The most important thing today was to start taking our malaria tablets as in a few days we enter the Caprivi Strip – a malaria zone. Then on the road again through Damaraland for another long day driving to Ugab Terrace Lodge, a few hours short of Etosha National Park. Quite a lot of interest along the way however. Because the area has a lot of mountains/hills that are rich with quartz etc, there are numerous roadside stalls selling lumps of rock. We stopped at a stall “manned” by Herero women. These women wear very distinctive dress – their interpretation of the clothes worn by the German women settlers in the late 1800’s – a full dress in colourful fabrics topped off by their own horned hat style which pays homage to cattle, their most important possession. Bought some of their dolls which entitled me to have my photo taken with them! At our lunch stop came across a WWF (World Wildlife Fund) vehicle so had a chat to the fellow as it is one of our charities and thought we would see where our money went! He was setting up “conservancies” where the locals are encouraged to maintain the wildlife but with WWF funds providing compensation if a lion kills a goat for example, instead of the locals then trying to kill the lions. Gradually passed into more fertile land with more trees (the black acacia) and also tall termite mounds (some over 6 foot high) – these 2 things indicate underground water. Our lodge was in a stunning position high up on an escarpment overlooking a valley and more escarpments. Had a nice BBQ for dinner.
July 23 Saturday
Another day, another early start! Tonight we would be in Etosha but first had a visit to a Himba tribe to observe their lives, particularly the women who consider themselves very beautiful and spend a considerable amount of time each day to their beauty routine! On the way we saw numerous warthog, another species ticked off the list! On arrival at the Himbas, we had our guide Dennis show the correct way to greet them, how to say hello, how are you, and I’m fine plus the 3-move handshake. The village has the animal pens in the middle as these are their main wealth, with circular huts made with mud on timber walls and thatched rooves, the headman’s being the biggest. We had brought gifts of 10kg sacks of maize meal which we presented to the head woman who would divvy it up later between the families. There seemed to be only women and children so asked Dennis where the men were only to find that they were in town drinking! Maybe three times a week tourists come in the morning, paying for the privilege, but the women provide the “show”. The women are naked on top, wearing only a type of wrap around skirt. They smear their bodies with red ochre mixed with buttermilk each day and never wash. To clean their bodies they mix herbs with coals and smoke their various parts, covering some with their clothes which are “cleaned” the same way – interesting! They wear various types of belts and necklaces to denote their age, if they are married, if they have had children etc. Some of these are now made from PVC pipe and fencing wire – have to move with the times! I asked Dennis about health services but they choose not to have any Western options such as immunisation, which means about 1 in 5 babies die before age 1. After, we were taken to their craft stall and I bought 2 seed and bead bracelets and a traditional grass necklace which signified that I had had children. Of course these will be left in a hotel as would not be able to bring them into Aus.