Arrived: Windhoek, Namibia

I'm writing this from a hotel in downtown Windhoek, Namibia. The flight, a short hour and a half or so on an almost deserted jet, took a path across Botswana and over the Kalahari desert. The weather was getting stormy, and it was some of the worst turbulence I've ever experienced on a full-size jet — I think the only time I've been tossed around like that is coming in for a landing at Toronto's City Centre airport in the small Cessna I flew during my pilot's training. However, the view was gorgeous.

The drive from the airport into the city is about forty minutes. The land is disconcertingly similar to the part of Mexico we live in, although it's a little more green (even though this is a desert, it rains more here, and gets much colder in the winter). Similarly, it's not quite wet enough, nor does it have the quality of soil, to be suitable farmland, so Namibia is a major beef producing nation, as well as raising goats, sheep, pig, and of course game animals — we saw wild kudu grazing along the side of the road as we drove by. I didn't snap a picture but I'll try and do so tomorrow.

Windhoek itself is picturesque in parts (and very “small town Europe”), although just a little bit too much Detroit and New Jersey architecture and vibe has been thrown into the mix to make it universally postcard-pretty. The fact that there appears to be no faux pas in openly pissing on the sidewalk doesn't really help either… if you tried to pull that in La Paz, four dudes would jump out of a lowrider, kick the crap out of you, and hold you until the police came and arrested you. But it is very pretty if you point your camera in the right direction.

Rachel and I really stand out here with our tattoos and stretched lobes. In South Africa, I was asked numerous times — I think at least partially seriously — whether I had grown up Zulu. Here in Namibia people seem a little more rude (some of the vibe reminds me of the Caribbean), not going to very much effort to hide their amazement and — yes, even though it's Afrikaans I can still tell what you're saying — ridicule. But the reactions also seem to include a real sense of “I've never seen that before”. While I see pierced and tattooed people all the time in Mexico, I haven't really seen anyone here (and like I said, Mexico really is politeness obsessed, so negative reactions there have been very minimal).

The connection here is not very fast but I may post a small update later tonight still.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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