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N A M I B I A
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Namibia’s golden moment may have already happened.
Across an arid and isolated landscape of weathered white sand and ivory tusks, an Atlantic wind whipped across the west African coast.
"German Southwest Africa" was this recently renamed plot, purchased in 1883 for $500 and 200 rifles from the Nama chief, !Kohrebeb-IlNaixab.
A treacherous journey down a daunting stretch of sea, known as the Skeleton Coast, took the lives of many Southern-sailing ships.
Yet, upon landing on the barren shore, soon they were to uncover diamonds and thus the new colonizers seized hold of this desert.
Wood homes were built in classic German style, Victorian gowns sifted through the sand to the casino, theatre, the bowling alley and the bar.
Thirty mere years later, the diamonds gone and the wealth stripped, the Germans abandoned their African town of Kolmanskop,
leaving their homes to wither and their legacy to deteriorate beneath the weight of tireless time.
As colonization swept across the rest of the country, conflicts of land and resources sparred between the colonizers and native Nama and Herero people.
One-third of the native population of Namibia perished in genocide.
Now, Namibia, having gained independence in 1990 after 100 years of ownership, oppression and apartheid from Germany and South Africa, is reclaiming its own.
Namib, meaning vast place in Nama, is the the country with the most land dedicated to national parks and the third least populated country by area.
Namibia is an untamed, undiscovered abyss, once plundered, today preserved.
Iron-rich orange sand, blown by the Atlantic, rises to form the tallest and oldest sand dunes in the world.
The dunes descend to white salt pans that stretch dry, cracked and forgotten, disappearing into a blank horizon.
Beyond the horizon, mountains glow purple in the last trickles of sunlight, forming expansive valleys where wildlife freely roams.
Across the imaginative and limitless landscape, as you begin to look out, you begin to look within.
The largest sand dunes in the world, screaming orange and beaming heat, hold a hidden oasis of what once was.
Deep in these huge dunes in the Namib-Nakluft National Park, a salt flat in glowing white rests with the once-lived, limbed remains of camelthorn trees.
Though it may appear dead, a hum of vibrating sand and the steaming effort of the sun upon the cracked dirt is enough to exhibit Earth's immortality.
These camel thorn trees, now known as Deadvlei, have stood here against the test of time for over 700 years.
Where at one point during a great flood, a shallow pool was able to form, life was able to grow.
Like the old German mining town of Kolmanskop, though temporary, a memory eternal.
Nearby, a couple of gemsbok sat beneath a living camel thorn tree, relaxing in its shade.
A hum of the vibrating sand filled the air like a swarm of cicadas or the sound from electricity wires.
Atop a distant dune, the wind whipped up the sand in a ribbon, whisked it away the top of the dune and it disappeared into nothing but dust.
In the moment I questioned nothing, but today I consider the power of an unknown paradise.
Namibia has endless possibilities to be a major tourist destination: unparalleled beauty, boundless horizons,
enchanting vistas, national parks, empowered government, a historic and beautiful culture.
However, half the beauty of Namibia is the isolation, the enchanting emptiness.
If it were to be known, would it retain its incredible mystery?
Just like the colonization and diamond days,
would people strip it of its beauty and leave nothing but sand to fill up the space left behind?
The answer is not to be known.
The secret of Namibia is yours to uncover.