Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Weekend

This past Easter weekend I hiked with some friends to Rundu, a town in north east Namibia on the Kunene river immediately south of the Angolan border. We were lucky and caught a ride with a car for the 3-hour drive South to Tsumeb and then caught a kombi (an oversized van filled with an impossibly large number of impossibly small seats) north through Grootfontein to Rundu for another 4-hour drive. We were fortunate to have had such luck finding our hikes, and managed to make it to Rundu before dark. We met Kevin at his school, and then toured around the town before stopping at a lodge overlooking the river for dinner. I had a delicious kudu steak with chips and salad.
The next morning we shopped for camping food and goods throughout town and then hiked with a kombi two hours out of Rundu to Divundu. We waited for an hour at the local gas station to be picked up by the camp site Ngepi where we were staying. We rode in the back of a pickup to camp in the dark for the next thirty minutes. Riding in the back of pickups is one of my favourite experiences in Namibia. It feels free. Standing up, resting my hands on the hood, while the homesteads, sand, palms and oshanas fly by. My hair flying around my face like a mane, flies pelleting my face like litte kamikaze pilots.
We arrived at the camp in pitch blackness and found Alana and Tomas fighting with the fire, attempting to boil water. As we set up our tents, Imms, Rachel's boyfriend from Ogongo, had the fire blazing in no time. After enjoying a dinner of pasta, and what we thought was a near-hippo encounter from the river, less than 5 meters away, we made our way to the lodge bar and had some drinks with the locals and tourists there. I saw my first bush baby, swinging from a tree at eye-level in one of the outdoor toilets (all ablution facilities were outdoor there, and were absolutely exotic and beautiful with trees and flowers and shrubbery – little toilet oases). The bush baby is now my new favourite animal. It sprung between trees right in front of my face and it took all my restraint not to reach out, grab him and wear him on my shoulder like a new-age Namibian pirate.
The next morning we went on a boat ride up the river where we saw some illusive hippos in the weeds, taunting us by remaining frustratingly only partially visible. The river is beautiful and bordered by so many shades of green, in sharp contrast to the white starkness of the sandy central north. Something about being on the river was so calming to me; all my life I have lived near a body of water, and these past two years I have missed it.
Unfortunately, the long weekend was not long enough, when you factor in a day of travel time each way. On Monday Rachel, Imms and I made our way back to Ovamboland and I arrived back at home around 5pm. No turkey dinners or egg-hunts, but I had a very satisfying Easter holiday with my Namibian family.

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