Friday, November 17, 2006

I am the horizon


For the next leg of my journey, I visited Skeleton Coast National Park. That part of Namibia (NW coast) is stark, barren, full of salt, sand, fog, clouds, and old ship wrecks. We had thick-cloudy weather which made it particularly atmospheric and arrived at camp as the sun was dropping below the horizon. This salty, desert coast is virtually empty in this pre-holiday time (it gets busiest in December and January). It's so remote that here, I'm not looking at the horizon, I am (in) the horizon.

We had had a 10-hour drive day with three mishaps -- flat tire, insufficient rand for the entry fee at the park gate (due to a dodgy ATM machine in the last town where we could re-supply and fuel-up, and an even dodgier bank with a changing dollar-rand conversion rate -- which decreased by almost 25% between the time of asking what was the conversion rate and asking to change USD), and loss of our lodging confirmation receipt which we observed could pose major problems in this low-tech area, as the most modern piece of equipment seen at the park office was a calculator. We somehow survived all this thanks mostly to the other half of this dynamic duo -- tire change, bribe with USD and the closed office by the time we arrived at a windy, wet, almost empty camp -- and had a "2 classics" dinner -- peanut butter and jelly sandwichs and beer.

We decided to meet the neighbors. They were nice fishermen -- father and son and uncle -- who were fishing for 2 weeks, "roughing it" -- complete with 2 generators 1.5m-high wind breaks, braai (barbeque), scotch, sweet wine (which they profusely offered us) and a pre-planned, typeset menu. They were nearing the end of their annual 2-week fishing expedition at Mile 108 camp, and we spent time around their fire warming ourselves and chatting jovially. They also helped with travel advice and looked at our punctured tire from the one flat to date (to see if we could fix it, but we could not.)

I'm now in Swakopmund, and old European town also on the Atlantic coast, a cute place with palm-lined streets and a jetty leading into the ocean, a bit reminicent for me of Venice Beach, California.

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