As a mid life change of career, it would be hard to imagine the gulf that Gerry Cooney spanned: addiction counsellor to owner/ manager of a safari type lodge 10,000 miles from home. Not alone did he do that but he has produced an entertaining and stimulating journal on the highs and lows of that journey. Gaelic football enthusiast and keen golfer, Gerry had a career in the social services in Ireland before moving on to working as an addiction counsellor at The Rutland Centre. In the background however he had an unrequited desire to do something very different.
His chance came through a family connection with Namibia, South West Africa, when on a visit there in 2007 he “found” Guestfarm Ghaub, a onetime missionary school. He put in motion an adventure that would fulfil a dream. Land ownership in Namibia requires a majority local stakeholder. His Cousin, Andre Compion, a six foot plus Namibian farmer and former pilot, joined himself and a group of his Irish family and friends to buy almost 30,000 acres of safari lodge and commercial farm.
In a fascinating narrative, Gerry makes no bones about there being some dark days and challenging times as he fought to turn around a lodge that needed significant work to bring it up to standard and make it attractive to the modern traveller. Difficult times were comfortably outnumbered by wonderful memories; the joyful music-filled all embracing Catholic service at the nearby Maria Bronn school like nothing ever seen in Ireland. The excitement of the lodge staff when he brought them on their first ever trip to the seaside. The ever changing aura of a country the size of France and the UK combined but with just a population of 2.2 million people.
For anyone looking for a holiday like none other or interested in a career change this definitely is a must read.