At 2:15 am we took off from Doha, Qatar to Windhoek, Namibia - yes, the best way to get from Tanzania to Namibia is through a week layover in Doha. The connections and layovers were insane if you tried to combine the trips, that is why we just gave up and got direct flights and chilled in Doha for a week. Yes, it was 106 degrees some of the time and yes, they do not all alcohol, pork, curse words or spitting in public but somehow we survived! We left our hotel around 11 pm - both boys snuggling and sleeping together like perfect little angels. To say Nash was tired is an understatement - he slept in the shuttle, at the airport while we checked in, through security and even on the airport train. I think Finn lifted his eyes open to get his picture taken through immigration. Honestly, I can't remember because I was half asleep too. The flight was 8-9 hours and I think we all slept around 2- 3 hours each, maybe?
We landed at 9:55 am and assumed we would collect our car rental and be on our way. Oh no, no, no - apparently in Namibia we take things back to the nice, easy, slow as molasses pace. Once we finally got through passport control (needed kids original birth certificates) and an hour later, we get our luggage. It is a tiny airport so we think, this is it! Let's get our car and roll because we have a 3 hour drive ahead of us before we can shower and get some rest. No, no, no - the wonderful guys at Wilderness safari take us to the lounge (don't get too excited, a basic area with a couple of chairs and some water). They were super friendly but spent way too much time explaining the things any idiot should know before renting a car in a foreign country - etc. lock your door, don't carry too much cash, don't expose too many valuables, make sure your car doesn't run out of gas - (I'm sorry, but how stupid are people. I have an exhausted 4 and 7 year old that has been up for almost 24 hours, can we just get our keys, sign away our rights to not be stupid human beings and be on our way?)... Apparently not. After all the paperwork, we finally hear that we have a 45-50 minute shuttle van ride to the main town (Windhoek) to get our rental car. We are waiting on the several other groups to finish getting SIM cards, cash from ATM, etcs. Paul gets super annoyed at this point, the boys are climbing the walls like little monkeys and finally the company realizes this ape family needs their own transportation ASAP to get out of here. They immediately find us a Toyota truck and driver to finally take us to the car rental spot.
Within 2 minutes of driving from the airport, the boys (all 3 of them) fall asleep. I'm left awake making small talk with our Namibian driver that is around 26 years old and has never left Namibia. Don't get me wrong, he is super kind, overly careful (just run that yellow light so we can get there soon enough) and polite. I'm just flipping exhausted and don't want to speak to anyone at this point. 45 minutes later we get to Windhoek and the outdoor car rental place. At this point, we attempted to move the boys from sleeping in his truck to the couch at the car rental place. Of course they both wake up - Nash telling me he has to poop "immediately and his butt itches" while pulling his shorts down to scratch his itching butt. I yell at him, tell him we are in a foreign country (but this isn't appropriate in America so I'm not sure why I said that part) and to get it together. We are all tired, grumpy, hungry, etc, etc, etc.
After what seems like forever going over more paper work and getting more maps, our rental agent tells us she will find us someone else to show us how to properly work the car. At this point, our heads are about to explode. It's 5 hours since we landed and we still don't have our rental car. A few minutes later, a very kind gentleman comes over and gives us amazing lessons on how to change a tire, how to monitor tire pressure, check oil levels, check water and fuel levels. We FINALLY get the keys, load the car and head out on our 3 hour drive to Bagatelle Kalahari Game Ranch!
We get to our amazing, red, beautiful dusty sandy lodge around 5:30 or 6 pm. As we are driving up, we notice a man with long poles poking around at something. He works for the lodge and has just caught a yellow cobra snake. He is now going to move it away from the lodge and release it into the wild. We ask the receptionist about the snake. She says, yes, this time of year we see lots of snakes and they are very aggressive and welcome to our lodge! Your cabin is just up this dirt road - you can walk or drive up there but make sure you keep the doors and windows shut because of the snakes and scorpions.
Its a desert location - tons of red dirt, small trees, cool in the evenings (51 degrees) and hot during the day (95 degrees). We take the boys to swim at the pool. After they dipped their toes in the water and told us it was freezing, we look up to see two giant white rhinos passing by. There is a small fence that separates the outdoor pool area from these giant prehistoric creatures. They come up (a little too close for comfort) to the fence. Of course the boys run in the red dirt, barefoot while stepping on other animal poop, to get a closer look at the rhinos. We can hear them crunching the hay, scratching and making some strange noises. This was the only animal from Africas Big 5 that we had not seen on our safari. I was pleasantly surprised to see it here, in Namibia. We also saw kudu, gazelle, baboons, ostrich, giraffe, antelope, and termite mounds. I'm sure you all can imagine how comfortable Paul is with all of this happening around!