Namibian Tales #1-The Great Wide Open

DSC04084Namibia is an extraordinary country in southwest Africa.  It is the newest democracy in the world having gained indepence from South Africa in 1990. Contrastingly, it has the oldest desert in the world, the Namib, which stretches from the towering red dunes of Sossusvlei to the stark, foggy Skeleton Coast along the Atlantic.DSC04997While predominately a dry land, Namibia is surprisingly varied.  The mystical Etosha Pan which borders the country’s largest national park is a dreamland of mirages and shimmering heat.  Epupa Falls at the Angolan/Namibian border is a verdant oasis complete the towering palms, flocks of rosy-faced love birds and menacing crocodiles.  The coastal town of Swakopmund at times resembles a German enclave rather than an African village.DSC04809

And variety is also evident with the people of Namibia.  While English is the official language, Afrikaans and German are also heard along with ten tribal languages.  There are over a dozen ethnic groups ranging from the largest, the Ovambo, to the ancient Himba whose women cover their skin with ochre dust and tint their Rasta-style braids in orange and red.

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We drove over 3500 kilometers (2200 miles) in twenty days and still only covered about two thirds of the country.  Namibia is half the size of Alaska and sparsely populated.  With just over 2 million inhabitants that works out to just over 6 people per square mile.  There were times driving down its many graveled roads that we didn’t see a car for two hours.  The memories of this road trip are many.  Namibian Tales will tell you about the highlights.  The rest are reserved for late night dreams during moon-filled nights.DSC04985

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