Oktoberfest, Namibia!

A couple weeks ago I hit my stride in homesickness. It happened mostly because I got some kind of bug and I was so physically sick, I couldn’t even drink water without throwing it up, which was scary. I had to go to the private hospital in Gaborone (which was actually pretty decent and efficient) and then I was stuck in the house for several days, which triggered boredom, restlessness, and some intense homesickness that lasted well after I had gotten better physically. I think it was because I was so homesick that made the spur-of-the-moment decision to join some friends on a weekend trip to Namibia for Oktoberfest. I decided Thursday afternoon to go along for the ride. We left Friday. We took the ATT bus, which wasn’t glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, but it was fine and it got us safely to Windhoek, Namibia, although we were held up at the border for nearly two hours because the bus driver didn’t declare four tires in the storage compartment when we went through customs. My friend Katt and I went with the idea that we could try to go skydiving, but as we belatedly realized, skydiving is only available along the coast and it wasn’t worth spending 4 hours each way to and from Swakopmund when we were spending 12 hours on Friday and Sunday just traveling between Gaborone and Windhoek.

"the whole gang at Oktoberfest." photo taken by Sara Berkowitz
“the whole gang at Oktoberfest.” photo taken by Sara Berkowitz

We stayed at Cardboard Box Backpackers, a decent hostel with a pool, outdoor bar, and free crepes, coffee, and tea in the morning (free pancakes/crepes/breakfast sweets seems to be a running theme in the places I’ve stayed in southern Africa). We got into Windhoek over 3 hours late, so we made a midnight run to the only nearby food place that was open: KFC. I was vegetarian for a year before coming to Botswana, so KFC was probably the last place I expected to end up.

The next day we took a cab to Mugg & Bean for breakfast before heading straight to Oktoberfest. There were huge yellow tents set up and a stand where we bought drink vouchers. There was also a mechanical bull set up. We got there pretty early in the afternoon so things were slow. It mostly consisted of us drinking beer and rock shandy, listening to live German music, and watching dudes in lederhosen get drunk and get thrown off the bull. Some of us took a break two hours in and went into town for lunch at a nice Italian restaurant. I was surprised by how much more ethnically diverse Windhoek was than Gaborone.

We walked around after lunch, went to a craft market, and then returned to Oktoberfest after managing to explain what it was to a taxi driver. By the time we returned, Oktoberfest was packed! We stayed for a little longer and then we all left to get dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse, a place famous for it’s zebra steak. Also, if zebra doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can also get ostrich, oryx, crocodile, etc. Unexpectedly, Joe’s Beerhouse also had a good wine list and some really tasty vegetarian entrees.

The Oktoberfest party went well on into the night (technically the morning, I guess) and by the time we left our hostel at 5am to catch our bus, a couple in our group were definitely still feeling the Oktoberfest beer.


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