The Elegant Guesthouse – WindhoekSeptember 3, 2012
Ugab Terrace Lodge – north-west NamibiaSeptember 3, 2012
by Ron Swilling
A shady garden surrounded by old and interesting bric-a-brac definitely rates higher than a rushed service-station stop.
For travellers driving up from Swakopmund or Windhoek to Okaukuejo in Etosha, other destinations in the northern part of the country or Caprivi, or on the southern return trip, a tea or lunch stop will be appreciated by the time they reach Otjiwarongo. Tourist Rendezvous, situated on the left side of the road as you drive into Otjiwarongo from the south, on the corner of Hage Geingob and School streets, is tea-room, info-centre, travel agent, curio shop, Internet café and museum, all rolled into one. This family-run business, owned by Chanette and Deon de Wet, is a delightful stop on your journey. However tired when arriving, you will soon be rested, well-fed and charmed by the facility.
Teas and light lunches are served on a grassy lawn or upstairs balcony, a place to relax and have a quick bite, the fare ranging from toasted sandwiches and brötchen to chicken schnitzel and bratwurst, typical tour-group specials.
An unusual museum collection
Tourist Rendezvous is a licensed travel agency and Chanette will assist you with your bookings and enquiries. It is also registered with the Museum Association and holds half of Oom (Uncle) Blok de Wet’s interesting collection. If you are lucky enough to find him in, or if you request his presence, he will give you an informative and amusing tour of his collection.
Blok begins with the toys he played with as a child on the farm. With nothing else available, they used their imagination, creating wagons using warthog, cow and giraffe jawbones, with horses made from cow hooves and knuckle-bones. The tour includes a 1926 Chevy, a four-horned sheep, a frightening labour-bed, thankfully used by its last owner as a plant stand, a shearing machine, a calabash collection, old photos, rusty horseshoes and handcuffs.
Blok has many stories to tell and lots of interesting artefacts to show along the way, from a long bar of lion-fat soap and two interlocked kudu horns never to be released, to the radio bought by his father in 1939 in exchange for twenty karakul pelts, allowing the family to listen to the German channel secretly during the war, and the (still working) gramophone given to his grandmother in 1915 on which they played dance music when he was a child. Blok shows me his large pipe collection, with a carved wooden pipe supposedly owned by Piet Retief and a long-stemmed one for those told by their doctors to keep tobacco at a distance.
As you eat lunch in the garden, you are surrounded by old postboxes, wagons, steam engines, petrol pumps and washing machines. A rain rocket, once used by farmers to shoot into the clouds, stands in the centre. Oom Blok tells how they were banned by the administration when the rain mistakenly fell on a neighbour’s land.
After a visit to Tourist Rendezvous, the weary traveller can leave Otjiwarongo, meaning ‘the nice place where the fat cattle graze’, rested and relaxed, intrigued by our human history. This peaceful and inspiring spot for the individual or group, with off-street parking, is a worthwhile place to break the journey. You will leave rested and charmed.
This article appeared in the June/July ‘08 edition of Travel News Namibia.