this is where i spend most of my days in swakopmund. its a bit like a toy store for big kids! my desk is the one in the corner with the plant on it.
we went on our first african road trip this weekend, up to the omaruru game lodge. brenda and i had been hunting around for places to check out that are relatively close by, and this place was recommended to us by the lady who runs our favourite cafe. the lodge is located about 2.5 hours drive north east of swakopmund.
it was good to be back on the road again! the landscape became greener as we headed inland, although its still very dry by non-namibian standards. we spotted a couple of wild ostrich and springbok along the way which whetted our appetites for the promise of more to come.
you don’t see signs like this very often!
we had booked online on friday night and headed up there without getting a confirmation or anything. a bit risky, but that’s how we roll. the ladies at reception were very german and none too pleased that we had showed up all willy-nilly. they huffed and puffed a little but eventually gave us the keys to our place. we had asked for a “self-catering bungalow” which is just a small hut with a kitchenette. the hut sits in a cluster of five others, all of which are built around a small swimming pool.
once we were settled in, the three of us went to sit by the pool and hang out. there were three other families already there and it didn’t take long before they invited us over. actually i think the first words they said to us was “would you like something to drink?”. foolishly we accepted and then our weekend away took on an unexpected twist. from those fateful words the group took it upon themselves to make sure we always had a drink in our hands, right up to the time we left the next day. they also were very generous with their food, even though we had to refuse most of it (it was all meat!).
it turns out that one of the guys is the son of the lady who runs the lodge, and we had the good fortune of going on a free game drive with them. brenda and my first drunken safari! it was a really fun drive, and we saw tons of animals. many of the animals have been raised on the lodge grounds and are very comfortable around humans. the elephants came so close you could reach out and touch them!
check out this huge termite mound. our guide told us it was about twenty years old.
our animal sightings continued into the night. the more expensive rooms at the lodge are built around a waterhole, and at dusk they put our grass for the animals to eat. the coolest part of the evening was seeing the rhinos. they are pretty spectacular beasts!
for the rest of the evening we hung out with our new friends and then passed out cold. thanks to nayou we were up early enough the next morning to go see the cheetah and leopards being fed. the guide didn’t have very kind words to say about the cheetah but i thought he was really cute. the leopard was awesome too. i’m glad there was a tall fence between us – his teeth are bad ass! both animals got to feast on some tasty giraffe meat for breakfast. mmm.
after the feedings it was time to pack up, hang out and head on home. we arrived back in swakopmund tired and happy. which is just about the best way to feel on a sunday evening!
here is a video tour of our apartment in swakopmund. i’m not sure if its because most of the housing here is built with the vacation in mind, but every place has tons of bedrooms and bathrooms. ours is no exception with no less than four bedrooms and three bathrooms. not that i’m complaining – we converted one of the rooms to a dedicated yoga space and its awesome! what a luxury. it still puts a grin on my face every time i get on my mat 🙂
we’re located in the eastern side of the building opposite the georg ludwig kindergarten. its the dark blue building that looks like an upside down C. the production offices where i work are located on the corner of hendrik witbooi and daniel tjongarero streets, just one block down. and if you zoom about a bit you can see we’re really close to the beach!
check out this black eye!
we’re not sure exactly what happened – brenda was at the park with nayou but didn’t see the moment of impact – but from what nayou has said, he crashed or fell into this tree that is planted in the middle of swakopmund’s playground. i guess there was a knob or a branch or something that banged him pretty hard. he was understandably upset for the first few hours, but since then he has been his normal chipper self. we were worried about the bruising because of his haemophilia but it looks like its all good. just to be safe, we started him on a course of tranexamic acid to make sure that things don’t get worse. yowza!
its hard to believe that we’ve been here for almost two weeks. life has started to take on a rhythm again which is nice, especially now that we have settled into our new apartment. all three of us feel very comfortable here – its a two minute walk from work, a five minute walk from the beach and a ten minute walk from all the important places of interest. i’ve got a video tour ready to go but bandwith is a precious commodity here so i will have to figure out a way to get it uploaded without chewing through our prepaid cap 🙂
we’ve were blessed with a full week of gorgeous days. when the sun is out, we mostly find ourselves close to the playground. its right across from the beach which is perfect.
mmm seaweed necklace! nayou ate a pretty big chunk of it…. and lived to tell the tale!
this weekend we got some speakers and a blender. the essentials. now not only do we have tunes, brenda can work her smoothie magic in the mornings as well. it is way harder being a vegetarian out here (i’m already sick of greek salads) and harder still to get organic stuff. we lugged about 15kgs of spirulina, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and other goodies over from sydney and its turning out to have been a very good decision. the restaurant fare is heavy on meat, cheese and bread in that distinctly german sort of way. at least they have kikkoman soy sauce!
