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  • Exactly 5 years ago I lived with my husband in Namibia. Christmas feelings started with an invitation:

    It is the birthday of the husband of one of our German Namibian friends. He wants to celebrate with us in the Swakop Canyon. The Swakop is the river which in Swakopmund flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Our friend explains,” Just once every seven years there is enough water that it reaches the ocean!” Most of the time the Swakop is nothing but a dry riverbed.

    First we drive about an hour outside of Swakopmund into what is called The Moonscape. We stop on top of a hill and look down into a brown and endless landscape of mountains and hills. No tree, no green as far as your eyes reach. It truly looks like you imagine the Moon to be.

    Somewhere down there is the Swakop Canyon where we will go!” explains our friend.

    We find the dry riverbed and drive it upwards which is just possible with four-wheel-drive. There are many side arms of the non – existent river; it seems to be a terrible labyrinth. Fortunately our friend makes his money bringing tourists here and he knows the area well.

    “Some time ago I brought a group of tourists here,” he tells us,” and suddenly I spotted a car lonely in the desert down here. I went towards the car and discovered a couple in there, studying a map. They were lost. They asked me if I could point out to them on the map where we were. But I could not do that. I did not know myself. I just told them to follow me to be able to find their way out of the canyon.”

    Down in the riverbed we run into a few dusty trees, mostly dead. Beside those the only things which grow are bush, called Dollarbush, because of the round form and silvery color of its leaves, the extremely poisonous Euphorbia, which looks like a Mexican cactus, but is not a cactus and the strange and endemic Welwitschia Mirabilis. This latter one is the oldest still living plant species on our planet, a living fossil. One plant can survive centuries in this hostile environment.

    Later our friend’s stepson tells us,” Six generations ago my forefathers from my Dad’s side emigrated here from England. In this very canyon they started a farm. But after a while my Greatgreatgreatgreatgrandfather got tired of continually defending his farmland and cattle against the many lions and elephants and he moved to the area around what today is Windhoek.”

    We reach a wide area in the riverbed and stop. Other members of our friend’s family have already put up a long table and dressed it with table cloth, wine glasses and everything needed for the fiesta. A fire burns. On it a huge fillet wrapped in aluminum foil is broiling. It already smells deliciously. But first we are served cr4abs which our friend’s son has fished one by one out of the icy cold Atlantic waters. Another guest has brought a tasty Cheese Cake. Champagne Bottles are opened. Namibia and South Africa produce excellent wine and we do enjoy it! The sun sets quickly and somebody shovels little mounts of glowing ash under our seats so that our butts do not start to freeze. My butt gets too hot. I get up and walk a bit away. Suddenly I am all alone under the black night full of stars. How small I fell! How wonderful and mysterious that I exist! Is it possible that just an hour from here Swakopmund vibrates with its light chains and Christmas decorations?

    Around midnight we all help packing up. The smacking sound of an army of geckos accompanies our activity. Suddenly we hear another sound. We have finished and already packed our flashlights away. What is this? Fortunately I grab my small light which I always carry inside my vest. It guides us to two desert foxes. They want to rest at the dying fire and we let them.

    Photography by Kiki

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