The oldest desert in the world, so the scientists say, more than 500 million years old in fact. The Namib (open space) is just that – so open it forces your heart to expand and your soul to lift and time to stand still. So at times as we sat and absorbed the expanse, the silence, the colour, the feel, the vastness it felt as though time too, had stopped.
Was this where time began?
Or is these where time has ended?
These rather ordinary videos will give you an idea of the scale of the place
and this is what happens when you don’t time the tide correctly !!!!!
photos courtesy of the Powrie girls and Erika de Jäger
…in the south west corner of Africa. Namibia gained independence only in 1990 South Africans have always felt a close affinity to what was previously called South West Africa with many of our young men spending time in the military in this part of the world.
For much of my youth large parts of the country were ‘out of bounds’ because of the fighting ‘up north’ as we used to say.
Happily now, we are free to explore – and that is precisely what we did recently.
Well actually we only explored a little of the country – 10 days is not enough to do it justice. Almost the size of South Africa, with a population of 2.5mill (S African has approx 60mill) it is a deliciously sparsely populated so that it is possible to ‘escape the madding crowd’ and absorb the light and air unhindered.
We began in Walvis Bay, with time spent on the water sharing our boat with friends
The light and mood in the bay is extraordinary – enjoy
The Salt Pans are also amazing – this salt pan currently supplies South Africa with 90% of it’s salt; concentrated salt from seawater with the aid of evaporation. This salt pan also forms part of Southern Africa’s single most important coastal wetland for migratory birds.
and when we thought we had seen such beauty nothing could compare, we visited Sandwich Harbour…… which deserves it’s own page.
(photos courtesy of the ‘Powrie girls’ and Erika De Jager)
I have recently become a ‘footie tragic’. It all began with watching my friends (quite a few of them it as it happens) who over the years have donned their yellow and black and madly cheered and cursed their beloved Richmond Tigers. I did not ‘get it’ thinking them slightly odd ; and then this year I did (get it)
And for the moment, I too am caught up in the excitement that is Melbourne in Grand Final Week. Even to wearing a scarf. You bet it is yellow and black. And I mean Wearing it, all day, every day, to Park Run (I was not alone) to the shops, (I was not alone), to the grand parade, walking Coco; watching TV. And everywhere complete strangers become friends as the yellow and black unites us.
Founded in 1885 Richmond is a very ‘old’ club with its own railway station (well almost) The club has not won a premiership since 1980 – which in football terms is a very long time. Every time I read up on Richmond there is a different reason put forward for the remarkable passion the Richmond followers have for their team; from the age of the club to the club song (which is very catchy); to the colours to this to that 😂 so it would appear, no one is quite sure why. But there it is, Richmond fans are loyal and fanatical.
Whatever the reason, when the state declares a public holiday and Richmond is now in the finals, one just HAs to go to the grand parade in the city. Apparently 150 000 other supporters also HAD to go.
We travelled in by train – together with families of all shapes and sizes, single tragic supporters, couples, – the train was packed; standing room only. And so the fun began.
Melbourne put on its best face, the sun shone, but not too strongly, the wind blew, but not too briskly, the crowd moved, but not too quickly and we just smiled and allowed the throng to take us with it. A stop for a coffee gave us time to watch the world go by and then on to the parade.
We could see nothing of The March – we just weren’t tall enough with the crowd so deep. It didn’t matter.
The people, families, couples, singles, everyone willing their team to win, everyone soaking up the weather, the city, the energy, the glorious atmosphere that is Melbourne.
Our stomachs were calling us to fuel them, and we looked for a table – there were hundreds, all taken. Resourceful Jackie found us a corner and amongst scores of yellow and black clad diners, we shared a lovey paella, talked about everything football and non football; and wandered home, weary but so grateful to be in Melbourne at Grand Final time.
Home made supporters – so special
All that remains is to survive the actual match, families meeting in so many different places and ways. Some 120 000 lucky enough to be at the MCG, some at home, in hotels, in pubs, the city is Pumping with energy as we wait for our team to….. well that’s the question – win or lose? Time will tell.
