African shoestrings – Namibia Day Seventy Two – Swakopmund
Our final day in Swako was actually spent in Walvis Bay, a small town, 30 kilometres south. We checked out of our comfy accommodation thinking we would find something in Walvis Bay, a decision we were later to regret.
This little nondescript town was never actually colonised by the Germans. The British who controlled the Cape colony (South Africa) and laid claim to it in 1878 and didn’t let go of it until 1994, four years after Namibia’s independence. This natural harbour’s popularity is because it’s the only decent port north of Luderitz and south of Luanda in northern Angola and has been a very strategic political, defensive and commercial position to hold.
Now Walvis Bay’s main attractions are its bird life, in particular flamingoes, and Dune 7.
Dune 7 is large stand-alone sand dune north east of the town that rises above the bleak landscape and overlooks the noisy goods train railway. The locals’ flock to it in their droves to walk, run, sandboard or simply sit at the picnic tables in its shadow eating sandy sandwiches or gritty sausages. The bird life on the other hand is much more interesting. The lagoon just to the south of the town is home to half of southern Africa’s flamingo population plus pelicans, gulls and plovers to name just a few. Close by is the Raft a pub/restaurant housed in a wooden building sitting on stilts over the water. A couple of beers in there gave us a brief respite from the ever-increasing wind and in a rash moment we decided to return for dinner that night.
I have to say that it was one of the most amazing dining experiences either of us had ever had. The meal was nice we had some of the local fish species, Kobaljai and Steenbras and it was all pretty good including the service. What stole the show were the flamingos! From where we were sitting we could see the floodlight water and all night there was this constant flow of flamingos walking back and forwards doing their best to imitate the huge walking box robots from the Stars Wars movies. These wonderfully colourful waders gave us a show neither of us will ever forget!
What is forgettable however is the smelly cramped dog box of a unit we ended up staying in overnight back in Swako. We hadn’t managed to find anything cheap enough in Walvis Bay so we rang a place back in Swako without knowing what it was like. The women who answered the phone said yes it was free that night and the cost was N$100 plus $30.00 for laundry. OK I thought we don’t want any laundry done we’ll take it. What the laundry turned out to be was the cost of washing the bed linen after you had used it, assuming that you hadn’t brought your own. Well after sleeping the night in this matchbox with less facilities than a prison cell and having to listen to her winging about this that and anything else she happened to be an expert on, we told her to get stuffed, politely of course! Needless to say we headed out of there as soon as the sun was up.
Every town or city has the Café, the place to be seen at and usually has a specialty or two. Swako was no exception. The Café Anton was a trendy, probably in some eyes pretentious, indoor/ outdoor café overlooking the main beach. After such a shitty night we thought we’d treat ourselves to morning tea in the shape of a couple of German pastries and (finally) some good coffee before heading out. No doubt about its popularity, the locals were arriving in droves for both coffee and pastries and breakfast. It was a fitting end to our stay in Swako. It had been the only place in Namibia where we could take time out to get our fix of some western culture.
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