As Namibians we’re used to the desert we live in each day. When I went to Sossusvlei with my family for the first time in June of 2017, I saw it for the miracle it is. The vermillion dunes are beautifully fashioned by nature and the Namib Desert Lodge blends seamlessly with the perfect background. When you think of the world’s canvas, the desert is not the first to come to mind but it is just as much a treasure. The same with us Namibians; we’re not really on the world’s mind but the hearts of those we attract forever belongs to South West Africa.

Namibians are incredibly kind and, simply, unforgettable. We are as precious as rare Namibian diamonds. Namibia subtly calls you to come back, to see how her dunes have shifted and her people has grown.
My memories of Etosha brings to mind summer heat and the icy sting of the Gondwana lodge swimming pool after a long drive through the whole pan. Some of the most incredible beasts, such as hartebeest and zebras, strode by making me envious of their self-assurance, courage and absolute strength.
In contrast to the dry land is Epupa waterfalls. The crystal water is flawlessly sliced by vertical rainbows and the echo of fish eagles fills the scorching air. A taste of forest in a country known for its desert being the oldest on earth.
I grew up on a farm in Omaheke. It still brings so much peace to my anxious mind. The whisper of a breeze through the leaves and grass, softly touching my face and flouncing my hair up into the blue sky. Yellow grass up to my knees clinging to my polka dot socks, the screech of bugs mixed with birds singing and the smell of Camelthorn trees. This is where I recuperate, where I gather my thoughts again. The farm is my unlimited charger especially because of my father.

He’s a passionate farmer and a man so intelligent he could have been anything. He could have been president (not too late), worked as the engineer he is or continued climbing the ranks in the army, but he knew what he’s always wanted. The smell of manure inside his ‘bakkie’ that we know will never leave so we’re forced to live with (and love) it. My mom complaining about the dirt footprint he brought into the house right after the floors were mopped. The farm IS my dad. My sisters and I have always loved driving with my dad early mornings or evenings. On most days he wakes up at 5 AM and some of my best mornings were when I
woke up to the kitchen light shining into my room and the smell of coffee gesturing me closer like a cartoon clip.

This is when we speak about anything from family to politics to bad jokes. Calm mornings on the farm consist of little lambs skipping on the green grass while the sun is rising and the water is flowing into the dam. The farm is the darkest place on earth at night, here you see meteor showers exquisitely and sleeping under the stars has never been so luxuriously free. You hear a stallion’s neigh and the call of jackal in the distant midnight when everything is dead quiet. These are the most beautifully haunting sounds known to man.

A Namibian thunderstorm on the farm inspires me the most. The most striking Prussian blue hues dominates the sky and suddenly the sun is seized. Bright light spears down to earth, silence and then the rigor clap of thunder. A storm is looming. Then the clouds break, the water falls. The droplets roll down the windows and animals take shelter. Tip tap, tip tap. Petrichor emanates from the coarse sand. My favourite sound followed by my favourite smell.
Sitting by the ocean alone moves me. I prefer the cold wind and the tranquillity that only the Atlantic can provide. I could sit here for hours and think and plan. With my toes in the diamond-like magnetite sand, salt in my wounds and my dark brown eyes on the tireless ebb and flow of the waves could effortlessly put me in a trance.
There are so many people that inspire me, especially those I study medicine with. These folks have taught me so much more than just anatomy and psychiatry right before a test. One girl that I look up to is so graceful and exceptionally kind, always. She works hard (I’m quite a procrastinator) and she is so petite but she will set you straight in the calmest manner that makes you instantly regret all your sins. Another is so straight edged, what is right is right (I like to consider everything before choosing sides and believe in grey areas) and she has shown me that you have to stand firm in what you believe in or you’ll be brought to your knees. Without these people I would have gotten lost and never found my way back again.
You can easily spot a tourist when they all flock to certain landmarks with a lost look in their eyes, wearing khaki and SPF 100 sunblock peeking out of their brown backpacks. I’m proud to be a native; speaking Afrikaans, understanding Oshiwambo and German, pointing foreigners into the right direction and confidently eating biltong with my pocket knife. Different people and environments come together and the end product is
mesmerising. Desert to shore, sand to water. Blue, red, white, green and yellow. Namibia is dynamic and exceptionally united and that alone is inspiring to me.

by Dané Nel