With love from Namibia – Land of the Brave

Greetings from Southern Africa, Namibia to be exact! I’m on a 5-week vacation, visiting three beautiful Southern African countries; Angola, South Africa and Namibia.The beauty of being a Health Promotion Management Consultant  and running your own business is that you have the flexibility of being able to pick up and go on vacation whenever you want to, for as long as you need to, without seeking the “time off work” approval by anyone, and while still having the flexibility and option to do a bit of work while on travel… I suppose it’s more accurate to say that I’m on a business and pleasure vacation.

I flew here from Washington, DC Dulles Airport with Ethiopian Airlines. It was my first time flying Ethiopian Airlines since they just introduced a direct route to Namibia (with two quick stops). I enjoyed the 20 hour flight because the service was superb; great movies on my own personal TV, enough leg room, and they fed us a lot, rather too much but who’s complaining, right?!….. I would highly recommend Ethiopian Airlines… If anyone knows someone in management position at Ethiopian Airlines, please have them contact me or please share their contact info….

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Inside Ethiopian Airlines

Moving on…. 12 hours later, we landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, got out of the plane and waited for a about two hours before continuing to our final destination. However, we couldn’t leave the airport. Apparently, it’s hard to get a visa approval to Ethiopia and just about everyone needs a visa (I believe there’s only one or two countries exempt from the visa requirements). Nonetheless, my short stay inside Addis Ababa International Airport was horrible. It has to be the worse airport I have ever been in my life (but then again I have only been in two airports in Africa; Johannesburg/South Africa and Windhoek/Namibia. From the plane, outside the building, the airport looks beautiful. I even thought it looked better than Windhoek/Namibia’s Hosea Kutako International Airport. I was quite impressed. But as soon as I set foot inside the airport, I felt like I was at a village bus stop, some where in the remote areas of Africa. It was hot, over crowded and not welcoming…. I was standing in line for the whole two hours with nowhere to sit. The bathrooms looked small, scary and nasty from outside but they were actually cleaner inside than I expected. Maybe they just got cleaned before I entered since the cleaning lady was still in there. Others have told me that the bathrooms are usually nasty. I guess I was a bit lucky that day. Anyway, that was a bit disappointing considering the fact that Ethiopian Airlines provided top notch service. The airport should match its national airline and upgrade….. Two hours later, I was happy to leave Addis Ababa airport with Ethiopian Airlines. We made a quick stop in Gaborone, Botswana to pick up more passengers before heading to our final destination, Windhoek, Namibia. We didn’t leave the plane this time but I wish we did so I can at least say that I stepped a foot in Botswana since I have never been there before…. 20 hours later after leaving the USA, I arrived in Windhoek, Namibia to the lovely sight of some of my family members….!

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I’m happy to be writing this blog post from one of my favorite travel destinations in the world; the beautiful Namibia!  Namibia is my 2nd home for various reasons. I wasn’t born or raised here but my parents are Namibian. So I make it a point to visit here often, for business and pleasure. It’s good to be back home, surrounded by amazing friends and family , including my 4 year old son, who’s on his second trip to Africa. He came here for the first time when he was only one and loved it. Hopefully he will grow up to be a global trotter like his mommy.

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Recap: Trip to Namibia in 2014; my son’s first trip to Africa at age of 1.

If you have no idea where Namibia is and have never heard of it, do noy despair. You’re not alone. There are a lot of people out there who have never heard of Namibia and have no idea where in the world it is. I live in one of the most international cities in the world, Washington, DC, and I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that I’m the first Namibian they have ever met. 95% of the people I meet in the USA had never met anyone from Namibia. I used to joke around that maybe I should start carrying a petition so people who meet a first Namibian could sign the petition and I will present it to the Namibian government and compensate me for the wonderful job that I’m doing as a non-paid, un-official Namibian Ambassador promoting Namibia to the world… I decided the petition was not necessary; I’m happy to be of service to my country of descent and helping to put her on the world map, in my small but big way….

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The basics… Namibia is pronounced NAH-MEE-BEER, NOT NAMBIA; note that there’s an “i” after the “M.” Sorry, I know you can read and know how to put your letters together but I had to make that clear because that’s what I always hear when I say “Namibia”… People who have never heard of Namibia or been there make it a point to correct me saying…”Oh, you mean NAMBIA”…. And I’m like… “No.. It’s N-A-M-I-B-I-A…. There’s an ‘i’ after ‘m’…”… Now that we have gotten the pronunciation out of the way, here is the fun and cool stuff about Namibia that will make you fall in love with her, like many people do when they are introduced to her.

