Welcome to Arandis!

It’s been a long time since my last post and 5 weeks since I moved to my new home in the small desert town of Arandis, Erongo Region, Namibia.

I’m working at the Town Council as its Local Economic Development Specialist and am settling into both home life and work life here. The days race by at lightspeed and all my energy has been expended on integrating with my colleagues and new community.

For a bit of background, Arandis was established in 1975 as a company town for the nearby Rössing Uranium Mine. Shortly after Namibia gained its independence in 1990, the town was gifted to the Republic and started its long and bumpy road towards self-reliance. Since most of its residents were still employed at Rössing or one of the other mines in the area, Arandis nearly became a ghost town when Uranium prices plummeted and the mines closed or retrenched in the early 00’s.

Less than 40 miles from coastal Swakopmund, the country’s largest tourist town, it was conceivable that Arandis would be bypassed by the throngs of travelers passing from the capitol, Windhoek, and forgotten by the rest of the country (and world).

My neighbors, their elected officials and my colleagues in the Town Council staff, however, were not ready to let the desert reclaim this land. They’ve been painstaking in their commitment to keeping this little oasis vibrant and attractive. It’s easy to adopt their enthusiasm while, at the same time, retain a realistic understanding of the challenges we face.

Here are some images I’ve collected in my short time here. What I can’t capture with my camera is the kindness, friendliness, and good humor of my neighbors who’ve welcomed me to their hometown and happily support my efforts to learn how I can best contribute to our collective prosperity.

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From the summit of Arandis Mountain, the town for which it’s named can be seen with a touch of green in the vast expansive desert.
There's a recognition of our challenges in everything we see - here the Arandis Town crest.
Survive! There’s a recognition of our challenges in everything we see: this is the Arandis Town crest, reflecting the native Springbok & Oryx, as well as its mining roots.
Our post office. Hey, at least we have one! More than can be said for many small towns and villages in the country.
Our post office. At least we have one – more than can be said for many small towns and villages in the country.
A new business brings us seafood from the nearby coast.
A new business brings us seafood from the nearby coast.
And Ellie's Nursery has received recognition from the national government for its export potential.
And Ellie’s Nursery has received recognition from the national government for its export potential of hydroponically-grown vegetables. Potential, yes – can it be realized?
Unfortunately, not all ventures have been as successful. This garment factory closed in 2014 and we're searching for a new buyer.
Not all ventures have been successful. This garment factory closed in 2014 and we’re trying to sell the assets to a new buyer.
I spent 2 days cataloging all 600+ sewing machines and other equipment that we hope to transfer to a new owner/operator.
I spent 2 days cataloging all 600+ sewing machines and other equipment that we hope to transfer to a new owner/operator.
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The country’s extreme housing shortage can be seen in our town, too. We are servicing new land with water, sewer & electricity so developers can build new homes.
Across the street, however, evidence of other developers not succeeding. It's 2 steps forward, 1 step back.
Across the street, however, evidence of other developers not succeeding. It’s often 2 steps forward, 1 step back.

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Hope springs eternal - new neighborhoods are being added as quickly as we can service them.
Hope springs eternal, however – new neighborhoods are being added as quickly as we can service them.
The town, like much of the country, is a constant battle between new and old. New rental units in the background contrast with relics of the not-so-distant-past.
The town, like much of the country, is a constant battle between new and old. Recently built rental units in the background contrast with relics of the not-so-distant-past.
The kids, however, see only the future. Even as they play in the recent relics as their playground.
The kids, however, see only the future. Even as they make a playground of the recent relics.
Our high school is as ambitious as the students - I'm hoping to meet soon with their commerce classes and entrepreneurs' club.
Our high school is as ambitious as the students – I’m hoping to meet soon with their commerce classes and entrepreneurs’ club.

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Clearly, there’s plenty of room to expand beyond the edge of town.
A typical town street aims me back towards Arandis Mountain in the distance. It's become my refuge...
A typical town street aims me back towards Arandis Mountain in the distance.

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On the summit, like a crow’s nest atop a mast, I enjoy an incredible 360-degree view of this incredible land. Just an hour’s hike from home, it’s my new place of worship.

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Speaking of home, the entrance to our public swimming pool hides a secret…
... beyond the gate secured by this padlock-chain...
… beyond the gate secured by this padlock-chain…
My humble abode: a 2BR bungalow, with a guest room (hint, hint)!
… my humble abode: a 2BR bungalow, complete with a guest room (hint, hint) …
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… and a tranquil view …
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… and a perfect spot for my hammock!

I hope this gives you an idea of my new home.

More difficult, thus postponed to a future post, is a description of my daily life around the house, the town and at work.

For the moment, let me just end by saying that I miss my loved ones terribly yet am extremely grateful for this opportunity! Should you find yourself in my neck of the woods, I hope you’ll pay me a visit!

Author: Chris

Until recently, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia focused on Community Economic Development. Before that, I was a high-tech executive, small business owner, consultant and business broker.

5 thoughts on “Welcome to Arandis!”

  1. hi chris i grew up in arandis.
    we moved from south africa but just for a year.
    i was in standard 3 and i would love to go back as it is such a beautiful place to be in.
    the scenery alone is worth the drive.
    i hope you have settled in well , if you can please email some pics especially of the mountains.
    god bless and keep well

    1. Hi, Ashley, and thanks for your note! I am very behind in posting on my blog but will soon have many new pics, including a lot of the Naukluftberg. Watch this space!

  2. Jeff asked: “So little vegetation there, yet, luckily, a swimming pool. Are there drought conditions or is that normal?”

    Not unlike California, Namibia is suffering a 4th year of drought but our use of the aquifer is supplemented by a desalination plant on the coast so there’s not the public sense of urgency that should exist. Water conservation, as a concept, has yet to enter the public psyche, even with threats of rationing. The swimming pool is kept filled as a public resource during “the season” and was filled when I arrived. As the temperatures dropped with the start of winter, it was drained and now sits empty. I lost my beautiful reflection pond at sunset and the large bats (24-inch wingspan!) lost a convenient source of water to dive-bomb at that hour. It will be interesting to see what happens when temperatures start to rise in a couple of months. This morning, with lows in the 30s, it was the least of our concerns.

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