Thursday, 31 August 2006


Ate a greek yoghurt last Monday and got a food poisoning from it. Not the best thing to have when you are trying to get in the first 15 of the team's selection. I couldn't hold any food or liquids and am totally empty within. Today started ok, but in the afternoon it turned bad again and am out again. What a hell of a way to start my preseason and could smash something now... Think my chances have gone. &)%*$(^&*';[.%

Sunday, 27 August 2006

GHBS preseason

Just came back from a weekend tournament in Ede. It was a hard weekend and we lost 2 matches and only won one. It was a preparation for the upcoming season and our coach wanted to test some different plays and players. I am on the cut. I haven't trained and played decent matches for over a year, so it is hard for me to both catch up to the current level and get used to the different style of playing. I am a pure man-to-man player and this team uses zone-defence (as most top teams nowadays I admit). I have blisters on my feet and I hope that says something... :) The cut is in 2 weeks, but I fear I will not make it.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Pictures of my summer

All my pictures of the last 2 months taken in the USA and Namibia are online under Take a look! :-)


Flat tires: 5
Leopards seen: 0
Pictures taken: 324
Kilometers driven: 5131
Springboks seen: couple of hundred
Postcards sent: 60 (got in return 3 so far... :-( )
Suitcases lost at Heathrow (London Airport): 4 (= all)
Most impressive sight: the dunes at Sossuvlei or the endlessness of the roads

#$%^&* Heathrow

Our flight back from Windhoek to Amsterdam took us via Jo'burg and Heathrow. All went fine till Heathrow. Not only did we have to remove all liquids from our handluggage, but we also had to take off our shoes. If we had bought a bottle of whiskey in for example Jo'burg, we would have had to leave it at Heathrow without any compensation. The BAA is getting crazy and idiotic. I got into an argument with a security guard that there was nowhere a sign that we had to take off our shoes, but he claimed there was, so I had to take them off. It took us 55 minutes to get through the security checks (incl. the queues) and caused us to almost miss our plane.
This was not the worst part though, as our plane had a 60min delay and NONE of our 4 pieces of luggage was transported to Amsterdam, where we waited for an hour to finally hear that half of the people's luggage in our plane didn't make it. Not only is all my shaving equipment in my suitcase (both electrical and normal), but also my mobile. I cannot be reached for that sense... No clue when TNT will transport our luggage to my parents and when I will get my suitcase back... One advice: don't fly through Heathrow, go through Paris or Frankfurt for that matter!

The Story (3)

