Friday, 29 October 2010

7 days Safari: Damaraland & Skeleton Coast


Himba girls with Marianne's camera
Our last game drive in Etosha led us to the park's gates and on to our next stage of the trip. Our next stop was a few kilometers from Kamanjab on farmland owned by a man named Jaco. Jaco's project is to help Himba children in difficulty. So he invited Himba people to settle on his land and helps them however possible. It is a village built in traditional Himba style. When we arrived at the campsite nearby the village, we found the open roofed toilets and showers and we settled to some easy activities in the heat of the day. Some of us went onto a rocky outcrop next to camp to admire the view, others just stayed around talking. I wrote some postcards there. At about 4pm Tumbee, our guide for the village visit, came by to fetch us. It was still very hot but we managed to get ready to leave for our first Himba village tour. Between the campsite and the village, Tumbee explained a few things about the Himba culture and taught us a few words of greetings and how to do the handshake. He told us that the villagers don't speak any other language than their Himba tongue, so he was to interpret anything we said to them and anything they said to us. Once we got to the village we all happily said moro (hello), perivi (how are you), naoa (i'm fine). We first passed a group of men playing at some board game with pebbles in the sand. We then arrived to the village where there was not much activity. We met with two Himba women all painted in ocher color and with their special headdress. There was a child with one of the girls and the other one was preparing a skin to make a dress of some kind. Their body paint helps for the skin and protects from the sun. The headdress is mainly for the decoration to appear beautiful to the men. They take two hours each morning to get their color on the body and each three months they spend three days renewing their headdress. The girls wanted to know our age and where our life partner was. We told them we were all singles (or almost all). Each time we took a picture they wanted to see the result on our camera. We then set off to a different group of women where children joined us and they wanted to know our age and love situation again. So we told them again through Tumbee. I was then standing next to Marta and one of the girls, after having absorbed the shock of having people this old that weren't married, said something like: “the two of them could be together”. That's when the myth started about my wedding with Marta. One Himba girl wanted to take a picture of another Himba girls hair with Marianne's digital reflex camera. She had to look through the viewer but did not really know how to, so she looked quite funny while trying. We went on with our visit to the Holy Fire which is in a direct line with the fire in the headman's hut. If you are not welcome in the village you cannot cross the line between the two, you are to bypass it. There Tumbee explained us how between the age of 12 and 16 the front teeth were extracted with sticks and stones and without anesthesia. The purpose is to look beautiful. Once inside the hut he explained a bit more about the customs and traditions. He showed us some items they use and the hunting tools. Once outside again the children wanted us to take their picture and of course, to see them. So I showed them mine and they wanted to see all my pictures. I had at least 6 children on top of me and at one stage I toppled backwards. Then Vincent took out his camera and showed them his lion movie from Etosha. When we got back to camp we went up to the rocky outcrop to see the sunset and took our showers before having dinner.


Danna in Twyfelfontein
The next day we drove on to Twyfelfontein which literally means doubtful fountains because of the uncertainty with which they flow. We went on a short and easy walk with a quite uninteresting and boring guide. She showed us the rock engravings there like she were showing us the different stalls in a supermarket. We didn't take long to finish and then we had our lunch nearby.


We drove on for a long time to Brandberg. Everyone was having enough of this bus driving. We craved for some activity. Once in Brandberg we prepared ourselves for a hot walk of one and a half hour to the White Lady painting and back. It was still so very hot and we walked in the sun. There was barely any shadow. The landscape is really magnificent though and the lighting permitted some really nice shots. Once at the painting the guide (Stanley) explained a bit about the painting and the customs and then we were allowed to go in with only our cameras (no food, no drinks, no bags, no hats). Danna and Kathryn didn't want to come with us on the walk so they were dropped of at the lodge's pool. Cliffton and Jason used the time to set up camp. We went to the campsite where the showers and toilets were open air again and had Oryx steak for supper. We talked a while and joked about different things like our wedding at the Himba village or Cliffton talking with nobody listening. Rebeca and Ainhoa went to sleep on the top of the bus like they did on the previous night, Cliffton made himself a bed with two cooler boxes and the camping table and the rest of us crept into our tents.


