10 reasons why everyone should visit Namibia at least once in their life

Africa, Uncategorized

Africa is a big ol’ continent and I’m incredibly lucky to have visited 5 countries within it. As much as I’ve loved each country, Namibia has always held a special place in my heart and I discover new reasons to love it every time I go. As one of the most unheard of and underrated countries, I thought I’d put a little list together to tell you why it’s worth visiting the beauty that is Namibia.

1. People

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Everyone says this about everywhere they go so I’m going to join them and tell ya that the people you meet in Namibia are just so so so lovely. As well as being kind, caring and smart; the friends I have in Namibia are also ridiculously hilarious.

2. Sunrises and sunsets

Get up early (I’m talking like 5am), find a hill or building to climb up and watch the sun rise along the horizon.

Watching the sunset is equally as stunning; the colours change each evening and you’ll feel like you’re in the real life version of The Lion King.

3. Culture

 

Namibia has an estimated population of 2.2 million people, made up of 13 ethnic groups. They are: the Herero, the Damara, the Nama, the San (Bushmen), the Rehoboth Basters, the Coloureds, the Whites, the Caprivian, the Kavango, the Topnaars, the Tswana, the Himba and the Owambo. Visit Opuwo in the north to see how the Himbas use ochre on their skin and hair.

4. Drinks

Windhoek lager and Tafel are brewed in Namibia. Savanna and Amarula are from South Africa but readily available at all times in Namibia. You’ve gotta give them a try.

5. Etosha

Etosha National Park is a game reserve in Northern Namibia and should be on every bucket list. You can expect to see lion, springbok, gemsbok, impala, hyena, giraffe, rhino (black and white), elephant and if you’re lucky; leopard and cheetah.

Instead of following radios and keepers to find the animals, you can self-drive and wait for the wildlife to come to you at a waterhole.

6. Braais

Afrikaans for BBQ, but so much better than a pathetic British attempt at grilling meat outside. Braais don’t take days/weeks of notice and hours of preparation. Just call some friends, bring drinks, meat, make a fire and enjoy.

7. Ghost towns

Vogue photoshoot worthy ghost towns (yass, really), Kolmanskop is worth a visit if you want to fill your insta with artsy pics of abandoned houses and a forgotten town.

8. The landscapes

If you enjoy wide, open spaces then this is the country for you. Namibia is huge (3 times the size of the UK) but with 62 million fewer people living in Namibia than the UK, there are a lot of open spaces. You can drive for hours on end without encountering another person.

From rocks, to bush, the desert – the changing landscape is a major appeal to tourists and photographers from all over the world.

9. Sossusvlei

Who knew a visit to the desert would be so tiring?! Sossusvlei will test your endurance and tolerance to extreme heat. In return, it will reward you with breathtaking (seriously) views, wildlife, a sense of accomplishment and pockets full of sand.

10. Swakopmund

Feel like Mad Max as you speed through the desert to reach the German town. The ideal spot for souvenir shopping, eating fresh seafood, hopping between cute little cafes and getting your adrenaline fix with quad biking and sand boarding tours.

Spot flamingos, climb Dune 7, walk along the jetty, collect shells on the beach and enjoy the cooler weather of the coast.


So there you have it, just a few reasons why I might be addicted to travelling to Namibia.

love, Mary

x

p.s. follow on insta for more wanderlust worthy pics: @girlgotlost_

 

 

Seriously(?!)

Au Pairing in Paris, Europe

Here’s a quick post I wrote last week but never got round to posting.

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Disclaimer – the kids are totally potty trained (despite most of my posts involving toilet accidents) but aren’t quite used to telling me when they need to visit the bathroom and when I try to make them go they throw a fit.

Let me set the scene. The kids are on their second week of their half term holidays (so I’m properly in charge and have to entertain them alllll day). I just came back from a week away and have so much stuff to sort through lying in a pile on my bedroom floor. We’ve had a relaxed morning watching TV and making forts and I let them play some CBBC games on my laptop while I prepared our picnic for later. I came back upstairs after 10 minutes to find a puddle outside my bedroom door. A puddle. I’m thinking I must’ve given them a cup of water or something, surely no one peed outside my door. I looked at the 3 of them, my face saying ‘what the actual fudge’ but I settled for the words ‘er what is this?!’. With no sibling loyalty F blurted out that J had needed the toilet, looked in my bedroom, couldn’t find me so just got his ‘zizi’ out and marked his territory by my door. Seriously.

