Downtown Windhoek bustles on most afternoons. The sidewalks are crowded, store doors flung open, scents and sounds propelled by the people in motion. It is hard to take it all in at once; the city moves with people come in from the widely-splayed residential sectors of the city to conduct their business in the middle.
But then the sun sets, around 5:15. And a calm sets over the city as the darkness does. Hurried people disappear with the sunlight, reckless taxis evaporate with the warmth, store windows lose their bright color with the sky.
And by six o’clock, night is full and the city is empty. Or, almost, except for a few stragglers or late restaurant-goers. It is eerie how quickly the place clears out. I’ve never seen anything like it. The setting is the same, but it is not the same city as an hour before. The energy is entirely different.
The stillness descends on the center of Windhoek even earlier on weekends: in the afternoon on Saturday, virtually all of Sunday. But come early Monday morning, the place throbs with energy and motion and activity again.
I appreciate the cycling of things: Still water to clouds, clouds to rain, rain to still water (this is more of a theoretical cycle right now in both where I’m from (CA) and where I am); summer to fall, fall to winter, winter to spring, spring to summer (another cycle that is more imagined than real in California—and one that I appreciated so much this year in Princeton); student to teacher, teacher to student; sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset; full city, empty city, full city, empty city—these rhythms that mark our passing days.