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  • Shortly after we returned from Tanzania in June 2007, my sister and niece were scheduled to arrive from Germany. I wanted to take them to a special restaurant on their first day with us. It was in a little hotel in Langstand, a village on the Skeleton Coast in the middle between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.

    In 2005 Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed in the hotel for several months while awaiting the birth of their daughter, Shiloh. Before Shiloh, whenever I told anyone we were planning a trip to Namibia, they’d say,” Where’s that?” After Brad and Angelina had lived here, people would say to me, "Ah, Namibia. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were there,” even though most still didn’t have a clue where Namibia was.

    I had read a newspaper article about the hotel which was poetically named The Burning Shore. The gourmet dishes in its restaurant were described and immediately set my mouth watering. The owner said that every day people from all over the world came to his little hotel and asked Brangelina - Questions: which was Brad’s favorite chair? Which room did Angelina sleep in with her new baby? Which plates did they dine off ?

    I thought that taking my sister and niece to that hotel for a meal would be an experience they would remember for the rest of their lives.

    I called The Burning Shore to reserve a table.

    Langstrand, we discovered when we drove there for dinner, was nothing more than a strip of two-story vacation homes with two small hotels thrown in there. There was not the least bit special about Lamgstrand.

    One side of the small settlement looked to the Atlantic Ocean; the endless dunes ran right up to its other side. Still, we had a hard time finding The Burning Shore. It had no sign. We drove the length of Langstrand several times. There was no one on the street to ask. Everything seemed deserted. Finally, we spotted a small arrow pointing the direction to the hotel we were anxious to find.

    A stocky black waiter entered the empty restaurant to greet us. He was not dressed as a waiter, though, but wore jeans and a thick woolen sweater.

    We said, "We have a table reserved."

    The man opened a huge book and searched for our names. He found nothing. He looked up and through me and murmured, “There’s another reservation book . . .”

    and disappeared into a back room.

    We watched the ocean blinking in the bright sunlight. The waiter returned after a very long time with a very sad face and announced,"I’m so sorry, but I can’t find your reservation.”

    I wanted to protest. I could feel anger rising in my guts. But before I could explode, the man’s face rippled into a huge smile. “As we have no other guests, just choose which table you’d like and sit down.”

    We did.

    There were just seven tables. Each was set awaiting diners and laid with menus, which had photos of delicious looking meals. We were all hungry and would be happy with any of the possibilities.

    ”I’ll have the venison, please,” I told the waiter when he came to take our orders.

    The sad face returns. ”I’m sorry, but we’re out of game.”

    I looked the menu up and down and finally settled on another meat dish.

    My sister wanted the mushroom soup.

    “Today we just have chicken soup,” our waiter declared.

    When our food finally arrived it could have been from any third rate fast food kitchen: greasy french fries lie beside overcooked meat.

    My husband was the only one who dared order dessert. He could not finish it: a tasteless cheesecake, which had slept in a supermarket freezer for much too long.

    Angelina and Brad no longer impressed me at all.

    ______________________________________________________________________________________
    Art by Kiki ("The Special Seat")
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