2/20/2008

Friendly Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek is a beautiful and friendly place! It's up at high altitude but with rolling hills and canyons around it, rather like being up on the Colorado Plateau. Jodie and I flew up on Monday morning with a very full "to do" list to accomplish before our return on Tuesday night. The airport is really cute:
Taxidermy services are available to and from the airport. This advertisement board reminds me of a certain children's book we used to have.

Coming into town, it feels a bit like a very small Salt Lake City, surrounded by... something more like Borrego Springs. Salty desert backwater with a life of its own! (Note that the blue at the top of this photo is from the windshield of the car).
Lunch, yum. Actually I had some grilled calamari and veg. Of course, the veg was grilled cucumber.
The Gibeon Meteorite Shower scattered these great hunks of Fe-Ni in the desert, actually pretty near the area where we will be working. It was probably one big meteorite that entered the atmosphere and broke up before impact - pieces are still being discovered. Indigenous people without a source of mineable metals learned to fashion spear points from the meteorite chunks and there is a rich archaeology of metalworking in the area. Some of the pieces are on display in this square in downtown Windhoek:
The University of Namibia is on a beautiful campus on the outskirts of Windhoek. It feels a bit like Sonoma State, only a lot smaller - relatively new buildings, growing feeling, like a community college back home only all the students are young and going somewhere! They are also perhaps the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Why are Namibians so beautiful? Healthy, slender, smiling. Anyway, I digress.
The young geology department has only (I think) 4 on the teaching staff - Ben, head of department and Jack of all Geological Trades is our co-Principal Investigator on the project. Another lecturer, Pride, was a hydrogeologist in Zim before coming to work at UNam and will be enrolling for PhD at Stellenbosch under Jodie's supervision - although I don't think he'll need too much! Their department space is in a corner wrested from the art department, and their teaching lab feels like it might have been a dance studio. Here's a blurry Ben and a semi-focussed stromatolitic chalk:
Here's Ben and the department "person who does/knows everything" (is there an official term for this indispensable person?), Joanna, and the amazing lab space:

Windhoek is a navigable and friendly city. Everyone smiling. It is relaxed but not slow. We visited the Geological Survey, the Department of Lands, and the Department of Water Affairs and in each case, got what we came for and went on our way. Having done such milk runs through various levels of government offices all over the San Francisco area, I can readily say that Namibian governmental services puts America to shame. And don't even get me started comparing to South Africa!

Next post.... animals.

1 comment:

amber said...

I spent a day in Windhoek but can't remember much- maybe I went to a Snake Park there and walked around the city. I spent about a week and a half in Namibia and loved it!