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Where did all these people come from??

Walvis Bay (or, if you prefer, Walvisbaai) came as one hell of a big shock.

After St. Helena, Walvis was littered with numerous technological extravagances: vehicles being driven in gears higher than 3rd ; Strange hole in the wall machines that give you coloured rectangles of paper with numbers on; Vertical lights of green orange and red colour; people by the hundred (and, freakishly, huge numbers of white people); traffic jams; people in uniforms carrying guns; small pocket machines which make strange noises and people talk at, and amongst much else but perhaps of most shockingly, small metal objects that you put into holes and turn, and when turned they open things - Yup, I hadn't used a key in 6months....

The 4night journey was pretty uneventful. The weather wasn't great and mean't some people (including my cousin) pretty much disappeared into their cabins for the duration to be sick, we saw a handful of other vessels, and had a slightly strange but good mix of people on board and much fun was had...

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I had a couple of days in Walvis where I did a surprising number of chores with great efficiency and did a few of the tourist things: the lagoon is superb when the wind isn't blowing: the amount and variety of birdlife was great, and i loved watching pelicans and assorted breeds of flamingo go about their business. Mostly though, i just tried to re-assimilate my way into what many people would call 'the real world'.

With that out of the way, i took a night train to Windhoek. The distance means that buses cover the journey in under 5hours, whilst the train takes over 14. However it was 1/3rd of the price and mean't i saved on a nights accommodation as well, so no problem. Besides, the novelty of a train again was worth doing. Having said, I arrived at the station in the middle of a (televised) semi-riot, and then got to sit on a deserted platform listening to an extremely, erm, enthusiastic meeting going on in the station building, which i realised was the minister and senior staff against the railway workers. Basically, Namibia Railways is utterly broke (the passenger service in the country is down to only 1 train a day in each direction on two routes and a total of 5 passenger coaches), and yet senior staff still get such perks as free limos.

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That all mean't we left over an hour late on a train which was 1 passenger car, 10 or so goods wagons and almost 20 highly flammables petrol tankers. Hmmmm. Onboard, we were treated to two really bad movies played at deafening volume (but sound and vision slightly out of sync) whilst we trundled slowly through the night with frequent stops. Despite which, we still arrived 30mins early. Welcome to Africa...

Posted by Gelli 04:20 Archived in Namibia

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