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Where am I again? July 26, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Eh?, Home and away, Out of the city.

On more than one occasion in my time here, I have had to pinch myself to remind me where I am and what I am doing here. It’s not because it is so far removed from what I am used to back home, or that my work often involves cows and wood, or that I live in a strange African-German hybrid city in the middle of the desert. It’s because I often find myself not living the life of a volunteer. For starters, I live in a nice apartment with digital TV, wireless internet and a lady who does my laundry. And I have some expat friends who have a lot more money than I do. I have been known to eat sushi, drink champagne and lounge in hot tubs on more than one occasion. This is not the life of a volunteer.


A few weekends ago was a perfect example. It was my housemate Jillian’s birthday. Working as a legal advisor for a large organisation here and with her rich Parisian taste, it was to be quite a celebration. Fifteen of her nearest and dearest were invited for a party at one of the smart company-owned hotels at the coast, at mates-rates. So on the Friday, after a quick detour to Ovitoto for work, we hit the road towards Swakopmund. We arrived to 30oC+ heat (a delight in the middle of winter inland!), had a slice of cake at the Village Café and headed on to the hotel in Walvis Bay, just down the coast. Naturally, we had the Presidential Suite, so that we could have a private party there that night. French-themed.

Everyone arrived around sunset and headed to their rooms to transform into their costumes. Meanwhile, a mini-army of caterers swept into the suite, delivering platters of oysters, cheese and various other delicacies that I had forgotten existed. We were then introduced to Jackson (dressed as a ship captain)and Vincent, our own private bar staff for our own private bar in the suite.

That evening, we had a Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, the Three Musketeers, three French mimes, a French maid, a painter, and a collection of French-dressed folk (I got told I looked like a French whore – merde!). Magnifique! Of course there was champagne and all the culinary luxuries one could ask for. I was also sharing the Master Bedroom with Jillian, in the ultra-king-sized four-poster bed. I crawled into it around 4am, after staying up chatting with one of the mimes for longer than my body appreciated.

The next day, most of the group headed off on a boat trip, but as some of us had done it before, we headed up to the Burning Shore (where Brangelina stayed when she was having their baby) to relax on the beach. Again, platters of perfectly presented pleasures emerged from the kitchen, with the best oysters I have ever had, beginning another private party on the beach. We were blessed with perfect hot and sunny weather and spent the day drowsily lounging on the beach. The others joined after their boat trip to enjoy sundowners, some beach Frisbee action and a few even dared a dip in the freezing Atlantic. Then it was back to our suite for more partying in luxury.

On Sunday, our plans for quad-biking and sand-boarding were scuppered as a sandstorm swept in from the desert, grounding us until lunchtime, with the threat of paint-stripping our cars if we dared try driving home. The messy lump of us lounged in front of the TV in the suite, exhausted from excess and stuffed from the fabulous breakfast served at the hotel. We made it home safely on Sunday evening and crashed out immediately. A hot summer weekend at the coast was just what we all needed.

All weekend, I was having to pinch myself to remind me where I was and why. This isn’t the life I came to lead here in Namibia, nor would I lead back in the UK. In many ways, this luxurious excess and conspicuous consumption conflicts with my reasons for being here. The weekend wiped out most of the money that I had saved from my meagre allowance for travelling after I have finished my placement. But, when would I have the opportunity to do this again, in this place with these people? I know I am not “rich and fabulous”, nor do I or would I pretend to be, and I know that I can’t keep up. And even if I could keep up, I don’t personally see it as a valuable or worthwhile way to spend my money. I would still rather spend my time in a backpackers, eating street food. But it certainly was great fun and a weekend to remember.

See the pictures of what we got up to on the Flickr link…



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