02 April 2013
This morning, we had arranged to meet Sister Tanya at the Namibia Craft Centre just off Independence Avenue. While waiting, we ambled around the shops, admiring the inspiring artistry and craftsmanship – there was leatherwork, needlework, jewellery, pottery, woodwork and basketry for sale, as well as paintings, carvings, sculptures, books, photographs, gemstones… I walked around in a daze, drinking it all in.
Reggie bought a stack of postcards from one of the stalls.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to have special Flat Kathy postcards printed in Windhoek,” she told me, “but we can buy some Namibian postcards and send them off to your friends and fans around the world, alright?”
“Oh, that would be wonderful!” I exclaimed gratefully.
We paid a brief visit to the Deutsche Buchhandlung, a German bookseller in Independence Avenue, where Reggie and Sister Tanya bought a couple of books. Reggie told me that she always enjoys picking up some new German-language books on Namibia, particularly about the history and culture of the country.
Afterwards, we returned to the Craft Centre to have some refreshments in a delightful café upstairs: tea, cappuccino, a fruit smoothie and some shortbread biscuits that were surprisingly filling!
Later in the day, Richard, Reggie, Sister Tanya and I drove to a huge shopping mall to the east, known as Maerua Mall. I was astounded at the amount of traffic – trucks and cars were clogging the intersections, hooting impatiently, and squeezing into gaps. I had thought this was a small city!
“This is Namibia’s largest shopping mall,” Sister Tanya told me. “And as you can see, it is still expanding. There’s been construction work here for about a year; they’re busy building an entirely new multi-level parking garage, and it looks like they’re getting more shops. All this construction work has caused serious congestion, and sometimes it’s very difficult to find parking.”
“Luckily, Richard is driving,” said Reggie. “He always finds parking.”
Indeed, an empty parking bay magically appeared ahead of us, and he pulled in neatly. We giggled, as Richard acknowledged our applause with a playful bow.
“We often go to the SuperSpar at the Maerua Lifestyle Centre, just opposite Maerua Mall,” said Sister Tanya. “Their bakery makes the best German Broetchen. But first, Richard needs to do an errand for Aunty Lissi, and we also want to find some more postcards for Reggie, and then we’ll go across to the Spar to have something to drink.”
Although we walked all around the Mall, from one end to the next, none of the shops sold postcards, or stamps. It was quite strange. Evenutally, we gave up, and walked across to the SuperSpar for some refreshments.
“This is where we always come to buy German Brötchen,” said Reggie, holding me up so I could inspect the Bakery section. “It’s our favourite place when we visit Windhoek. They also sell lots of imported German products, like chocolates, puddings, ready-mixes for cakes and pastries, mueslis and cereals, and all kinds of jams and preserves.”
We wandered around, and I quickly decided that this is my favourite shelf of all!
Look at all this amazing Lindt chocolate!! I can’t believe my luck!!!
After having some drinks at the SuperSpar, there was one final place that Sister Tanya wanted to show me: Ferreira’s Garden Centre. We wandered around the centre, looking at the many plants on display. It was very peaceful here, perhaps because it was almost closing time and at the end of a long Easter weekend.
“Flat Kathy, come with me,” said Tanya, suddenly grabbing my hand. “I want to show you something.”
We marched into a large hall, with lots of shelves and displays of all kinds of garden ornaments and pots and potted plants. She stopped next to a shelf, on which stood a row of garden gnomes.
“Ohh! That must be Gilbert’s family!” I exclaimed, ecstatically.
I went and introduced myself to one of the friendly-looking gnomes. He was wearing a red cap, a green jacket and purple trousers, and seemed to be clutching a toadstool with red polka-dots.
“Hello, Mr Gnome,” I said, holding out my hand. “I am Flat Kathy. I come from Nova Scotia, in Canada, and I am visiting Windhoek with my host family from Cape Town.”
He peered curiously at me over his spectacles, which were perched on the tip of his nose. Then he nodded and politely shook my hand, “Hello, Miss Flat Kathy. I am pleased to meet you. My formal name is Erich der Gartenzwerg. But you may call me Eric.”
I told Eric about my friend Gilbert the Gnome in Cape Town, and asked whether they might be related to each other. He fell silent and pondered my question thoughtfully, before replying.
“Us gnomes,” he said, wisely, “we are always related to each other somehow… If you trace our family tree back through the generations, you will find that our forefathers originally came from Germany in the mid-18th century.”
I nodded, listening eagerly.
“We are not just decorative – although you must admit that we are good-looking chaps – but we also protect gardens and homes against bad people,” he continued. “Sometimes, we may look a bit sleepy and lazy, but we are just pretending. We are in fact very hard-working, though we do most of our work at night, when no one can see us. We are very humble folk, you see.”
“Yes,” I said, seriously, “I can see that.”
“From Germany, we have travelled all over the world,” Eric explained. “You have heard of the ‘travelling gnome prank’, I think?”
Puzzled, I shook my head.
“No? Oh, well,” he said, “it seems that some people steal garden gnomes from their home gardens in the middle of the night, and take them on all kinds of trips around the world, photographing them at important landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower, or the London Eye, or the Grand Canyon in America… things like that. When they have travelled all over the place, they are usually returned to their home gardens, together with the photos. And they have soo many tales to tell!”
“Oh yes, that sounds very, very exciting,” I said.
“Flat Kathy? Where are you? The centre is closing, we must leave,” I heard Reggie’s voice calling from a distance.
“Here I am!” I called back, before hurriedly saying goodbye to my new friend, Erich der Gartenzwerg. He waved at me, and called, “Say hello to your friend Gilbert for us!”
“I shall, bye-bye!”
What an exciting outing this had been. I wonder what Gilbert will say?!