Swakopmund

I woke up cold.

Looking upat a pink sun-rise sky.A half moon.And surrounded by glowing orange rocks.It was still only 6am.But everyone seems to be in the habit of getting upearly.After a bit of not wanting to get out of the warm sleeping bag, we had to get up and pack up.As we haveno water, baby wipes and dry shampoo had to do.We sat back around the campfire for breakfast. Watching the glowing red rocks as Ihad porridge and musli.They even cooked up toast on the glowing embers.And some vegetariansausages on the gas ring.

Then by 7.30am we were on the road again, saying goodbye to the cool rockformations and back out into flat scrublands.We stopped briefly for a bathroom breakat a small market.They were selling lots of different coloured rocks and gemstones.This whole area used to be a popular mining area.

And that was the end of the bumpy road. Strange to be back on flat tarmac again!

We arrived into the city of Swakopmund around 10.30am. A city in the middle of the desert. And an old German colonial town. Totally weird.

It was also overcast and chilly.

We are staying at a hostel. First up we were given a briefing about the activities that we could do over the next few days. Then after a bit of hanging around, we had lunch at the side of the truck. Only bread and salad for me.

Our rooms were ready at 12.30pm. All the girls – 16 of us – were in one dorm. It was nice though, the beds were split into 3 different areas. So comfy. And there were showers. It was only basic, but felt like absolute luxury.

After not being able to shower yesterday at Spitzkoppe, it was so good to be clean.

Then for a walk around. It was warmer now. We went down the Main Street – full of different shops. Tourist souvenirs. Then ice cream – and they had vegan ones! I had passion fruit and guava. It was ok. Not Italian gelato. But definitely better than nothing.

We made it to the coast. The Atlantic Ocean. It wasn’t that exciting – cold water and the smell of seaweed.

But just behind the ocean, a large car park area full of craft market. All the usual African market stuff – paintings, jewellery and everything in wood: animals, bowls, flat carvings.

I didn’t come with the intention of buying anything. But ended up with a cool zebra bowl. And a massive elephant.

The elephant was a bit of a joke. I was just looking at some, which were so heavy. The guy heard me say it was a bit heavy and he comes running over with a lighter one. His starting price was 1,400 (around £75). If that was his starting price, I couldn’t be bothered to even try bartering. But he asked me my price and I told him 400 (£20). He didn’t seem too shocked, which surprised me (I probably still went too high). He tried for an extra 50(£2.50). But in the end went for 400. Felt like quite a good deal.

We went out for dinner as a group. To a nearby Italian restaurant. There was nothing I could eat on the menu, so ordered pizza with no cheese. But it wasn’t very good. The base wasn’t fresh, it was shop bought and not that nice. Shame.

It was late when we left, about 10pm. Walking through the dark, quiet streets didn’t feel that safe. But we made it.

Friday 10 November 2017

Seems to be a bit of a theme. We didn’t have to leave until 8.30am. But yet again, someone had a 6am alarm going off. Not funny anymore. I am tired.

It was cold and drizzly. Apparently the normal weather for Swakopmund.

We were picked up to go quad biking. It was only a short drive out of town to the base – literally could have walked in 10 minutes.

We signed our lives away. Then were fitted with helmets.

I was scared.

Which is pathetic really.

Our quads were sitting waiting for us. So we hopped on. And were given a brief intro on how to use them. Essentially there was an accelerate lever and some brake levers. We didn’t need the other buttons – we were operating them in automatic.

The first section was a tarmac road, just to get used to them. Only for about a minute! Then out onto the sand.

We were following each other. One behind the other. Leaving a space of at least 5 meters. There was a guide at the front, and at the back.

We started off slowly. About 15 miles per hour. Gradually going up to 20. After a while, they started increasing the speed. The fastest I got to was 40. But spent most of the time between 20-30.

There were some parts of the dunes that you could drive up the side of and come back down in a semi circle. I wasn’t going to try that initially. But as I got more confident, I gave it a go.

Essentially we were on sand-roads. Highways through the dunes. We weren’t going ‘off road’. The area is a protected reserve, so you aren’t allowed off the main pathway. Which is fine – it felt safer.

Our group was big – 12 of us. So they split us into 2 groups. I ended up in the kiddies group (the not so good people). Which was fine. We stayed slower and on the less steep dunes.

We saw a few snakes. The guy let us get off and have a look at it.

We stopped again to get off, on the top of a large dune. So had great views of all the surrounding dunes around us.

We were out for 2 hours. Which I thought was going to be ages. But actually it didn’t feel that long. It took me nearly an hour to be more confident and realise that I wasn’t going to injure myself.

It was around 11.30am by the time we were dropped back at our hotel.

For lunch, I had spotted a vegan cafe yesterday. Incredibly exciting. The menu looked amazing. I chose a bowl with brown rice, beetroot and sweet potato, hummus and spicy beans. But then we waited. And waited. And waited. While eating ekanga seeds. For nearly an hour and a half. It was ridiculous.

That was African time and a half.

It was good. But left us all feeling rather annoyed.

For the afternoon, I wanted to do nothing. We haven’t had any spare time yet for the past week. And waiting for lunch had taken up a lot of my nothing time.

I wrote postcards. Deleted photos. And sorted out my stuff.

I was going to head back out again for dinner. I was too tired and didn’t feel too hungry. But I got dragged out.

We ended up at the Indian restaurant. Random place. Indian, but decorated very African.

The food was delicious. I had a samosa. And a chickpea curry with naan bread. They even had vegan things marked on the menu. Immense. And very authentic Indian tasting.

When we got back, it was time for bed.

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