Influencing Windhoek

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This blog entry about the events of Sunday, March 28, 2004 was originally posted on March 29, 2004.

DAY 162:  Windhoek, capital city of Namibia, like Cape Town, South Africa, is a modern city which reflects its historical past.  During the late nineteenth century, when all the European nations were scrambling for colonial territories in Africa the way last-minute shoppers scramble for gifts on Christmas Eve, the territory which was later known as Namibia became a German colony.  Despite the rebellions from the indigenous Herero and Nama tribes, the Germans conquered with their big guns — that is, until after WWI when they were conquered by the South African army.  (They probably had bigger guns.)

The territory was then known as South West Africa and South Africa desperately wanted to annex it as a part of them.  When the United Nations refused the annexation, South Africa did the next best thing:  influence the area with its then apartheid ways.  For most of the twentieth century, the political battle went back and forth:  the UN helping to keep the South Africans out so the territory could become an independent country (it was finally named “Namibia” in 1973); and the South African government attempting to win back the territory like a desperate boy/girlfriend that just got dumped and won’t stop calling for forty years.  (Can you say “stalker?”)

Despite the fact that Namibia went democratic with a new constitution in 1990, I saw that the South African influence was still present in the country, at least in Windhoek.  Afrikaans was a spoken language and even South African’s currency, the rand, was in widely-accepted use.  (One rand = one Namibian dollar.)  As my transport to the hostel took me through the downtown area, passed the Supreme Court building and the shopping areas, I saw the same store names that I had seen in Cape Town:  Checkers, Pick ‘N Pay, Mr Price.  Like Cape Town, some of the architecture was still in a colonial motif, only German instead of Dutch.


CHAMELEON BACKPACKERS, in its new and more central location, was a clean and newly-constructed mini-resort with bungalows, a pool (picture above), TV lounge, kitchen, internet, pool table, bar and a dog named “Burn” that was really good at playing dead — all for just $10 (USD) with a dorm bed.  We had arrived early, before check-out time for the previous night’s guests, leaving me and another solo traveler that I met from the bus to wait around.  He was Rhys, a Welsh guy from the U.K. on working holiday for six months in Cape Town, taking a “holiday from his holiday” in neighboring Namibia so that he could reset his tourist visa when going back to South Africa.  We arrived just in time for complimentary breakfast, which included toast and two eggs that you had cook yourself.  Despite the fact that I was American and Rhys was British, it was me who had Marmite — Rhys had good ol’ American peanut butter and jelly.  Apparently influences weren’t just between South Africa and Namibia.


THROUGHOUT THE “RESORT” were signs posted that further made me see the similarities between Cape Town and Windhoek:

TRY THE WINDHOEK EXPERIENCE

BRING A BAG INTO TOWN AND GET MUGGED AT KNIFEPOINT
IT’S EASY — IT’S FREE!!

WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT QUICKLY?

TAKE YOUR VALUABLES ONTO ANY STREET CORNER OF WINDHOEK
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY

IS YOUR BAGGAGE IN LIFE TOO HEAVY?

BRING IT INTO TOWN AND GET RELIEVED OF IT

Having gone through a knife point mugging myself in Cape Town, I wasn’t about to take any chances and just left my passport and camera in a safe.

There wasn’t much to take pictures of anyway when I ventured downtown to mail out the airline tickets I was trying to get refunded on.  While Windhoek had the same stores as Cape Town, there wasn’t much else; no waterfront, no Table Mountain, no nearby beaches.  If you didn’t know you were in Africa, you’d probably think you were in some small generic Western city.  To escape the generic Western Windhoek World during the three days before my scheduled safari, I looked into day trips with Morne, guy tending bar at the backpackers.  He made some calls for me, but it seemed that most tours weren’t available due to a lack of staff or client quota to make it worthwhile. 

In the meantime, I drank at the bar, did some blogging, made tuna sandwiches and met fellow travelers — not necessarily in that order.  Most of my day was spent vegging out with others in the TV lounge watching American movies:  Gladiator, The Lion King, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Six Days, Seven Nights.  With the movies of Hollywood and the fact that there was a big Bally’s casino in the center of town and a KFC down the block, I thought perhaps the South African influence was losing ground to the American one.






Next entry: The New Lost American Generation

Previous entry: Escape From The Cape




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Comments for “Influencing Windhoek”

  • How can I possibly be FIRST?
    I feel dirty.

