We got to Walvis Bay without incident and boarded a catamaran for our next adventure - a cruise and wildlife tour around the Bay. We had no idea what to expect since we decided to take the boat ride on the recommendation of our hostess in Windhoek, and there was no mention in the guide book or from anyone we had talked to about taking a boat in Namibia. We literally had written down the phone number and called the afternoon prior to see if there was space for us on the boat. Thank goodness there was room for us, because this boat ride made the trip entirely worth it!
We walked down a long wooden dock to get to the catamaran, and one of the kids in the group noticed a jellyfish in the water off the dock. I stopped to look and take a photo of the large jellyfish floating very close to the surface - a wildlife sighting already! Little did I know that I would see more jellyfish than ever in my entire cumulative life experience on that boat ride - we sailed past pockets of them in the water so thick you could reach in and easily grab four or five in one scoop! What a sight to see.
|Jellyfish off the Dock|
|Pelicans Looking for a Snack|
Then the boat started moving at a faster pace, and we got a bit farther out into the bay. Our guide proceeded to reach off the back of the boat and pick up a jellyfish WITH HIS BARE HANDS! I couldn't believe he wasn't getting stung, but he explained that these jellies don't sting. As you can see in the photo below, he had no problem touching its tentacles. I was too nervous to touch anything other than its head, but it was very cool to see such a huge creature up close and personal.
|Walvis Bay Jellyfish|
We then sailed even farther out into the bay, and went past acres and acres of oyster beds. We saw a crew of men hauling the oysters up into a small boat, which looked like incredibly hard work, and we also saw a huge old fishing boat sitting out in the middle of the oyster beds. Our guide explained that that old boat has had the engine removed and there is one guy who lives on it and watches over the oyster farms to make sure nobody steals the oysters! What a life. He goes back and forth in a small boat to the coast, but apparently he lives out there for a week at a time and sometimes he invites friends to keep him company on the boat.
Before long we saw something splashing in the water a little ways away. As we approached it became clear - dolphins!
|Dolphins Swimming with our Boat|
|Seals - A small portion of the number we could see from the boat. Wish I had a panorama!|
|Family Photo with Pacho|
Apparently there is another seal that follows the boats around who is particularly unfriendly, and the guides have nicknamed him Saddam Hussein. He barks loudly and has been agressive in the past, and a few weeks ago he bit one of the boat hands on the leg as he was making a repair on the boat! I was glad not to have that information until after I had my photo op with Pacho!
|Such a Friendly Guy!|
Just before we docked we passed a boat signal with a bunch of cormorants perched on it - as we went by, our captain pointed out the birds to us and made a comment about their character - as you can see, he said, they're hanging out in the red light district.
|Seedy Cormorants in the Red Light District of Walvis Bay|
|Ready to Go! (and representing with my Yale sweatshirt on)|
The four of us started out with an optimistic attitude but by the time we were 1/3 of the way up we were already losing steam. There were two teenage girls who started at about the same time we did, and one of them bolted up at twice the speed we did, while the other abandoned the cause less than halfway up. By the time I was 2/3rds of the way up, the slope was so steep that I could only go about five or six steps before stopping to catch my breath. Some of my companions began using their hands as well as their legs. We questioned if we should have rented the 4x4 dune buggies they were touting at the base of the hill! With a little faith and a lot of effort, we made it to the top!
|The Easy Part|
The jaunt down took almost no time at all and felt like a moonwalk - a great reward for such effort climbing up! by the time I got to the bottom, the cuffs of my rolled-up jeans had turned into sandbags - I actually had to stop halfway down to empty one of them because it felt like an ankle weight!
|Driving Away from Dune Seven (on the left)|
|The Almost-Full Moon Lighting the way Home|
Looking back on this trip, I feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunities I have had. I spoke to some of the hospice staff after returning from my trip and several of them said to me they have never seen the ocean. It is so important to be able to put things in perspective, and to be thankful for all we are given in this life, big or small.
Until next time!