Greetings from Swakopmund, Namibia, Africa!! Our suitcases are unpacked, today my chores are finished and I finally feel as though I can share what my life has been like for the past week of getting settled into a new city, new culture and new routine.
I have been thinking about what to write. The first thought was “Sharalyn, did you, when you were 16 years old, dreaming of far away places ever think in your wildest dreams; you would be living in Africa?” The answer is a most definite “no”!
Living in the small town of Hallowell (population 3,000 people) back in the 70s, I dreamt of going to Europe and to be completely realistic, that was a “pipe dream”. Back then, parents encouraged their children to possibly go to college, definitely get a job…most likely working for the state of Maine in nearby capital city of Augusta; find a spouse; buy a house and start a family. It reminds me of the Cat Stevens’ song “find a girl, settled down, if you want you can marry, look at me, I am old but I am happy.”
Through the grace of God, I was able to break that mold, to think and live “outside of the box”. Most people didn’t understand, some did and encouraged me. My mom was one. When I announced that I was going to Europe May of 1977 to hitchhike for as long as my money would last, she didn’t try to talk me out of it. She just resigned herself that I was going. Thanks, Mom! Another special friend and lady in my life, Suzanne Cohen was another who supported my wild dream. Sadly, Suzanne passed away this past February but she will always be traveling with me in my heart.
Then, another gift from God, was meeting my wonderful and amazing husband. When we first decided to get married, we had no idea that our life would be the one of travel that it has been. Now, we cannot imagine our life being any different.
Some 38 years later, I have been fortunate to have visited and/or lived in approximately 43 countries. I once heard the saying “the world is your playground” and I believed it to be true.
Initially, we didn’t think that we would be transferred to Namibia after David completed the first phase of the uranium mine design in the South African office. As that phase of the project was drawing to a close, there was some talk of being transferred to Asia. We were open to the idea as we have not spent much time in that part of the world. As often happens in this line of work, plans changed and we were told that we were going to Swakopmund for the construction of the mine.
As many might remember, we spent last Christmas in Namibia. I was very excited to learn that we would be living in Swakopmund. It is a nice little town, right on the ocean. While I was back in the states February-May, David was working at the mine and was able to find a great condo for us to stay in. The building name is An Der Welle, which means “by the surf” and we are close to the surf. As I type this, I am looking out over the ocean, listening to the waves come crashing onto the shore.
After 28 hours of traveling, we arrived at our new home. This was our first sunset and soon came to realize that this was our “welcome home” gift from the universe! It is going into the winter season here and I have discovered that many days are grey and/or foggy. I was truly feeling blessed….along with a little jet-lag, as I watched the sun melt into the ocean.
Let me take you on a tour of our new home. To start, this is the outside of the building. The section, jutting out and has the name “An Der Welle” is actually our bedroom.
The condo has a very open floor plan, which I love and there is tons of room! This is what you see when you first walk in….the dining area and kitchen.
This is another dining area to the side of the kitchen, complete with a braai or grill. The Africans love to grill meat. It is a way of life here. Around the corner, there is a meat market. I was amazed at the large packages of meat people were carrying as we passed by one Saturday. If we ever use ours…one of our African friends will have to be in charge of the cooking. Since I don’t eat meat, I have no real desire to cook it but also, I think that someone who has grown up around braais, will do a much better job than David or I could.
This is our living room area. The sectional sofa looks out to the ocean. David and I spend most of our time here when we are at home. As you well know, watching the waves roll in and hearing them crash onto the shore has a soothing, Zen-like affect on your soul!
Tucked in the other part of the room, is the television and recliners.
Now, for the real fun part…..this is our “dance floor” complete with recessed floor lights! I am waiting for David to hang the disco ball before I try any of my “Saturday Night Fever” dance moves!
This is the master bedroom. We have two other bedrooms and a total of 2 1/2 bathrooms.
I have to take a minute and deviate from the “tour” to talk about the king-size bed. When we were here at Christmas, all of the places we stayed we requested queen or king size beds. All of the places that we stayed at accommodated this request but the beds were two singles pushed together and they were made up as singles….we just found this odd. I believe that it is a German practice. Namibia was a colony of Germany for many years. Plus, people from here have told me that it is from the Germans.
We talked about buying a mattress to place on top and I went to a store to inquire. What the kind lady suggested was a king size mattress pad. It does work much better but I can still feel the divide in the middle….we joke that I am “visiting” David on his side when I cuddle up to him at night. Eventually, I roll back to my side to go to sleep. It is just a very, very different custom for us.
Alright…back to the tour!
David is hoping that I will get great inspiration sitting here and write the next best seller on the NY Times list! With a view like this, it just might happen!
Yes, I love it here!!! The condo is in a great location. I can walk everywhere. Downtown is less than a ten minute walk and it is full of gift shops, clothing stores, a book store, art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, just about anything you would need. David and I both think that downtown is what many towns in the US would be like if Wal-Mart hadn’t come to town. It has many “mom and pops” shops. I am a 10 minute walk to the movie theater. All movies are $5.00 and there are two cinemas. They have some fairly recent movies, too. I saw Perfect Pitch 2 and last weekend, David and I saw the Aging of Adeline…that was a very good movie. They show matinees throughout the week as well, which I love. The gym that I joined is a 15 minute walk. I only joined for a month and don’t think I will renew my membership. Call me old but I cannot stand the “techno music” they play there. Also, the classes are at 5-6 in the morning or in the evenings at 6:00 or later. Since everything is so close, I have decided not to have a car. I feel safe walking here at night….actually walked last Thursday night after a spinning class at 6:00 and felt perfectly safe….so unlike Johannesburg! Given my “druthers”, I would rather ride my great new bike outside than sit in a spinning class with loud music and someone yelling at me to go faster, faster, faster!
There are several grocery stores within walking distance…anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Finally, there is an amazing walking path that follows the ocean. I have been having issues with a sore heel and am so frustrated with not being able to do my “shuffle” as the ocean path is just lovely. I will share pictures of that in another blog. Stay tuned…the fun is just beginning….