African shoestrings – Namibia Day Seventy five – Windhoek
In most African towns and cities there are plenty of curio and souvenir shops, a lot of them tacky and often overpriced and Windhoek was no exception, we did however find tucked away in an old renovated warehouse that once housed a brewery, the Namibia crafts centre. This place sold only artifacts and souvenirs made by local Namibian communities and the profits go back into the community. We bought some bits and pieces from the one of the Namibia women’s communities and came away with that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing that you have helped people who have so much less than you. After all a lot of souvenirs and curios are often mass produced by large wealthy companies and sold in markets and small shops with the pretense that they have been hand made by the seller themselves. In some of the instances, this is achieved by the use of nothing more than slave labour. So it’s good to see that places like the Namibia crafts Centre, are beginning to appear more and more. So to all you future travelers I urge you to seek out these places and buy!
Out last night at the Cardboard box was spent socialising. We met Andre, our driver for the Botswana tour that started the following day. Andre had only just started as a tour guide and as it turned out he remained with us for the all but the last day of the 6 day tour. A white Namibian he was a nice guy who like all novices made up for a lack of experience with lots of enthusiasm.
We also met Sharon an attractive girl from somewhere in Queensland who was travelling around southern Africa on her own. Somehow or other an American called Jed (aren’t they all?) got into the conversation. He was a young guy also travelling on his own and was heading south whilst we were heading north so we swapped notes for a time. He of course had done everything and in comparison to us was travelling a lot ‘rougher’. Within ten minutes of the conversation it became pretty obvious that these two were in the process of starting a ‘romantic’ relationship and we were in the way. Sue, of course, spotted this first and tried to drag me away. I wasn’t going until I had extracted as much info as possible from Jed. Eventually we left our two lovebirds and made our way over to a young German bloke who bored us with tales of his travels in Australia.
We set off at 6.30 am to start our tour of Botswana. Its run by a crowd called Audi camp who are basically logistics experts. They seem to take a bit of a tour here and another one there and make a complete package. I guess we had four components to our trip, the transport to Audi’s main camp Ngepi in Caprivi in the far north of Namibia, the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park and transport to Livingstone in Zambia. All these components could be purchased separately but as we needed transportation to Zimbabwe (Livingstone is about 10 kilometres from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.), it suited our purpose to do it this way.
We were actually an hour and a half late setting off because Andre had to pick up another traveler, Louise, from the station.
It’s a long ten and a half hour drive and the most notable point was crossing the ‘red line’ between Grootfontein and Rundu. It’s actually a veterinary control fence. Livestock bred north of this fence are banned from being moved south or being sold overseas in order to prevent any spread of disease to the rich cattle farms of the south. But it’s much more than that. Namibia like most of South Africa is fairly westernised and I suppose could almost be classified as a first world country.
Except for north of the red line.
The change is as dramatic as it is sudden. We went from large open spaces punctuated by population centres of varying sizes to a world of traditional and tribal villages that dot the roadside. Clusters of mud and thatch houses, surrounded by reed or bamboo fencing, were populated by cattle, goats and other livestock wandering aimlessly and feeding by the side of the road. Women were gathering wood or water and then returning with their pickings on their head.
This is the Africa most of us expect to see!
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