nayou sniffed out the toy shop within the first ten minutes of our first expedition out into town.
dmo (pronounced, dee-moh, short for david morris-oliveros) is the hardware wizard on our team. he builds all kinds of crazy machines and flies all of our drones and octocopters and stuff. it was his birthday on the 5th so we all went out to the mexican restaurant for a celebration. yes, they have a mexican joint in swakopmund. and the food isn’t half bad either!
nayou soldiered on until ~9pm and then passed out cold.
speaking of team members, i should mention bodie. bodie is nayou’s best friend. nayou *loves* bodie and bodie loves him back. he is actually amazing with kids and its a riot watching the two of them interact. you will be seeing a lot more of him on this blog 🙂
this morning we went out into the bay for a dolphin cruise. it was a short three hour jaunt around walvis bay to check out the sea animals that live in the region. we were treated to pelicans, a ton of seals and some dolphins!
a few of the smarter seals have figured out that they get fed if they can work the crowd. they come right up onto the boat and are not afraid of humans at all!
here is our band of merry pirates, minus aj (the visual effects supervisor) and alex (the vfx producer). from left to right its: dmo (on-set systems dude), nayou (child model), kaeko (dmo’s wife), jess (coordinator), bodie (cg artist), dan (on-set supervisor), brenda (plain awesome) and me (the pipeline guy).
and the obligatory silly shot:
around 5.30pm on weekdays i usually get a text message from brenda saying how gorgeous the sunsets are from our apartment. today was the first time i got to see it firsthand and it did not disappoint.
happy mothers day to all you amazing women out there! and a big big extra humungous hug to my mum who also turned 60! xoxoxox
after months and months of talking and planning we are finally here – swakopmund, namibia. the long haul from sydney was way less painful than i anticipated, largely due to the fact that nayou is possibly the best traveller out of the three of us. he got decent sleeps in on both long legs of the flight, and was in good spirits all the way to our hotel in swakopmund. here we are in walvis bay, fresh off the plane after ~24 hours on the road.
we are currently staying at the hansa hotel, which is a beautiful colonial building from 1907 that has been restored and converted for guests. the accommodation crew was kind enough to get us a family room, which actually consists of two large rooms and even a balcony. the main room has a very comfy king size bed so we are back to sleeping all together but without getting kicked or punched all night long! plus there is underfloor heating which is just divine, and don’t even get me started on the breakfast – its like a dream come true!
the production office, where i will be working most of the time, is located just around the corner from our hotel. the building is another colonial structure from 1907. its perfect for a movie, even though its a bit labyrinthine inside. all of our gear arrived safely and we spent the better part of last week getting all of our computers, servers and other toys up and running.
now that we’ve been here for five days the “oh shit what have we done” feeling has worn off and we are starting to get into the groove of things. swakopmund is a small town – about 45,000 people – but it feels like less because you don’t see a lot of folks around. but its very comfortable and the weather is very pleasant. we get misty mornings which tend to dissipate when the sun comes up and then its really really nice.
we are sandwiched between the beach and the namib desert. both of them are spectacular environments. the beach is a bit rougher and the water a bit colder than say, bali or mexico, but being close the ocean is never a bad thing. and the desert is just awesome. its one thing to imagine sand dunes, and its a whole other thing to drive past them and see just how big some of them are! we haven’t taken many desert photos yet but we will post some as soon we have them. in the meantime here are some more snaps of our little tribe getting over jetlag during our first afternoon here.
brenda and nayou went to visit the swakopmund museum on thursday. its a small museum but it looks interesting! and the taxidermy doesn’t look too horrible…
there is a park right on the beach that is always full of kids. i haven’t seen too many adult groups of mixed races, but out in the playground its a big melting pot!
i’ve had one day out on location where we took our set up for a test drive. i’ll write more on the tech we are using later, but i will say that its the stuff geeks dream of. our kit includes an aerial drone, survey-grade gps equipment, a velocity box and an octocopter. hubba hubba. we took a look at a couple of locations where various scenes will be shot and i can see why they chose namibia for the movie. the landscape is a bit like being on the moon, but with a brown palette. lots of cliffs and rocky outcrops and very little plant life. i didn’t take my camera, but i will share some photos i got from bodie this morning. stay tuned though because we’ll be going back out there and i will be sure to take photos next time!
but the best shot of the day was taken by dan who captured the most amazing michael bay moment. and i wasn’t even trying! honest!
in other news, we have found a very cute place to stay right in the middle of town. its a stones throw from the beach, the playground and my office. we move in on monday. woot woot!