I couldn’t think of a reasonable punishment but told him about a million times that the toilet was where he’s meant to go. I really thought I’d got through to him and he apologised so I washed him down and redressed him. The kids carried on playing and I started on my huge pile of stuff to sort when I heard the girls scream ‘marweeee he’s doing it again!’. Another puddle.
I’m never having my own kids.

Mary, biz

‘I see blood!’ another fab Wednesday – 1st October 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

I’m sitting on the toilet writing this. With the seat down don’t worry, listening to P splashing around in the bath. She should of come out 10 minutes ago but she’s way too busy playing with a pink watering can and plastic cup to care about our evening schedule.

Fast forward a few hours and I’m on the sofa thinking about how dull my evening has been. I was asked to babysit tonight; usually I wouldn’t mind but Wednesdays are literally the day of the devil for me so it feels like the day has been dragging on for weeks/months/years/ I don’t even know anymore. I’m so exhausted!

This morning I helped get the kids ready again and then had 2 hours before I needed to pick them up from school (how pointless is that?! Going to school for just over 2 hours, crazyness). I fell asleep to an episode of Friends; at 10am my alarms went off and I had that mini panic attack of thinking it was first thing in the morning and I’d slept in. Thankfully that wasn’t the case.

I picked up all 3 munchkins and started the 10 minute mission of walking home without a fight or accident occurring. P wailed the whole way back because I didn’t bring a biscuit for her (lunch was on the table at home, i’m not starving her don’t worry guysies). I got some great awkward looks from snobby mothers who must think I’m torturing these kids from the way they cry so much. All was going well in the morning – I got F dressed and ready for ballet and put the twins to bed for their nap time. J said he couldn’t sleep on his own though so we had a long sleepy cuddle until he drifted off and I could tiptoe away.

When F returned from ballet we watched Bratz movie (what a classic) and then Life Size (Lohan and Tyra Banks at their finest) before waking up the little ones. Sleepy 3 years olds are my favourite kind because they’re too tired to scream, shout, kick or punch. As soon as they regained their energy though the house was filled with ‘NOOOOOOOOO, LEAVE ME ALONE’ & ‘ REALLY MARY YOU ARE NOT NICE, OUR LAST NANNY WAS A LOT NICER THAN YOU’- yay. I struggled with their out-of-no-where aggression and we ended up watching each other dance to One Direction songs. Somewhere this turned into a kicking match and I’m pretty sure F got kicked in the eye. The next thing I know, F is screaming ‘I see blood, Mary she’s bleeding!’ cool. P’s lip was bleeding (a tiny tiny dot of blood to be fair), I sent them all to their rooms and made their dinner and then dunked them all in the bath quickly and had the fun job of washing their hair.

‘Mummy’s home!’ means I’m out of the picture and luckily I’m not responsible for injuries anymore. We sat and watched Krypto the Superdog and Baby Looney Tunes before their mum disappeared again and I was in charge of bed time. The twins bedroom looked like a bomb had hit it; I’m guessing it was the aftermath of being sent to their rooms… We played ‘put the clothes on the wolf’, a very strange magnetic board game and I read a princess story to F.  They all fell asleep pretty quickly and I was stuck in the house all evening (mega bored) because I was babysitting whilst most of my friends were out celebrating the end of another stressful Wednesday.

Until next dreaded Wednesday…

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Mary  (bisous)

Child’s play

Au Pairing in Paris

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A sofa is a fort, a puddle is an ocean, a blanket is a cloud and your legs are a climbing frame. One of the biggest parts of my job is to play; learn to let go and have fun with the kids. Bring on another week of using my imagination and being a kid again.

Mary x

What I’m lovin’ about Paris

Au Pairing in Paris

Just a quick post about my fave things in Paris; my first fortnight has been so good and I can’t quite get my head around how much I’ve done alongside working and studying.

Feeling very french in my beret and moustache

Feeling very french in my beret and moustache

So here’s what I’m lovin’ about Paris (so far!)

– Because it’s a relatively small city it’s actually easier and quicker to get around than London.

