Wedding guests get best gift: Namibia

What a great opportunity the Bergs had!  As “destination weddings” go, this one may take the prize. Roger took phenomenal photos, some of which are below.

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
Published Sept. 28, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

Roger and Marilyn Berg in the Namib Desert, Namibia

Roger and Marilyn Berg in the Namib Desert, Namibia

WHO: Roger and Marilyn Berg, 67 and 64, of Plymouth, Mass.

WHERE: Namibia.

WHEN: Three weeks in April.

WHY: For the wedding of their nephew, Steven Neri, formerly of Kingston, Mass., to a woman from Namibia. They traveled there with Steven’s parents, Alan and Ellie Neri, of Kingston.

LOCAL GUIDES: “Steven had been stationed in the Peace Corps for two years in northern Namibia near Angola,” Marilyn said. The Bergs decided to attend the wedding then travel with the Neris, including Steven and his wife, Magano. (The newlyweds now live in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.) “That made things easy for us because for them it was familiar country,” she said.

Sesriem Canyon in Namib Desert

Sesriem Canyon in Namib Desert

NICE RECEPTION: They stayed at a hotel in Ondangwa, the closest town to the wedding. “In Namibia there are 4,000 miles of paved road, 40,000 of unpaved roads. Magano’s family lives about 13 miles off any road,” Roger said. “We were picked up in a Land Cruiser. The way there was sandy but with some greenery and a lot of water holes. The village was a collection of homesteads and the father, a local leader, had gotten electricity and water and a cellphone tower, and he built a school for 700 children.”

Giraffes in Etosha National Park

Giraffes in Etosha National Park

TASTES LIKE…: The Americans were treated to several days of welcome and wedding rituals held at the family’s compound, including songs, chants, and traditional dances. “One day we went to a few different home sites and watched people catch chickens for the bride and groom,” Marilyn said. The wedding was held in a Lutheran church, “from when a bunch of Finnish Lutherans came here hundreds of years ago,” Roger said. The ceremony was in both the local language and English, Namibia’s official language. At the reception, Roger nibbled on dried caterpillar snacks, thinking they were something else. “I’ve since read they’re 60 percent protein,” he reported.

Zebra in Etosha park, Namibia

Zebras in Etosha National Park

NIGHT LIFE: After the wedding, the three couples spent more than a week traveling. They made several stops to watch wildlife, including Etosha National Park. “It’s one of the best places for wildlife in South Africa. We stayed there, at Okaukuejo Resort, and they had a flood-lit watering hole to see the animals at night,” Marilyn said. “We saw a family of rhinos, a herd of zebra, wildebeest, and five male lions. I felt like I was on a National Geographic photo shoot.”

Lion in Etosha park, Namibia

Lion in Etosha (as seen from inside car!)

SEEING RED: Also amazing were the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, said to be the world’s largest, rising to 985 feet. “They were breathtaking,” Roger said. “We climbed one for a bit, but slogging through the sand isn’t my idea of fun.” They took a jeep tour through the barren Dead Vlei, a famous desert area scattered with ancient trees. “It was gorgeous,” Marilyn said. “They looked like skeletons.”

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