Saturday, September 6, 2014

Swakopmund: Sand, Sand, Sand (and Ocean)!

We are now in Swakopmund, a small town on the edge of the desert and the Atlantic Ocean.  As we approached the town on Friday, it didn’t seem that different from Sossusvlei (except for the sudden traffic we encountered) – rows of dunes stood between the road and the ocean.  However, spending time in Swakopmund itself is like taking a short break from the Namibian desert in a German seaside town.  Namibia used to be a German colony and nowhere is this more evident than here in Swakopmund.  We understand that many Germans have second homes here and spend the German winter/Namibian summer in town.  We have heard German spoken on the streets, seen many buildings that looked like they could just as easily be in Bavaria, eaten hearty German food, and drunk German beer.

In addition to being temporarily in Germany, we are staying in a Swiss oasis our two nights here – the pension is run by an immigrant from Switzerland and is complete with a Bernese mountain dog (Beethoven), nutella for breakfast, and pictures of the Matterhorn.  Steph is of course quite content. 

The main thoroughfare quickly leads to the choppy and chilly Atlantic Ocean, which maintains a more temperate climate in Swakopmund than in the desert.  Like any seaside town, a pier juts into the ocean and there are numerous great sundowner locations.

Back to the sand and dunes!  The dunes here in Swakopmund are part of the same desert as the dunes at Sossusvlei.  However, you can't travel straight across the dunes from one place to another because the dunes in between are the site of diamond mines.  On Saturday, we booked a sandboarding/duneboarding adventure in the dunes bordering town.  This was the perfect opportunity for Giorgio to practice his snowboarding technique before our February trip to Snowmass.

There are two options available: stand-up and lay-down.  Since Steph has sworn off all snowboarding related activities, she chose the lay-down option.  Giorgio got his own snowboard, boots and wax and quickly discovered that all the techniques he had learned work just as well in the sand.  Steph simply received a waxed wooden board and was off face first down the dunes.  Good thing we got helmets!  We tried steeper and steeper descents, reaching speeds of 72 km/hr.  Steph clocked the fastest times, beating both the German tourists and Giorgio, who reached a mere 70 km/hr.  The only problem with duneboarding is the lack of chairlifts – after every thrilling ride, there is a long trudge back up the sand.  We both got quite a work out!  Also, the sand from the dunes still seems to be everywhere, even a day later -- it's coming out our ears!

Today, we woke up quite early, having lost an hour for Namibian spring daylight savings time.  We are now are off on a long drive north to Damaraland!


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