Day twenty-one and we are in Etosha National Park at one of the three campsites and just returned from watching game at one of the few waterholes. Here the animals go to drink when the sun went down and at this campsite they made a viewpoint at a rock close by to watch the animals. We arrived when there were no animals and before the lights went on (they have 2 big lights to illuminate the waterhole). A whole bunch of people were already sitting there with their cameras, binoculars, and sweaters. It was a funny sight seeing all these people reacting on each other and the slightest movement they thought to see. I stayed for about 1.5 hours and saw 3 rhinos and some jackals. During the drive to this campsite this afternoon we saw wildebeests, kudus, giraffes, springboks, warthogs and an impala. So we added quite a few animals to our see-list and hope to add more tomorrow and the next days as we are staying here for 4 days.
The last days we went to the Epupa Falls and stayed there on a nice campsite at the Kunene River. Palm trees shaded our camping spot and the river floated by. In the distance we could here the falls thundering down the gorge. We stayed there for 2 nights and visited a Himba family on the next morning. A local guide took us to the family and we could witness up close how (very uncomplicated) their life is. We were allowed to enter their hut in which hardly anything was present and their bed was a cow’s skin on the floor. The habits and traditions were also explained and both sides asked each other questions. The women couldn’t believe that Redmer (23) and I (27) weren’t married yet and didn’t have children. In their culture there would be something terribly wrong with us. Women also have nothing to say about whom they marry. The groom-to-be goes into negotiation with the father and they agree on a bride treasure. A general treasure is about 6 cows and a couple of goats or sheep. One goat is about 35€… In the afternoon I went kayaking on the Kunene River. I first tried to get to Angola over the semi-border post, but that was an unofficial one, only meant for locals to cross the river. On the trip with me were a couple of Spanish from the next campsite and 2 guides/instructors. It was a nice trip down the river with a couple of level 2 rapids (I know: not very impressive, but they were my first rapids!) During the trip we saw a couple of crocodiles and stopped on the Angolan (!!) side of the river (as the river separates Namibia from Angola) and had some refreshments there. Country 44 to my slowly expanding list! :-)
The next day we went a mere 200km to the east along the river to the Kunene Lodge where we enjoy lunch and dinner on a terrace overlooking the river. A beautiful sight and very peaceful and quiet and perfect for reading and going on a sun downer tour which my parents did. In boats, floating down the river, watching birds and drinking a glass of wine while the sun slowly went down. Not the most exciting experience for Redmer and me, so we stayed at the lodge. Redmer and I wanted to make a quad bike trip, but all the quads were occupied, so the next morning we were on the quads at 7 and had a 2 hour tour before breakfast and leaving to the next lodge. I have been terribly dirty before, but I don’t think I have ever been that dusty in my whole life. I drove behind the guide and Redmer closed our little group of 3 and we got all the dust over us. Only the guide stayed clean, but it was a great experience and we had a lot of fun driving through water, dry river beds and over rocks. They have 4 days trips as well and I am sure that such a tour would be magnificent. They had kayak trips as well with some bigger rapids (class 3 and 4), but Redmer fancied the quad biking more, so I joined him in that.
Yesterday we drove to Oshakati, which was about a 4 hour trip. The first 1.5 we drove along the river. Not that exciting you would say, but if I would say that it was only 55 km, it might sound a bit different. The road was a perfect one for 4x4’s and we even saw a crocodile on the shore of the river. My hunger for 4x4 driving has only grown bigger after this trip as we have had some perfect roads for that and it has been a blast. Oshakati is a regional centre, but apparently full with (small) crime. Everyone warned us not to leave our cars unattended and not to carry any valuables when walking through the city. So when we entered the city (which is actually rather boring and not worth stopping in…) and drove immediately to our lodge and didn’t come out again till this morning when we went shopping at the local Spar (a big worldwide supermarket, but here with only few customers and all white) and drove on to Etosha. I stayed outside to guard the cars even though the local “guards” also watched our cars. To explain this: local guards are present in every (major) city and are men or women (in this case women) with jackets on and they ask you if they can guard your car, put a piece of paper behind the windshield and you pay them an amount you chose when you leave again. Although there was an official security guard with a shotgun on his back in front of the supermarket and the women were “guarding” our campers, we didn’t totally trust it and I went outside again to show any potential criminals that the campers were guarded. Of course my not so impressive posture might not scare them (for that we would have needed Joao), but it is always good to give them at least one more obstacle.The next 3 days we will be game watching in Etosha and after that we will leave for the Waterberg plateau to relax a bit and see some vultures and cheetahs before retuning to Windhoek and flying back home. When we will arrive the 22nd back in Holland we will be picked up by a cab and driven home. In the evening I have my first pre-season training for the 1st men’s team of GHBS. They already started the 13th, so I am behind a full week and have to make that up. Besides that: I have been doing sit ups and push ups the last weeks, but I hardly did any running, so I hope I will be in shape and won’t be cut immediately. Will see.

Day twenty-four and we are the second campsite in Etosha and it is not funny anymore. We are doing our best to see animals during the day and stop at every thing we see (well, not the springboks and zebras anymore as they are abundant here). Then we arrive at this campsite and they have an artificial waterhole as well. We walk up there and dozens of springboks, zebras, kudus, Oryx and an elephant are standing there in broad daylight drinking and playing in the water. We have been on guard every second to see something, have stayed for hours at the other waterhole in the cold dark night to see some animals and here you see them up close and during the day. It is an amazing, surreal, and a bit frustrating sight. It is our second day at his campsite now and we didn’t bother going out in the park again by car as we can see everything here as well. So we just chilled a day at the campers, getting some tan, reading a book, walking up and down to the waterhole and sleeping a bit. Redmer, mom and I are all red from the sun and we just bought to 2 big piles of wood to make a campfire and get some warmth this evening as the nights are cold here again. Tomorrow we will leave for the Waterberg Plateau, where we will stay in a fancy lodge and will spend a day there watching cheetahs and vultures. I am looking forward to that.

