Visiting the land of the brave

The first memory of Namibia is waking up as the plane was on final approach. The sight that greeted my eyes was one of complete shock. All I could see was a vast expanse of brown, and a few shades of green. It was easily the most pure place I have been to so far as the view I had, was unadulterated by any man-made structures. I had come to learn that it was the second least populated place on earth, second only to Mongolia. Upon landing in Windhoek, the air was pulled out of me as I stepped onto the tarmac, due to the insanely dry heat.

The first order of business was to leave all my belongings at the hotel, called Hilltop, aptly named because it actually was on a hill, overlooking the capital city. The hotel itself was superb, and had a very earthy feel, with many shades of greys, whites and browns. My room far surpassed my expectations, having an enormous bed, covered with, yet again, a light grey duvet. The setting was perfect for a proper African hotel, and I could have asked for nothing more.

On my first and last day in Namibia, I decided to explore a very daunting and possibly dangerous place. It was one that covered almost all of the west coast of Namibia, The Namib Desert. According to my friendly guide, It was the oldest desert in the world, and was arid for almost 55 million years, which rendered me speechless. It was also incredibly unusual to be in the desert and on the seashore simultaneously, as I was being shown the area where the Desert met the Atlantic Ocean. It was a beautiful, yet very dusty experience, as the strong winds sent the light sand everywhere, and it was almost impossible to breathe without the scarf protecting my face.

Not even an hour into my exploration, I had my first Namibian animal encounter. It was an animal I had never seen in the flesh before, but was standing majestically before me, showcasing its perfection.With sharp straight horns, the color of obsidian, and standing perfectly to attention, gazing down from atop a monstrous dune, its face marked like a mask, was an Oryx. A creature so magnificent that it enraptured me for quite a long time, the spell finally breaking with the guide informing me that time was of the essence. We drove for hours, stopping atop a high dune, to rest before making our way back. At this point, I was famished and could only think of what food I was going to eat here.

Arriving at the hotel at the end of a very exhilarating day, I was surprised to see an usher standing at the entrance, welcoming me with a tall glass of fresh lemon and mint juice, which quenched the thirst I had built up after being in the desert for hours. It was made to perfection, having a sweet and tart taste, and with a fresh minty after taste, perfectly cleaning the palate in preparation for what I hoped would be spectacular food.

As I sat at the table, deep in thought, replaying the day’s events in my mind, I was slowly pulled into an active state by an aroma that left me drooling. Feeling brave, I ordered a  side of Mopane Worms, as I was told it was a native delicacy to this part of the world. As a main, I ordered something I was apprehensive to try, but just had to. It was a Crocodile steak and I felt very apprehensive as to how it tasted. However, it was this very dish that brought my salivary glands out of hibernation, as it was beautifully marinated. It looked good but tasted great, and was very intriguing. The meat slightly fishy, yet had the texture of chicken. It was a different, yet pleasantly enjoyable experience. The Mopane worms on the other hand, were not as likeable as the steak. It has a curious but indescribable taste, and had a jelly-like structure, which I did not enjoy. To top it off, I ordered a large slice of Black Forest Cake, with a cup of coffee that was made from Namibian coffee beans. Both were incredibly powerful in terms of their flavour, and made for an unforgettable experience.

Hours later, I made my way into my room, drunk on caffeine and sugar, yet delightfully blissful of the time I had in this beautiful country, which I am obligated to visit again in the near future. I took a bath in the clay basin, and then donned the thick fluffy robe. I slipped into bed with a smile on my face, knowing that life is only going to get more interesting. As the plans for tomorrow ran through my head, my eyes closed, dragging me into an abyss of darkness, until my alarm will pull me back to the real world.

To a brand new day…a brand new adventure.

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