I have read my way into the last day of 2013… and if I could, I would read my way out of 2013. But books are just so long. And like all proper readers, I can’t start a book right after I finished one. It needs to soak in a bit. So what have I been reading? Nothing mind-blowing, or deep. I have been reading Patricia Cornwell, the first five books of her Kay Scarpetta series. I’m not a big fan of books that is all guts and gore. But when reading a series like this, in quick succession, I might add, the character development is amazing and she, Mrs Cornwell, achieves so much more than her critics can possibly give her credit for after reading only one book. I think I now understand the fierce competition between Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell… … but on my shelf, they will be friends.

However, this is not about Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs. This is simply a reflection on the year that has been. As always, I did not read as much as I would have liked. And really did not write much at all. (I think the only year that I have really read was the year I lived in London. (Lots of time to read, travelling on trains and buses). I did, however, reread Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. It still is the greatest piece of prose written in my small library. For a short time, I tried to read a bit of adventure. You know, Clive Cussler and his brilliant creation, Dirk Pitt. (Who I imagine must look a bit like George Clooney), but Mr Pitt turned into a bit of a MacGyver. He always survives and he always saves the planet. Nothing wrong the writing skills of Clive Cussler, but I think I may have read one too many of his books. I also read Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Angel’s Game. Brilliant writing, but way too dark for my sometimes already dark mind. I will, however, reread The Shadow of the Wind by the same author. Alongside Fugitive Pieces, they make up a very important part of my shelf. The book I enjoyed the most, must surely be Polly Evans’ It’s not about the Tapas. Brilliant travel writing and if I ever wanted to travel to Spain, it was after reading a rather unplanned journey on a bicycle through Spain. No other great reads come to mind, but then, I really did not read all that much. Any Afrikaans books? I’m afraid not. The one I did buy and tried to read, started with an absurd sex scene in the Namib Desert. I’m afraid it landed in the bin. No, it’s not the sex scene; it’s the ridicule of it. Anyone who has spent a day in the Namib Desert will tell you, that at no time of the year, you are going to peel off your clothes in the middle of the day, for a quickie under a tree. It simply is too hot! And you will have so many flies around you; your poor partner might end with a broken nose. So much for my Afrikaans literacy endeavours.

On the music front, I discovered Carrie Underwood and still think she did a great rendition of Imagine. Yes, I really do think she did great. Mumford & Sons and Heuwels Fantasties found their way into my music library. Adele and Amy MacDonald continue to travel with me, as do Celine Dion.  Yes, I’m still a fan. I didn’t see any great shows or performances… Otjiwarongo is devoid of that. But we did go see a ballet in Cape Town. Nothing quite as sobering as men in tights with muscles to die for. Movies, that which we do see, we get to rent months after the world has forgotten about them. But ones that will linger for a while is Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love has been memorable and I have finally seen both Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. Midnight in Paris made me think and Paris Je T’aime took a special place in my heart. The Magic of Belle Isle made me realise that Morgan Freeman is getting old, and that eventually we will all die. But hopefully, we can all have full lives like he had.

2013 has been a year of more downs than ups. And although I am not superstitious, I want to believe it had something to do with the year…

Lance fell from grace and so did my innocent believe in my sport heroes. Every single one of them has been disgraced. Whether it is by drugs or sex, the sin gets splashed on every front page and if you are lucky, you even get to have your guts spilled on Oprah Winfrey. One man is still standing, but I’m too afraid to mention his name, just in case he also falls. Nelson Mandela passed away recently and just like in 1990 everyone is watching the news in fear. Let’s hope for the best is my only advice. 2013 has been labelled the driest of dry in the last 30 years in Namibia. Animals died in their hoards, and although the Red Cross and United Nation distributed food to some groups in Northern Namibia, the Himba cannot have their cattle back. Many of the Himba lost all their animals – donkeys, goats and cattle. Many a commercial farmer ended with but a few of his stock. And while everyone struggled to keep their heads up, the fuel prices kept rising. Apparently South Africa’s stock market did the worst in the world and although we are not South Africa, we are so closely related that the effects can be seen here too.

I lost more animals this year than I ever thought possible and with every small death, I seem to lose a bit of my soul. My little companion of 16 years died one afternoon while I was at a school meeting. My feathered friend of 9 years also died this year, very unexpectedly and made me realise how little I know about birds and how much veterinarians make from our losses. One of the most beautiful birds I have ever had the pleasure of owning, flew away on a Sunday morning. Fish that I bought when they were but little specs in my huge aquarium, decided to also leave for bigger, more permanent ponds. Our family cat was run over by an irresponsible driver on Christmas Eve. It has been one sad year when I think about it. But, and this is a good but, between all the lows, we have received a white bundle of joy into our house. A fragile little kitten called Dipstick has made her way into our house and hearts and even my very jealous Spaniel has accepted her.

We travelled, though also not as much as we would have liked. (Maybe due to fuel prices?) For our second anniversary we went to Etosha and although we saw more lions than I have ever seen in Etosha, my heart was also saddened by it. The truth is they had easy prey. No antelope could resist the waterholes and walked thirstily into ambush after ambush. We did the Waterberg Hike – definitely a highlight. (I have written about this previously). We bought a Pajero and travelled with friends and family to Epupa Falls. The distance always gets to me… But to me, there is nothing more soothing than waking up next to those falls. If I have any say in it, I would like my ashes to be spread over Epupa. We have been to Waterberg twice – once during the drought and yesterday (30 December 2013). The differences are extreme and I don’t know which is more beautiful – Namibia with its shades of brown or the green carpet that seems to appear overnight and covers everything from wall to wall?

2013 is a year I would not like to repeat.

I pray that 2014 will bring more time for friends and good wine, for the reading of good books and the discovery of music. Time for writing and money for travelling. Success in all that we plan and attempt. I pray for good health and an even better raining season. I pray for safety on the road and peace in our homes. I pray for answers and good advice. But most of all, I pray for happiness.

Published by Mariette du Toit

Namibian born and raised, I am the owner Mariette du Toit Photography - where I share photos of the beautiful people I capture in my unique Namibian documentary style and Travelling Namibia where I share travelling tips with travellers across the globe through reviews on the lodges and campsites that I visit.

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