New Year’s Eve

We had another early morning for a game drive viewing. Inger and Anders chose not to go; I think they were smart to stay back and relax longer. The drive was relaxing this time we scored a big male lion. Again, there were dozens of zebras, giraffes, and many different birds. It is funny for all of the zebras and giraffes we have seen, I never get over their beauty. Bruce told us that zebras carry up to 200 liters of water in their stomachs causing their stomachs to look extended. Due to this weight, they have weak backs; therefore, if one were to try to ride one, it would cause immediate damage. Bruce was in the back with us. The driver lasted for an hour and a half, thirty minutes longer than it should have since John lost track of time. This put Bruce off schedule and he was upset for ten minutes. When we got back to camp, we had breakfast then off we went. Destination today is Windhoek. Windhoek is the capital of Namibia. From tour info, I discovered that Windhoek is the biggest city in the country with 15,000 inhabitants. The city lies at an altitude of 1650 meters in a beautiful valley bordered by the Eros Mountains in the north and the Auas mountains in the south. Towards the west, stretches the Khomas Highland to the Namib and the coast. Windhoek combines the modern city architectural style with that of the German colonial era. The city is, for an African town, still very clean and a bit provincial, although the atmosphere does have cosmopolitan flare as well. The influence of the German language and culture is, in many ways, still present. There are German restaurants where one can have traditional German dishes, bread and beer, and even celebrate the German carnival. Although English is the official language, one can use German just about anywhere. We have a long drive ahead, though it seems like we have already driven for a hundred hours today already, before we stopped for a stretch and bathroom break. We drove again until we reached an area with dozens of outdoor stalls selling various crafts. There was another very lovely tree to provide glorious shade for our lunch stop. The vendors from the stalls descended on us like a plague, but most of what they were peddling was too large to cart around, so they did not make many sales. Besides, everyone was tired and on edge from the long drive. There has not been any extensive interaction since the Rasmussons left us in Swapokmund. We all mention missing them. After getting packed up from lunch, we headed on to Windhoek, a surprisingly lovely and modern city. Perhaps, we can thank the Germans for this. Our first stop here was to drop off Dirk and Harm, more good-byes. They leave us here, but they will be joining us for dinner tonight in town. The plan was to stay at Pension Cori (www.pension-cori-namibia.com), a motel type pension with lovely rooms. Ours had four beds divided two by two with a partial wall between them. I thought we would have to share, but we had it all to ourselves. The area with the two beds closest to the bathroom were darker, so we used those to keep the morning sun from waking us. We had some relaxation time, but there was nowhere to walk to from where the pension was located, plus it was New Year’s Eve and everything had closed. There is a lovely covered patio in the gardens area of the pension grounds, but the bugs were vicious, so we did not last long. Here we had two more new people join us. Markus and Bettina, a young couple from Germany were waiting for us at the pension. They will join us until the end of the trip. The plan was to go to Joe’s Beer House for dinner, a restaurant well suited with its jungle/African theme décor. We had one long table to sit all together, including Dirk and Harm who joined up with us again for dinner. The menu had many game animals to choose from: oryx, kudo, ostrich, zebra, springbok, and crocodile. For me, I could not eat anything that I had seen prancing around on a game drive, so my choice was the pork knuckle, crispy and huge. Ron had a steak, from a cow. Wilfred and Ineke were sitting across from us and we had an enjoyable evening chatting, eating good food, and feeling the holiday merriment. Dinner gave us ample opportunity to refresh our mental energies and rebuild the camaraderie we had. Bruce had made a speech about how he has had good and bad groups of tours. He appreciated the variety in our nationalities and the way we all came together, blending so well. As a group, we left the restaurant in taxis at 10:30 to return to the pension. We were going to have a glass of champagne together and then the party people were going to a nightclub for New Year’s celebrations. By the time we all were able to get back with the string of taxis, it was after 11:00. Those who were going to continue to celebrate out, took taxis to the club, while the rest of us stayed put. Inger, Anders, Hans, Suzy, John, Ron, and I stayed behind. We cracked open another bottle of champagne, waited for midnight, toasted, and went to bed. There was a television in our room, so we watched a show with Barry Manilow. That was a blast from the past. He never stopped singing, so we were not sure if it was a New Year’s Special or just a concert being broadcast. The room was blissfully comfortable, so it was a great night’s rest.