Author: Alyssa (Aly) Brewer
Location: Swakopmund & Walvis Bay, Namibia
So last weekend, we embarked on our last trip. Our last long bus ride. Our last places to visit–Swakopmund & Walvis Bay. While most people assume Namibia, and Africa in general, is quite hot, our visit to the coast proved otherwise. Because the hot dunes met directly with the cool ocean, there was a thick fog consistently overhead. The sun went MIA. The breeze from the ocean snuck into our jackets. Our sun-burnt bodies were not prepared for this level of cold. However, the views of the ocean made it all worthwhile.
One of our first stops included learning about the Namibian Dolphin Project- an organization dedicated to gathering data on the abundance, distribution, and habitat whales and dolphins use in Namibia. Not only that, but they perform sea rescues for stranded animals and educate the public on the importance of marine conservation. The speaker Becca also handed us a booklet full of information about what they do and the animals they research. The booklet even included facts about the infamous leatherback turtle!
Honestly, listening to Becca reminded me of when I was a little girl obsessed with the ocean. I would read as many
books about marine life as the library would let me check out. Sharks, dolphins, turtles, clownfish, whales- you name it. Throughout my studies at Valpo, my passion for the marine world fell out of view. However, being right beside the ocean reminded me of it all over again. The trip to the Namibian Dolphin Project was both rewarding and reinvigorating.
So after we gulped down our lunch, we visited a fish factory. To be honest, my stomach was not prepared for the experience. They suited us up in what seemed like a cross between lunch-lady material and a hazard-mat suit. The rest of the tour was cold, loud, and left me with a strange taste in my mouth. While the two educational visits were fascinating, the real fun was just about to start.
The rest of the weekend we were granted free time to explore the city and I took full advantage of this opportunity. First, some friends and I went to kayak with some baby seals. And yes, it was amazing. The pups are so curious and playful- they come right up next to your kayak and splash around. Also, they sound like sheep for some odd reason. I couldn’t stop laughing about it! For so long, I just saw seals as some big floppy blob on TV but being up close enlightened me to how cute
they are. They are just so cute. Seriously, like water puppies.
After a morning of being surrounded by the cutest creatures in existence, my friends and I set off for another adventure. Growing up near the ocean for the first few years of my life propelled a passion for anything aquatic. However, I never got the chance to surf…until now. Luckily, a surfer around our age took us out onto the open ocean to learn how. After three hours of failing, flopping, and tiring myself out, I finally got to catch that wave. My eyes were red from the salt water and my body numb from the cold, but it was worth it. I successfully surfed a wave- and hopefully this won’t be my last.
The next day, before we left, we decided to fulfill a study abroad tradition and hike up Dune 7 (named that way because it is 7km from Walvis Bay). While everyone climbed up the steep and quickest side, my roommates and I followed a longer and less strenuous route. However, it didn’t matter how we got up there, the view was worth it. The sun glistened off the dunes in a golden hue. Miles and miles of sand. It was a sight unlike any other. Sitting down and watching the sunset was
the peaceful ending needed to conclude our last adventure in Namibia.