    Posted by dunlavey  on  03/29  at  06:46 AM


  • NIKKIJ:  Wow, thanks for the generous donation!  I have yet to find that perfect postcard of a baboon’s ass… but I am on the case!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  07:04 AM


  • SCOTT:  Dude, thanks for your donation!  Glad to have provided you with at least 10 minutes of sanity a day.  Now pack your bags and get out into the world again!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  07:07 AM


  • DUNLAVEY:  Wow, thanks for the donation!  I don’t know what’s more shocking, receiving it or hearing that you actually got A JOB.  Congrats!

    Look out for that “special” postcard that I sent out from Cape Town.  It’s total office refrigerator magnet material.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  07:09 AM


  • Erik… whats your yahoo address? My jersey is on its way! Yippee! Also, I’m arriving in Nairobi on June 12th… 1st stop - Kilimanjaro.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  08:17 AM


  • wow…are we in delaware again?

    hahahah, i’m sooooo excited…..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  08:18 AM


  • waahah. are those real signs up in the resort? you should have taken photos of those signs. i like them. you should also make them into cafepress shirts. i am sure people would buy them. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  11:04 AM


  • I always wondered how to pronouce “Vindhook.”

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  12:10 PM


  • Blog readers - keep sending those donations!  Note that Erik is eating tuna sandwiches today instead of instant noodles…. this is a good thing smile

    Posted by Liz  on  03/29  at  12:46 PM


  • ramen noodles with tuna is even better!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  01:31 PM


  • ramen noodles with hot dogs is the best!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  01:45 PM


  • Hey Erik, i finally saw Ian Wright for the first time last night, i can totally see you taking HIS job over wink haven’t caught up in my reading. hope your having fun and see ya at the pool wink

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  01:47 PM


  • alice & Markyt: I say Ramen & SPAM !!! is the best !

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  02:00 PM


  • alice & Markyt: I say Ramen & SPAM !!! is the best !

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  02:00 PM


  • I could see you taking Ian Wright’s job also.  Isn’t that globetrekker?  I love that show.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  02:49 PM


  • nah. spam is better as a spamwich. or stir-fried into fried rice. spam, spam, spam, spam, spammity, SPAM!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/29  at  10:00 PM


  • Some ramen with sesame-miso broth, a few roasted pork slices and ramen vegetables (bamboo shoots and the like)... now that’s the ultimate best! 
    Spam??  Ewwwww.  smile

    Posted by Liz  on  03/30  at  12:55 AM


  • Erik trinidad, you’re my hero.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/30  at  11:34 AM


  • MICHELLE:  My email addy is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) ...

    Mt. Kili, June 1st?  I’m to be there just a couple of weeks before to do the climb…  I wonder if there’s a way for us to meet up there…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/30  at  12:10 PM


  • MARKYT / ALICE / LIZ:  Concerning food…  Tuna ROCKS here.  Right in the can, they have different tuna salads already mixed up for you.  I’ve tried most of them so far—w/ garlic and herb mayo; mediterranean style—but the ultimate BEST (I just had it now) is tuna in a curry and pineapple sauce.  It’s like having Thai food out of a can… plus no can opener needed, it’s a pull-tab!

    I think the Africans are ahead of us on this one…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/30  at  12:13 PM


  • NIKKIJ / SARA:  Concerning Ian Wright…  Yeah, “Globe Trekker” used to be the “Lonely Planet” show on Discovery until PBS bought it out last year and changed the name… Most of the episodes are from the old set, filmed in 1999-2000, but new ones were made just in 2003 with Ian and Justine.  So I’m told, one of the new ones had Ian in New York City, skating in the Central Park summer roller disco.

    IAN FANS / CANADIANS:  Ian has a monthly column in Canada’s Outpost magazine.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/30  at  12:18 PM


  • WHEAT:  Hahaha… whenever that line comes on, I think of you every time…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  03/30  at  12:19 PM


  • Glad you got out of Cape Town.  I hate it myself.  I haven’t heard from my friend yet.  When exactly are you going ot be in Jo’burg?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/03  at  05:26 PM


  • LAURA:  Because of the mugging / flight cancellation fiasco, I am no longer going to Jo’burg… I’ll be traveling to Malawi overland using public transport and/or hitching…

    Thanks anyway!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/07  at  06:44 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
The New Lost American Generation

Previous entry:
Escape From The Cape




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