Wednesday, 23 August 2006

Himba family at the Epupa Falls. Posted by Picasa

Dune 45. Posted by Picasa

Amazing dunes at the Sossusvlei. Posted by Picasa

Endless roads. Posted by Picasa

Deserted old mine town (Kolmannskuppe). Posted by Picasa

Deserted roads. Posted by Picasa

Our cars on one of the many gravel roads. Posted by Picasa

The Story (2)

Day fifteen, at least I think it is day fifteen as I lost count. I know, because I asked today, what day it is, but traveling is at its best as you lose track of time. Which I officially have now, so it must be good. I am writing this at the second story of a lodge where the bar is situated and it is made of wood, stones and with sheer roofs. It is like the pictures of very expensive places you see in travel brochures. We are now in a fancy lodge (but not so expensive) near Twijfelfontein and we have lounged a bit at the pool yesterday and today. Redmer and I did go cycling this morning in the fog and cold at 7 for about 1.5 hours, but the rest of the day was rather lame. We went to see some rock formations around here in the morning and at 15hours we went on a 3 hour drive to try to see some elephants. They passed the lodge a couple of days ago and the guide has tried to find them since and follow their path, but he hadn’t succeeded so far. Until today of course, as we found the family of 18 with a couple of young ones. I have never seen my mother so ecstatic and happy. It was a great sight though and much better then in South Africa. Now we had a lot better (and more) light and this herd was so much bigger. The weather happily also changed and from the cold south (and coast) we are getting into the warmer zones where the temperature starts to rise to a decent 34degrees C at mid-day.
Tomorrow we will leave north for the Angolan border to see the Epupa Falls. After that we will move to the east and enter the Etosha Park for 4 days to see lions, giraffes, rhinos, buffaloes, elephants and hopefully some leopards. Leopards are the only animals of the big 5 that I haven’t seen, so I am really hoping to see them in Etosha, but they don’t show themselves so often, so I will probably not be so lucky.
Along the road you see a lot of women and children selling stuff. From puppets to gems, and from necklaces to wooden carved elephants. We can’t stop everywhere, but we did a couple of times and bought something. My dad then also always takes the opportunity to make some pictures of locals as he has bought a HUGE telelens for his brand new Nikon D200 (he also dropped his normal lens on day 3, which broke in 2 perfect halves). Quite a few times we are also asked for food and/or water. Yesterday my mom gave away a package of macaroni and spaghetti and these people were so happy with it. On the camp site 2 days ago, Redmer and I were asked for T-shirts as well and since we have plenty, we gave the local youth 2. When we handed them over the T-shirts they also started asking for pants and shoes… The downside of this handing out is that their friends now also want a T-shirt and you can start a full time job, by just handing out T-shirts and other clothes. You do see a lot of youngsters walking in rather expensive shirts and a lot of Arsenal-wear. Strange.
Day sixteen was a bad day as my parents had a flat tire in the morning, which had to be fixed first and then the rest of the day we had a very bad gravel road. Normally the gravel roads aren’t too bad, but this one had too many big stones and ups and downs. I have a headache now simply from driving all day. We went a bit back from the lodge to the Petrified Forest, which is a “forest” that turned into stone. Tree trunks were swept inland with floods and covered with sand. This sand caused the trees not to disintegrate, but to change their cell-structure and they became from stone. We expected more or less a real stoned forest, but it was trunks lying between rocks and not so impressive as hoped. We are now in an old German fort where my parents stay in a suite (they were too tired of the trip as well and didn’t want the hassle of building the beds etc) and Redmer and I occupy both a camper.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Namibia - the story (1)

