Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Luderitz, Namibia

Luderitz, Namibia
May 10, 2010

I had planned to take a taxi to Kolmanskop, the abandoned town near Luderitz; however, when I didn’t see any taxis, I decided at the last moment to take the ship’s tour that went to Kolmanskop. It worked out fine, although it was much more expensive than a taxi would have been. The ship was in Luderitz for only a half day (until 1:30 p.m.); and the tour of Kolmanskop was for only a couple of hours. On the way back to the ship, I got out of the tour van and walked around the little town for a while before walking back to the ship.

Kolmanskop (see Wikipedia entry) was a thriving town in the early 1900s based on diamond “mining”, which was really just finding diamonds on the surface of the ground rather than actually digging in mines for them. However, larger diamonds were found in other places, so this town was abandoned. It has been lying in an abandoned state since the 1950s, filling up with sand. Three of the buildings have now been restored to some extent as the town has now become a tourist attraction. It was interesting to take photos of the old buildings.

Namibia was a German territory until it was lost to the British in World War I, and both Luderitz and Kolmanskop were German towns. The German influence is still very strong in Luderitz, with a Lutheran church being the most prominent building in the town. The town reminded me of a rural American town that is dying because all the young people are leaving to live in the cities. The climate of the town is extreme desert, with sand dunes and sand everywhere. Almost nothing was growing. We were told that anything -- such as a road or a railroad -- that is not used frequently is quickly covered by the sand. However, the basic geography beneath the sand is granite rock, much like Oman. It was hard to imagine building on the granite rock. Water had to be imported, as there is no fresh water supply. The little town of Luderitz seems to be based on fishing and it is not close to any other place. What an isolated, tiny town. We were told that the local school goes only through grade four as no teachers will come to live and teach in the town; after that, children are either home schooled, or they must go away to school. Many of the poor simply remain uneducated.

There was not much to this stop, but it was interesting.

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