– It’s perfectly fine to be drinking from a bottle of wine on the street in the middle of the day (I’m not an alcoholic, I promise)

– Baguettes! all day everyday

– Most people can speak English. Obviously I’m trying to learn French but it’s good to know English is there as a back up

– Street style

– You can always smell something delicious  when you walk down the street. Pizza, crepes, bread, cakes etc etc

– My travel is paid for so I use any excuse to get on the metro and explore

– It’s difficult to get bored of the sight of the Eiffel Tower

– Metro parties. Although terrifyingly dangerous, loads of fun

– Clothes shops are amazing

– Casual Sunday picnics with 1000 people

– Sephora. It’s like another world

– The kids I look after can be so sweet; an impromptu hug or giggle outweighs the tantrums

– The weather is fab fab fab at the moment

– French people have the best names

– I’ve met some of the loveliest people here already

– The little dogs…

Aaaaaand I think that’s all for now!

Mary x

First week in Paris – 8th September 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

I can’t believe I’ve only been in Paris for 8 days. I feel like I’ve settled in so quickly, met loads of lovely people and seen some cool stuff and can’t believe I’ve got pretty much a whole year to explore this amazing city.

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As I’ve mentioned before, Au Pairing is a completely different world and it’s been a bit strange to fit into my role but I’ve found meeting up with other Au Pairs has been really helpful. Last Sunday I went to my first ‘meet up event’ in Paris; a big picnic organised for international students and au pairs in Champ De Mars, a park directly in front of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t know anyone there so just sat down with the first group I saw and discovered a few English girls. We all chatted for hours over baguette and some amazing (my new trademark!) Blanc Peche wine. It might be Paris’ version of Lambrini (cheap and sweet) but I don’t care as it’s so yummy. I was so happy I plucked up the courage to go as I met some awesome people who I’ve already seen a few times again since then.

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My actual ‘work’ has been enjoyable, I’m learning a lot about the children and they seem to be getting used to me as their new helper/playmate/friend.

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One of the biggest challenges here is managing my time and motivating myself to work. Some of you know that I’m studying a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course at the moment and I’ve completed the classroom courses so now the rest is online. It’s 120 hours split into about 7 different units; you learn each unit then have a review at the end to test your understanding. I’m in the early stages of it; it’s interesting but difficult to find the right time to do it. I’m also trying to re learn some french using the duolingo app and website, which are both fab. On top of these i’m supposed to be applying for french lessons at a language school for 1 day a week. I obviously want to learn more french whilst here but the cost of these language schools are a bit crazy so I’ll maybe do some more research before booking. So this is my ‘workload’ but there’s a ridiculous amount of other stuff I want to get done this year;

– I’d love to do some dance teaching as I hate coming completely out of the dance bubble

– I need to get my exercise on and stop being so lazy, the plan is to join a netball club

– More photography. I haven’t touched my DSLR in weeks (I always use my mini panasonic but actually setting up a photo is painful for me now) and that needs to change ASAP

– More diary writing as I love that feeling of reading back over great / average / crappy times, months or years later

– More fashion show, events, gigs, parties, meet ups etc!

– Less time worrying about not fitting it all in. And just doing it.

Mary 

x

today's view from lunch

today’s view from lunch

Playground Politics – 3rd September 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

I’m now in that circle of mummies, nannies and au pairs. The playground is ‘the place to be’ and with that comes a whole set of rules, problems and politics.

The park opposite the children’s school is honestly the busiest park I have ever seen; hundreds of children are running wild and every bench or spare space is taken up by mums and older brothers and sisters. There’s climbing framey stuff, a football pitch, skate area, mini lake, carousel ride and candy floss stall. The place is hectic.

Yesterday the children’s mother left me alone with Jude as she took the girls to shop for school supplies. Left with just a plastic tricycle, Jude and I were told we’d have about 25 minutes to play before we all met up again to go home. 

25 minutes somehow became nearly 2 hours (ouch) and I witnessed how ridiculous it is to be a parent. These were my internal questions whilst at the park with Jude.

1. Why are children so loud?

2. Why does everyone come to the same park when it’s unbearably packed?

3. If I see another child fall down (in front of me) am I obliged to pick it up/ comfort it?

4. If my child loses his balloon is he allowed to pick a random one up from the floor?

5. If there’s unwanted food or toys lying around can my kid have them? please…

6. Is it an unwritten rule to just not speak to other mothers?

7. If I see another child eating dirt so I intervene?

8. How far do I let my kid venture before I panic?

9. Do I let a mini fight happen or do I separate the angry toddlers?

10. If my child pulls his pants down in the middle of the park and says he needs to pee pee do I pull the pants up and take him to the loo or just run, pants still down, to the nearest tree? (this may or may not have happened yesterday…)

I have countless more questions but I’m hoping they’ll be answered in my next few trips. The joys of being an Au Pair.