People think Namibia is a small country just cause they have never heard of her. She’s the 34th largest country in the world at 318,772 mi² / 824,292 square kilometers. she’s 12 times the size of the USA and slightly more than half the size of Alaska. In the general scope of things, the only small thing about Namibia is her population, which estimated at 2.3 million people. She’s a big, under populated country with a GDP per capita of US$6,000 which is quite high at 48% of the world average and therefore it’s considered to be a middle-income country, although there’s a big income disparity among its citizens. The life expectancy of Namibians is 63.88 years. Not too shabby…

Namibia is rich and beautiful country on the southwest part of Africa, with unspoiled, breathtaking landscape, highly protected environment, and wildlife. She’s neighbored by South Africa on the south, Angola on the north, Zambia on the northeast and Botswana on the east. The Atlantic Ocean is on the west. Namibia is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. She produces large quantities of lead, zinc, tin, silver, and tungsten. She’s the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium, is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa. She’s also rich in alluvial diamond deposits, a primary source for gem quality diamonds. Namibia has a rich culture from its 13 diverse ethnic groups; The San People (formerly known as the bush people who make up 3% of the population), Owambo (50%), Whites (6%), Damara (7%), Herero (7%), Baster (2%), Nama (5%), Kavango (9%), Colored (this does not mean black people like in America; it basically means mixed-race , 5.5%), Tswanas (0.5%), Himba (0.5%), Caprivian (4%), Topnaars (0.5%).

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Politically, Namibia is a peaceful country with a stable democratic government. It used to be a German colony and then after World War 1 when German lost everything, Namibia was handed to the British who didn’t want to deal with her on that level so she was handed apartheid South Africa, who ruled Namibia under the same apartheid regime that was in Namibia. Namibia and South Africa basically shared the same government and was an un-official province of South Africa from 1918 until the apartheid war ended in 1989. Namibia became independent from South Africa on March 21st, 1990. I’m proud to say that my parents were one of the brave freedom fighters who fled apartheid Namibia to pick up arms and fought to liberate Namibia. Namibia is coined “Land of the Brave” because of brave men and women like my parents who laid their lives down for the freedom that Namibians enjoy today.

Compared to many African countries, Namibia is quite industrialized, with good infrastructure. She is one of Africa’s success stories and is considered to be one of four LEAST corrupt country in Namibia. Most people who visit Namibia often marvel at her beauty, cleanliness, and level of development; citing that they felt like they were in a European country. So tourism wise, Namibia is a paradise and heaven on earth. I always tell people that there’s nothing in the USA that I can’t get in Namibia. The only difference is that life is slower in Namibia, there’s no sense of urgency, customer service sucks (my biggest Namibia pet-peeve; hopefully it has improved since I was last there 3 years ago), the air is fresher, the food it better, even coke/coca-cola tastes 100% better and more authentic (Lord help me, I’m on a coke diet but hopefully I won’t give in…)… Anyway, there’s no better way to introduce you to Namibia than through this amazing video. Check it out:

 

Week 1 – Hello Namibia! I’m back!!!

I spent the first week in Namibia catching up with family. We threw a party party for “sweet mother”, went out partying with some of my cousins, went on a tour of Windhoek, provided some global health fitness travel services, relaxed and enjoyed time with loved ones.

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Windhoek City baby!!! My home in Namibia!
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One of Namibia’s staple foods: Oshifima and Vambo chicken
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YUMMY! My son and I’s favorite items to consume while in Namibia!

 

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I love Windhoek!

First order of the day when you visit Africa is to get your hair done/ braided (styled) perfectly by the local people at an affordable price. Support local business… I got my hair braided by Johanna’s Beauty Salon +264816569253 (Windhoek, Namibia). Johanna has been doing hair since she was 10 years old! Video Music by: TK/Joseph Nashilundo.

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Fun Night out with family

Fun Night, party hopping from Katutura (the Windhoek township area) to Windhoek City Center where we closed off the night at Monaco. #Oshimwenyo (FunLife) with #Family #Monaco #Windhoek #Namibia

And of course, I had to visit Single Quarters for some Kapana. Kapana is Namibia’s delicacy and you can’t come to Namibia and not eat Kapana (barbecue meat prepared the Namibian way)….

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Global Health-Fitness Work in Namibia

I’m passionate about providing health, wellness and fitness services around the world. As a Global Health Fitness Professional with over 15 years experience in the field, I work with the The WellnessPlex Global Health Foundation, where we travel around the world providing free health education, health screenings such as blood pressure, cholesterol, body composition, glucose, and fitness/physical activities, especially in low income communities where there is a great need for such services. Our global health campaign motto is “Know Your Numbers and Move Your Body.” To support our global health campaign, please visit http://www.thewellnessplex.com or email info@thewellnessplex.com / thewellnessplex@gmail.com.

