Monday, July 28, 2014

Harvey Tile Holiday

{In Zambia my daughter Eleanor sees this sign on a school: "A roof without Harvey Tiles is like a school without teachers. There will be illiteracy. and on a police station : " A roof without Harvey tiles is like a country without police. There will be lawlessness] The family ponders on these words]

 It's early morning in Swakopmund.
Cold mist sinks down upon the sea.
A desert lies bleak and menacing behind us.
"A roof without Harvey tiles is like dawn without sun" says my son-in-law Andreas
"There will be chill and desolation."

We travel north on a black salt road.
Sand stretches pale and pink on either side.
Liquid cools in flasks and sandwich edges curl.
"A roof without Harvey Tiles is like tea without cake" says my granddaughter, Isabel.
"There will be tastelessness."

In Etosha the grass glows yellow in the sun.
A pale sky floats above muddy pools.
We sit in silence with binoculars.
"A roof without Harvey Tiles is like a water-hole without game." says my daughter, Eleanor.
"There will be boredom."

But then the springbok, zebra, kudu all arrive
and later floodlit families of elephants with slurping trunks
and later still, a hyena;s speckled head is seen
reflected in the water.

And when I fly home far too soon --
"A roof without Harvey Tiles is like an old woman without her family," I say.
"There will be boredom, tastelessness, chill and desolation."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Namibian Holiday

Now that I have been back home for a few days, I think I have recovered enough to write about my holiday. It was good, too good. Now everything seems dull and flat. it doesn't help that I got used to being part of a family again, so my little flat seems very empty and lonely, now. To counteract this sterile self pity, I shall try to record some of the highlights: the sights, scenes and activities of my two weeks in Namibia.

I have downloaded an awful lot of pictures, even after sorting them out and deleting the worst of them, they fill large file. I shall chose a few and write about each and in this way try to capture the essence of my Namibian holiday.

Walvis Bay:
a surprisingly large town in an enormous expanse of nothingness. Our plane was the only one arriving at the little airport, so it was hard to understand why it had to be parked miles away from the airport building necessitating a long trudge across the tarmac carrying hand luggage,(in my case, mercifully,only a handbag.)
Eleanor, Andreas and Isabel all came there to meet me. They took me to a restaurant in Walvis Bay for lunch and then for a stroll along the front to see the lagoon's flamingoes, all bright pink in the sun. Flamingoes allow you to get close enough to admire their weird beauty, their long elegant necks, their slow-striding graceful pink legs and their big beaks like shovels, but move away before you can get your camera focused.
This photo of these lovely birds in flight is not as clear as I would have wished, but is the best I could do.
A lovely clean seaside town, everything neat and tidy, with a distinctive continental flavour, although modern architecture is infiltrating the traditional buildings.  Ordinary South African supermarkets can be found between the old nineteenth century German  houses.

The one pictured, once belonged to Andreas's mother's family and is just round the corner from where she lives now. There was time for only one night there, because Elanor and Andreas wanted to take me to Etosha and those next three days were the only bookings available.
It was a long drive though the most desolate country I have ever seen. I couldn't believe any desert could be quite so desert-like. It has it's own beauty, but I would find it hard to get used to. Slowly the dry emptiness gave way to thornscrub and savannah and there were even some animals to be seen, notably warthog. They seem to like to forage at the sides of the road. We spent the night at a lodge outside the reserve. We were cheated of a Namibian sunset, by having to have our sun-downers on the wrong side of the dining hall, but the accommodation was comfortable and the breakfast adequate. We reached the gate to the reserve quite early and had time to look around before checking in to Okaukuejo camp. A feature of this camp is its tower which I climbed while Eleanor and Andreas checked in, not knowing that we would all be climbing it later. Going up all those steps twice caused my calves to be stiff and painful for days.

The view from the top was very good. Unfortunately my camera was not able to record adequately the spectacular sunset we experienced there.

We spent the next night at Halali camp. Both camps were well appointed( I think that is what one is supposed to say about satisfactory accommodation ) and pleasant to stay at. The best feature at both was the access to waterholes. Places were provided where you could sit and watch the animals coming to drink. At these we saw an amazing variety of game especially in the evenings. (The pools were floodlit at night which made late viewing possible.) We were lucky enough to see a hyena come down to drink. I wasn't able to photograph him, but I could see him very clearly as he bent his spotty head down to the water.

The most exciting sighting for me was the leopard we saw hiding in a thorn tree very close to the road. Difficult to spot unless you knew exactly where to look, but his face clearly to be seen peering through the leaves.  But also, I was thrilled to see two young lions, their faces bloodied from a recent kill, making their was towards a nearby water hole. And of course there were the zebras, fat and stripy, hundreds of them, and the buck, hundreds of them too, and best of all the elephants at the water holes.
Here are just a few of the photos I took.

We went back to Swakopmund, after making a detour to see a huge meteor, shiny and heavy and not star-like at all. While we were at Swakopmund we spent a day in the desert.  The others in the party slid down huge dunes on surfboards. I just watched from afar and enjoyed the scenery. This part of the desert is so empty and so beautiful.

But, even here where you would expect no life at all, there are birds. I think this one is a banded plover.

Now it is all over. It's sad to be back, but I have had fun compiling this blog.

Wasn't this a great holiday?