Archives for posts with tag: Namibia

I apologize for not including any pictures in the last few blog postings.  While traveling through Africa we didn’t often have access to the internet.  But now that we’re back in the States and have had a chance to look through the photos, I realize that some of these places really have to been seen to be believed.  The scenery in Southern Africa is mind-blowingly beautiful.  Here are some of the places we were and some of the things that we saw.

Beach Huts in Muizenberg

Beach Huts in Muizenberg

On top of Lion's Head in Cape Town

On top of Lion’s Head in Cape Town

The Wild Coast

The Wild Coast

Cute Local Kids

For most people travel is a luxury–something that is easily “cut-out-able” when things get tight financially.  In the last few years I had forgotten that for us it is something much more.  Travel has made us who we are, both as individuals and as a couple.  However, it is not something that just magically happens on its own.  You have to make it a priority in your life.

South Africa Wine Country

South Africa Wine Country

Welcome to Namibia

Welcome to Namibia

Visiting Karley

Visiting Karley

Solar Cooking

Solar Cooking

It had been nearly five years since our last big multi-month trip and we both missed the joy of long-term travel.  We often talked about taking another leave of absence from our jobs, but never quite got around to it.  During that five year hiatus we had somehow acquired a condo, a car and an increasingly expensive taste in wine.  Life kind of sneaks up on you like that sometimes.

Sundowners with Peter and Karley

Sundowners with Peter and Karley

baboons

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach

Working on the Farm

Working on the Farm

Even though we’d been both making more money these last few years, we had gotten lazy about saving.  At the end of the month there never seemed to be anything left over for the travel fund.  Finally we both decided to just fully commit to making this trip to Africa our top priority.  I’m so happy now that we did.

Maputo, Mozambique

Maputo, Mozambique

Our Cabana in Tofo

Our Beach Cabana in Tofo

Grilled Jumbo Prawns

Grilled Jumbo Prawns

Sunrise at Tofo

Sunrise at Tofo

It’s been three weeks since we returned to the States and the transition back to our lives here has been seamless.  Yoshimi got both of her jobs back and I actually got a raise while I was away (thank you International Longshore and Warehouse Union).  In addition, my department moved from the Burnside location to our headquarters in industrial Northwest Portland.  My new desk is just a few hundred yards from beautiful Forest Park and its many miles of trails.

I’m now run-commuting to work (five miles each way) and am already looking forward to indulging in some trail running “quickies” on my lunch breaks this summer.  The trails are still a bit muddy, but the days are long and the perfect temperature for attacking the hills.  Now that summer has kicked in there’s no where else I’d rather be than here in Oregon.  Life is good.

If you’d like to see more pictures from the trip, you can check out Yoshimi’s flicker account.  I’m warning you though, her food focus will definitely leave you hungry.

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I would imagine that most people would not be able to find Namibia on a world map.  This is not so surprising considering it’s one of the newest countries (founded in 1990) and has a population of just two million people spread across an area twice the size of California.  It also has a stable economy, good infrastructure, a functioning democracy and a free press–rarities for most of Africa.

When our friend Karley was accepted into the Peace Corps and assigned to Namibia we promised her that we would visit.  We were not the only ones to make this promise, however after three years there she has yet to have a visitor from home.

This past summer while on break she crashed on our couch in Portland and after hearing the amazing stories about her life in this remote corner of the world we decided to finally follow through on our promise.  But let me tell you, this is not an easy place to get to.

First there was the 40 hour flight (including layovers and connections) from Portland to Cape Town.  Then there was the 22 hour bus ride to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.  From there we had to catch a ride in a four wheel drive cargo truck that delivers supplies to remote outposts in the Namibian desert.

On the way the gas tank of the truck was damaged by a rock and for two hours we took turns filling up empty two litre Coke bottles with the leaking diesel while the driver chain smoked cigarettes a few feet from the tank.  It was a classic African travel experience.  After 10 hours on the back of that truck, I can’t tell you how happy we were to see Karley.

Her assignment for the Peace Corps is with a environmental education organization called NaDeet which is located on the private NamibRand Nature Reserve.  The reserve is surrounded by rugged desert mountains and bisected by huge red sand dunes.  An upmarket resort on the reserve is where Brad and Angelina stay when they come to Africa to adopt more children.

Every week a different group of Namibians arrives at NaDeet to learn how to make fuel efficient stoves, conserve limited water resources and cook using solar power.  It’s a wonderful organization and it was so cool to see some of the work that they do.

Just recently the NamibRand Nature Reserve was the first location in Africa to be certified by the International Dark Sky Association.  Luckily we were there during a new moon and the clusters of stars were so thick in the sky that they looked like clouds.  The Milky Way was clearly visible and we were actually able to see a black hole.  Even though there was no moon we could easily walk around at night without a headlamp.  I’ve seen the night sky in places like Tibet, Alaska and Patagonia, but have never witnessed anything quite like this.

I recovered quickly from the Two Oceans Marathon and have been able to maintain a somewhat consistent training schedule during our travels.  Karley showed me a 7 mile loop that she used to train for a half marathon.  The narrow red dirt trail twisted and turned through the savanna while herds of oryx, springbok and zebra grazed alongside.  One day a family of super cute bat-eared foxes scampered in front of me on the trail.  On another day I saw a giant secretary bird, which looks like the byproduct of an ill-fated threeway between an ostrich, an eagle and a chicken.  Running this trail every morning was pure bliss.

Our last night on the reserve was spent with Peter, a ranger on the reserve.  He’s an American expat who has lived in Namibia since the early 70’s and is one of those characters you only seem to meet while traveling.  He drove us around in his pickup and showed us some of his favorite spots.  Afterwards we had a barbeque back at his place, cooking up some kudu steaks and boerworst sausage and then finishing up the night with his signature cocktail, the Namib Coffee.  He wouldn’t give us the recipe, but it tasted like equal parts brandy, coffee and brown sugar.

After four days at NaDeet we were sad to say goodbye to Karley, but happy that we had the opportunity to visit her in this uniquely beautiful location.  We were also happy that we didn’t have to take that diesel-leaking cargo truck back to Windhoek.  One of Karley’s co-workers was able to give us a ride and on the way we stopped at the aptly-named town of Solitaire for some yummy apple strudel.

Next stop–Mozambique.