A lot of people have asked us “what is it like to live there?”
You know, it’s not as different as you’d think. Right now I’m sitting in a café in downtown Windhoek, drinking a beer and indulging in some people watching. It’s Saturday, so families are here with their kids, who are playing on the playground. The café has free internet and sits below a massive rubber tree. It’s lovely.
People say that Namibia is Africa 101, or “Africa for Beginners,” and it’s true. Although there is a lot of poverty and there is a fair amount of crime, overall it’s a safe and easy place to navigate. I can go to the grocery store and get just about everything I need. There are three shopping malls in town, each with a number of high end department stores. Plus, the streets and highways are well maintained.
Sometimes, I catch myself thinking “this could be Eastern Washington”, but then I drive by a pack of baboons sitting on the side of the road.
Here are Some Things I love
- The HAIR. Dude, African women have so many hairstyle options . I am enamoured by the different types of braids, dreads, curls, and sleek coiffures.
- Warm, friendly and open people. You walk down the street and everyone says “hello.” I’ve never had so many conversations with strangers. You’d never do that in Seattle. We didn’t even speak to our neighbors when we lived in Northgate. In fact, our next door neighbor could have dropped dead and we would’ve never known.
- Cheap beer. You can get a draft beer at most restaurants for about $1.50 US. Score!
- The SUN. Yeah, that big bright thing in the sky that gives us a bronze glow and much-needed vitamin-D. It’s here, all the time.
- Thunderstorms. Wow, are there some intense thunderstorms around here. I guess I’m not used to it, being from the Pacific Northwest. But, each time a big storm rolls in, I’m like a little kid. I sit in the window, my face pressed against the glass, and watch nature’s beautiful show.
- Meat. I’ve eaten some of the cheapest and tastiest meat here. From beef to kudu and oryx, most grocery stores and restaurants carry quality meat for under $10 US.
- Fashion. Can I just say COLOR. So much color here. From jewel tones to pastels and everything in between. And, with so many dark skinned people, the colors look gorgeous.
- Sunsets. Every night it’s like watching the Lion King. No joke. At first, John and I were like “let’s be sure to soak this in, because it’s never going to be so beautiful.” But then, we see an equally gorgeous sunset the next night. If any of you come visit, you’ll see what we’re talking about.
- Lack of regulation. It’s 5 AM and you don’t feel like stopping at a red light. Then, don’t! No one is going to pull you over, because they don’t care. There’s a fence around a construction site that says ‘no entry’. Just walk over it! It’s Africa!
Here are Some Things That I Don’t Love
- Shitty Internet. So horrible when you are trying to catch up on Downton Abbey or talk to your mom on Skype.
- Lack of food options. We were thoroughly spoiled in Seattle. The food here is very good, but I can’t just walk down the street and get a bowl of Pho or my taco truck fix.
- Snakes. There are some deadly-ass snakes here. We haven’t seen one yet, and I hope it stays that way. Go ahead and look up “Black Mamba” or “Puff Adder”. No, thank you.
- Spiders. Let’s just say…yikes.
- Smoking. Everyone smokes here. Now, I’m not against smoking. But, I hate being marinated in cigarette smoke for hours at a time.
- Crazy Driving. The people here drive like absolute maniacs. I spent most of the drive to Swakopmund with my hands in a white-knuckle Kung-Fu grip on the steering wheel, my own death flashing before my eyes. But, that was only when big trucks went by (shudder).
- Business Hours. Most places are open from 8:30 to 5:30 PM. A few places are open later than that. On the weekends, many places close around 1 PM. It’s a bummer for me, but nice for all of the retail workers, who get to be with their familes. Oh, and you can’t buy booze on Sundays. Whaaaaat?
- Queues. Every store has a line at the checkout. No matter the time or the day of the week. It’s nuts.
Honestly…we’ve got it pretty good here.
Want to see what it’s all about? Come visit! Camp Penley: Africa is open for business.
Carrie & John