Namibia Hunt Report - post-trip report
First started here:
And now, the MEAT! :D
Yes, yes, I know - it's been a whole week since I've gotten back and I'm just now sitting down to do this - well, I'm still not over the jet-lag, work has been brutal, and my wife is just now calling me "Eric" and not "Bob" (just kidding, dear!)
This will be a multi-part report, as I can only type so much at a time, and of course due to the constant interruptions from love-starved dogs, cats, spouse, and girlfriend (just kidding (OUCH!) dear - damn that hurt.)
May 28 - I arrived home from work, exhausted, after having worked a 16 hour and 10 hour shift the past two days. I got to bed immediately and woke up at 0930. Luckily I was all packed and prepared, though still a little worried about weight limits. Thank God I bought the Tuffpak - it worked great, and allowed me to stuff a bunch of extra clothes, various gifts, etc. into it that a regular gun case wouldn't have allowed. The wife was great, though I could tell she was worried and apprehensive. In 18.5 years of marriage, we've never been so far away for so long. I was surprised at how calm I was, but I suppose that is to be expected after so many months of excitement. Now, it was FINALLY here and happening - perhaps it would really hit me later.
Once at the airport (Orlando) I had no trouble at all checking in or going through TSA - in fact, those guys were great. A very nice older TSA agent even thanked me for informing him I had a rifle, saying they had a bit of a "row" last week when an ex-NYC cop had a handgun in his checked baggage and neglected to inform anyone - all sorts of fun. But they did an external swipe test, came up clean, and didn't ask for me to open the Tuffpak or inspect the rifle. It really couldn't have gone any smoother.
I had some time after the wife and I said our goodbyes, and so headed for the bar for my last beer in America. The server and bartender, upon hearing of my destination and plans, were fascinated and quite open/non-judgmental about my hunting plans. That was quite nice, as they were both young. Maybe there is some hope?
After finishing up the beer, I walked down to the United gate where my flight was supposed to be leaving - I still had 2 hours, but figured being early would be a good idea. And thank the gods I did - when I looked up on the screen of arrivals/departures, imagine my shock to see my flight had been canceled! I went into a bit of a panic, and it didn't help things when the agent at the counter didn't even know that the flight had been canceled. I was supposed to leave at 1600 to go to Washington-Dulles, with a 2.5 hour layover before my flight to Frankfurt. They got me on a later flight to Dulles, but this one would only give me a 45 minute layover. Luckily, though, Kathi Klimes (Wild Travel, and member here) talked me off the Bell-tower. Guys, this is why you use a travel agent - mostly for emotional support (LOL). However, first lesson learned - either take a cell phone with you, or buy a cheap calling card BEFORE you get to the airport - the ones they sell at the airport are too damn expensive and I had to rely on them for making calls to Kathi and my wife.
The cancellation turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I made it to Dulles with no problems, and was able to get on my Frankfurt flight quickly. I hoped my luggage made it, but I'd find out in Frankfurt that indeed it did - hooray for the baggage handlers! When I got on the Frankfurt-bound United flight, I was happy to discover that I had netted an exit-row seat - hello leg room! The flight was long but uneventful, the food was decent, and I grabbed about 2-3 hours of sleep thanks to some Lunesta and a few adult beverages. Granted, those cost some money, but I expected that.
May 29 - arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at about 1150. The airport is rather . . . . confusing, and a bit sterile and closed-off. But it is big, and busy. Not a lot to do while there, so I'm glad that a fellow member here, Gerry, had emailed me a few weeks before offering to play chaperone/tour guide in Frankfurt. Gerry is ex-Army (I get the feeling he was in one of those "special" units, if you catch my meaning), worked for Proctor and Gamble Europe for years in Security, and then met and married a German lady. He's retired now and spends his days hunting, shooting, and heads a program to retrain French prostitutes into mimes (OK, just kidding about the last part - I think he's training them to become lawyers.)
Gerry picked me up outside the USO office (great setup there - free local calls, comfy couches, TV, 4 computers with internet, X-box and Playstation, etc. - very nice people, and I had no problem donating some money to them for their kindness. It brought a tear to my eye seeing the many young soldiers sacking out or unwinding there, wondering how many were coming or going from Iraq or Afghanistan).
Here's a pic of the limo that came for me - note the license plate - LOL.
Gerry was kind enough to let me grab a quick shower at his home, and introduced me to REAL non-pasteurized beer - tastes SO much better than the stuff we get here in the US!
(Note the patented double-raised-pinky pour)
After seeing his collection of trophies, I became more excited about my soon-to-be (I hope!) successful hunt!
We had a great time having lunch (some damn good Black Forest ham, cheese, bread, and of course more beer) and then went out to a couple of gun shops and a shooting range. Very neat experience - nothing like our gun shops. Everything was so . . . . . high end. Blasers, Mausers, Drillings, and all the optics were Zeiss, Docter, Swarovski, Kahles, and S&B. No cheap Chinese-made junk here! I also made my first trophy kill - a HUGE wasp that was attacking (ok, not attacking - maybe buzzing menacingly) at a female employee at the gun range shop - I deftly nailed it with my hat (while Gerry was trying to find ammo for the Drilling - I think he meant to blast it!) - unfortunately I didn't take a photo - that would have been a nice trophy shot, though finding a taxidermist to mount it would have been interesting.
Gerry got me back to the airport and we said our goodbyes - guys, trust me, if you get an email from Gerry inviting you to spend the day with him while on layover in Frankfurt, take him up on the offer - great company, he speaks fluent German (and is learning French thanks to the prostitutes (erm, I mean, [strike]mimes[/strike] lawyers), and it sure does help pass the time.
Kathi told me to get to the Air Namibia counter early, and boy was she right! It started backing up 2 hours before they opened - tons of people waiting to check in, but the time passed pretty quickly when I ran into Nevada Jay (from the site here!) - he, his son, brother, and nephew were going to Namibia for 14 days of hunting, so we had fun talking and making snarky comments about Bwana Bob. Who is Bwana Bob? He's the guy dressed in the manner that I was told NOT to dress like when traveling:
All kidding aside, it was pretty easy and quick once the line started moving. Soon we were on the plane and ready to leave Frankfurt.
A note on Air Namibia - VERY well run airline, attentive and nice flight crew, the Airbus was comfortable, much nicer, wider seats than the United planes, had lots of legroom, and the drinks were free! Yes, boys and girls, free booze on an airplane. Old school. I had my first of Amarula Cream and loved it. Got a few winks and soon was up, watching the sun rise and tracking our flight over the continent as we approached Namibia. The excitement was palpable, and I really truly felt like I was really doing it - I was about to land in Africa.
May 30 - Crossing the border at 30,000 feet, looking down on Namibian soil for the first time. I am amazed to see what appears to be a huge lake. In fact, it is water, standing water, in the Etosha Pan, for only the second or third time in over 100 years. The rains have been great this year in Namibia, and it shows. Soon, however, all thoughts of anything else are pushed aside as we touch down. A feeling of . . . . . elation, wonder, excitement, extreme emotion . . . . overwhelms me. I made it - I really, really made it. As I step onto the tarmac and take in a full breath of African air, I look down at my foot - it is on African soil. I have arrived, and it feels great.