It’s hard to believe that we have already spent a year here in Namibia. Even harder to believe is how much the world has changed since we first arrived. It’s so insane, it’s almost funny.
Despite all the heartache and uncertainty, there have been some really great moments. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite things from our last turn around the sun in Namibia:
- Our house: This is the first time in the Foreign Service that our house has truly felt like home. It’s not as big as our last house, and the space is much more usable and I love it. We’ve also reached “peak kitchen” with this house; I will never live in another house with a kitchen this big or with this much storage. Sure the range is electric rather than gas, but I honestly don’t even care because everything else is so great. This entire house has so much built-in storage it’s amazing. And it has a GARAGE!
- Oysters along the coast: Yes, you can also get oysters in Windhoek, but there’s something about the sea air and the sound of the waves when you’re eating oysters along the coast that just makes them that much more enjoyable. I had no idea that oysters were a thing in Namibia. It’s glorious.
- Visits to Etosha National Park: Whether it’s seeing lions out the car window, rhinos crossing the road in front of us, or elephants at the watering hole at sunset, Etosha never disappoints. I will never forget the first time we saw lions in Etosha. We were driving along a quiet dirt road and I said “Go slowly, this looks like the perfect spot for lions.” Then, I kid you not, one minute later I saw a lion snoozing under a tree. I literally screamed. It was so incredible.
- The sundowner game drive at Gocheganas: If there’s anything better than drinking gin and tonics with white rhinos, giraffes, and wildebeest, with the sun setting over the mountains in the background, I honestly don’t know what it could possibly be. We did our first Gocheganas sundowner game drive about a week after arriving. It was our first “holy shit wow” moment in Namibia. We did the same drive a few months later with our first visitor and it was just as incredible. More so, even, since we were sharing it with one of our best friends.
- Sammy the giraffe at Omaruru Game Lodge: The style of conservation at this lodge is a little different from other places in Namibia and the wild animals are somewhat…. tame. You can feed apples to the elephants on game drives and you can pet Sammy the giraffe. Whether or not you agree with this strategy, I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of fun and M absolutely loved it.
- The birds in Namibia: I’ve always enjoyed watching birds, but before moving to Namibia I’d never gone out of my way to take a picture of one. (Except for maybe a bald eagle here or there). The birds here are amazing. Colorful, interesting, noisy, enormous, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s incredible. And I have some decent photos of them.
- Learning how to braai: I had no idea that grilling could be such a cultural phenomenon. But it is! And it’s awesome. A traditional braai is done with wood; you get the fire going in a box-thing and then you rake the coals under the grate, the height of which is usually adjustable. Plus most braais have a hook for your potjie (pronounced “POY-key;” it’s essentially a spherical cast iron pot with legs). When we get our braai going we usually cook a lot of food because it’s more labor intensive than grilling in a Weber. We have several potjie pots of varying sizes and we’re always on the lookout for new recipes.
- Camping at Spitzkoppe: Spitzkoppe was the first place we camped in Namibia, and it’s the only place we’ve camped at more than once. It’s stunningly beautiful and so much fun to explore. The campsites are more minimalist than most other campsites, with no running water, electricity, tables or shade, but it’s just the best.
I could keep going. But these are the things that are unique to Namibia or that I found surprising/unexpected. We’ve done a ton during our first year here, but it also feels like so much was cancelled, rescheduled or cut short. I’m just glad we have another two years to keep exploring!