Mary xx

Bonjour new home and new job – 30th – 31st August 2014

Au Pairing in Paris

Yesterday I left Welwyn Garden City for the third time for the next venture. This time I would be staying a lot closer to home and travelling for only 2 and a half hours to Paris.

The days leading up to the big move were hectic to say the least. I’m a huge fan of leaving things until the last minute but can do 3 days of work in 1 night if I need to. So after seeing Callum and some friends in St Albans I resided to my bedroom to clear the mess, finish up on work related (boring) things and finish packing. I managed to get an hour of sleep before leaving for St Pancras on Saturday morning. I said bye to mum, dad and Peachy and Callum stayed until I checked in. I went on the Eurostar for the first time in years and was genuinely impressed at how speedy it was to check in; I literally went straight from scanning my ticket to having my passport checked to getting on the train and leaving. I slept for pretty much the whole journey and woke up very confused in Paris. My bag weighed a tonne so I struggled getting it off and dragging it to the end of the platform, I then walked around looking lost before Jerome, my host father, spotted me and introduced me to his son Jude. We drove for about 15 minutes to their house in Asnieres sur Seine and I met Guillemette, my host mother and the other 2 children, Penelope and Faustine. 

I’ve now been introduced to this new world of ‘being an Au Pair’; there are a whole set of new rules and activities which you don’t really think about before doing it. I’m excited to start properly tomorrow as the children are lovely and my host parents are really kind.

Yesterday was spent unpacking, being shown round the house and taking a walk to the park and kid’s school. I gave Faustine a bath and read a few stories to the twins (Penelope and Jude) before going to bed. I woke up this morning to the voices of irritable 3 year olds screaming ‘mummy, muuuummy. mummy!’; it will be interesting staying in the bedroom next to the twin’s…

We took a quick trip into central Paris so my host parents could show me how to use the metro and trains; it all seems quite simple and not too different from London. Sunday’s are a bit dead as ALL the shops are closed so we came back for lunch and chill time at home. I gave the kids their presents – loom bands, DVD of The Croods, a Disney princess storybook and a sticker book before they went off for a nap.

Now I’m trying to plan my evening. I just hope I can remember my way to and from the train station as I really don’t wanna be lost and alone in Paris without a phone…

Mary x

 

Hello Otjikondo, Goodbye Otjikondo

Africa

This time last week I’d just booked a flight to Frankfurt but had almost 4 days to wait around in Windhoek for it; 4 days in Windhoek is 4 days too many, so with some broken communication, Gilly agreed for me to come and visit Otjikondo with Ottilie and Chelcie for the weekend. Our wait in Windhoek included ice cream in the park, shopping for fabric for Sara, making use of the internet at the Carboard Box, eating at Nando’s and Joe’s Beerhouse before meeting Paul on Thursday morning.Image

Chelcie and I ended up in the back of the open bakkie with a very strong natural air conditioning, lots of luggage and 2 mattresses to sit on. The mattresses would have been perfect if only they weren’t covered with plastic sheets that flapped around in the wind and made so much noise that it was almost impossible to hear each other.Image

 

Arriving at Otjikondo nearly 5 hours later was no less than magical; Paul beeped his horn and kids came running. Chelcie and Ottilie were greeted by hugs and squels, I got a few of the same then some ‘Miss Mary you’re back again?!‘s… It was great to see everyone again but I had to explain quickly that I could only stay for the weekend so the chance for them all to get a dance lesson was pretty slim, sorry kids!

Seeing current GAPs Rebecca and Eleanor again was awesome and they haven’t changed a bit since I last saw them. We got straight to work on Friday, I opened the shop and helped Destiny learn her rap for one of the songs in Wind in the Willows, their summer play. That evening most of the children watched Frozen in the evening but I went to look after the little boys as their hostel sister was away. We watched Antz and Matilda, I fell asleep on the freezing cold floor and woke up to some of them having a giggle at me. I got a few cuddles before I walked home.

Saturday’s normal routine was replaced with sport; the under 11s, 12s and 13s played netball and football against Kamanjab on maybe the windiest day I’ve ever experienced in Namibia. We won all games except 1 which was amazing! I looked after Brenda’s baby Crushanda and hung out with my girls Tjazupo (my sponsor child) and Eengwi (her best friend) whilst some of the older girls somehow convinced me to let them use my camera so went around documenting the matches and supporters.

