Namibia… ah… Namibiaaaah… land of dust devils, wide open spaces and a gazillion fisherman. Not to mention the sand, the sand dunes, the largest sand dunes in the world and a couple of snakes. And that’s still leaving out some rather hermitic (or is that hermetic) scorpions, entire coastlines full of writhing seals and the world’s largest non-unionised population of anglers.
hmm.. where do i begin… do i start by telling you about getting on the bus for a 28 hour trip to another country when alba asks me if she needs her passport. Or do I skip straight to our lovely little camp site nestled at the mouth of the swakop river on the beach (and on the municipal sewage outlet if you believe the rumours. bah poppycock!).
as we stepped off our bus into the schizophrenic namibian weather we were greeted by what we thought was an immense frozen tidal wave poised to crash down and wreak enormous havoc on the unsuspecting innocents who inabited swakopmund. this tsunami on pause was in fact the morning fog bank retreating into the ocean since the climate of swakopmund is a shotgun wedding between dry desert heat and the cold atlantic ocean which eagerly rushes to savage it.
swakopmund has a unique climate which we dubbed “the stumbling drunk” because it never seems to be able to commit to a specific direction for any particular day. mornings are generally overcast and cold. fogbanks disappear by about 10 or 11 in the morning and the sun takes the reins. however, if there are clouds, expect to freeze when standing in the shade and roast when stepping into sunlit patches. weird man. very weird.
apart from that, the town is a cheery little replica of a fairy tale village with a few additions. there are the quaint german landmarks, houses which were erected back when namibia was der bundesland’s pinkie finger in africa. there are a host of bog standard seaside flats (i think the plans are published in architects weekly) and a number of rather bizarre modernist monuments like the kristall gallerie which would have been out of place in anything but a reimagining of hansel and gretel on PCP.
highlights include running loose on quad bikes throughout the namib dune sea – i was fortunate enough to have a bike with a loose front left suspension and a girlfriend who thought that holding on tight involved changing positions and clutching like a limpet first at the right arm, then the left. it was like a convoy of bedouins wandering through the desert on camelback, with the odd one at the back suddenly making sand donuts and veering off into erratic directions at regular intervals. other news: sandboarding is not all its cracked up to be. actually boarding down the sand dunes on some masonite is a pleasure, its the walking back up that kills you. every step you take turns into a monstrous 3cm of distance from your last position due to your foot sinking until your thighs into the sand. we hatched the brilliant concept of creating sand lifts which would be the desert equivalent of ski lifts. at the moment the concept is fully conceptualised and we are looking for seed money. any venture capital or offer of hard currency will convince us to finish this masterwork.
a little known fact which became glaringly apparent after an hour in swakop is that it is home to the largest non-aligned tribe of anglers in the southern hemisphere. possibly the northern hemisphere too as there were jumbo jet loads of french, german, british and australians all hellbent on transforming themselves into ernest hemingway’s heirs. so, when in rome, you become a fisherman. i am proud to say that i too – a confirmed leaf eater, a herbivorous hardhat became a fisherman. well i caught some kelp. lots of kelp. big bony belligerent kelp that looked as though it would take out a shark given the slightest hint of provocation. and i didn’t touch any of those stinky little pilchards that attach themselves to hooks and are supposed to be sweetly attractive to everything that lives in the ocean. i’m a proud card-carrying member of the outsourced anglers society. damn proud.
i see that my little missive has become like a sumo wrestler in training and become bloated out of all proportion. very well… consider this Chapter I of “Mike’s Crew Crawls the Namib”. more to follow…
love to all
master of the masthead
acolyte of angling
demon of the dust