We started off our big vacation with a flight to Cape Town on December 22nd. Dylan and I were the first to arrive so we waited around for a few hours for the next arrivals. I was super impressed that they had an Accessorize and a Subway in the airport! We had to have some hot chocolate while we were waiting because we were so cold in the air-conditioned terminal. =) Around 1pm we were able to greet Ann, Dan, and Abby as they came out of the arrivals gate!
We found our rental cars and dived into left-sided traffic to get to our accommodations for the week. We stayed in an area called Constantia, which is known for its greenery and beautiful vineyards. Johnny was picked up that evening (still the 22nd) and his luggage even came too – the next day. =)
It’s hard to bring people together from five different places without a few travel delays, and unfortunately Mimi and Granddad (Dylan’s grandparents) took the hit for our group on that. Originally scheduled to arrive an hour after the Cairo crowd, Mimi and Granddad missed a flight due to weather delays and ended up having to fly through Tel Aviv, Israel, and didn’t arrive in Cape Town until Christmas Eve!
On our first day we went grocery shopping to get some supplies (we were staying in self-catering flats with a small kitchen), and were very excited to see BERRIES in the store! Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…it was amazing. We stocked up on those for breakfast and had some delicious pizza for dinner.
For our first full day in Cape Town we drove down the coast to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. On the way we stopped at Boulder Beach to see the warm weather penguins. We watched from a boardwalk as they scuttled around on the beach, up and down dunes, or occasionally right under us! Shortly after that we drove into the national park surrounding Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. It was a pretty crowded place, but we still managed to see some beautiful views of cliffs and oceans and rocky beaches. It’s all very green compared to Namibia!
That night we were treated to Indian food, something Dylan and I really miss here in Namibia! Maybe it’s just been a long time since I’ve had it, but the Indian food we had there tasted just as good as India Palace to me!
Christmas Eve found Dan, Johnny, Abby, Dylan and I on a boat to Robben Island (Ann was at the airport getting Mimi and Granddad). Robben Island was used as a high security prison during apartheid (and as home for a leper colony before that) and is where Nelson Mandela served many of his 20+ years of imprisonment. On the island, we were actually guided around the prison by a former prisoner who had spent almost 20 years there. On a cloudy day, like we had, it’s a pretty bleak place. Especially now, having lived in Namibia and seen firsthand a little of the legacy of apartheid, we appreciated the history there.
Finally united with Mimi and Granddad (and miraculously, their luggage), we spent Christmas Eve singing some carols and reading the Christmas story. Our chorus ranged from a very nice rendition of Silent Night, to a somewhat disastrous attempt at The Wassail Song that had us all crying with laughter.
On Christmas Day, the Coster/Wilson tradition is for the kids to wake up the parents in the morning by singing carols. So the morning started with Johnny and Abby singing to Dylan and me, then the four of us singing to Ann and Dan, then all six of us singing to Mimi and Granddad.
We spent the morning opening stockings and presents – some interesting items came up as things had been brought from the US, Namibia, Afghanistan, and Egypt – and eating yummy scrambled eggs and cinnamon rolls for brunch. In the afternoon we took the gondola (right word?) up Table Mountain. It was nice and sunny when we went up, but as soon as we started hiking over the top to the other side we found ourselves surrounded by fog and clouds. It was interesting how the fog curled over the ridges, almost like a waterfall. It was very windy on top, and by the time we were standing in line to go down we were all huddling in our jackets!
The day after Christmas we flew to Windhoek. It was a public holiday, so not much was open, but we did get to have dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse – well known, not for its beer, but for its variety of game dishes. Between us we tried oryx, zebra, and springbok – the springbok was particularly good.
On the 27th we finally made our way up to Tsumeb so Dylan and I could show everyone where we live and teach. Unfortunately, both our schools were locked up for the holidays so we didn’t get to go in, but we drove around town and saw as much as we could. All the Costers stayed at our house (we had extra space since our roommate left) and everyone met other Dog. =)
The next day we started off relatively early and headed for Etosha. We had all day to drive through the park and make it to our lodge at Okaukuejo for the evening. The park was a very different place in December than it had been in May when my parents were here. Since it had been raining, there were puddles all over the place and fewer animals gathering around the waterholes. Still, we saw all kinds of antelopes, zebra, giraffes, ostriches, etc.
We had a long drive from Etosha, through the desert, to Swakopmund the next day. We four kids (yes, Dylan and I are kids), had a car to ourselves and we passed the time by playing the newly invented “Favorites Game” where we would come up with a topic (i.e. favorite smell) and then guess each person’s favorite. When we ran out of topics we read one of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books aloud.
Swakopmund was lovely and cool as usual, cloudy most of the time, but somehow still giving half of us sunburns. We played a lot of games up on the balcony outside one of our rooms, walked around town a bit, went to see some movies, enjoyed reading and exercising along the beach, and ate lots of good food. Here we finally found time to fit in a mini-backgammon tournament (another Coster tradition), which Dan ended up winning on New Year’s Eve. We did stay up till midnight and cheered in 2013.
On January 2nd we parted ways – Ann, Dan, Johnny and Abby back to Windhoek to fly home, and Mimi, Granddad, Dylan and I back to Tsumeb. Mimi and Granddad extended their trip to see more wildlife in Etosha and another game reserve called Erindi.
Dylan and I relaxed at home for a few days and started preparing for the new school year, then drove down to meet Mimi and Granddad at Erindi for their last couple of days. Erindi is a private game reserve, rather than a state one, and is much smaller than Etosha. They also use tracking equipment for some of their animals, which makes it pretty much a guarantee to see animals like lions, cheetahs, elephants, and rhinos. The restaurant there overlooks a waterhole where we saw herds of different animals every night, in addition to the resident hippo and crocodile populations – very impressive!
We said goodbye to Mimi and Granddad on Thursday the 10th and headed back to Tsumeb so we’d be ready for our first day of school on Friday. The vacation was actually long enough that I feel ready to go back to work – had enough relaxation for the time being. We’ll see how long that lasts! Fortunately, we’re already working on planning our next long holiday in April/May 2013. =)
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