windhoek to noordoewer, namibia.
April 24, 2012
Windhoek to Noordoewer, Namibia
‘Perhaps you shouldn’t open your mouth so much when you smile’
A ‘thought provoking’ proposition to myself after continually smiling at the surreal landscape that we’re fortunate enough to be cycling through. With no opportunity to refill water during the days I’m thinking that if I minimise the wide mouth smile I mightn’t get such a dry throat!I write this from the border of Namibia and South Africa where our time is running out of living this surreal life of waking up and riding our bikes for a very long time.
– In short it’s certainly yet another country I could come back and visit considering the diversity that we’ve seen and now knowing there is so much more. Added to this is the vast distances where you encounter the beauty of empty space mainly due to the latest census resulting in a population of 2.1 million population which certainly explains why we have days of cycling 130kms without seeing a single sole besides ourselves.
Its also a country that seems behind in its equality compared to other countries that we’ve visited, perhaps this might change or alternatively this is how it moves forward.
– certainly an affluent capital city that doesn’t reflect that former parts of Africa that we’ve seen whether this is the modern architecturally designed houses or the predominant site of white people dressed in the latest western fashion. Whilst here I did manage to walk around to take in the sites from the meteorites in the town mall much like Cranbourne’s to the national museum which I wanted to see for its aids/hiv exhibition which unfortunately didn’t exist but instead displays of culture/history that seemingly wasn’t updated since its 1989 opening. Interesting none the less.
– researching this place prior to our departure with its german history we pretty much expected a non-stop octoberfest theme, the people, food and dress but not the drunken Australians. We were greeted with a very isolated city i.e. surrounded by a lot of sand dunes, based on a very rugged coast. One of the main attractions for the town (now knowing its not the steins and kransky’s) is the former diamond town of Kolmanskop, a once thriving german base for the surrounding precious stones but now void of life due to bigger finds elsewhere. What is left is a ghost town located smack bang in the middle of the surrounding desert, what was once hospitals, bowling alleys and houses for the manager/teachers etc… are now relics slowly filling with sand, think set of a horror film. I am thinking the actual town of Luderitz might soon be the larger ghost town. This all said Gavan, Shane and I did have a lovely post lunch date where we dined on fresh oysters washed down with a couple of bottles of white wine, it was cute.
Fish River Canyon
– despite reports of it being not the biggest canyon in the world it was certainly an impressive site to see and one made more so due to the fact we literally rode up to its main viewpoint and then for the remainder of the day along its rim before descending into its final point. A finishing place for the day that rewarded all of the hard work with numerous natural springs from stupidly hot to just hot. Certainly that relaxing that it would feel more justified featuring at the end of our trip. My full body exfoliating scrub will hopefully still show its youthful/invigorating benefits for a few more weeks.
– Other impressive sights along the way have included the towering sand dunes of dune 45, and sousvelli which at over 300m high offered decent vantage points for a sunrise and good exercise besides sitting on a bike for a long period of time. We also checked out ‘dead viel’, a petrified forest sandwich between the dunes where once water somehow stood, an eerie place where if required yet another horror film could be set.
– some of the best I’ve seen and as rewarding to compliment the varied others we’ve cycled through. Sites of cycling down a dead straight road with your only focus being on the surrounding open plains stretching themselves towards a beautiful mountain range that awaits you. All of this has allowed some of the best days that I’ve spent on a bike. These days have been on remote gravel roads which predominantly has featured on our Namibia route offering the reward of solitude through its sheer emptiness. It should be noted one of the downsides is the lack of cold drinks considering there is literally nothing between the farms although this has been overcome several times with drivers dropping cokes off at a nominated halfway point, its not all hard work!
– Oryx, wild horses, springbox, zebras, jackals and ostriches.
After only recently recovering from his near death experience involving a warthog and a slightly scratched ear in Ethiopia (2 months ago) Shane has now had a run in with a meerkat. Pulling up for a break next to a farm under a shady tree we were soon confronted with a crazy (rabid) meerkat that was running after us all despite the rocks we projected towards its path. What seemingly started as Shane dancing to entertain us and the rodent soon turned into a bite on the ankle followed by the victim (Shane) utilising his cycling shoes to boot the offender (the meerkat.) Whilst retelling this story to a lodge owner later that day his immediate reaction was ‘rabies’…. think Cujo the movie which from memory didn’t end well. With this in mind and although having his vaccination Shane and I raced ahead the 110kms to the next town which involved pushing ourselves all day with the single 10min break to slam down a sandwich and obviously a coke. Reaching our destination it allowed Shane to hitch to the next town on for a doctor consultation which resulted in numerous needles and stories of that fact rabies isn’t a cool virus to have although dues make a good story.
Shaun – with his departure being a sad affair due to positives he bought to the trip on the plus side I did take his front tyre due to mine being worn… pros and cons! Once left he was sorely missed due to his contagious humour, positive spirit and the guarantee that he was always the last to get ready. Feel very fortunate that we got to include him into this journey.
Other riders –
Justins bike is slowly falling apart although he is determined as ever to get to Cape Town with the finish and the fact it will feature a various types of milkshakes a continual driving force!
Gavan is still pedalling as hard as ever probably more so now due to a recent inclusion of a moustache. With us soon to enter our last country his ‘off switch’ is getting turned a little earlier in the day. His goal is now his first decent coffee in Cape Town that isnt from a sachet and features powdered milk.
Shane is still singing really bad songs continually throughout the day and despite intensive research this isn’t a symptom of rabies and besides this has been a constant for the entire trip. His Cape Town goal is to get a permanent tattoo of the meerkat bite (scratch) along with its various markings up his back to complete his ‘meerman’ transformation.
Wade’s legs are happy he is getting to Cape Town… I am still focusing on the cliché that it’s all about the journey and not the destination which isnt easy at this point considering we’ve done 11,000kms. I am trying to take in each day rather then projecting towards the finish in Cape Town though I am currently imagining it will feature a key from the mayor followed by our ticker tape parade once home through the streets of Melbourne. Seriously it is certainly a focus that this personal whilst friend sharing monumental trip will soon be coming to an end. At this stage besides loved ones I could certainly do a u-turn at Cape Town and head back up just by an alternative route whilst somehow avoiding the opposing tailwinds which has helped us so far. Its a little surreal knowing a trip that has been in the planning through individuals hard work will soon come to an end whether this be the daily routines i.e. pack tent up, eat a lot of food and get on bike or the simple but inspiring experiences we’ve all shared each and every day. Its comforting knowing from previous long trips that memories will still be there and if required I just need to check the ruler straight line of where my legs go from transparent white to one who just stepped out a week long solarium session.
From here its continue into South Africa where we will hug the Atlantic coast before stopping just short of our final destination of Cape Town at a bottle shop for some champange, probably a cheap bottle at this stage. Other things that will occur at our destination are the conclusion of grand epiphanies such as future self directions or just as important what was the top 5 favourite soft drinks of the trip.