It seems like it has a been a long time since I last wrote my blog, I was right at the start of my Namibian adventure. Since then, I have passed through such a variety of landscapes, weather, and emotions. Namibia has been massive.
Although truly still a daily grind, (still waiting `to write in my journal – “easy day”! I keep thinking of the TCD gym, where after about 10minutes I sack it off and head home, oh if only!) I have been definitely coping with the exercise a lot better. It has been the road conditions that have been really wearing. I am now, finally, back on tar and I am hoping that this will mean that I can start making up some much needed distance if I am to reach the average I need to get to Nairobi in 90 days. (I am still ‘’on track for 100!)
So, the first day after I last blogged I cycled through this incredible dark brown mountainous desert, just stunning (be prepared for me to use the phrases ‘just stunning’ ‘just beautiful’ ‘unbelievable’ etc. etc. alot! You should see my Journal!) At this stage I was very paranoid about water and food, without realising that I in fact had about 5 days until the desert proper, in the south there are in fact plenty of shops (1 every 150km), so I needn’t have weighed myself down so heavily – all part of the learning curve! I therefore absolutely caned it to the next town, about 150Ks (or Kilos as the Afrikaaners call them), where I was put up in a bed, for free, more generosity. (For the second time my bedroom was called the Rhino!).
Since then I have gone through, rain, mist, fog, blazing heat and one great day of just nice and cloudy. I have been three days without seeing a shop or anywhere to buy water, I have been pretty much solely on dirt roads, I have waved at over 500 drivers (people love me! I am not going to like the lack of attention when I finish...), talked top myself ALOT, made up loads of songs (those who have lived with me know the type, just like my shower songs), swatted away thousands of flies (where do they come from?? What do they feed on?? I am in the desert for goodness sakes! There’s nothing here!), been in mind bending desert remoteness and met some fantastic people.
My second day in Namibia was (probably) the worst of my life and you can read the journal extract below – in essence, when it rains, dirt turns to mud. Since then though, I have been in fairly good spirits, although I AM SICK TO DEATH of dirt roads! There are (I know this sounds boring) 4 types of dirt road and they constantly morph into one another. My worst two ‘corrugated Iron Road’/ ‘Machine gun road’ and ‘Rocky’ are complete hell, constantly shuddering along worrying about my bones and my bike (Lady Love). Tacking across the road trying to find a good line, the third is ‘sandy’ –he’s OK but again very slow, and the fourth – my favourite and sadly most rare is the ‘recently rained on flattened dried mud’ road which is amazing and just like tar! (The absolute worst is when, Sandy, Rocky and Machine Gun all meet up and really bring the pain. They love meeting up.) The best thing about these roads though is that I have really explored, it would have been a very different experience if I had zipped through Namibia on the tar motorway, not seen the desert in its varying forms, not really experienced solitude, not met the people I have met, not camped in the wilderness completely alone, so all in all I’d say it has been completely worth it. (Although my saddle sores are really coming into their own now- feels like when, as a child you have been dragged by an angry sibling along the carpet by your feet – naked.)
Having now left the desert, (a couple of days ride ago) and heading into bushland – safari (and hungry Lion!) country, my sense of smell has come back, for days now I have smelt nothing, just heat. The last time this sense was in use was down in wine country in South Africa where the constant smell of fermentation was wafting over me. It was like being back in Stagg and I’s room in third year (we were trying to brew cider under our desk).
The other thing that has struck me with this change of landscape is the change in Dawn Chorus. In the Desert by Sossusvlei (the world biggest sand dune, I took the morning off to visit for sunrise – unreal!!) I woke to Cape Turtle Doves Coo Cooing, in the desert South of Walvis Bay it was the ‘laughers’ and the ‘shepherds’( I still haven’t worked out who these guys are but one obviously sounds like someone laughing, and the ‘shepherds’ whistle and whistle then make a little tinkle that sounds like a dog’s collars. First time I heard it I thought it was someone with a dog, lying in my tent in the middle of nowhere. Nearly wet myself!) and now in the bush it is a totally new sound. I love these changing scenes. I don’t want to ramble on too much (and I had better get back on my bike! Only done 40km so far today - I am in Outjo about 5 days from the border in Botswana at Mohembo) and it’s getting hot. (read below for a day in the life, and journal extract. Desert Land discs coming soon....)
Finally just to go back to the kindness of the people I have met and come across, The Swart family saved me in the mud (as you will read in a minute), they picked me up and drove me the nearest place to get my clothes clean. My saviours! I then met them again (The kindest Afrikaner family, three boys and a baby girl on holiday from SA in Namibia) two days later when they were lost they passed me and asked me for directions! Three days later, I bumped into them in Sossusvlei, then in Solitaire two days on! Such coincidences (they would go spend two/three days somewhere whilsdt I would, essentially catch up). We half arranged to meet in Swakop. But before we had time to organise it properly they drove past me when I had just arrived in town (2nd biggest town in Namibia), ridiculous! They took me to lunch then had me to stay in their self catered cottage on the beach, the boys sacrificed their bed for me and had drawn pictures of me on my bike! We had a delicious meal, my laundry, everything. Such overwhelming kindness and I feel honoured to have met them. Such genuine people and now friends. Thank you guys!! (P.s. Mum and Dad, I never realised we were all so young at the same time! Well done for keeping control!!)
Hope you have managed to get through this, thanks all so much for reading and your support. I love hearing news from home and am constantly chuckling away to myself thing of you all! Next stop Botswana, just have to be careful of big game from now on! Also, I hadn’t seen swift for about a week, was worried they’d left me. As I came into town here the sky was full of them. Gives me a ripple of pleasure and shivers every time!
P.S. The photos of Namibia have all come out in the wrong order!