And now for something completely different!
Long walks along a sandy beach with a cool breeze rustling the palm trees, sipping cappuccinos in quaint European-style cafes, wide streets with virtually no traffic, German being spoken almost everywhere: were we dreaming or were we really in Namibia?
400 kilometres west of Windhoek, on the coast of Namibia, lies the township of Swakopmund (affectionately known as “Swakop” by the locals). At the end of our second month in Namibia, we were fortunate enough to get away for a long weekend & visit a different part of the country.
On the road to Swakop!
Swakop rises quite literally out of the Namib Desert. At least 80 kilometres before you find the town you are travelling through a moonscape where virtually no plants survive. In fact, it is so barren that currently ‘Mad Max 4’ is being filmed there – we happened to run into one of the crew (a mechanic from the Gold Coast) while having one of those cappuccinos in the European-style café. It seemed so unreal that virtually at the end of every major street the desert would begin; we wondered where they get the water from to sustain this little oasis.
Town surrounded by desert (sorry about the size)
Swakop is an enclave of German architecture and culture and home to about 30,000 people (keeping in mind that Namibia was a Germany colony until the First World War). The buildings are beautiful and grand. The fences are low (no razor wire in sight) and people have gardens; some even with flowers. Here dogs are kept as pets and go for walks on leads (or sometimes without). The town is basically flat, so ideal for walking or cycling, and it has paved footpaths (most of the time). German is almost the expected language of conversation. For almost the first time since we arrived in Namibia, we felt we blended in quite well as there were white faces everywhere.
German architecture around 100 years old
Even though it is a tourist town we were surprised to find that most shops close from 1pm on Saturday and don’t open again till Monday morning. This made for a very quiet weekend where sometimes you felt you were the only people around. We could have joined in the ‘adventure activities’ of quad biking, paragliding, deep sea fishing etc, however walking brought us much pleasure, including finding the lagoon complete with a flock of flamingos.
The pier at Swakop & the Atlantic Ocean
We saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. We had been warned that the water was not suitable for swimming as the Beluga Current keeps the temperature very cold and there are numerous dangerous rips along the beach. We were content to walk along the beach and feel the cool wind on our faces. It was SO pleasant to be able to walk, for a start, and do so without breaking into a massive sweat. We even had to put jackets on and were comfortable wearing jeans. Such a different place to Windhoek where we have been sweltering in the mid thirties most days for the past month!
Overlooking the beach at Swakop
This break from routine and humid weather has refreshed us as we head into our final month in Namibia. We can appreciate more the variety of cultures and landscapes within this vast land.
Therefore, a time of rest & worship exists for God’s people. Those who entered his place of rest also rested from their work as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)
Another German heritage building (1905)