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Providing free health screenings #KnowYourNumbers
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Leading a dance fitness session #MoveYourBody

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Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek is a beautiful capital city of Namibia. It is considered to be Africa’s cleanest city. See for your self (video below). My tour included a visit to shopping malls, Parliament build and garden, State House, various Hills where you can get a beautiful view of Windhoek, Christ Church, National Museum, Christ Church/Christus Kirche.

Watch my tour of Windhoek City

 

Beautiful Windhoek City (Independence Avenue)

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Magnificent view of Windhoek City from The Hill…..

During my tour of Windhoek, I had an unpleasant experience while admiring the State House. This is what went through my mind soon after the experience….

The Status update I made on my social media profile which received a lot of comments and likes in favor: “Not allowed to take pictures and videos of the State House? What the heck? There are even signs on the big wall-fence saying no photos (videos) allowed…. (Disclaimer: I got the attached image from google)…… I don’t live in Namibia so yesterday I was doing a tour of Windhoek City like a true tourist, appreciating the City. When I got to the front/the main entrance of the State House, far far away from the nearest State House building, I got out of the car about to take pictures and video and the security stopped me saying no pictures and videos allowed. I was confused, like what???…Why??? There are no such restrictions at the White House in America, and even at Buckingham Palace, which is a far bigger deal than the Namibian State House, security wise… The public/visitors can even go inside the White House…. The State House was built with Namibian tax payers money but yet Namibians cannot even take a nice and decent picture of the State House, nor are public visitations allowed? This does not sound right…. Eepangelo nali talepo nawa (in Oshiwambo which means the government should do something about this)…. Or am I missing something???”….

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Namibia’s State House

My favorite part of being in Namibia is that I get to experience life in Windhoek City and life in Katutura, as I have family members who live in both. Katutura is a township in Windhoek. It is Namibia’s version of Soweto in South Africa. Katutura and Soweto basically have the same history of apartheid. Just like Soweto, Katutura is where black Namibians were forced to move to by the apartheid regime during apartheid, far away from Windhoek City where the white Namibians lived. Today, Katutura has a mixture of modern houses and shacks. It’s a people’s place where there’s constant fun and liveliness. People there seem happier, livelier and freer than those who live in big houses in the city, in spite the poverty. I have family who live in Windhoek City and Katutura, however, Katutura is my favorite place to stay and hangout while in Namibia.

Watch my Katutura video here:

 

I also got a chance to visit Hereos Acre in Windhoek a memorial site for Namibia’s hereos who played a big role in liberating Namibia from colonialist and apartheid. I had to pay respect to the fallen heroes of Namibia. Their blood and sweat waters Namibia’s  freedom that we so enjoy today. Their sacrifice for freedom is celebrated every year on the August 26 which is a national holiday.

Watch my visit to Heroes Acre here:

 

Week 2: Visiting South Africa!

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 I had an amazing time in South Africa visiting family and going around Pretoria, Soweto, Johannesburg and Sandton. I have members to cherish for a lifetime and I can’t wait to be back again soon. Be sure to read the South Africa post in my blog. Click here to read all about it.

Week 3: Back in Namibia!

When I got back from visiting family in South Africa, I got put the final touches on organizing my family reunion on my dad’s side. The reunion was a huge success. I got a chance to meet some of my family members for the first time and reconnected with the ones I already knew. I also got a chance to learn more about my beautiful large family. Family is precious and we should cherish each other at every opportunity we get.

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Enjoying a family reunion

After the family Reunion, I traveled to Owamboland (The North) where my family originates from. I’m from the Aawambo tribe and our native langue is Oshiwambo. Nearly all the Oshiwambo speakers in Namibia (50% of the population) travel to the North to visit family. You can’t visit Namibia and not travel to the North (village) to visit family in the village. The trip to the North is always a fun and therapeutic with because of the beautiful Namibian scenery, great company, yummy food and entertaining music.

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Road trip to the North… The scenery!
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The scenery…. Road trip to the North

 

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Beautiful Rainbow in Owamboland (the North)

Video of my road trip to the North:

The northern part of Namibia has towns and villages. The villages are traditional homes and every Oshiwambo family has a traditional home that they go to on a regular basis to retreat, relax, visit family and to celebrate special family events such as weddings. The towns are modern with brick buildings, indoor running water and electricity. The villages on are a different story; visiting a village is almost like going back in time to he 1800s of before that. I get to stay at both modernized and traditional villages on both sides of my family. I chose to show the traditional one cos it’s different. Let’s be proud of where we came from, how far we have come and appreciate it all.

