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wild ride

“Do you like rollercoasters?” our driver asked as he crested to the top of an impressive sand dune. “Yes!” we said in unison. “No!” protested S’s mom. “Oh shit!” added our toddler from the backseat as the car completed its slow, vertical descent and the driver gunned the engine to rocket up the next dune.

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scorched earth

Ancient deserts, incredible birds and wildlife, the peace and quiet of a sparsely populated landscape – there were many reasons why Namibia seemed an attractive travel destination. Stumbling across the stunning images of Deadvlei as we researched possible routes for our trip sealed the deal.

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Munchkin on safari

We sometimes wonder what goes through our young son’s head during our travels. He won’t remember these early trips – the ten European countries he visited before his second birthday, the African safaris and boat trips, the sojourns in New England to visit his grandparents – but does he enjoy these travels in the moment?

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the great red thirst

The Kalahari Desert derives its name from an indigenous word that is variously translated as either “the great thirst” or “a waterless place.” Its arid name notwithstanding, the Kalahari is not considered a “true” desert in the same way that the Namib is. In fact, the Kalahari is home to quite a wide array of birds and animals, and its red sands support entire ecosystems of trees, grass, and shrubs.

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bittersweet symphony

Parenthood is a bittersweet experience. The highs are vertiginous. Feeling loved, needed, and cherished by a tiny human who depends on you for his everything brings indescribable joy. The lows can by dismal. It’s not the whining, screaming, and kicking, nor the nights of sleepless exhaustion that leave the deepest scars. It’s the fickle rejection. Crafty little monsters that they are, from a young age children intuit our weakest pressure points and exploit them mercilessly. Loving one moment, distant the next. Few things sting quite as much as watching your child snuggle someone else while he tells you that you are not his friend or screams bloody murder if you want to give him a hug and kiss.

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desert solitaire

Our research on Namibia’s tourist hotspots notwithstanding, we knew precious little about the country where we had decided to travel for two weeks.

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first explorations

Despite last-minute cancellations and unforeseen delays, we still arrived in Namibia a day before S’s parents, who were due to land in Windhoek around noon the following afternoon. We had agreed to rendezvous in the Kalahari Desert for the start of our tour together, and D suggested tacking on a short visit to Daan Viljoen, located less than half an hour outside the capital, as a way to pass the time until their arrival.

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to Franco, with thanks

From the desert elephants of Damaraland to the dead trees of the Namib and the red sands of the Kalahari desert, from the coastal charm of Swakopmund to the endless plains of Etosha, we covered a lot of ground during our two weeks in Namibia. Before we attempt to do justice to this beautiful country’s striking landscapes and incredible wildlife, we’d like to start our travel tales with a word of thanks.

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keep calm and travel on

Although there were a few moments when time seemed to slow to a crawl, the first six months of our Kigali tour flew by pretty quickly. We celebrated the midway point of our first year in Rwanda with a two-week trip to Namibia with S’s parents. We had spent a long time poring over the itinerary and were looking forward to sharing Munchkin’s affections – and care – with his grandparents almost as much as nana and zadie were looking forward to seeing their only grandson. But first, we had to reach Windhoek for our rendezvous – and inter-country travel in Africa is never a straightforward proposition.

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home entertainment

Last weekend, we hosted our first visitor in Kigali – a friend from our Nairobi Ultimate Frisbee days who now lives in Tunis. Although this was her first visit to Rwanda, she was ambivalent about touristing, which was a blessing for us: having just returned from a long trip we were rather unmotivated to venture far from home. We like sharing the scenic highlights of our adoptive countries with our visitors, but we also enjoy sharing our everyday life too – and with close friends who visit briefly the latter feels infinitely more fulfilling. We went out to brunch with a couple of friends on Saturday and spent Sunday morning at a kid-friendly brunch at another friend’s house, but otherwise stayed put and let Munchkin do most of the entertaining.

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