Today marks six weeks since arrived in Southern Africa. We knew we would be having adventures, and did our best to come prepared, but let’s just say there are some things you can plan for more than others.
We started off with a few days in Johannesburg visiting our friend Gavin and meeting a new friend, Matt, a friend of a friend at home. We headed into downtown Joburg to visit an open air market and have a few drinks one Sunday afternoon. We’d been so busy getting ready to leave we almost forgot what it was like to take a little break.
|A slice of this Kudu pate was the perfect lunch|
|The lines for this Mozambique style prawn curry were crazy - people were waiting 40 minutes for a bowl!|
We walked across the street to a funky bar - and ended up getting involved in parallel parking attempt gone wrong - it was hilarious to watch several different people, including our friend Matt, try to park this woman's car.
|Asa, Gavin and Matt enjoying a beer|
|Bar + retro clothing & jewelry shop in Joburg|
|We watched several people try to parallel park this car for about an hour - serious roadside entertainment. This was the final result.|
|Matt tried to park the car to help, terrifying this poor woman as he tried to re-park her friend's car. The friend gathered several people around her and said, "Everyone can see the white man is driving right? It's his fault if there's a problem"|
When these two random security guys saw we were taking photos, they wanted to strike a pose, too:
|Two goofy security guys posing|
After Joburg, we headed West toward Namibia, and you can see photos and our blog post on that part of our trip here: http://asaandjuliainafrica.blogspot.com/2013/07/welcome-to-namibia.html
From Fish River Canyon, we drove north through empty and desolate portions of southern Namibia. We drove hundreds of kilometers on dirt roads only seeing a few other cars each day. It was intense, and incredible, and an experience we’ll never forget.
In Sossuvlei, Namibia’s renowned sand dunes, we made friends with our neighbors, Boris and Nadja from Germany. We drove to Dune 45 to watch the sunrise with them one morning, and afterwards went to the Dead Vlei – a salt pan in the midst of the dunes.
|Sunrise on Dune 45 in Sossuvlei|
|Chilly sunrise in Sossuvlei on Dune 45|
|Dead tree in the Dead Vlei|
Boris is into geocaching, and found a spot in the middle of the Dead Vlei.
|Boris showing us geocaching|
After the Dead Vlei, we chose to drive around the sand dunes, and promptly got stuck:
|Sand ladders and pushing popped us right out of these sand ruts|
Boris and Nadja told us about the lodge next door to the campsite at Sossuvlei was renowned for their buffet, and we headed over with them to have a buffet dinner one night. The options were spectacular, especially the game meats they had available. Our favorites were the zebra and hartebeest steaks. Yes, zebra.
|We pretty much skipped everything at the buffet except the game meat grilling station|
On our way North to Walvis Bay and Swakopmund on the coast from Sossuvlei, we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn! Truth be told, that was the only exciting part of a long day of driving.
We arrived in Swakopmund on the Namibian coast on a Sunday, and the whole town was shut down (nearly 90% of Namibians are Christian), so we decided to find a place for lunch and have a nice, long, leisurely meal.
We learned the importance of making sure we really know what we’re getting when we order food in a restaurant. We wanted to order fish and chips for lunch one day (seemed appropriate as we were on the coast) only to be told that they were totally sold out. The waitress asked if we liked crawfish, and offered to bring us a crawfish plate instead. We agreed, and discovered that this was what she meant by crawfish:
At this point, it was too late to send the 2 1/2 lobsters back, so we ordered another glass of wine and happily enjoyed our meal, trying not to notice that the price for the lobster was $450 Namibian (about $45 USD) instead of the $75 Namibian ($7.50 USD) it was supposed to be for the fish and chips.
Swakopmund is described as more German than Germany – in fact, we learned that on Adolf Hitler’s birthday the bakeries in Swakopmund celebrate by baking rolls in the shape of swastikas. (That doesn’t sound anything like the ‘real’ Germans we know!!) Before we left, we enjoyed a proper German lunch of pork roast and smoked pork, plus local Namibian beer.
|We passed on the beer boot, but lots of tables around us ordered them|
On leaving Swakopmund, we opted to drive along the Skeleton Coast, which got its name because of the many shipwrecks that have happened along the coast. This one was just a few feet off the shoreline.
|Skeleton Coast shipwreck|
We’ve made friends everywhere we’ve gone – including a Namibian man named Oujan who jumped out of his truck to help when we were lowering our tire pressure to get out of the sand. He took over the project and wouldn't let us help at all, then invited us to his home for dinner (he’d caught fresh fish!) and to visit his farm in the eastern wild lands of Namibia. We weren’t able to take him up on his offer, but we’re amazed at how friendly everyone has been and how many invites we’ve had to stay with people we’ve only just met.
|Oujan deflating our tires|
We would love to update more regularly, and will keep trying to connect when we can. We're currently in Botswana, and have had an incredible time here - so much wildlife and so many incredible photos to share. Our plan is to go over the border into Zambia today and spend a little time near Victoria Falls, then head east toward Malawi.
We love reading your comments and posts, so please share your thoughts with us. We’ll try to post another time this week – hoping to have more internet in Victoria Falls.