The Journey to Namibia

The journey was long, longer and very long. Heathrow was it’s usual confusing self with much inspection of shoes and random packing and unpacking of hand-luggage by disinterested security peoples.

The flight to Johannesburg was 10+ hours in cattle class alleviated only by the on-demand entertainment system fitted to the seat in front. Of course I had a dodgy audio socket and had only right-side sound which would break up randomly every time I moved. The seats were designed to be as uncomfortable as possible and although the person in front’s seemed to recline about 90 degrees right back into my lap my seat went about a millimetre and then stopped.

It turns out the entertainment system runs on Linux which is cool. I found this out when they had to reboot it twenty minutes from the end of Australia which I then had to fast-forward (at double-speed) all the way through.

Going through the transit at Johannesburg made me think fondly of Heathrow. South Aftican Airways it turns out are mostly on strike and the few staff they did have on duty seemed to be dedicated to directing me in sleep-deprived walking zombie mode to the wrong bits of the airport rather than manning the check-in desks.

Having eventually managed to convince the staff I really didn’t want to go through customs and enter SA there was only an hour or so stood in an increasingly ill-tempered queue for boarding passes.

The five hours in the airport mainly consisted of trying to stay awake and being ripped off for drinks (both in the asking price and again in the lack of change given – my first African robbery but it was less than a quid so I didn’t complain).

By a stroke of luck I was seated next to a fellow VSO for the two hour hop to Windhoek (we had missed each other on the longer flight) who knew a few of the VSO people I had done courses with.

One of my defining memories of my last African trip to Botswana was the blast-furnace like heat stepping off the plane. Not so this time – it was barely warmer than the air-con in the cabin even through the sun was shining.

Much usual customs fun and eventually managed to get in via the Diplomatic Entry Desk (obviously going up in the world). We were met in arrivals ok and recovered baggage all intact as well as picking up another vol who was on the same flight.

Not only was it far cooler than I expected but also everything was green and lush. This was explained as a result of the freakish unseasonal rains that had just been hitting and we saw plenty of evidence as we drove in over roads that had in part almost entirely been washed away.

The area around the airport had the “tabletop” feel to it like Botswana – totally flat apart from the mountains but Windhoek is pretty much all over the place.

The other two were dropped off at their guest house where I also found a friend of mine from VSO training courses who had sadly lost her luggage but was dealing with it very well! (She has finally received her case this evening after two days in limbo and in borrowed clothes).

I’m staying at a place called Tucsin in a twin-room with an en-suite. Very nice.

Having zip-tied myself out of my luggage and needing to stay awake (I was now at 30 hours or so up) I decided to wander to the supermarket mentioned in my welcome back – just along Robert Mugabe Avenue and then up Nelson Mandela Drive. This I accomplished without getting lost or mugged which was nice.

I managed to buy a knife and eventually some mobile phone credit (not in the supermarket or the garage – from the video store obviously).

Got back and found a Canadian couple were also in the same place already so we chatted and hung around until the VSO staff drove us into town for a welcome dinner.

Nice meal for about a tenner including tips etc (each that is) and early to bed. Lay down and blinked – it was nine o’clock the next morning.


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