Travel is an empowering verb. To travel is to challenge yourself, often to fail miserably, but also to find new self-respect in those moments when you master(ish) a new language, a new subway system or a new form of chili. Traveling forces you to put yourself out there and take stances on issues you didn’t know existed.
The downside of all this travel-induced decision making is that you can become a little too proud of standing on your own two feet. You feel like the master of the universe the day you can use a long drop without blinking an eye. You can take on the world the day you convince a Nigerian customs agent to let you through without your passport. You become a little too comfortable with knowing you’ll get from A to B, even if you don’t know exactly how.
By now you should know that I love wine. In fact friends and family are starting to call me a wino, but I’m sure that’s just a joke (?). Naturally I take no responsibility for my own actions. Rather, I blame Cape Town for this. After all it’s not my fault that I happen to live in the world’s best wine county. I mean, what else am I supposed to do – drink beer [laughs hysterically]? So it should be no surprise that I have spent many a weekend afternoon sipping away on one of the gorgeous wine farms in the area (it definitely beats exercising). And my favourite one? Well, glad you asked ‘cause it’s a beauty: Vrede en Lust.
Who knew Hout Bay was cool? Not me. I’ve always liked Hout Bay, Cape Town. But in more the sleepy fisherman’s hangout way. It has gorgeous scenery and the harbour is a cute place to spend the afternoon. But the idea of spending a night – a precious Friday night – in Sleepy Shipville seemed strange to me. Until I met Hout Bay’s hottest new arrival, Kitima.
I hesitate to call this a food post. After all this is not even remotely close to being a food blog. I may talk about trying new foods as a by-product of traveling, but it is a very low priority by-product. It’s really more something I say than do because it’s something you’re supposed to say in travel blogs. You see, I am not a Foodie. In fact, I am probably a Foodie’s worst nightmare. I know how to cook exactly nothing and have no interest in learning any more. While I enjoy nice food, it’s really the food I enjoy more than its adjective. “Nice” to me means anything satisfying at that particular moment. Given that I tend to only think of food when I am already past Hungry and heading towards Starving, “nice” translates to “instantaneous”. I may appreciate a gourmet French soufflé, but I enjoy McDonald’s just as much. I’d say on average I consume fast food burgers three to four times a week. Other meals consist of cereal, grilled cheese and your ever-popular liquid diet of alcohol. In culinary terms, I am a hot mess.
But lately something’s been happening. While it might not seem noteworthy to the casual observer, it is significant to me. I fear that I may be developing a slight case of culinary distinction. Slowly I am creating a hierarchy of consumables that is more sophisticated than just “Good” and “Bad.”
Cape Town is a beautiful city. Its sparkly waters and even more sparkly people have made it the supermodel of Africa. Between million billion dollar luxury homes, trendy clubs and high end cocktails it’s a place that’s easy to have fun. But when the urge for a more chilled out weekend strikes, tuck the stilettos away and head out of town to camp in the Cederberg Mountains.
Sticking with our theme of Strange, JD and I headed on from Kolmanskop ghost town to the coastal town of Luderitz, Namibia.
Luderitz is strange for many reasons. The first is that it’s a German town in the middle of Africa. Gazuntite! The second is that with a population of four humans and a cat, it’s the biggest town we encountered in our 1100 kilometer drive up the west coast of Africa. The third is that it is home to the world’s first extermination camp (which just happened to be our campsite). Add in some dramatic rocks, shark infested waters and the annual Crayfish Festival and you’ve got a recipe for Strange Soup, which JD and I slurped down hungrily.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, we head west into the heart of Namibia’s nothingness. Goodbye, Fish River Canyon. Hello, Kolmanskop ghost town. Although this town might be lacking in night time entertainment, the ghosts aren’t complaining. Lame joke. After all, they struck it rich with diamonds during their time here on Earth and are now flashing their bling in the After World – I hear lady ghosts love that sort of thing. Wow, Kath, the jokes are not getting any better. Plus, that was a little bit sexist.
And so here it is – the first of a three part series of Namibian travel photos (that sounds so professional). Despite thinking about it all weekend, I still fail to find the right words to describe this country of nothingness that shocked me with its deserted beauty. What was meant to be a mini-trip to relax in the sun and read a few books became an adventure of chasing ghosts, sleeping in an old concentration camp surrounded by sharks, stumbling onto an incredible Namibian lodge and feeling the sensation of being the only human for as far as you can see. There are other places in the world where you can stop and reflect, but only in Namibia have I ever understood what stars look like when there are no lights nearby; what sounds the desert makes and the thrill of exploring sand dunes and canyons with no hint of civilization in sight. Here are my travel pictures of Fish River Canyon and Vogelstrausskluft Lodge. Now get out there and go travel!