World’s Second Best PizzaPosted: April 8, 2012 Filed under: Mennonite literature, Mennonite Memoir | Tags: best pizza, Namibia, Swapukmund 1 Comment
I once asked a very healthy/fit friend what she eats for breakfast. She replied. On Monday I have an egg and toast with peanut butter. On Tuesday I have oatmeal with… , on Wednesday I have … . I watched her thinking, ‘Like, come on really. Every Wednesday of your life you eat the same thing for breakfast.’ And then thought about what I eat for breakfast. Oatmeal. Starting every January I eat mostly oatmeal until I get sick of the thought, usually sometime in June or July. Then I start on eggs. That too gets old. Then a very short cold cereal period and the rest of the year is a free for all. Until the new year rolls around and I start with oatmeal again.
And so really who’s the dullard here? I guess what I am saying is … I have to remind myself quite often not to knock an idea until I’ve tried it. I didn’t actually latch onto the breakfast menu thing… because I really like oatmeal and sometimes I have to think hard to know what day it is. But I have adopted that concept into other parts of my life, and frankly it’s a gem. Structure and order can be a very good thing.
And with that idea in mind I thought about what to write about here, and not wanting not to go on and on about the same old things, I decided I shall do a travel blurb one Sunday a month. Mind you nothing fancy, rather a sharing of some of the memorable moments lingering in the storage pockets of my brain.
So here we go.
Some years ago, my husband and I along with some friends from Vancouver embarked on one of those overland adventure camping tours. This one was going from Capetown, South Africa to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, a trip chosen for the route, the time of year, and the fact that there was a cook on board.
I started the adventure in Cape Town with a visit to a local beauty salon to have my head shaved. This was to alleviate any worries/problems around washing hair due to uncertainties regarding shower facilities at African campsites. Yes, sadly, I depend on having a hair dryer. My hair just looks better that way. And I was willing to bet money on the fact that finding power to run a hair dryer at said facilities was unlikely at best.
So I got rid of the hair.
And I must say I highly recommend this for anyone traveling on a camping adventure tour anywhere anytime. One cannot imagine the joy of not having hair to comb or hair to wash. Of not having to carry around a hair dryer or those liquid containers that spill all over your backpack, or waiting for hair to dry, or pulling it back or tying it up or constantly brushing it out of your eyes.
All was all fine and off we go on our overland adventure. I put on a hat, and take off the hat later and do not have hat hair. I am liking it.
Day two we detour through desert-like wasteland to an oasis type of place with palm trees and exquisite pools. Everyone is happy. We swim and frolic. And when it is time to leave I get out of the pool, towel dry and dress in less than 2 minutes. Because there is no hair to fuss over.
Now lots of great stuff is happening on this trip, the wildlife, the scenery, but if I get started on that, we’d be here all day.
After a week or so we arrive at a campsite and set up our tent, and with a few minutes to spare before lunch I head to a fabulous pool which happens to be a stone’s throw away, because it is hot and I now have the ability to swim and dry and be ready in a snap. Got ten minutes? Go for a swim. I am so there!
At the pool gate I remove flip flops, walk six steps onto the pool deck and step on something that stings me right between toe number two and three. It blinkin’ hurts. I look down and see a HUGE wasp writhing in stunned agony. I am very allergic to wasp bites and immediately experience an adrenalin rush and the knowing that my foot is about to swell up like a watermelon.
So I hobble madly back to the campsite because after lunch we are scheduled to do a rather extensive canyon hike and I ain’t missin’ out on that. And a hike up into the dunes to watch the sun set is scheduled for the evening. I curse quietly while rifling through my backpack. Finding the necessary items, I slip my injured foot into a thick sock, shove it into my hiking boot and lace her up tight. Then I pop a Benedryl.
The hikes are both fantastic and my foot is sore but usable in stumpy fashion. I feel the foot straining against the inside my boot all day and at bedtime, so I take another Benedryl and sleep with the boot laced on, because tomorrow is another hiking day and I can’t have it all swollen up.
The next day we hike some more, and that is worth a moment’s pause. I had told my husband once that I wanted to be in a place in the desert where sand dunes are all I can see in any direction. So several of us do that, fortunately leaving footsteps to follow back. Otherwise we may have perished there…
That evening we arrive in Swapukmund, Namibia where we check into a hotel. Standing on the main street, if you look look one way you see the Atlantic Ocean, and if you turn turn in the opposite direction you see the town ending and then piles and piles of sand. This is bit of a rest stop; two days to see the sites, sleep in beds and do laundry. And time off for the cook and driver. We put our bags into assigned rooms and head to the hotel bar. At this point my boot has been on with the same sock for almost 36 hours, but it is happy hour. My new favorite happy hour pleasure is Amarula, which if you haven’t tried it …. get some, pour it over ice. You won’t be sorry.
By this point the group has done the big old bonding thing and we are one big happy family. Seriously these are excellent people, so it is very loud with all the guffawing. I put up my foot up and take off the boot and sock. This may sound gross, but no one seems to mind. We have been camping, after all. And everyone is getting that tanned face, windswept crusty hair look. And all our clothes are stiff with sand and grime.
Once unbound my foot is a site to behold. I am reminded of time lapse photography where you can watch a plant grow, as I sit sipping lovely little double Amarulas on ice, watching my foot swell up. Almost like a puffer fish or one of those frogs from tropical climes that swells up at the throat.
It is clear there will be no getting that boot back on anytime soon.
The talk comes around to deciding about dinner. It becomes part of the consideration when choosing a restaurant that I can’t get too far since I only have one foot with a shoe on it.
Off we go to find food. There is a pizza place in the next block. It has a pale blue facade with a large awning depicting the Italian name of the place which brings to my mind ‘Neapolitan Ice Cream’, and the Italian flag. So maybe it was called Napoli or something along those lines. A couple in the group turns up their noses a little when we pause as a group to consider, being skeptical regarding eating pizza anywhere outside of Italy or North America. But I flash them the old sad puppy face and the others clearly want to eat. In we go. We order lots of pizzas.
The pizzas are brought out and to my surprise these look and smell stupendous. The crusts are chewy and crispy with cornmeal underneath, the sauce is to die for and all the lovely toppings are grilled to perfection. And the cheese. Oh my my. I eat and eat and eat.
I say to my friend, “This is some of the best pizza I have ever had. And I mean in my entire life. And I have eaten a lot of pizza. I think the pizza in Winnipeg is better. But this comes really close,” and then I add, “I’m going to tell people about this place.”
She looks at me for a moment and says, ” Who are you going to tell?”
Oh Mary… that was such a great trip. My big memory-moment was eating the mopane worms. Why on earth did I think THAT was a good idea?