“Let’s watch the games at a bar,” I suggested to Boy, my host in Luderitz.
He was happy with with the idea and so he lead us from Nautilus, the township neighbourhood where he lives, to Barrels, a restaurant bar that has live music. And hosts the annual Lüderitz Diamond Bike Rally where members of various motorcycle clubs take part in street tricks, burning rubber and livers as they drink and become merry to the sounds of the live bands.
I enjoyed it so much at Barrels that I asked Monica, if in exchange for a bed and food, I could help behind the bar and play a few gigs.
“Not a problem,” she smiled warmly after she ran it by Manfred, her husband who used to play for the Namibian national soccer team (they didn’t make it to the World Cup. I don’t think they’ve made it to any cups, really).
Their two sons, Rich and Jacques along with Waldo (pronounced: Valdo) showed me the ropes behind the bar as I jammed along with Alfred on stage, blowing the harmonica to Men At Work’s Land Downunder (seeing as I was Aussie). When Alfred took a break I took over the six-string classical guitar (I haven’t played on nylon strings since I was 19. I think) entertaining the crowds with my covers of rock classics, reggae, country and even Michael Jackson.
Lüderitz is a town situated on a bay and is one of only two harbour ports in Namibia. The other being Walvis Bay, about 750 K’s north. Lüderitz was discovered by the Portuguese explorer, Bartholomew Dias in 1487, on his way to route a shipping lane to reach the Orient (a year later he’ll discover Mossel Bay in South Africa).
Lüderitz’s first name was Angra Pequeña, which in Portuguese means, Small Bay. The name Lüderitz came about only a few centuries later, in 1883 when German Heinrich Volgelsang purchased the bay area from local Nama chief, Joseph Fredericks II in Bethanie. The purchase was made on behalf of Adolf Lüderitz.
It was only when Lüderitz failed to return from an expedition to the Orange River in 1886 that Angra Pequeña was named Lüderitzbucht in his honour.
The main income of the locals back when it was still popular to name a German kid Adolf was whaling, seal hunting and guano harvesting (Mmm, guano). Nowadays the locals support themselves and the town on diamond mining, fishing and tourism.
If you’re looking for places to stay in Ludertiz I can recommend two:
Kratzplatz Accommodation (with the attached Barrels Bar http://www.kratzplatz.info/) provides rooms with TVs, mini fridges (you’ll have to stock them up yourselves) and a fan for those warm nights. An en-suite bathroom and the diamond in the rough, Barrels, the bar and restaurant with amazing food choices including an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet for just $12 AUD (the choices vary nightly) among the pizzas, steak, burgers and pastas that make up the menu.
The whole yard and entrance are decorated with random items including a motorbike on the roof and the bottom half of mannequins as pot plants.
The friendly staff will happily cater to your every need including laundry, secure parking and a fully stocked bar (local draught beer is only $1.50 AUD), open late with the occasional live music and large flat-screen TV for sports viewing.
The other place that graciously hosted me is around the corner, the Bay View Hotel (http://www.luderitzhotels.com/), shaped to resemble a cruise ship with its porthole windows. And like most self-respecting cruise ships, it has its own swimming pool. The rooms are carpeted which might make it a bit warmer in the summer season and each have a TV. And the bathrooms come with a bath (it’s been almost two years since I last soaked in a bath tub).
Bay View also has its own bar and restaurant although, due to the World Cup, I was used to watching the games at Barrels (they have a bigger screen) and having dinner there, discussing tactics, teams and players with Manfred and his boys and any other guests who wished to partake in our intriguing football dialogue.
But I’m sure the food is just as great as it is at Barrels. Bay View also provide secure parking and have a night watchman on duty from 19:00 in the evening although Namibia is a lot safer than South Africa. Just tap on the window and he’ll come and unlock the door for you.
Barrels\Kratzplatz is located on the oldest street in Luderitz while Bay View is a little more towards the centre of town, just shy of the only round-a-bout (with a rocky fountain fixture). Supermarkets are nearby varying from the popular Spars to OK Grocery.
ATM’s and banks are all within walking distance. In fact, you could walk around the whole town in a day, exploring the hundred-year-old plus buildings from the days when Namibia was called German West South Africa before it was colonised by South Africa and eventually gained independence on the 21st of March, 1990.
Namibia is a large desert land with the Namib Desert, one of the oldest and driest on our blue planet, spanning most of the country from the Kalahari in the east (Botswana’s west) all the way to the Atlantic and 2,000 K’s to the north. Perhaps all this desert is what makes Namibia one of the smallest populated countries in the world with a total population of only 2.1 million people.
There is an abundance of wildlife and like most African nations, Namibia suffers from poachers who hunt elephants for their ivory tusks, rhinos for horns that have been proven to have no medicinal value and lions for being lions.
And so far, three weeks in, I’ve only encountered friendly locals, happy to help with whatever you need, doing so with a magnetic smile.