Part 1: Namibia

After many weeks of anticipation… I’m going to talk about our amazing African Safari. Yes, back in January, my fiance and I went with two of our friends to Erindi Private Game Reserve in Namibia.

It was one of the best things that I’ve done. Seriously. I can’t think about much else these days but going back and going on safari again. So for the next couple of weeks, I going to talk about our wondrous adventures there and hope that maybe one of you Readers will be inspired to go.
Because it’s a thing that can be done. And there is no time like the present. And seeing an elephant in the wild is one of the best things.
So off we go!
The first step was getting to Namibia, which is on the Southwest coast of Africa. It required three flights to get there; it took about 46 hours including our layovers. We flew to London with a 12 hour layover, flew to Johannesburg, SA with a 5 hour layover. And then a 1.5 hour flight to Windhoek, Namibia. Then we had a 3 hour car ride to Erindi, mostly on unpaved roads. It was worth every second of it. Misadventures and all.
We were lucky that we were able to leave Chicago in our first leg. Predictions of a few inches of snow were wrong; there was a mini-blizzard going on outside. We knew there was trouble when ground crew were taking photos of their plane being de-iced at our gate. And it wasn’t our plane. To give BA tremendous credit, they were extremely forthright about the delays. They told us step by step what was wrong and how long it might take to fix it. So after a delayed crew, a mechanical issue, two plane de-icings, we took off three hours late. We were relieved to go. All the later flights to London were cancelled.
So instead of 12 hours, we had 9 hours. So what did we do? Naturally, we went to the British Library and the British Museum. For those of you keeping track, we went to the British Museum four times in two and half weeks.
We first went to the British Library since we were keen to see “Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.” It traced the development of terror and gothic literature through the ages.The curators identified that The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole as the first Gothic novel. Horace Walpole applied the term Gothic in the subtitle to his story “A Gothic Story.” The story involves elements that we associate with Gothic stories: supernatural and “unnatural love.”
The exhibition went on to explore various eras of Gothic literature including the Northanger Horrids. In Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, one character is obsessed with reading gothic novels. Several were mentioned but not in a particularly good light. The books have known become known as the Northanger Horrids.
One thing that I found super interesting was how the setting of Gothic novels changed. The first Gothic novels were located in the countryside. But over decades, the focus changed to the city, reflecting anxieties and changing demographics. Never thought about it. Overall, a neat exhibition.
Then we decided to take a short tour of the British Museum. We decided to check out some of the objects that we didn’t really know very well. Scott had never seen the Easter Island sculpture so we made a beeline for that. Then I was keen to look at the Mesoamerican collection. It’s very small; it’s all in one room. But they have some splendid pieces including a turquoise covered snake. I had seen pictures of it in the gift shop for years but I realized that I had never seen it in person. It’s huge!
Turquoise Snake

Turquoise Snake

Then we spent some time in the old British Museum galleries that tried to give visitors a sense of the old Museum. The cases had pieces from the original collection like works owned by Sir John Sloane. I love how they brought together pieces from different ages and areas centered around a common theme. Also, there was a secret door in the bookcases.
I think this was a piece brought by Captain James Cook.

I think this was a piece brought by Captain James Cook.

Then it was time to return to the airport. The flight to Johannesburg was twelve hours. Africa! It was so cool to wake up on a new continent. Sadly, we had about five hours in the airport, just enough time that we couldn’t go anywhere. But we met up with our friends’ friends and had a nice breakfast.
That’s all for now! Hah! Couldn’t help to put in some literature love. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about our trip to Erindi.

 

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