Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Windhoek in July

I had the opportunity to work for a week in Windhoek last July, which was really excellent. But because it was for work, there was little time to do something else, such as walking around, meeting new people etc. Nights are falling too early in winter for outdoor sketches and Windhoek is not a very busy place. It actually seemed rather quiet, the type of stillness of a small city... the light joie de vivre of a German town in the middle of the desert. 
And the feeling is enhanced with poetic street names such as LudwigvonBeethovenStrasse, buildings carved with the true art of bavarian architecture, a sense of order and decent beer. Namibian Breweries are trying hard to match Belgian brews, and it is appreciable.  

I did manage a day to walk around and do some sketching of the place. The capital seems to have grown a lot over the past decade, there are new malls, big towers, shops... Lost in the middle of the concrete newbies the old city still stands, a bit like Lilli Marlene surrounded by Star Academy contenders. 
It feels absolutely odd.

  This church (Christuskirche) is a landmark of the capital, and is surrounded by many old buildings, including the museum, old fort  (here under). The church has been build and shipped in parts to Namibia, back in the days. There was a wedding happening .

 This fort stands were the German troops held camp (Alte Feste Fort). The Fort is now hosting the national museum, interesting to understand the liberation struggles, the fights of the Herero against the Germans, the organization of the firsts concentration camps (Shark Island...) between 1904 and 1907,  the struggle that led Namibia to become the last country to take its independence in Southern Africa.
 Thank God, all these old buildings collecting dust and acting as a reminder of the colonisation are now dwarved by a brand new piece of wonder, a type of shiny barrel-looking building. 
It not of everyone's taste,  I can understand the need to mark the place and, as a symbol, to show that the German colonial presence is something from the past, but I do question the artistic- pertinence of the golden barrel standing between the church and the fort.

I went once or twice to the cardboard box backpakkers for a couple of drinks.(http://www.cardboardbox.com.na/cardboardbox.html) My hotel was just next door but had no bar. I also sometime prefer to talk with travellers on a shoestring who have 10.000 tips and stories to tell, including one involving a bus driver who - going off the bus to pay his road-fee,  came face to face with a smiling lion and ran back to his seat faster than Ussain Bolt.
It is pleasant to hear stories and not having to discuss the foreseen consequences of the economical crisis on the pecan-nut  market and the compared competitiveness of a Namibian prawn fishermen compared to Mozambican one.
I also went to a groovy spot in town, but I have no ways of remembering its name. The music was great, and good company as well. It was on the left side of town. good spot, I recommend it.

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