Vacation in civilization!
Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
127Trip End Aug 01, 2007
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We've spent the last few days in Swakopmund enjoying the city life after being out in the bush for most of the last few weeks. Swakopmund is a really interesting town and a great illustration of Namibia's checkered history. Namibia was a German colony until the end of WWI when South Africa was given jurisdiction of the territory. It wasn't until 1990 that Namibia became fully independent of South African control. Swakopmund reflects this past by being a town of full of cute, historic German architecture, populated by African people speaking English and Khoisa (a southern African language distinctive for its use of "clicks") and whites speaking German, English, or Afrikaans (the Dutch inspired language originating in South Africa). It makes for a very interesting scene that combined with the cool sea air makes easy to forget you are in Africa. We've been thoroughly enjoying the coffee shops, well-stocked supermarkets, fast Internet, great restaurants, and amenities the town has to offer
Soon after arriving, we used a few local healthcare providers to diagnose and treat Katie's inflamed eye. We were thoroughly impressed! It was cheaper, faster, friendlier, and technologically superior to care she would have received at home! I guess the fact that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chose to have their baby here should indicate the health care system can't be too bad! Anyway, Katie is doing far better now and should be completely back to normal in a week or so.
In the last few days we've also had a great time enjoying some of the adventure activities the area has to offer. We opted to pass on the skydiving but over half of our overland group did it, including two guys in their late fifties! We celebrated Thanksgiving Day by spending a few hours doing a quad bike tour through the dunes surrounding much of the town. Fun stuff! Katie was a little hesitant at first but picked it up fast. Within a few minutes she was at full throttle and barreling by me! I think she might have missed her calling as a motocross rider!
Since I'm missing the ski season this year I decided to try the closest substitute I could find in southern Africa, sandboarding
Getting covered in sand wouldn't be helpful to Katie's eyes healing so she opted to go to a local spa instead for a manicure, pedicure, and massage. Not that I blame her, my legs are so sore after all the hiking that I needed a massage!
So we are back on the overland truck tomorrow as we head out of Swakopmund bright and early. With the start of the second leg, we've had five people head home and three new passengers join up. We are going to be heading back into northern Namibia to have the last of our big game safaris in Etosha National Park before heading south then eventually arriving in Cape Town on the 9th of December
This town defies every mental image you might have of Africa. It really reminiscent of the New England area, with a really cute lighthouse, large rocks on the shore, and pine trees everywhere (see pics). There are tons of amazing seafood restaurants, cute stores, and coffee shops. We have really enjoyed the freedom to walk and laze around on our own schedule after two weeks on the overland truck!
I am amazed at the quality of medical care in this town. The eye doctor's office was extremely modern, and all of the people working in the office were genuinely nice. He had the most high tech eye equipment I have ever seen, and it was all hooked through his computer. After he put dye in my eye and took all of the necessary readings, he showed me a digital readout of the scratches on the surface of my eye. Really cool stuff! All of this cost the equivalent of $12 USD. Shows what happens when the docs don't have to concern themselves with HMOs and malpractice insurance! Anyhow, I have been using prescription drops now for the last four days, and in a few days I should be back to normal
Once Todd cut his hair off, I started to feel like I looked like a scumbag because he was looking so clean cut. So, I decided that a day at the spa was just the ticket to feeling super clean and tidy. Five hours later, I emerged fully massaged, plucked, picked, waxed, filed, clipped, and painted and felt like a completely different person. Because the exchange rate is so favorable here for the US dollar, all of these treatments combined were the deal of the century at $75. Even better than the great deal is the fact that my toenail polish is "dirt" colored, so hopefully my feet will stay looking clean through the next leg of the trip!