24 September 2009

Countries as Appetizers

Of all the reasons to travel, trying new foods is high on my list. Much thanks to foodie parents, I’ve adopted the “try everything once” attitude that served my plate and palate well around the globe. On the last day in Namibia, I went back to to K├╝cki’s Pub for round two of the most delectable, garlic infused and dripping with cheese, melt-in-your-mouth oysters that were so good you had to close your eyes while you slurped them out of the shell.

They were a definite step up from the fried cheese dripping with maple syrup that I ate in Brazil, though even that was unexpectedly delicious.

Namibian adventures concluded with that plate of oysters, but the world sampling would continue in South Africa.

15 September 2009

Starry Starry Night

Of his many profundities, Vincent VanGogh said, “For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” I’d like to think that he painted Starry Starry Night shortly after that statement. Although notorious and mass-produced around us, I do believe that its brush strokes have a mesmerizing, captivating effect; the piece is truly timeless.

VanGogh also said that when he felt the need for “religion” he would simply go and paint the stars. After camping in Africa, I think he’s on to something. And I think I'll write the stars instead...

The depths of remote and rocky Namibian desert yield stars galore, so many that night becomes day with the entire universe glowing above. When I close my eyes I still see that velvet blue sky speckled with yellow glimmers, free from trees or buildings or obstruction of any sort. Just thousands of bright dots above.

Flickering candles in white paper bags filled with sand illuminate the ground around me, creating ground paths to The Namib Marimbas band playing Namibia’s national anthem in the distance. I sit fireside between rock formations echoing the line of xylophones and drums. I awake in the morning wreaking of campfire soot, and wondering if I dreamed the entire scene.

01 September 2009


From makeshift soccer games to sand boarding the massive sand dunes that surround the country, skydiving over the desert, or even driving speedy cabs along the shoreline, Namibians are people in constant motion. They contrast their barren surroundings and make even the smallest towns seem sizable with bustle. In between the towns is when I become aware that I am in one of the least populated countries in the world.

The cab ride from Walvis Bay up the coast to Swakopmund is one of my more vivid memories from the entire voyage, perhaps because I became surrounded by 360 degrees of sand instead of water.

Only separated by a thin strip of highway, the white beach merges into skyscraping sand dunes. We travel a half hour before seeing any verve; finally we notice a tattered ship rocking next to a sandbar. Our cab driver crushes our excitement about a potential pirate ship, or signs of any life in general, when he tells us that the ship has been wrecked for more than two years.

We zoom further North through sand and dust clouds to arrive in Swakopmund, a beach resort spot with no tourists. During the week to follow hundreds of American students would mob the town’s variety of hostels, shoreline market, and three small bars that quickly ran out of tequila but seemed to produce an endless stream of Jagermeister. Once a province owned by Germany. Namibia maintains many of its colonial roots.

At sunset we walk past half-timber style buildings to The Tug Restaurant pier, which I later read about in a SkyAfrica on a plane in South Africa. The magazine rates the eatery as one of the top ten in the world to enjoy the sunset. It’s truly breathtaking. It’s so mesmerizing, in fact, that all I can write in my journal that night is picturesque pier.

Almost a year later those are still the only words I can think of.