Younger Every Day

Trip Start Aug 22, 2012
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Trip End Jun 16, 2013


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Flag of Namibia  , Erongo,
Sunday, April 7, 2013

Before I describe the journey to Swakopmund, please indulge me while I tell you about one of THE best experiences of the entire trip and maybe my life. For those who have seen my Facebook posts or who I have emailed about this already, it is old news. I have always wanted to do this and I finally did – I skydived!!

I went up in a Cessna with no side door, joined by another jumper from our G Adventure group, as well as a photographer for him and an instructor for each of us with whom we jumped tandem. Flying for about 20 minutes to get to an altitude of 10,000 feet, I wiggled up to the open door with Alfred attached to me (thankfully, because he had the parachute) and with no more than a wee inkling of hesitation I was free falling for 30 seconds at a speed of 220 km/hr! Wowsers! Then, with a jolt that felt like the worst wedgie you can imagine, the parachute opened and we began floating ethereally towards the ground. Those eight minutes felt like time stood still as I marvelled at the Namibian desert below me and all around, the clouds in the distance, the warm breeze on my face and the silence enveloping me. Squealing out an occasional expletive, I declared that I was born to do this!

The best part was that I didn't have to do the landing, which was what kept me from skydiving all these years due to an old knee injury. I just lifted my legs up and Alfred touched down. So, now how do I support this very expensive leisure pursuit?!

Live in the sunshine
Swim in the sea
Drink the wild air. (Emerson)

Namibia is a beeeoooutiful country with unique and ever-changing land and skyscapes. From the Waterberg National Park, Etosha (meaning white plains) National Park and the Namibian Desert, the least populated (2.1 million people) and Africa's youngest country, Namibia holds some of the most beautiful countryside with, as the Lonely Planet quips 'unlimited elbow room'. The skies extend endlessly in every direction with, in the daytime, a blue so blue it swallows me up and, at night, incredible stars that sit like a huge twinkling bowl over my head. It is an arid landscape with the Etosha Pan (a huge dry lakebed and salt flat) and deserts with dunes that are part of the oldest and driest ecosystems in the world. If you are interested in exploring a somewhat untouched country, come to Namibia!  Wow, that sounded like an advertisement but it wasn't. I just really love this country!

From Windhoek, we traveled north to Waterberg and then further north to Etosha. Both of the nights we stayed in Etosha, the two different campsites had waterholes for the animals to come at dusk and nighttime to drink. The park provides a viewing gallery where guests sit in silence behind a stone fence, waiting and watching for animals to show up. After dark there is a flood light to illuminate the watering hole. The first night we didn’t see much. The second night was spectacular with zebras wandering in single file silhouetted against the setting sun, reflections in the water and hooves clicking on the rocks. Next, a huge elephant in the early evening was lit up brightly against the blackness of the plains. After the elephant wandered into the night two, four, then six – yes SIX – rhinos drank, fought and generally hung about for about four hours! Jim, of course, had the stamina to stay and photograph this performance; I went to bed about 11:00pm while others in our group lasted until 2:00am and were rewarded with a giraffe, legs splayed while it bent over to drink from the pond.

We were skeptical about doing a game drive in Etosha in Zambezi, our G Adventure truck, without being in the open air as we have been in our other game drives.  It turned out to be okay. We had the advantage of being up high and had lots of room to move about although photographing through the small windows and not being open to the animals was frustrating. We saw lions, springboks, impalas, oryxes, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, many bird species (secretary, hawk, ostrich, etc.) and most exciting, a herd of elephants that, at one point, we thought one might be charging us. I felt completely safe in the truck only to find out later when I sat up front for a couple of hours with Stephan our driver, that in fact a charging elephant could knock the truck over! Nothing like a false sense of safety to lull you into complacency.

One other stop we made before getting to Swakopmond was in a UNESCO World Heritage site called Tweflefontein, where the water used to flow during the rainy season but hadn’t since 2010. This area is where the San Bushmen, who continue to speak a language using four variations of tongue clicks, did rock engravings that date back to 5000 years ago. It was so hot here that after our scorching tour of the engravings we stopped at a local resort that, as we drove up to it, looked like nothing but rocks and dust, and spent a couple hours in their small pool for the price of a cold beer. Perfect.

Heading from the interior of Namibia out to the Atlantic coast where we stopped at a beach to see a fairly recent shipwreck. This was the southernmost part of a stretch about 200km of what is called the Skeleton Coast – so named for the many shipwrecks along it. As we walked out to the beach, Wendy our leader kept warning us of the dangers of some of the locals who hung out at the beach and to stick together. I noticed she had picked up a small boulder and when I asked her about it, she smiled and said, "to protect the group". It was nice have someone watching out for us after so many months of being on our own.

Upon arrival in Swakopmund, we made decisions about our adventure activities for the following day which was skydiving for me and sandboarding photography for Jim. Our next excursion was a township tour which included meeting a local woman leader, learning about healing herbs from an herbalist, having a beer in a local tavern and listening to an acapella singing group, and finally eating some Mopani worms. Yes, I had a bite after the group cajoled me by saying, 'how can you jump out of a plane tomorrow and not be daring enough to eat a deliciously smoked caterpiller?' How could I argue with them? I took a bite. It was OK but I could not bring myself to eat the whole thing like some of the group were doing. In fact a few were downright chowing down on those chunky little guys.

Removing Jim’s and my ages from our group, the average age of this 21-day overland trip group is about 30 years old. Feeling 25 years younger after jumping, I decided I needed some lessons from my fellow 30-somethings. I learned about the French DJ, David Guetta whose song 'Sexy Bitch’ has inspired me (they hadn’t heard of my favourite DJ Stryke!), Bonnaroo - the famous music festival in Tennessee, the dance called the Harlem Shake and the movie Sugarman. For those readers in this age group, how am I doing? Got anything else I should know to pass as a 30 year-old? Seriously though, both Jim and I report feeling refreshed and rejuvenated (aka younger) having travelled for the past 8 months. Try it, you’ll like it.
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Comments

nora on

I just love reading your posts!!! i wish you could do nothing else but travel always and let us read about your adventures. They always make my day!!! your writing and Jim's pictures......you should be on a travel channel. Take care and enjoy the rest of your travels. Keep smiling and happy trails.

dar on

Amazing!!!

Basia on

Love seeing the animals, especially the elephants, and to know that you were in close prximity with each other. And the woman with the amazing red hair and tassle ornaments (?) - it's beautiful body art.

Then for something completely different, there the catepillar snack. Girlfriend, "Better you than me" is all I can say. Love your adventures and how you and Jim are sharing them with us all so generously.

Happy travels!

Sylvia Fairchild on

The writings, the pictures and you....incredible. Thanks again!

donnajimtravels
donnajimtravels on

Thanks for the comments, ladies! The 'body art' that the women were wearing is the red clay of the desert caked on them for the purpose of sunscreen and art - like we might wear our clothes or makeup. Isn't if beautiful? And wouldn't you rather wear that and be bra-less?! I sure would - I think :)

Trish O'Brien on

Awesome, Donna! It is all so beautiful......the experiences and the pictures......thanks again for sharing. I think that just about every post has brought tears to my eyes and to my soul. Good tears...... Continue safely on your journey.

Sue walker on

Dear Donna and Jim

I am playing catch up on your blog- You guys are AMAZING!
Love Sue xo

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