Saturday, June 14, 2008

African Adventure: Trouble in the North, Aarons passport (Jan 17-18)

Current Location: Windhoek, Namibia.
Highlights: Interesting people, and unhelpful people at the American embassy.
Upcoming: The skeleton Coast with huge seal colonies, and flamingos, war in the north with three dead French tourists, and some serious 4x4 in Kaokoland
Current GPS Coordinates: LAT: S 22.565.89 LONG: E 17.071.82

NB. I must apologize for the spelling and grammatical errors and for not replying to many of the questions in the guestbook. We seldom get a chance to actually look at the guestbook so don’t see the questions. If you want to ask us something, please go to the Com-Link and drop us an e-mail and we’ll do our best!

Traveling in Africa brings you face to face with many interesting, bizarre, odd, and different people. On the one hand you meet the normal tourists and travelers who are visiting for a few weeks. These folks are mostly British, German, American, Australian, and a mix of folks form other European countries. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the atypical travelers. For example, in the few days we have been in Windhoek, we have met a South African who used to work for the flying squad in Jo’berg and got shot in the neck which paralyzed his left arm. He has worked as a mercenary in Angola after being in the French Foreign Legion and obviously has a dark past. Then there is the Australian who has a bar code tattooed on the back of his neck. I have no idea why it is there, and have not asked, although he is a very friendly and an open chap. I am sure however, that it’s not for decoration. Then there is the British woman who works here and has been in Africa for several years and owned an overland company. There is also an American woman who is a councilor by profession and wants to move to Namibia to set up private practice. Today I spent some time with Steve, another Brit who is here to buy crystals, take them back to the UK and wholesale them. He will spend another month here locating large crystals from where they are mined. Then last but not least is the party of three Swiss guys who are also driving a Land Rover back up to Europe.

Aaron went to the American Embassy today to see if he could get a new passport as they were closed for the US public holiday yesterday. Unfortunately they were incredibly unfriendly and unhelpful. It will take another 3 days to get his passport. I felt very bad for him today after he got back from the embassy as it looked like he was incredible stressed and upset at the way he was treated. I think we will go to the coast, then back here when his passport is ready.

The fighting several hundred miles north of us appears to be getting worse with four more people shot dead yesterday. This is now a no go zone for us and we will have to alter our route into Botswana, although we will still be able to visit Kaokoland in the northwest and Etosha. As I understand the situation, UNITA rebels have been driven south out of Angola by SWAPO and into Namibia. I have no idea why the Namibia army has not been mobilized en mass to stop the killings, but it appears not to be a big deal here. It heavily armed Mexican rebels were pushed north across the Mexican border in to the USA by the government they opposed and started killing people, I am sure the US army would immediately be called in. But Africa is not the USA and Africa is a very different place. As it’s a life and death struggle on the plains, so it appears to be a life and death struggle in the towns between people who disagree and between people who have nothing and people who have something.

We also met a BBC TV producer who is here with a film crew making wildlife series of some sort. Although I am sure they want to keep a low profile and probably get a little tired of inquisitive people, he was disappointingly rude and arrogant. Maybe he just had a bad day?

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