Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Dalene & Pete Heck
One of these days, we’re going to catch trouble for it.We’re going to waltz into a country in our usual naive style (having done zero research prior to the trip), and find ourselves completely out of our depth. We’ll land somewhere unsavoury and recklessly wander with little concern and regard for our own safety, budget, or any number of things that can turn an ambitious venture into a disaster.
Namibia could have been that country, considering that we were doing it entirely independently, knew few who had been before, and were attracted solely by the shiny, pretty photos seen online. We mapped out our drive just days before we began, came in budgetless, and read the country’s Lonely Planet and Wikipedia pages on our first night in the capital.
Some day, we’re going to find ourselves in a world of hurt for this (lack of) strategy or planning. But it was not to be in Namibia.
Sure, we were a little hesitant as a result of our unpreparedness, but all of our last minute fretting was rapidly dismissed. Instead of being faced with any situation even slightly concerning, I can’t tell you how many times we were overwhelmed by the joviality and hospitality of the locals we met. From joking (and sometimes dancing) staff in cafes, to impassioned guides who spoke fervently about the problem of poaching in their country, to every single gas station attendant who would enthusiastically wave us in as if we were the last vehicle to drive on earth. We felt welcomed, encouraged, and pampered from all that we met.
Namibia didn’t meet or beat our expectations because we didn’t have any. But it is one of those few countries in which we realize, weeks later as I contemplate the words for this post and we both pour over our photos, that the positive impact is still being deeply felt.