23.02.2009 - 07.03.2009
This is Edith.
Why she was named Edith remains something of a mystery to all except those involved, and even they don't really know.
This is Fred.
Fred is a single, alcoholic, gay, Zambian albino inflatable giraffe. Why he is named Fred remains something of a mystery to all except those involved, and even they don't really know.
Basically, those involved don't really know anything at all.
Together we drove some 4300km around mostly Southern Namibia in just under 2weeks. Technically, I drove some 4300km around mostly Southern Namibia in just under 2weeks, whilst the other passengers engaged in frequent "resting of eyes". Hmmmm. And though not planned in the slightest, it didn't all quite work entirely as planned. Most of the 4300km or so that i drove seemed to be backtracking, and I lost count of the number of times i drove to/past Windhoek airport. However, I can confirm that the road between Windhoek and it's airport is very pretty and baboons (actually baboons, not lawyers or politicians) can often be seen throwing things at passing cars. One of the human companions, Hanna, arrived 4days late after having twisted her ankle and then been attacked by tsetse flies and minus her bags which got lost somewhere, perhaps, near Johannesburg. But as BA were involved who the f*ck knows. They probably went by road to Milano. And as soon a she arrived, things (such as Edith) started breaking. Literally. WooHoo. She also managed to get viciously attacked by a tree which then required deep sessions of negotiating and all of our skills at international mediation to set her free.
The other – and potentially more relevant - permanent traveling companion, Maaret, was, mostly, just Maaret. Having said that, her response on the first night of camping (just 2 of us in the tent) after waking up in a terror due to noises she believed to be a snake in the tent – we saw several large snakes – was to move her sleeping bag closer to mine and promptly fall asleep, trusting this drastic maneuver would confuse the snake into not attacking. Now call me picky, but that's not generally the response that i would hope to get when you believe a lethal animal is in the tent with you.
A few of you will understand and sympathise, whereas the remaining readership will just see the other side: I'm traveling with (eg: chauffeuring and playing slave to) 2 blonde Finnish beauties.
Namibia is a country that has long been high on the list of countries that I have wanted to visit, and I am loving it. It is empty, vast, stunningly beautiful, bizarrely green (it has been the wettest wet season in donkeys years. And donkeys years are very long) and un-Namibian like, at least in parts and to my expected mental image of mostly sand, dunes and rocky/dusty terrain.
In that time, amongst much else, we got stuck in sand (yay for rope and people pushing), stole a tent, started a dating service for US Peace Corp volunteers, visited a brilliant animal sanctuary (all together now: baby animals and playing with 4week old lion cubs. Awwww), got utterly lost in the bush at night due to a horribly inaccurate map (stupid cartographers), went in a big hole full of bat crap, watched wild cheetahs run down the road, slept with the sheep, saw the most amazing starry night sky and glorious sunset (at Quiver Tree Forest), visited the most laughably crap tourist attraction i have ever been to (Ai Ais hot springs: the springs are in a 1.5m square concrete bunker with attached resort), somehow managed to get the girls drunk on a glass of wine each whilst gazing at the glorious panorama of the Fish River Canyon and discovered that some towns on Namibian maps simply don't exist (Sesheim) and if they do, don't always have the promised petrol supplies (several). Edith swallowed 3birds and innumerable insects and butterflies into her radiator, lost a hubcap in a slight-bump-incident, whilst I desperately continued to leave Finnish people in the desert only to get foiled at every turn whilst Fred tried to, erm, make friends with people on a very regular basis...
Kiki never appeared.
But i was worried once.
I think i'm still safe.
We wandered around the weird and wonderful Luderitz (which in an odd way reminds me of Portmeirion in parts), the long abandoned and now half desert reclaimed diamond town of Kolmanskop, saw wild horses and railway stations literally in the middle of nowhere, broke the tent we stole (stupid wind), resolved to go to West Africa on our honeymoon (don't ask), named our future kids (no, really: Don't ask), and generally wandered around obscure corners of the country for no apparent reason.
It was absolutely brilliant, and i loved every minute. Well, if not every minute, most of it. Ok, some of it. Ok, how about we say that excepting the chauffeuring of Finnish girls thing, it was all great. Just joking honey. Honest.
Edith has now been sadly returned. Fred has a potentially crippling illness (a slow puncture)
Tomorrow I gain a 3rd Finnish girl and a 4x4.
This is bound to end in tears, isn't it?
With thanks to some of my glorious travelling companions* for certain photos. Credit is given where credit is definitely due, especially as i can barely hold a camera, and mine complained due to sand and salt water anyway.
- Note. travel companions may or may not be glorious, and this statement does not necessarily reflect the views of the author.
And apologies for the vast lateness of this. As well a certain sidetrips, lack of electricity and internet, i'm on "holiday" (na na, ne ne ne) and have no desire to look at screens anymore than I have to.