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  • During a lifetime you do meet amazing people, men and women. As most women seem to have carried the burden of human life so much heavier on their shoulders for the most part of our human history (and many places still seem to do so) amazing women are often still MORE AMAZING to me.

    As I am remembering encounters and adventures from our time in Africa, since a couple of days these two women entered my mind again:

    "We drive with our visitors – my sister, niece and our son - back to Kamanjab in Damaraland. After having visited a near – by farm with old Khoi San drawings in the rocks we just drive a bit around. Kamanjab is nothing more than our guest house, a hardware store and a gas station. There is not much to do. I suddenly spot a nice drawaing of two porcupines on an entrance gate to a farm. Underneath the two porcupines it says: Porcupine Camp – Day Visitors Welcome!

    We decide to be Day Visitors. I open and close the gate and we drive in. After a few hundred meters we reach a small, flat farm house with a huge terrace in front. Several tables are all set up . Nobody sits on any of the tables, but a young blond woman stands in front of the terrace and greets us in German,"Willkommen! I am Katja."

    "Can we have a coffee here with you?” I ask.

    ^Yes, of course. We brew good strong coffee just like in Germany!”

    In the doorway behind her an older lady shows up. She introduces herself as the mother of Katja. ^Besides coffee I can offer you fresh apple strudel with whipped cream!” she announces. We are all ready for the offered goodies. While the coffee water is heated both women smoke a cigarette with my sister. They tell us that for several years they have tried to run a camping site in Kamanjab, but without much success. Then the owner of this ranch offered it to them for little lease and they are trying again. Beside the farmhouse they put up ten tents for tourists. Inside they are equipped with beds and anything simple and clean you need to stay overnight. On the other side of the house lies a bigger and very beautiful camp site for people who bring their own tents and RVs. A black man is sweeping the pathways.

    “He is our only employee”, Katja explains,” everything else we do ourselves. We do not have electricity. Look over there that is my only lamp. In the night I connect it to the battery of my car. Like this I am able to read a bit.”

    Her mother serves us strong black coffee and a delicious cake. She has finished her cigarette and returns to a sewing machine. She is busy with new tablecloths.

    “Every night I feed our porcupines”, tells us Katja,” there are eighteen and I know them all apart. They have three babies among them.”

    Then she shows us her guinea hens. Three just live because she put them in an incubator. These4 are her very favorites. We take the soft baby chickens ion our hands and caress them. Then Katja opens a little back room at the house. “This is our store,” she explains. In the tiny store we find ready made soups and facial crèmes, anything any guest might need. She shows us a few drinking glasses on which she has etched the same porcupines which she painted at the entrance gate. “I sell these glasses,” she smiles,” and these hats and shawl also. My mother and I knit them.”

    “Are there things you do NOT do?” I ask her laughing

    “She answers,” In reality I am a hearing aid specialist and I used to work in Windhoek. But I do not want to live in the city. I am happy here, out in Nature, even though it is very hard work and very low income still.”

    It is the main tourist season and we are the only guests in the Camp. But none of the women seems to be the least worried about this. They talk and laugh and go and prepare another pot of coffee.

    My husband says,” You need electricity!”

    “We do not have the 20thousand Namibian Dollars we need to pay the government for the necessary transformator,” explains us Katja.

    I ask her for a bunch of her brochures, so that I can take them back to Swakopmund and give them out there." (From my African Diary, 2007)

    I wonder if they are still out there, if their enterprise took off or not. Oh, how much I wish that it did!

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    Photography by Kiki (Damaraland, Namibia)
    More Paintings
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