Friday, February 27, 2009

Back in Cape Town ...

Well, I never did find a charger for my phone, which is why I was unable to post on the return trip from Windhoek.

After writing the last entry I wandered into town, and stopped for lunch in a little bar/cafe place near the Gibeon Meteorites. But as soon as I got in there, an almighty crash of thunder shook the whole building, and it started to pour with rain. Within minutes the place was packed with dripping people who had dashed in off the streets, and I had to resign myself to staying put until the rain stopped. It was actually quite cozy in there. I sat on a stool up at the bar, and got through a couple of beers while reading the Mail & Guardian.

When the rain stopped I walked across to the Alte Feste, the 'Old Fort', which is a fascinating old building (the oldest in Windhoek) that now houses half of the National Museum. It was originally built in 1890-92 by German soldiers. Half of the exhibits focus on the recent political history of Namibia, and the rest is about San rock art. As with many museums in this part of the world, the displays are in a bit of a sorry state. But somehow I felt that the creaking floorboards and the old wooden cases with their yellowing typed placards enhanced the atmosphere of the place.

I climbed a narrow iron spiral staircase up into one of the towers, from where there is a cool panoramic view of Windhoek. Out the back is an old steam engine with a couple of wooden carriages, left open to the elements and gradually rotting away. Some of the seats inside still had cushions on them, although the stuffing was coming out. It was a bit eerie in a musty, Titanic sort of way. Sadly, the whole rear carriage was mostly charcoal, as someone from outside the compound set fire to it a few months ago.

The coach ride back to Cape Town felt much longer than its actual 22 hours. I had a window seat, and the Congolese chap sitting next to me was not the slimmest of fellows! The border crossing back into South Africa was at about 3:00am, and was quite unpleasant. The rude immigration lady decided I had no business being in her country, and shouted that I must leave at the first opportunity! With a sneer, she scribbled in my passport that I had to get out of SA within 7 days, and then bluntly dismissed me. Good old South African Home Affairs, they can always be relied upon to offer visitors a warm welcome!

So, I will be flying to England in a few days' time, where I will stay while my PhD Thesis is being examined. Then I will return to Cape Town in time to make any corrections needed to the Thesis, and for Graduation at UCT (he hopes!).

Yesterday evening I had a few drinks at La Med (see photo below) so I'm feeling a bit 'fuzzy' this morning. I'm glad there's a bit of cloud cover today, yesterday was roasting!

First thing I need to do is find coffee!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Good Morning Namibia!

In a bizarre twist of fate, we actually arrived in Windhoek an hour and a half early. I was woken from an awkward sleep by the tv monitors overhead, which burst into life at full volume to invoke the Lord's blessing upon all Intercape customers, and to ask that their relationships and careers be blessed too. All over tinkling piano music and background shots of Bambi-like deer and smiling children. I began to worry that we would be charged extra for all these blessings, and directed my gaze firmly out the window.

It was still dark when the coach dropped us off in the parking lot opposite the Kalahari Sands Hotel, and there wasn't much I could do except sit on the tarmac wrapped in my hoodie, and wait.

Random malformed figures hobbled out from the shadows, bleating something about driving me away with them. I politely refused.

Eventually, as the first glimmer of light started to turn the horizon blue, the bakkie from the guest lodge pulled up, and I remembered the driver from last time. Within minutes I was back at the lodge, being shown my room.

A quick shower and I hit the streets, walking along Robert Mugabe Avenue (seriously). I can never wait to get out and exlore a new place, and I'm still excited by Windhoek even though this is my second visit. I know from experience that the shops will be closing soon, after which I'll spend a quiet, but pleasantly hydrated evening in the bar. I wouldn't have a clue where to go out for a drink in this town, and the last thing I want to do is get lost wandering around a strange African town at night (although it wouldn't be the first time). Anyway, I've got plenty of reading and writing to do, and all day tomorrow to explore.

I haven't had much luck finding a charger for my phone yet, but I'll keep looking.
Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Friday, February 20, 2009

And into Namibia...

Well, paradoxically perhaps, getting into Namibia was a whole lot easier than getting out of South Africa. Got a 90 day Namibian Visa, no questions asked.

And now i'm back on the bus, and we're heading off into pitch darkness ...

My next update may have to wait till I get to Windhoek! But I will write again tomorrow.

Goodnight! :o)


It's 8:20pm, and i'm between the SA and Namibian border posts. After getting my passport stamped I was sent into a back room, where a uniformed man wearing white gloves said "I am now going to frisk you".

Having survived said frisk, we are now driving on to Namibian customs, where I anticipate similar shenanigans. It's all so much scarier in the dark ...


Well we pulled out of the Klawer services about half an hour ago, and from now on it's all Karoo.

It's the hottest part of the day, and the sun is thrashing down almost vertically upon our little coach, which must look like a tiny insect against such a vast and bleak backdrop. All the curtains are drawn across the windows to keep the sun out, and the aircon is on full blast.

But despite the external elements, these buses are pretty comfortable. And - luxury of luxuries - I have 2 seats to myself! So I can happily stretch out and munch away on my biltong.

This is normally about the time that they put the first movie on the little tvs overhead. What are the chances I'll be treated to a third screening of "Left Behind"?

My book on this trip is James Michener's "The Covenent", which i've been meaning to engage with for ages as i've been told it's very good. I haven't started it yet, but it will be great company in the early hours of the morning, when all the other passengers are asleep and i'm trundling alone through the middle of Namibia.

Just got an email from the guest lodge i'm staying at tomorrow night, confirming my booking. Same place as last time, Chameleon Guest Lodge in Voigt Road. I'll be ready for a drink when I get there I expect! Although I might avoid the G&T this time ...

Malmesbury Rest Stop

Malmesbury Rest Stop

We're making good progress so far. I had just enough time to jump out and buy a Crunchie and a bottle of water ...

Road Trip II: Windhoek Revisited

And here I am again, sitting in the Cape Town bus depot about to embark on that looooong journey to Windhoek.

Like last time, I'm only staying over for one night before heading back again. I guess you could describe it as an 'extreme' business trip.

This time, however, I haven't brought my PDA charger with me, so I'll have to be a bit more conservative with my battery usage. But I will try to blog as much as possible.

On this occasion, I did have enough time to get breakfast first, so i'm in a much better headspace this morning!

Well, a bus has just pulled in which could be mine. The drive is at least 22 hours each way, but as you may have read in my earlier blog, it can take much longer than that. Delays are common, especially going over the Namibian border and back.

But I remain optimistic, and if anything goes wrong, you can be sure i'll be bitching about it right here!

See you on the road!