The moon shines through the open window, a jackal is howling, soon to be supported by his mates nearby, I hear the gecko barking, so typical for the south of Namibia. I lay on my comfortable bed in one of our beautiful lodges. “What a day” has come to an end. My day started at 5 in the morning, testdriving the bus which had come in only the evening before. We have high season and each and every vehicle is on the road. Namibia is a popular tourist destination.
The mechanics have been working on the bus, servicing it all around. Luckely I have a responsible colleque who drove the bus before me, he wrote down all noises, moods and irregularities of this bus, so it is easy for the mechanics to check up. Safety is first and all what counts. I am happy with the test drive. I got new tyres and my two spares are in good condition. The gears are moving easily, the engine sounds like a satisfied cat purring. What a great back-up! Office has given last minute instructions : the plane might be late, watch the time of sunset (no driving allowed after dark) I cancel the booked lunch and order take-away instead, I check the water bottles on board, the first aid kit (and pray that I do not have to use it) and off I am to the airport.
A quick cup of coffee, and ready I am : “Welcome in Namibia, I am your touristguide” “ yes please change money here, the next possiblility will be only in three day’s time”, yes, please use the toilet here in the building, we have non on board” ….the normal questions answered with a smile. At the same time a quick intake of name and personality of the new guest. Time consuming the questions, translations and filling in of forms for lost luggage. The usual thing : Johannburg airport does not seem to get enough time to change passengers and luggage at the same time to another plane.
One by one I explain to the weary and tired tourists not to worry, the suitcases will be delivered to the next lodge, no matter whether in the Kalahari or on a farm, they will find us. With a time delay of “only” 2 hours we leave the airport, Windhoek and civilization. The gravel road is good, the bus runs smoothly and I take the time to introduce myself and the bus and all the no-no rules and regulations when traveling through Namibia.
I circulate drawings of our complicated geology, I reply to the questions of the “big nests” along the road, I hope I got the bird’s name right which was crossing our sight, I listen to the lady who had been in Namibia three times before and knows the country and I help a gentleman who struggles with having had too little sleep on the plane. I take note of complaints about the bad service on the plane and I promise to look for a good aerosol to combat moskitoes.
I talk about malaria for 20 minutes although there is not a single moskito near by, after all it is spring time and there is no rain in sight. But I have to compete against the wise advice of the university of so and so who insisted the tourist has to take precautions because Namibia is a danger country for malaria……….! We stop to enjoy the beauty of our vast country, the Khomas Hochland with its breathtaking mountains , the shear endless Namib in front of us, nature’s music in form of birds chirping , bees humming and geckos barking. I am proud to show my country. Psh psh psh here we go: a puncture. In silence I pray there might be somebody to help to change the tyre, I am grateful that I keep myself fit and cycle everyday.
Luckily I still manage to get the bus into the shadow of a tree, at least the change of tyres will not be in bright midday sunshine. I warn the guests to watch their footsteps in the high grass, after all this is snake country, let alone the scorpions hidden under the stones. My luck, two gentlemen push me aside. How good to be a woman, in this situation now ‘a lady of leasure”. These two male guests enjoy to show that they are still young and fit, have not forgotten of how to change a tyre, apparently a very rare occasion in Europe.
I thus have time to show my tourists some interesting stones, explain the different grasses, tell the history of the near by ruins. I help stop the bleeding of a lady’s finger after she had cut herself trying to peel an apple.On arrival at the lodge there is a double booking. We have to wait, my tourists get restless. I try to calm them down, explain the problems of not always having a working phone, a mis-understanding because of different languages. We had not been informed by the agency that lady so and so wanted a room right next to the main building and that mister so and so needs electricity right through the night because of a machine to combat his breathing dis-orders. Internally I start boiling.
Already on arrival I realized we have a tourist in a wheel chair. Nobody had informed us. This means special time to get him on and off the bus, instead of 20 minutes toilet brake (1 minute per person) we need at least 25 minutes, a special wheel chair friendly room and bathroom…..But no problem is too big for the friendly lodge staff, the excellent food , the clean appearance of the rooms – “I did not expect this high quality I in Africa” Hurrah, we made it, another group of happy tourists in Namibia.
by Gaby Tirronen