Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A week in Windhoek, Namibia

On the long way from the airport into the city of Windhoek, Namibia, one can already spot the differences in the country’s vegetation in comparison to Botswana.

The vegetation at that part of the country is bushy shrubs and it looks too dry to even contemplate farming. Otherwise part of the landscape is the same as the vegetation we have between the villages of Serowe and Letlhakane.

One can’t help but stare in awe of the tall hills that are free of trees, and look as if they were made by fresh sand collecting together in one place.

It’s no suprise that the airport in Windhoek is not any bigger than ours considering that both countries have a low population density. In fact, they start their population census sometime next week.

The city, however, or the little that I saw of it, is a marvel to explore, moreso because the city is more developed than ours in terms of infrastructure.

Windhoek is quite cosmopolitan and cannot in any way be compared to Gaborone in this regard and, admittedly, I haven’t seen the city’s ghetto yet, every place has one that’s a fact.

The programme that I was travelling to Namibia for, Women In News (WIN), a programme from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, had booked us a place on the outskirts of Windhoek, a beautiful four star hotel called the Windhoek Country Club. The Hotel, which is owned by Legacy Hotels and Resorts International, also has a casino under its massive building, parts of which look as if they had been carved right out of stone.

It was at this casino, that I tried my hand at one of the machines for the first time.

I played with $80 and won $200. I was ecstatic to say the least. Kept thinking I could win more and eventually ended up gambling it all away. After that experience, I swore never to set foot in a casino again because I could see how people can easily get hooked to gambling.

I should stress that the focus of my article is partly on the hospitality industry in Namibia in comparison to Botswana. In the past, I have written about how the northern parts of Botswana, where tourism is rife, are way better in terms of customer services in the hospitality industry when compared to Gaborone.

I have in many instances of my five days stay in Windhoek noticed how extremely rude the people who work in customer services are.

Before I went to Windhoek, I was told that racism is still very much alive in the city. I didn’t believe it because that’s what people told me when I went to Germany, only to find that people like to exaggerate the stereotypes of places they hadn’t even been to.

I was right, they are not racist; they are just rude. However I was happy because some of them speak a bit of Deutsche and it was good to practise the little I have picked up of the language before it disappeared.

I have seen rude waiters and waitresses at some places I have visited in Botswana, but none like in certain areas of Windhoek. They are so rude they make you feel like you should be serving them instead, and after they take your order they disappear for hours without checking to see if you needed anything else.

At least they saved me the trouble of tipping them.

This is not to say that all the places in Windhoek are like this, but the truth is it’s not easy to come across a very friendly person in the city.

I remember an incident at the airport where we were waiting to check in, and we were in a short line. A white man came and stood beside us in a different queue, the lady shouted at him, “Excuse me, Sir, are you first class?”

The man said no and the lady shouted again, “Well then go and join the next line, can’t you see that they are other people before you, what is so special about you that you can’t wait?
Shocking!

The conference I participated in didn’t give us enough time to explore the city as much as I would have liked to, therefore I feel the need to go back to Namibia one day, this time on my own and explore it further.

Maybe there is better service and nicer people in other areas of the country.

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