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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

According to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Collectors are Happy People” - Day 331

Off to Swakopmund Museum, a wonderful collection of started by a dentist who was a collector. According to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Collectors are Happy People”. I wonder if he was?

My poor Fitbit hasn’t had much work to do for some time now, so today we kept it busy. Off to Swakopmund Museum via the beach. This side of town the beach is covered with stones of many different hues, whereas once we got passed the peninsula, it’s covered in soft squidgy sand. The sea was rough with huge waves, a surfer’s paradise. No toe dipping for us, too cold. On the way, we passed a young lady with a lovely grey Weimaraner. She dropped something so I went to retrieve it. It was her treat bag for the dog. She was very grateful, perhaps the dog was even more grateful, and we got chatting. Katrine came over from Germany as a teacher but recently gave up her profession to follow her passion. She now dog walks, runs dog obedience classes and trains dogs for anti-poaching, enabling them to sniff for Rhino horn. We had such a lovely chat with her. She suggested a few nice cafes for us to visit – always good to know where the best coffee is. We carried on our walk and eventually arrived at Swakopmund Museum. This museum was created in 1951 by a local dentist, Dr Alfrons Weber, after winning a competition to make the town more attractive to visitors. Dr Weber had left Munich in 1931 to settle here. Many people from Germany live here still and even when we were walking along the beach, a man said Guten Morgan to us. Dr Weber did quite a lot of travelling around the country to see his patients and he must have had a wonderful curious nature. He was a great collector, gathering many artefacts such as maps, tools and rocks which were used to start the museum. What a delightful small museum. It has a great display of rocks showing the rich mix of minerals in this country. Nuggets of every colour of the rainbow were there, red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue….yes, I can sing a rainbow! I wish I understood more about how these amazing colours are formed. Hopefully, we can have some interesting chats with Henk, our host who is a geologist.

In the centre of the room were stuffed animals, all that we had seen in Zulu Nyala and Botswana apart from the armoured Pangolin, what a weird creature, plus a stem of a welwitschia plant which is grown in the desert and is over 1,000 years old. There were quite a few items for military buffs with German medals, guns and uniforms. Not my cup of tea, but Tim found this interesting. I thought that was it until I found more rooms; one room showing the culture of the indigenous people with a collection of wood carvings, weapons, domestic utensils, plus how they made jewellery from Ostrich eggs. Another room had the original furnishings of an old Pharmacy plus Dr Weber’s dental practice! In a large hall that seated people for films, there was a long display of the development of Swakopmund. With 19 people in 1894 growing to 44,725 in 2011. Putting this into perspective, there were only 2.48 million people in Namibia in 2016 and the country is double the size of Germany, making it one of the least populated countries in the world. One exhibition that took me back in time was a large toy car collection. It reminded me of my old Dad who, in his retirement, collected toy cars. There were even some exactly the same as my Dad’s! The last room had a short video about the Devil’s Claw, a plant with claw-like hooks. The tubers are harvested for their medical properties which are carefully dug up so the roots are not destroyed and the plant can survive. Local people have used this for hundreds of years as an all-purpose tonic plus curing ailments such as urinary problems, digestive disorders and fever, however, in the last 50 years the western world has discovered the medical benefits and it is known as an effective treatment of arthritis. Now the plant is an important income source for thousands of people living in remote rural areas here. Lunchtime and we found the Village Cafe that Katrine had recommended. A very vibrant place with bright coloured seats, funny signs, an old campervan in the garden and wonderful jolly and helpful staff. The food and coffee were pretty good as well! And yes, my Fitbit did get used. 16,000 steps. For some people this is a mere stroll, for us in the recent weeks, this is good going. Onwards and upwards.

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