thing it didn't rain!

One of the plethora of amazing sunsets in the country.

Feeling like Indiana Jones with the bumpy road.  Almost wish I were in Disneyland.


While we were enjoying our desert camping experience, we took a day trip to Sossusvlei, which has some of the most amazing red dunes!  We arrived at the entrance to the park around 6:30 in the morning, and drove the 65 km to the dunes.  From there, we trekked our way up some of the largest dunes in the world.  The path was difficult and tiring, but thankfully the sun hadn't turned the sand hot yet.  At the bottom of the dune was a pan full of dead trees.  A pan is a lake bed, who's salt stays on the surface.  This gives the ground a whitish look to it, which amplified the beauty of the landscape.  While the going was tough, I would definitely go back and climb more of those magnificant piles of sand!

From Sossusvlei, we travelled to yet another coastal town.  (I'm not sure if you have come to the understanding of the intensity of the heat during summer, but the coast is definitely the place to be during December!)  Luderitz is a southern town with a huge German influence.  Upon arrival, I felt as if I had been transported to a small coastal town somewhere in Europe, not southern Africa.  I spent almost two weeks there, which gave me plenty of time to relax. 

I was afraid that Christmas away from my family would be difficult, but with so many friends surrounding me, it was amazing.  There were no Christmas trees to be found, so we made due and took a palm frond and decorated it with plastic bag ornaments and popcorn chains.  A cardboard star completed the picture.  We had a white elephant gift exchange from the local China Shop.  I received colored pens (which I was stoked about) and a bar of chocolate. 

We also made our own Namibian versions of Christmas songs!

We went rock diving (ok, it was only about a meter above the water, but still fun) many times, into the frigid water.  Let me tell you,  the Atlantic Ocean in southern Africa is some of the coldest water I have ever been in!  I thought the Pacific was cold in California, but this took the cake.  It didn't matter though, because it was something to swim in, which is rare in this country.  After swimming for many days, we received a rather large wake-up call.  All of a sudden multiple red blobs could be seen around us.  Those jellyfish were reasonably easy to avoid, but the small clear ones were not.  Thankfully I was not stung, though one of my friends was.  From then on, we stayed in one of the coves.

Finally, things had to come to an end, as they always do.  I had decided to join a committee with the Peace Corps, and the meeting for it was a day after I was supposed to be back at my site.  So, I floated around volunteers houses for a few days, until the meeting.  I am now currently staying at one of the flats the Peace Corps has for volunteers, waiting until I can go to the meeting.

I will also be purchasing a Christmas present to myself while I am here.   As both protection and companionship, I will be adopting a dog from the SPCA.  While I know that having a dog is a huge responsibility, I also know that I will be incredibly happy with it.  I'm just not quite sure how hitchhiking with a dog (and all of my things) will be.  We'll see!

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