Lady of the manor… for a night

Next morning, it was time to pack up camp and move on – next stop Duwisib Castle, somewhere on the edge of Namib desert dunes.

In what we have already learned to be true Namibian style, we were given directions by the camp caretakers: drive out of the desert, turn left, drive 220 kilometres, there you’ll find a town, drive through it, then drive another 220 kilometres to the next town, turn left. Then drive 110 kilometres into the bush, then turn left at the sign to the castle.

These amusing directions scribbled on a scrap of paper, we set off.

The directions proved correct to the letter, and some 6 hours after setting off we were on the 80 kilometre mud-track towards Duwisib Castle, in a torrential storm, testing our driving once again.

The mud-track gave well to arid hills, which seemed to go on forever. Onwards and onwards into the middle of nowhere. No sign of life anywhere in sight along our journey since the last town, except the occasional warthog.

After what seemed an eternity driving in the hills, the light dimming once again, we spotted the most out-of-place looking red-brick … well, kind of castle I suppose. We had found our stop for the night.

Duwisib Castle was built in 1908, mimicking a medieval style of sorts, by a German Baron as a gift of love to his new American bride. This fact in itself deepened our curiosity – and incredulity – who would build his new bride a house in such a forsakenly remote place?

Pulling up to the castle, it was all locked up, no-one around. Standing around in the carpark, wondering what to do with ourselves in the middle of nowhere, soon a car came racing up the driveway – the caretaker had seen us coming from her cottage down the hill.

Marching straight up to the front door of the castle itself, she produced an enormous set of keys, opened up, and ushered us into the castle foyer.

There were no other guests staying, she informed us. [You don’t say!]. We had the place to ourself for the night. [You what??]

Marching off ahead, she opened up the master bedroom, complete with moquisto-net clad four-poster bed, told us to settle in, she was going to get the cook to make us dinner.

Somewhat bewildered, we settled in and went off to explore the castle.

Full of artwork, antique European furniture, the Baron’s personal armory… well, we really were in a castle.

Suddenly in bustled a lady, in her pyjamas, with a thick white face-mask smeared all over her face. “Don’t worry about my face, I was sleeping!” she announced jovially, and with a huge clattering of pots and pans, she set about making dinner.

Out in the castle courtyard, a table was set for us, and before long we had plates of steak, chicken, and salad in front of us, along with tankards of beer. Utterly bewildered, we dug into our dinners as the light gave way to total darkness.

“Right, I’m off to bed”, announced the cook.

And with that, the castle door was locked up, and we found ourselves locked into a castle in the middle of nowhere – a Namibian historical monument – entirely alone.

This was more than we could take, bewilderment gave way to peals of laughter – what a totally absurd situation to be in.

Retrieving additional beers from Beast, we sat in the pitch black courtyard, contemplating our sheer – luck? – before retiring to sleep, lord and lady of the manor. If only for the one night!

 

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