Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The road less-travelled…and it’s a good thing

My wonderful friend and housemate, Jennie, invited me to go to Carasburg with her to visit her parents, spend some time with the family, and also for a little side trip to Fish River Canyon (the second largest Canyon in the world), and the nearby Ai Ais hot springs. We were both pretty excited to have a little road-trip together and do some visiting and exploring. Carasburg is a small town in the south of Namibia – about a 7 hour drive from Okahandja where we live. (It’s a bit south of Keetmanshoop, if you’r looking at a map, or if you have a surprising knowledge of Namibian geography.)

So as we planned to embark on our trip, we made plans to stay one night at Ai Ais hot spring after being told on the phone there no reservations were available at Fish River Canyon Lodge (our original accommodation plan). The idea was to take the train from Windhoek to Keetmans, then take the bus from Keetmans to Carasburg. We would stay Saturday night and Sunday with her family in their “sinkhuis” (tin house)

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have some visiting time, then head out on Monday towards Fish River Canyon. We would spend the day there, then drive to Ai Ais, have the evening there and spend the night and part the next day. We would leave from there, return the truck we were going to borrow from her dad, then head to Keetmans, spend one night at the Ark Children’s home, visit with Juliet and Berdian (our friends there), then catch a ride back with the Dutch volunteers who were returning from Keetmans to Okahandja on Wednesday. It was a great plan.

The reality turned out a lot more like this:
Friday we couldn’t find a ride to Windhoek to catch the train. We finally found a kind friend who offered to drive us, however their only form of transportation was an opn bakkie…did I mention it was absolutely POURING down rain Friday evening when we needed to leave? We kindly declined so as to not be drown rats sitting on the train all night to the south. We eventually found a ride to the taxi depot in town with Gert. He dropped us and we took a taxi to Windhoek - $35 Namibian Dollars. We arrived at the train station in time after the life-threatening experience of riding with a Namibian taxi driver whose windshield is fogged to the point of blindness and is riding the tail of the car in front of him so much I thought we were being towed by them or something.

We got tickets, grabbed dinner and got on the train around 7:45pm ready for the all-night trip to Keetmans. (By train it takes about 10+ hours, because the train tops out at about 30mph) There we sat, on the tracks for the next 3 and a half hours waiting for an engine. Oh yes, they were kind enough to play movies for our “enjoyment” while we were sitting there. “Daredevil” with Ben Affleck…did ANYONE see that movie? No. and there’s a good reason. Its ridiculous. As the suffering through that film ended I hoped for reprieve…and I got “Taxi” with Queen Latifah. That torture lasted until I finally succeeding in willing myself to fall asleep. Did I mention that the speakers were blown and they decided to turn the volume up louder in the hopes that sheer volume would make the words understandable through the garbled static?

So around 10am the next morning we arrived in Keetmans with Jennie vowing never to take the train again. Ever. As we sat on the steps of the train station trying to figure out how best to get to the bus station, Jennie asked someone about times for the bus departure, and we discovered that no busses were running that day. Which left us….taking the train. Round Two of the Namibian train experience yielded such classy film titles as “Pooty Tang” and yet again “Taxi”. (they love their Queen Latifah in the African transportation industry) About 4-5 hours later we arrived in Carasburg.

Pics from the train on our way to Carasburg

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Jennie and her Oma

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(I love her face! Isn't she beautiful?)

To Be Continued…

1 comment:

samfabio said...

Try intercape on your next trip :).