A large pelican glides towards the jetty, its massive pink and white wings spread taught above the icy water.
A big bull of a seal aboard a catamaran holds its head up to be stroked by a tourist from Germany.
Across the bay a strong odour blows over from the guano islands.
Something foul in the air … enough to make you realise that you are in the second busiest port along the west coast of southern Africa.
Avoiding the two restaurants that charge tourists a fortune for a piece of fresh fried fish, we drive around the harbour perimeter, looking for a small eatery that fries fish at reasonable prices.
We spot a small and dodgy-looking cafe where two sailors at a small table outside in the sun are puffing pipes and gulping beers, talking to two burly crew. Popeye with the pipe and his companions gives us a leery eye, whether because land lubbers like us have the temerity or stupidity to stop at such a rough seafarers’ watering hole, we have no idea.
Inside the cafe we enquire about fresh fried fish but all they sell are chips, chicken, cigarettes… and lots of beer.
Disillusioned, we trawl the fishing companies looking for fresh fried fish outlets. Stopping at one of the factory fish shops selling fish retail, we discover that they only sell frozen fish – squid, hake and horse mackerel in boxes so large you could eat fish for a month.
The shop manager, a local, tells us that there are no fried fish eateries in the harbour vicinity. But we could try Steve’s takeaway in the town centre.
We eventually find Steve’s takeaway tucked away behind the main shopping precinct, a tiny cafe with a tavern and slot machines working overtime at lunchtime. By now we are so hungry for fish that we order grilled snoek and hake despite the grotty appearance of the place.
The fish was fresh and delicious, the service quick and friendly. Later we learned that Steve’s takeaway, despite its humble location and appearance is the secret place for reasonably priced, non-tourist fried fish in Walvis Bay.
Isn’t it strange that in a fishy town the size of Walvis Bay there is no famous off-the-beaten track tourist shop for reasonably-prize fresh fried fish?
Perhaps it’s an idea ahead of its time.
Could people in Walvis Bay be sick and tired of eating fish?
Steve’s takeaway could eventually grow into a famous fried fish place.
Meanwhile, a big gap lies in the market for any enterprising business person to capture a piece of the fresh fried fish market in Walvis Bay.