The German Empire ruled Namiba from 1884 to 1915, calling it “German South West Africa”. In typical German fashion, they established a strict set of rules, built up the infrastructure and then developed a farming culture. Although Germanic rule was relatively short-lived, there are still many residual effects we still see today. Most typically, there are many generational Germans living in Namibia. And with German people comes German food and German in-your-face directness. This is where our Quiver Tree story begins.
We arrived at the Quiver Tree Forest just outside the town of Keetmanshoop about 7:30pm after 12 hours of driving, many of which on an bumpy dirt roads. We were tired, dirty, and in dire need of dinner. Just outside the forest is a farm with rooms for rent which is where we had reservations. We parked the truck and headed into the main room. Before we could say hello, a fairly large man appeared and said in a thick German accent, “you’re late!!” I guess that is the way they say “welcome” in German Namibia. How should I reply to this? I had all sorts of snarky responses ready, none of which would get us dinner and our room. “Yes, yes we are”, I replied. After a long, stern look from our German-Namibian friend, he pointed to a table which was set up with three dinner settings and said, “Sit!” So we did.
Dinner was smashed meat with a thick gravy. There is not much one can say about this culinary debacle other that it was true county-German food. But we were hungry and it was the only game in town. While we were chewing, our large German friend came over to discuss the Quiver Tree Forest as he was the gate keeper. “You should go out to the forest tonight!” I look outside and it is pitch black. By the way, can’t you smell we are in desperate need of a shower? I didn’t say any of this, I’m stupid but not that stupid. He follows up with, “I don’t want to dictate but you should go out!” Of course you don’t. You want me to leave now? I’m in mid-chew which I would truly like to convert to mid-spit. Again, I keep quiet, food remains in my mouth. We finish dinner and head out the forest as if we had any choice at all.
Seeing and photographing Quiver Trees has been on my bucket list for a few years. Check! Quiver Tree, Aloidendron dichotomum, is off the list.