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Inside a village homestead….
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The field..
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Village huts
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Olupalo… A special place for gathering in the village
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Village huts

The village homes are called homesteads and they are surrounded by a fence. Some fences are made of tree logs, wire barbs and bricks. Some villages have brick houses but most of them have huts where people sleep and they don’t have indoor running water/taps and electricity. So villagers have to fetch water from a community tap, the river or the well. Life is very simple in the villages. Most of the stead has a kraal for goats, cows and other domestic animals. The food in the village is organic as families grow and prepare their own food.

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Me pounding omahangu which is made into Oshiwambo staple food, oshifima
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At the village kitchen
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Working in the field…

Unfortunately, most villages don’t have indoor plumbing so one has to go and do their business in the bush (toilet) and take a bath in the tree-log bathroom as shown below.

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Village life: Going to the bush (toilet) to do my business…
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Village life: Taking a bath

I had a great time in the North. I believe this is the most fun I have ever had visiting the village and I will cherish these memories.

Watch my village video below:

 

Week 4: Visit to Angola

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Angola-Namibia border: In Oshikango (Namibia side) crossing into Santa Clara (Angola side)

After my time in the village, I decided to cross the border into Angola and visit the country where I was born. Angola borders Namibia so it was a lot easier and faster for for me to go Angola while in the north via Oshikango/Santa Clara Border. I had a great time in Angola. It was my first time back since I left back in June 1989 after the apartheid war ended. Read more about my trip to Angola here:

Week 5: Farewell….

Oh my way back from the North/Owamboland going back to Namibia to relax and get ready to travel back to the USA, I made a quick pass through Etosha National Park to see the wild life. It was my first time there and wish I had dedicated more time to spend at the park. I only spend an hour there and didn’t get to see all the animals. To see as many animals, you need to go in the morning or early afternoon and spend a whole day there as they close at sunset. It’s preferable the that spend the night there so you can take all the time in the world to enjoy this magnificent Safari.

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Here is my video of Etosha National Park

 

HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE IN NAMIBIA

I mentioned this at the beginning of this blog hoping that it wouldn’t be as bad this time and that there will be noticeable improvement but unfortunately, customer service remains HORRIBLE in Namibia, especially when the customer is black. A day before my depature, a store rep started a fight with me and my sister just because we asked her to assist us in the store…. Watch what transpired at #Safariland in Windhoek …… Namibian companies, please train/re-train your workers on how to deliver exceptional customer service…. Kudos to those who make customer service a priority.

 

Nonetheless…. As you can tell! I had the most amazing 5-week vacation in Southern Africa. Time went by too fast. Usually, I’m ready to get back home to the USA after the 3rd week as by that time, I have seen and done all that I needed to do during my visit. This time it was different. I believe it’s because I was traveling a lot inside and outside Namibia that I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. I didn’t visit Swakopmund, although I have been to Swakopmund before. Swakopmund is a coastal town of Namibia with the beach and the desert. It’s always a great place to visit. Here is a Swakopmund blast from the past:

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Enjoying the beach in Swakopmund, Namibia
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Quadbiking and horse riding in he Namib Desert in Swakopmund, Namibia

Furthermore, I didn’t get to do a full tour of Namibia and I didn’t get to spend as much time with most of my friends as most of my time was dedicated to spending it with family. But, there’s always a next time…. I thank God for traveling mercies and the wonderful time that I had and the people who made it special. Thank you!

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Admiring Air Namibia in the background at Windhoek International Airport
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Boarding Ethiopian Airlines back to Washington, DC via Addis Ababa
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In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Apparently Addis Ababa is Africa’s Capital City….

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Going outside Africa, I was at the nicer part of Addis Ababa Airport – the new airport..
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Touch town Washington, DC, USA! I’m back home!

View all the Pictures here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskScbKnn

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Valentina's World Travel

I'm an International Citizen who I loves to travel and meet people from different parts of the world. For those who love to travel and see the world, this for you! For more info, visit www.valentinasworldtravel.com. Here is more info: 1. Read the Travel Blog:https://valentinasworldtravel.wordpress.com/ 2. See the Pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/148965481@N05/albums 3. Watch the videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrQ4QJAgx0qMVYPWkxBGnoA5

One thought on “With love from Namibia – Land of the Brave”

  1. This is staning. A better travel info than those in the Tourism website. I trust that even those who never visited or knew Namibia’s existence will know and would love to visit. I can see you had people who valued your presence and cherished you. It was learning process for your ten years old boy to know his roots and enjoy playing in sand and see domesticated animals. For you also seeing a clean and developing Windhoek was fantastic. I will save the link if you don’t mind. God bless!

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