Malawian Rice Vendor

Friday, 9 September 2011

Best laid plans

We made it to Windhoek, found one of the better backpackers we have stayed in right in central city, our next mission was to try to organize a car so that we could explore the country as Namibia is similar to Botswana in the fact that there are no real public transport options to get you to places of interest. Car rental is exceedingly expensive so our mission was to find one or two people to share. As luck would have it a girl that we had spent much time with at Butterfly in Malawi was heading into Windhoek. We had previously discussed with her sharing options and we knew she was keen. While chatting to various people at the backpackers we also met an Aussie guy who wanted to come along. He was a bit younger but seemed to be more or less on the same wave length which is good when you are going to spend 24/7 with a complete stranger. We spent the better part of a day and a half researching via internet various car companies trying to find a suitable ride that would not only be economical but that would be able to survive the wear and tear of the Namibian desert. We found a number of places that were totally booked out but a couple had posted on their websites to come visit the office. So, we set out on foot to check out what was available. We ended up finding two companies that were within the price range and car type that we wanted. One of which happened to be through the travel agency located at our backpackers lodge. We decided after much discussion to with them. It was getting late in the afternoon and they told us that we could book the car and that we could settle up first thing in the morning. This is important because we also needed to make sure we have reservations for a campsite at Etosha National Park as they book up quickly. This, being high season, we realized that we were reduced to certain days only. The four of us met late in the afternoon to do some serious planning and to go shopping all together. We decided that we would wake up for breakfast at 7am and pick up our car by 8am so that we could be on the road as early as possible. We woke up before first light, packed our gear, and headed for breakfast. Our first clue that things were amiss was that the Aussie was nowhere to be found by 7:45am. Finally, Erika went to search for him and found him in his room nonchalantly mucking about. She, in her best political way, said "we need to get a move on". He responded OK and she went to find Jeff who was on the computer making sure that there was enough money in the checking account. About 15 minutes later, the Aussie came out and asked if he could speak with Erika at which point he asked her if she worries a lot and then proceeded to ask her if she was controlling. This took Erika aback as she is anything but controlling. Right then she had a bitter taste in her mouth but she controlled her ego and let it slide. By 8am we went to the rental office where we were informed that the car we had booked had been given away and that there were no other vehicles available at the time. We were stunned. We had specifically asked if we should pay a security deposit the night before and were told that it was not necessary. We were very upset needless to say. We tried to call Robin, the other Aussie from Butterfly to inform her not to pay for the park reservations since we did not have a car. Luckily we were able to catch her on the phone as she was standing at the office, money in hand. She came back to the guest house and we tried to re-group. The three of us decided, no problem we will figure out a way to go the next day. It was then the young Aussie boy appeared and upon hearing the news decided that he was going to bail out. It was obvious to us that he had made up his mind the night before as we saw him gallivanting around the backpackers trying to chat up all the single Europeans that were around. He did not want to wait even 24 hours more. At that point, a representative from the rental agency appeared and said they could have a car for us at 10:30am but we knew, having been here in Africa, that 10:30 could mean 4pm or later. This obviously would not give us enough time to drive the 500 km + distance to make it to the park before nightfall before they close the gates. So now, we are at square one again and we will try to sort everything out and get on the road. In the meantime we are in Windhoek which is a very modern city. The bright side is that we could be stuck somewhere a lot worse. We will let you know as soon as we know....

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