Visiting a German Christmas Market in Africa

Anne Bonfert

A Christmas experience next to palm trees and a sunset on the beach

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  • Credit: Anne Bonfert

I might have mentioned before that I am not a Christmas type of person. Neither am I religious enough to see a reason for celebrating nor do I embrace the material side of Christmas created by the society of consumption.

I did not have an issue with being away from home for Christmas. The only time I enjoyed Christmas in my grown-up years was when it snowed on the 24th and my mom and I went for a walk over the snow-covered fields while my sister and my dad went to church on Christmas evening. That was in 2008.

My first Christmas abroad was in 2014 when I was surrounded by Muslims working in a school in Ghana. Sweating in 40 degrees Celsius and eating Christmas cookies my mom sent from Germany. No, I did not miss Christmas.

You don’t get a Christmas feeling in those temperatures.

The following years I spent Christmas in Namibia, a former German colony, and one year in Thailand. This year I am back in Namibia. Escaping the European winter I traded a German lockdown for freedom and living in the wild. That is what Namibia stands for me.

We’ve done social distancing in this country long before the word existed. A country made for escaping civilization is what describes it best.

So here I am again. Spending the European winter months in the warmth of Africa. And due to the German history of this town, there is a lot that will remind you of Germany. Including a German-style “Weihnachtsmarkt” with “Glühwein” and “Bratwurst”.

For those of you not familiar with the word “Glühwein”, it is hot wine mixed with a bit of sugar and cloves. A typical German drink for the cold months in snow and those hours on the Christmas market.

The only thing this town is missing for the real winter feeling is snow. You’ll find Christmas trees and palm trees decorated with Christmas lights. You’ll hear German Christmas songs and get the best of Café Anton’s (a German traditional bakery in town) Christmas cookies.

Instead of going snowboarding during the winter holidays, you can go sandboarding in the oldest desert in the world. In your summer holidays. Because December is a holiday month in Namibia. And the beginning of summer.

So yes, life isn’t that bad on the other side. The grass might not be greener but the rest definitely more colorful.

Walking down the beach trail towards the Christmas market I passed fields of flowers, watched sea birds flying high, and heard the sound of the waves. Feeling the sun rays on my skin I tried to remember if I applied sunscreen or not. Being a white European my skin has to slowly adapt again to the African sun.

But I’m loving it. Against nothing in the world, I would trade my lifestyle over here for Europe’s lockdown chaos at the moment. I’m spending most of my days in nature, I get to write a lot and connect with my awesome group of friends who make sure I don’t miss out on socializing.

The Christmas market isn’t my main attraction site, but having a friend asking for some help I made my way down there, had a beer, walked past all the diverse stalls, and came back later in the evening for a real German “Bratwurst”. My dinner for the day.

The sun was about to set and the palm trees were shining in golden orange. More people came to the event as it got dark. Seeing people wearing masks at gatherings like this one is the only sign reminding you of a pandemic happening. Somewhere in the world.

Catching a last shot of the sun before disappearing in the ocean a lovely day comes to an end. Walking one last time past jewelry, African souvenirs, and paintings we leave the market and head back into our home.

Driving down the beach road we see the horizon. Still painted in dark red and orange reminding us of the sun that just set. An evening without any fog on the horizon is a special one here at the coast. But not unusual during lovely summer nights like this one.

With no cloud cover in the sky, it is going to be a cold one. A cold night in Africa. Rolling myself in my blanket ready to read some more interesting stories.

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I am a traveler. Photographer. Writer. Teacher. Skydiving instructor. Adventure enthusiast. Nature lover. And fell in love with the African continent. My stories go around travel, nature and all kinds of adventurous activities.

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