Friday, July 26, 2013

Stay in the Croc or be Eaten by One!

Greetings All,
After leaving Etosha National Park we headed north to visit an Owambo homestead at Ongula.   The Owambo are pastoralists grazing their herds of goats and cattle and growing mahangu.  Mahangu or pearl millet is the staple food of the north-central regions of Namibia.  

Owambo Woman Pounding Mahangu

Able to grow in low-rainfall, high temperatures and low soil fertility, it is eaten in a variety of dishes and drinks, and the stalks are used to feed cattle and thatch roofs. Once grown, harvested and threshed, the mahangu is stored in giant baskets made of Mopane branches.

Basket for Storing Mahangu
That night were were treated to a song and dance performance by the local girls.

Owambo Girls Singing and Dancing

We continued our journey north and then to the west to the Kunene River which forms part of the northern border with Angola.  After not seeing flowing water for nearly two months it was a treat to cruise on the Kunene River.  We stopped on the northern shore (Angola) to take in another magnificent African sunset.

Marc and Peggy on the Kunene River
The next day I got up the nerve to go white water rafting.  The rapids weren't big, maybe class I- III but with a twist, we were to paddle our own two-man raft, called a croc through them!

Peggy next to our "Croc"

I was determined to stay in the boat as giant Nile crocodiles ply these waters.

Nile Crocodile
Our guides told us that crocodiles didn't like rapids. I hoped they were right.  We were assured that the rapids were easy but when we had to carry our raft over rocks to a canyon just above a waterfall and be lowered 10 feet over the rocky edge to the river below I wasn't sure what we had gotten ourselves into!  Once on the river we had to avoid going over the twenty foot waterfall which we managed to do. Now, the fun began...  We made it through the first two rapids without too much trouble.  On the third rapid we ended up going down backwards.  When we got to the forth, I had lost faith in Marc's navigational abilities and bailed into one of the guide's boat while Marc bailed into another.  We made it through the fourth rapid but the guides made us get back into our boat for the fifth rapid.  They warned us to avoid the big rock in the middle but failed to warn us of a second rock which we managed to get stuck on.  One of the guide boats had to come rescue us.  The sixth rapid was fairly straightforward and we made it through without incident.  We got out of the boats to check out the seventh and most difficult rapid.  It was class IV.  There was no way I was going down it in a two-man raft with Marc at the helm!  We watched the guides negotiate  the rapid, the first losing his passenger, a teenager from Belgium.  The second boat made it through with another daring teenager. We walked around the rapid with the teenagers' mother.  She was worried seeing her son pop out of the boat and go bobbing down the rapid but he ended up with only a few scrapes.  I wish I had my camera to document our journey down the river but we didn't want to get it wet so we only have one photo of us padding on flat water.

Us Paddling Toward Shore

Somehow we managed to make it through six out of the seven rapids without going overboard. While we were loading the rafts onto the trailer, a Himba girl and her brother out herding goats, came to the river to drink.

Himba Boy and Girl

The Himba are traditionally nomads, traveling long distances to find suitable places to graze their goats and cattle.  The previous day we visited an elderly couple and their 10 year old daughter at their homestead near by.  Their home was built out of sticks and mud.

Himba Family next to their Hut
We ducked inside to learn a bit more about how they live.  Living in an area with little rainfall, the Himba rarely bathe.  Instead they coat their bodies with otjize, a mixture of ochre, animal fat and herbs.  It protects their skin from the sun and insects and provides some insulation from the winter cold.

Himba Woman applying Otjize

All of their few belongings are made from leather, scrap metal or gourds.  The married women braid their hair and wear a leather headdress and not much else.  When they get married, they wear a sort of apron decorated with cowrie shells.

Himba Belongings including a Pillow in the lower Right
After our visit to the Kunene Region we headed south towards the Grootberg Plateau.  
We hope all is well back home.
Peggy and Marc

1 comment:

Namibia Publishing House said...

Dear Marc and Peggy,

I am a publisher working at Namibia Publishing House (Pty) Ltd.
We are publishing textbooks for government schools from pre-primary to high school level.

Our aim is to provide quality affordable educational materials for underprivileged kids, mainly in rural areas of Namibia.
We strive to use the most up-to-date information and attractive relevant illustrations and photographs in all our publications.

At the moment, I am working on Social Studies Grade 5 Learner's Book for Namibian primary schools, and I would like to use an image
of a Himba family in front of their hut I found on your website:
inside the book.

I would like to use the image above in the activity that accompanies the text on cultural diversity of Namibia.

I kindly ask for your permission to use the image in question inside the text of this publication. We oblige ourselves to attribute the photograph in a manner specified by yourself.

Thank you in advance for positive consideration of my request.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

Patrycja Chyla-Malima

Namibia Publishing House
19 Faraday Street
P.O. Box 22830
Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264 61 232165
Fax: +264 61 233538