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That afternoon was spent running the shop whilst the others did bank (gave the kids their pocket money). I don’t know how it took so long but Priska and I were in the shop until it was dark; we couldn’t find our way out and had to stumble over to Gilly’s house without dropping the bags full of coins and notes we had. I was exhausted and felt so ill but decided not to turn down Paul and Sara’s offer of dinner!

Sunday’s church service was enough church to last me a lifetime; it went on for 2 and a half hours and I can’t bring myself to write any more about it. Tjazupo, Fillemon, Tenesses and Dankie (our sponsor children. + Eengwi came as her and Tjazupo are pretty inseperable) were invited into the GAP garden afterwards and were spoiled by us with presents and sweets. Tjazupo and Eengwi loved their plastic princess accessories and I showed Fillemon how to play snakes and ladders and do races with his toy cars.

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The rest of the day was spent teaching the drama kids a dance, having lunch (Mina’s chicken and chips!!!!) at Gilly’s, messing around with the over excited Grade 7’s, eating fudge in the big girls hostel, reading Mr Strong to the girls in Weavers Nest hostel, hearing the girls own stories and acting them out, dinner with the ex and current GAPs and watching Pitch Perfect in my room with the girls.

Although my visit to Otjikondo was so short it felt really special and it’s always great to see the Stommels, staff, GAPs and children. I said my goodbyes and made sure they weren’t too emotional as I wasn’t in the mood to cry and be upset! I’ll miss everyone huge amounts and know I won’t be able to visit again soon which is a horrible feeling! On the plus side, I’m so thankful that I was able to go back and visit twice less than a year after I finished my 12 months there.

Goodbye Otjikondo, thank you GAPs and Stommels for putting up with me once again! 🙂 Love you, miss you, mean it 😉

Mary x

Baboons, braids and Thai tea – 20th May 2014

Uncategorized

Yesterday was a bizarre and exhausting day. And we’d decided that by 12:15.

An early start took us to a primary school in South Fields to see an educational show by Jungle Theatre, a company Trisha has been working with whilst in Cape Town. Traffic left us rushed and panicking about where to park; we soon realised we were actually at the wrong school so we became even more rushed in trying to find the school we were supposed to be at 25 mins earlier. With the power of maps on the iPhone we found it just in time and joined the classroom full of around 100 children to watch the show about baboons returning a human baby to it’s parents. The school children loved it and were so excitable that they actually made me feel tired. 
 
Bill, Callum, Trisha and I then made our to Long Street in town to tick off some things from their Cape Town Bucket List. Trisha and I had said we’d go for a Thai massage for a while so we tentatively entered the building that I pass so often and were greeted by a woman who looked like she’d expected us to arrive any minute (we hadn’t booked an appointment) and was really excited to see us. We had our massages in the same room and had 2 giggly masseurs who sometimes spoke to each other in their own language, leaving us to assume they were gossiping about us in the least discreet way possible! 60 mins was enough to leave us feeling relaxed and de-stressed and equally battered and bruised, standing on our backs and walking up and down our legs was a bit more intense than we expected. I think their idea of de-stressing us was giving us some green tea before we left.
 
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Our next task was to get hair braids! Yes, the type you got aged 9 when you went on holiday to France and you were giddy to show your mates at school after the summer holidays were over but then after a week the head teacher decided they weren’t allowed anymore so you had to unravel all the pretty threads and brush out that matted bit of hair. Yeah, those ones. I took us to the guy in Greenmarket Square (if you’ve ever stayed on Long Street you should know who I mean!) as everyone says he’s brill. Turns out he charges a fortune for a little braid. It was his lucky day as we were desperate enough to still want them; after a bit of haggling we paid the smaller fortune to have some coloured thread in our hair and small elephant charms on the end. Trisha went first whilst he told us that the braids he does last up to 10 years. Impressive, but we’d only planned to have them for a few days/weeks. I do like the thought of having a 10 year old braid in my hair when I’m 29 though, I’ll know then that I’ve become a full fledged hippy. I set up his table display whilst he did Trisha’s green, blue and yellow braid. I had different shades of pink and blue in my hair and the others watched in disbelief as he used his lighter to burn the knots. I love my little braid even though it may have cost me a weeks worth of food shopping…
 
Mary x