Exactly 30 years have passed since their paths of life crossed: A reason for Johanna and Ernst Sauber of BüllsPort to look back and to remember their “fateful” encounter in April 1989. You can call it fateful also because today’s BüllsPort Lodge & Farm would not be imaginable without the two…

A diverse tour group of Namibian tour operator SWA Safaris stops at the Maltahöhe Hotel. After a day trip to Sossusvlei, they meet thirsty at the bar. One of the travellers is the 25-year-old Johanna Erk from Ortenberg near Frankfurt in Germany. At one of the tables in the corner, a few farmers throw dice, among them the 29-year-old Ernst Sauber of Farm BüllsPort.

One of the players strolls to the bar and learns in the conversation that someone in the tour group has very distant relatives at Büllsport. “Hey, Sauber, come over,” he calls to the table: “Here is kinship of you.” When Ernst introduces himself to the group, he exchanges his first glance with Johanna. A momentous encounter. Because BüllsPort Lodge & Farm, as we know it today, would not exist if had they not met.

Subject matter for Rosamunde Pilcher

The months of their getting acquainted outshines any episode of a reality TV dating show. Johanna tells Ernst at the bar in the Maltahöhe Hotel about her diploma as an agricultural engineer, which she received shortly before her trip. She tells him about her interest in farming in Namibia. About how much she would like to visit a farm on her round trip. And that she did not believe her eyes when she saw a Bakkie (pick-up) in the parking lot in front of the hotel, with a full-grown bull in the back of the truck…

Johanna obviously makes an impression on Ernst. At the end of her roundtrip she is in her hotel room in Windhoek when suddenly the telephone rings. The receptionist informs her that there is a call for her. It’s Ernst. He asks whether she would like to accompany him the next day on his shopping trip through Windhoek. Well, what a question!

Therefore on her last day in Namibia, she is “visiting” shops like Wecke & Voigts Wholesale. Enjoys a lunch at Daan Viljoen Park about 20 km west of Windhoek. Plays pool billiard at Kapps Farm, halfway between Windhoek and the airport, in the time span between check-in and departure. Receives an offer as Farm Manager at BüllsPort. And finally gets onto the plane, incable of wiping the smile from her face…

From Dream to Reality

A few months later, at the beginning of August, Johanna gets off the plane again at the same airport. She quit her job in Frankfurt, accepted Ernst’s offer and packed their bags. Off to her new “workplace”: Farm Remhoogte, Ernst’s other farm, 30 km north of BüllsPort, by road 70 km away, with a herd of goats, three herds of Karakul sheep and 40 cattle.

No electricity, no proper bathroom, and for going to the toilet she has to cross the yard. Lamps and refrigerators are fuelled by kerosene and the telephone has a crank instead of a dial. Many things do not work the way Johanna imagines. And yet, she does not feel homesick for Germany for a second.

Of course, this is also due to her “boss”. They marry in January 1990, two months before Namibia becomes independent. In the same year her son Leo is born, followed two years later by son Thilo.

When several years of drought force them to sell all cattle, they enter tourism: In April 1993, exactly four years after their “fateful” encounter at Maltahöhe Hotel, they establish five guest rooms and open the Guest Farm BüllsPort.

And the rest is history, as they say. They also say: That’s another story.

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