It is my second day in Namibia and finally I find some time and energy to write as traveling makes you tired... :) I try to keep you up to date as much as possible, but options are limited here, I already discovered. Internet is hardly to be found and when it is a slow dial-up connection, but I will do my best.
Then the journey: the flight to Windhoek was fine, but long: first a cab of 2 hours to Amsterdam, flying to London, flying to Johannesburg and finally flying to Windhoek. In Johannesburg we almost lost Redmer as we were dropped at the wrong plane. The bus that was supposed to drop us off at the plane to Windhoek made a mistake and dropped us of at the plane to Zambia. Also nice, but not really what we had in mind. Redmer had gotten on board before we all were stopped and directed back into the bus. The doors of the plane were even already closed when the mistake was discovered and had to be opened again to let some passengers including my brother off.
At the airport in Windhoek was someone waiting to take us to our cars. We thought that we would get a small 4x4 in which we would sleep in the back, but now we have a small camper with a fully equipped kitchen as well. It is always nice to get a free upgrade! Then we drove to our first lodge in Windhoek and took a shower so longed for and we all relaxed a bit. It was a beautiful guest house where most things were made of concrete and copper, but in a way that it all looked very fashionable and expensive. This morning we took our cars and filled up the gas first: around 120 liters per car!!! We drove south towards Marienburg and decided to make small detour as we had enough time. This meant that we would use the 4x4 also for the first time, as the detour was only gravel and I followed my father’s car in a dust cloud. We had lunch on the bottom of a river that had fallen dry during this season and followed the road for miles and miles, where most of the time we could see the road going straight in front of us. Now we are in a lodge on a private game park where they have springboks, zebras and other animals, but so far we haven’t seen one and it got dark already. We could do a morning game drive to see some animals, but it starts at 6 and ends around 8(.30) and we have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow, so we probably just hit the road even more south.
So far Namibia resembles South Africa where I was 1.5 year ago during New Year. The people, the landscape, and all kinds of different things remind me of that holiday. Not very surprising though, as Namibia gained independence only in 1990 from South Africa. We can even speak a bit of Dutch here since they speak some Afrikaans here which derived from Dutch, when we once had South Africa as a colony. But most people speak English (the official language) and German (it was a German colony as well), so we mixed the languages up a bit as well.

Day six and we are well under way and now at the west coast of Namibia at Sesriem, near the famous SossusVlei. The last days we first drove to Lüderitz where we visited the coast, but that wasn’t really very spectacular. The evenings got colder already and we were glad that we slept in a hotel. The last days we drove towards this place and arrived here yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful if not magnificent drive with red dunes on one side of the road, mountains on the other and fields of yellow grass in between. Just perfect and how you imagine Africa. As soon as the sun goes down here though it becomes very cold and last night it was 3 degree in our little camper! I was freezing and even had to get to out go to the bathroom. When I got back I put on a sweater, pants and socks and was still shivering for 15 minutes. Now it is again dark and turning colder, so we packed ourselves already and made a campfire to stay a little warmer. I will for sure wear double tonight in my sleeping bag. My parents (and especially my dad) suffered most as they are more the luxury kind of campers. They have a caravan (as half of the Netherlands), but not a normal one, but one made and tested in Sweden with temperatures below -20 and still being warm inside. It even has floor heating (like my parents’ bathroom) within, so you can guess how it is camping in a country where NO ONE has heating and where we didn’t bring our own stuff. :-) My dad is glad that the next 2 days will be a guesthouse again, but is not really looking forward to the week of camping that comes after that. J We also got 2 flat tires already, as the roads here are for 80% gravel ones. I probably got one and my brother one, but we aren’t sure as we only noticed the next morning when we got up. Fortunately, we have 2 spare ones on each car, so we are doing fine until we run 2 flats on one day… Today we visited the SossusVlei and watched and even climbed the mighty dunes where this desert or even Namibia is so famous for. It was a beautiful and impressive sight, although the photos you see in magazines and books are always “tuned” a bit to make it look even more impressive. You do have to be there at sunset or sundown though, as then you can capture and see the beautiful play of the sun with the sand and dunes and the shades that make it all so gorgeous. We didn’t get up at 5.15 to go into the park at 6 and watch the sun come up. We had breakfast at 9.30 when the rest of the campsite was already abandoned and empty. Since we have 2 days here, we just wanted to relax a bit as well and just went into the park on our own and by our own time schedule and we had a great day. Now it is dark again and cold. The campfire is burning again and I sit at it to write this. My moms sits next to me and reads a novel about an area very close to here and my father and brother just came back from doing the dishes. We have such an understanding that whoever cooks, doesn’t have to do the dishes and since my brother helped my mother the last days, I wanted an evening off as well and prepared some of the dinner too. Tomorrow we will head towards Swakopomund and will stay there for 2 nights and visit the area. After that we head even further north to the border with Angola and then head east towards the Etosha Natural Park. We have seen zebra’s, springboks, and some other animals so far, but in Etosha we will be able to see lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalos etc. My parents are mostly looking forward to that, but as I have already seen it in South Africa I am not that anxious. Although it will be nice and beautiful again for sure. We had an option to go ballooning here in the SossusVlei, which is supposedly one of the most beautiful things that you can do here or even in the whole of Namibia, but my parents and brother preferred to spend that money on something in Etosha. We will have some coffee now, so I will close down (as I need to charge my battery as well, but that will only be possible tomorrow I hope) and write again later.


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