Welcome back to Namibia

After one overground train, two tube trains, 3 flights and a long drive, I have finally made it back to Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia!  The journey was mostly uneventful other than a sad farewell at Heathrow, meeting a Zimbabwean livestock farmer at Customs, spotting what may have been a three-boobed woman at Cairo airport, having my jar of Specaloos confiscated off me at Johannesburg airport, and coincidentally sitting next to the only other vegan on the plane.  A friend from CCF, Eli, met me at Johannesburg airport and we got the same flight to Windhoek together, as he will be returning to work there.  As he knows quite a bit about cars, he came to help me test drive the Toyota Hilux that had been on offer to me.  We picked up the hire car at Windhoek airport (which was stupidly cheap – if anyone needs to hire a car in Namibia, go for Thrifty car hires!), went straight to test drive the car (which went fine), finalised the deal, checked in to our guesthouse, went off to the shopping mall to pick up some food, headed back to the guesthouse and went to bed shortly afterwards.  It was a long, tiring day and I had barely managed to sleep on the 3 flights over.
Leaving Grey Britain
After a wonderfully uninterrupted sleep, we got up to go register the car under my name.  As I’ve never bought a car before, the seller of the car organised for a Namibian guy, Roger, to come with us to help sort out the registering.  I’m glad we had Roger with us because I would have had absolutely no idea what to do otherwise.  There were queues everywhere and no instructions on what to do.  After quite a bit of waiting around and being shifted from one queue to the other, we managed to get everything sorted.
My new wheels!
Next stop was to sort out car insurance, which ended up being far too much hassle than it was worth, purely because neither the insurance company nor their bank could accept credit or debit cards for payment – even though I had been advised over email that they could!  How ridiculous that a bank cannot accept credit card payments?!  I can’t quite work that one out.  So after a lot of waiting around, we were sent to the shopping mall to go to the main bank as we had been advised that they could accept credit card payments.  And what a surprise – they couldn’t!  The only way the bank could accept payment was cash, but I could only get out a small amount each day.  What a palava!  In the end, I went back to the insurance office and begrudgingly paid via online bank transfer, even though it ended up costing me an additional £25 – oh well!  At least I’m insured now!

The drive back to Otjiwarongo was smooth, although as I was still new to the vehicle and hadn’t driven in a while, we took it slowly.  On the dusty road down to CCF we spotted an African wild cat – the first one I’ve ever seen!  Lots of suicidal rabbits kept running out into the road too, but fortunately I managed to avoid hitting any of them.  It seems that the Hilux doesn’t do too well on dirt roads when not in 4x4 so I had to drive very slowly around bends and on the corrugated ruts.  Finally we made it back to CCF in the dark just in time for dinner, and luckily enough, someone had informed the kitchen staff that I was coming back so had organised some vegan food for me – hurrah!
One of the livestock guarding dog puppies playing with my shoelaces
This morning I awoke to a lovely sunny day and spent the first part of the morning reacquainting myself to the ambassador cheetahs, who then took part in a cheetah run.  It’s so lovely to hear a cheetah purr up close again – I have missed that noise!  After the run, Anja the livestock guarding dog manager took me down to the kraal to meet the new goats, dogs and puppies.  There are some adorable characters in the animal yard, including some very charismatic puppies and inquisitive goats!  At one point I had 4 baby goats clambering all over me, trying to suck my fingers and nibble on my shoelaces and bag! 
Saying hello to a 4-month-old livestock guarding dog

A dosing goat kid
It is really nice to be back here again to see old familiar faces, experience the wilderness and see the Milky way – the stars here are like nothing else.  And of course the weather is gorgeous.  It’s in the middle of winter and it got to 28 degrees today.   I hope it doesn’t get too warm in the summer here!
I'll be at CCF just for another day and then head back to the town of Otjiwarongo, where I will be sorting a few bits and pieces out before moving to the livestock farm to start my research.  I don't think it's actually sunk in yet that I'm here and am on my own to collect data, but I am sure it will after I've had a chance to settle in.


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