9 May 2012, Gail’s trip log

How many Americans can say they’ve gotten their hair cut in Luderitz, Namibia (formerly South West Africa) for US$12.00, including a generous tip?! (t would have been at least $80.00 on the ship) We heard foghorns all night, so were very surprised to arrive at Luderitz and have it be sunny and beautiful. We took our heavy jumpers (sweater shirts) for our walking tour and were sorry after the first twenty minutes. We tied them around our waists. The face to face immigration required to get off the ship was a pain. We stood in line for over an hour and when we got in there we realized they only had two officials checking and stamping passports for nearly 700 passengers! Just as we got near the front of the line they brought in four more officials and it started to go faster. We heard later that they’d driven all night for nine hours from Windhoek, the capital, to get there to do the check and were late because of problems on the road (sand dunes frequently block the roads in Namibia). Namibia is an interesting place. Luderitz was established by the Germans in the 19th century. The German influence is still very much in evidence, although the Germans lost it after the First World War and it had been administered by South Africa until its independence in 1990. It is still obviously a very poor country with a long way to go – they still don’t have basic infrastructure like good roads and good schools. With tens of thousands of square miles of mostly desert, there are only 2 million inhabitants. We met our tour guide, finally, and were taken by 3 small vans to the Lutheran Church. It is the high point, both literally and figuratively, of this quaint town of about 25,000 people. We looked out over the harbor, heard about the history, toured the church, with its incredible stained glass windows, then spent the next 2 hours making our way from there through the town back to the center of the “business district”. Our guide was great and we were the first tour out, so didn’t run into bunches of people from other tours. The big thing here, of course, is the diamonds. They are found in mines, diamond sands, and diamonds in sand sucked from the bottom of the ocean.  The NAMDEB company that controls it all is actually the Namibian subsidiary of DeBeers. We toured a fantastic house built by an early diamond executive – more beautiful stained glass. Much interesting German architecture and history. We ended up at the museum, and right across the street was the shop where my friend Megan (from Adelaide, SA) was getting her hair cut (she had hers cut there several times before) so I went and joined her. Don’t feel shaggy now. I took the shuttle back to the ship and showered and had some lunch. Dan stayed in town a while and walked back to the ship. We sailed away a little after 4 and the fog soon came back as we got out in the cold current from Antarctica. Had dinner in the Bistro and watched a movie. Now ready for bed. Big day tomorrow in Walvis Bay.

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