The guessing game is over. In the unlikely event that you haven’t figured it out already, I spent the Christmas and New Years holidays in Namibia.
Me in Namibia on Christmas morning. There was a lot of sand there. (Photo: Michelle Stern)
I was in Namibia for ten days, traveling around by car with my friend Michelle. We visited three major destinations: the beach town of Swakopmund and its surrounding area, Etosha National Park, and the Waterberg Wilderness (plus one night in Windhoek on each end).
These three places were all amazing, but my favorite part of the trip was all the quirky stuff we saw in between destinations. My first official Namibia post is devoted to Namibian quirk. Enjoy.
The first quirky place we visited, on our drive from Windhoek to Swakopmund, was the Henkert Tourist Centre in the small town of Karibib. (We visited lots of small Namibian towns.) There were great local crafts there. I bought a beautiful tiger’s eye necklace for $N64 (about $8) — semiprecious stones are a signature craft in Namibia. But my favorite thing in the shop was this hilarious mannequin in traditional Herero dress.
Usakos was the next small Namibian town after Karibib. Usakos was a pretty boring place except for this B&B sign, which I had to photograph for obvious reasons.
Several miles outside Usakos, we came upon a small compound in the middle of the desert with a sign that said “Gem Market”. It looked interesting so we stopped. This is what we found inside. I bought a translucent blue and yellow stone for N$20 ($2.50).
Cute kids at the gem market. I loved it there.
The matriarch of the gem market.
Donkey cart outside the gem market. Awesome.
On Christmas morning we took a half-day drive from Swakopmund to the seal colony at Cape Cross. A mile or two south of Cape Cross, there are a bunch of random metal tables along the roadside with blocks of salt on them. Each table has a metal can on it for collecting money. These mysterious unattended salt tables delighted me to no end. I chose a block of salt from the cutest table and put a Namibian dollar coin in the money can. I touched my tongue to the block; it was salty.
My favorite salt table. After making my purchase, I placed the salt block in the pocket behind the passenger seat of the car and we drove off. I wound up leaving the salt in the seat pocket for the rest of the trip, and forgot to take it with me when I returned the hire car at Windhoek Airport. Oh well. I’m not sure what I would have done with it anyway.
On our way back from the seal colony we stopped to check out this shipwreck outside of Henties Bay. This part of the Namibian coast is known for shipwrecks, which is why it’s called the Skeleton Coast. This ship was already destined to become scrap metal when it got stuck here in 2008. Here’s the story if you’re interested, although it’s not as exciting as I’d hoped. I’ve never seen a shipwreck before though, so it was cool.
Our longest drive of the trip was between Swakopmund and Etosha. We drove for hours and hours on empty desert roads. It was an exhausting journey but worth it for the things we saw along the way, like this hilarious rest stop between Henties Bay and Uis. We had to stop and stage a photoshoot.
This sign is not a joke. Apparently there really are wild desert elephants wandering around this part of the country sometimes. Sadly, we did not see any.
We had just stopped to admire the elephant sign outside Uis and weren’t looking to stop again. But then we passed this shack in the middle of nowhere, with two Herero women waving to us and twirling around in their stunning traditional dresses. We couldn’t pass them by.
The women make bracelets and traditional Herero dolls.
I bought a doll. At first I thought I might give it to someone as a gift. But then I decided I love it too much to give away.
When driving from Etosha to the Waterberg, we stopped in a quirky town called Tsumeb. It was a Sunday and the day before New Years Eve, so almost nothing was open. But fortunately the Minen Hotel was open for lunch. Michelle and I both loved it there — good food, great service, lovely atmosphere. If you ever find yourself in Tsumeb, please go there. And have the chicken schnitzel.
Garden ornament at the Minen Hotel. We saw this quirky statue all over Namibia. What’s the deal? Anyone know what it’s about?
A collage of quirky animal crossing signs. I can’t get enough of these.
So ends my tour of quirky Namibia. More Namibia posts to come.