Marta, Rebeca and Ainhoa in Twyfelfontein
We had breakfast and broke camp early so we could leave early and so arrive early in Swakopmund. We started for Cape Cross and the Seal Reservation there. I was in a bad mood after the morning's events and spent my time listening to The Fire and Nightwish. The drive through the Skeleton Coast was long and uneventful. The landscape was getting flatter by the kilometer and the vegetation decreased to almost nothing. The weather was getting colder by the minute. The Benguela current comes from the arctic and the water at this time was about 12°C which cools down the whole coast. Long hours later we arrived at the crossing at the coast and turned north towards Cape Cross. Arriving at the Seal Reservation we smelled the stench of seal poo and decaying dead animals. We stayed long enough to take some funny pictures of ourselves pinching our noses close. We then drove south again and stopped for lunch at the coast latest shipwreck which had gotten loose from a nearby port and stranded their two years ago. We then drove on south to Swakopmund which was quite uneventful too.


Arriving in Swakop Cliffton drove through the town center to show us around and then brought us straight to the Amanpuri Guesthouse. This one was located even farther from town center than Villa Wiese. With Vincent we shared a room like we shared a tent. We unpacked our bags to take out the dirty clothes to give to laundry. Then we went to town. We bought some postcards and stamps and I showed him the the mole (passing by the lighthouse which I didn't know where to find) and the jetty. We then went to a coffee shop where Vincent began writing postcards. I was so very tired that once my cup of hot chocolate was emptied I said goodbye to Vincent and found myself a shared taxi to bring me back to the guesthouse. It's funny how the taxi drivers never seem to know the place where you want to go. I had to tell him where to turn to find the guesthouse. Once there I had too much on my mind and couldn't sleep anyway, so after a while I took out my laptop and began sorting pictures and watch if there were some new comments on my facebook, picasa and blog postings. There weren't that many, so I suppose there is not much interest in what I write. Or perhaps people just watch and read without commenting ? Who knows. Out next appointment was at quarter to seven at the bus to go to the Lighthouse Restaurant to have supper. It's the best place in town and I had a grilled Kingklip fish with chips. The girls took tons of pictures around the table and we had great fun. Vincent went around the table to take a picture with himself and each person. When he got to Cliffton, he put his arm around his shoulder and Cliffton looked like it was some disgusting animal on his shoulders. His eyes said “what happens here, take him away from me”. He then said “Oh my goodness” in such a funny way that sometime later Vincent managed to record it on his camera. After supper we went to a bar (the best in town and the same as my first time in Swakop) and danced on Wakka Wakka 3 or 4 times and other songs too were repeated. As the Spanish girls asked for Wakka Wakka in Spanish he put on one or two other Spanish/Latin American tunes.


The next morning the three Spanish girls left us alone because they had a fast transfer to Windhoek airport as their plane was due at 4pm. I woke up early to say goodbye. The transfer was the city hopper which arrived an hour later than scheduled. Por que estes Africa. We left at 10.30 am and I tried to sleep through the whole drive to Windhoek. With stopped twice and got to Windhoek at about 4 or 5 pm. We scheduled our dinner at Joe's Beerhouse (again) at 7.30 and I invited Corne to join us because he sent me an e-mail on facebook. So he joined us. I walked my two kilometers from Klein Windhoek to Eros watching out for a shared taxi, but found none. Once I got there with my Wild Dogs t-shirt and cap, the waiter saw directly from which group I was (I had booked under Wild Dogs). A waitress showed me the table, but before getting there, Vinzenz, the german guy from the previous tour found me and brought me to the bar where Gerold and the others from the current group were talking. Corne was there too this time and Marianne and Irka arrived a few minutes later. Vincent popped into Gerold and Vinzenz at Chameleons while getting out for Joe's so he invited them to join us. It was a great evening again. At one moment I showed my hot pepper to Vinzenz and we both bit into one. His was a smaller and spicier one and he was crying and looked all red and wiggled and jiggled. Mine was not that spicy fortunately. When time came to go home I said I would be walking my two kilometers back and they wouldn't let me. So they asked Jason who was here too to accompany me back saying his home was in the same direction. As it was in the opposite direction I told him I would manage to get home safe and I did.