While we're waiting, we decided to rent a car here in Namibia to explore this beautiful country. And what a trip it's been!
It turns out that going by 4x4 is the way to see Namibia since most of the country's sights prohibit motorcycles to enter. This is due to a number of reasons (such as lions could chase you, a valid reason I suppose), so in order to see things, we would have had to either join a tour group or rent a car anyway. Even the place we were headed to when we had our accident, Sossusvlei, doesn't allow motorcycles in, it turns out. Maybe this broken monoshock was a blessing in disguise.
The name means “Dead-End Marsh", and if you look at an aerial image of Sossusvlei, you can see why. All along Namibia's Atlantic coast is an expanse of red sand dunes, and that is the Namib Desert. But then there is an area cutting into it where an ancient river once tried to push its way through the sand. That's Sossusvlei, and sometimes when it does rain, water still flows through that corridor, only to peter out at the end in a marshy pan of soaked sand. When it's not raining (most of the time as you can imagine), this area is a perfect peninsula of hard land sticking into the sea of sand, so you can drive into it and get up-close to the impressive dunes.
That was not something that really appealed to us, but we did climb a much smaller, yet still big sand dune with a much more boring name: Dune 40.
We had rented a car from a local taxi company in Windhoek instead of a name brand rental agency because it was a good deal, but we definitely got what we paid for. The air conditioning was broken and would only blow on our feet, so we had to constantly keep the windows open so that we didn't roast alive in there.
At Walvis Bay, and all along the Namibian coast, the sand dunes meet the sea in a cloud of mist. You might think that sand and sea go together to make a perfect beach scene, and normally they do. But these massive Sahara-like sand dunes emptying into a frigid, almost antarctic Atlantic waters make for a very bizarre, foreboding scene.
The wooden walkways at Cape Cross didn't go into the seal colony as much as the seal colony had taken over the walkways. You could see that there had once been an attempt at building a roofed picnic area there, but the seals now completely owned that space and there was no taking it back. I was definitely in their world now, and was very thankful for the wooden bars that barely separated us, because some of those seals were absolutely huge with a mouth full of bloody fangs. Fish carcasses and strewn-apart entrails were everywhere, and you could see that sometimes the blood on their mouths was not just from having dinner, but from attacking each other.
Our final adventure in Namibia with our rental car was going to be Etosha National Park, a safari paradise of lions, elephants, rhinos, and giraffes. That will all be for my next blog post, part two of our rental car excursion, but on our way there, we had another Namibian surprise in store for us: the Himba.
This was both fascinating and awkward. Our tour guide was a man from the village who spoke English (along with five other languages), and he took us around, showing us how the village was organized with a sacred fire in the central space, and how women dressed with cow or goat hide skirts and headdresses. We also got to see how the women used incense to “bathe", as they actually never take a bath, and simply reapply the ochre butter mixture on their skin every day, and then waft themselves with smoke.
They weren't all half-naked though. Some women dressed in what they called “Victorian" garb, which was their interpretation of the dresses European settlers had encouraged them to wear in the 1800's. But with very bright colors and really cool hats that were built to be supportive for carrying things on their heads, you could tell that they had taken the designs and made it their own.
We were shocked. Yes, we were going there, but that was three-and-a-half hours away, and this woman couldn't speak English, and she was covered in red mud and we were in a rental car, and she didn't have a shirt on... but hey, why not?
When we arrived at Etosha, we dropped her off with her bags of ground corn flour and basket-weaving materials, and waved goodbye to our new friend.
So stay tuned until next time!
Tim is almost finished with his second book: Two-Up and Overloaded. It will cover our first year of travel from Chicago to Panama.
If you haven't done so already, take a look at his first book Maiden Voyage to get to know the who, what, and why that inspired us to be on the trip we are currently on.