There’s more to The Bush than the big five, or even the little five, or the birds, or the snakes.
The Bush is about the smell, the sound,the Feel.
In this instance, the wind, the rain.
First fierce and dominating so that speech is pointless as words are carried away with the hustle of the storm. Water cascading down, flooding every corner of the land and disappearing quickly into ground parched and thirsty to drink.
And then, spent, the heavens seem to rest and the rain falls gently, so gently my clothes don’t get wet yet I can see the drops still falling on the water hole.
On this day, most holy day of Good Friday it seems appropriate that the sky is black and angry and the storm rages down on us.
And it seems also appropriate that as I turn to look to my right, I see the light through the clouds, not yet shining, but with the look of a promise of what is to come; sun and renewed growth.
And the rainbow to remind me, on this holy day, most holy day of Good Friday; not of our covenant with Him, but His with us.
“When I bring clouds over the earth, and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature—every mortal being—so that the waters will never again become a flood to destroy every mortal being.” (Gen 9)
It is a Brave soul that attempts to capture ‘The Bush’. For those of my friends who know the Bush, words are not necessary and can never do it justice and for those readers who have never known the Bush, words are all I can offer knowing full well, before I even begin, that they can never do it justice. So to you all, for different reasons, forgive in advance my paltry attempt at sharing the ‘Bush’
Welgevonden (place well found) sees us rise at 5am although the waking of the birds with morning song begins even earlier.
A quick strong coffee and we are on our vehicle; bundled up against the early morning cold. Very little is said as the smell of the overnight light rain fills our bodies with joy – it is dry and the drought here is crippling and the smell of rain is exhilarating. We have our binoculars and the sense of anticipation that only a game drive can bring.
It doesn’t matter how many times one walks or drives in the Bush, the unpredictability of what nature will reveal makes every trip have the same sense of anticipation.
In this case the terrain is new to us- mountainous, red boulders everywhere as we drop into open plains and climb out 0f them to reveal breathtaking vistas of the next rolling plains.
We stop every so often to gaze at zebra, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest. We sit and savour the silence that epitomises the ‘Bush’. Precisely because it is Not silent; only we are, as senses respond to the call of the ‘Piet my vrou’ – a bird call that Is the Bush; the brown hooded kingfisher, so small so exquisite with such a large call you know he is there long before you can find him, the wild cry of a fish eagle. There is the sound of the grass in the breeze, again a sound uniquely Bush. The cicada, frogs, all contributing so that we are silent.
Suddenly energy changes and bodies tense, voices are raised in whispers, adrenalin begins to pump as right alongside us are cheetahs. A sight so unexpected that no matter how often one has seen them, this sighting is like the first.
And there is mother and three cubs, with bellies so full you feel they could be pregnant (except of course they cannot be) and we stare in wonder, torn between watching and experiencing or recording to experience again and again via our cameras . And then a male appears and the most extraordinary fight right before our eyes ensues and continues for about twenty minutes;
The male harassing the mother ; the cubs running around squealing; the mother backing off ; the male coming back; the cycle repeated over and over again as we watched enthralled, horrified and bemused. Nature revealing a pattern of behaviour no one was familiar with.
A young elephant entertains with a show of bravado that involves mock attacks at us and at an imaginary foe as he raised his ears, and little trunk and ran forward bellowing as loudly as he could. Practicing for his future role as protector of his herd.
The beautiful precious rhino, horns intact grazing so close to our vehicle I could have leant out and touched him.
And in this particular day it stays cloudy and cool so when we stop for a cup of tea and a rusk, we huddle together hands curved round our mugs breathing in the warmth, savouring every moment of a unique time in the Bush.
Because every visit and every drive through our Bush is by its very nature unique.
And so still no words describe it, which is why we say, “it’s in our blood”
all photographs belong to Jessica 🙂 Another thing about the Bush – one usually makes good friends, often from countries far flung, as in our case. Friends who kindly shared their photographs with us.
I feel I have passed from the future of Africa into the past Africa when I arrived in Kenya
Uganda has a law, buda budas (motor cyclists), must use helmets; passengers didn’t need to and you could transport whatever or whoever you liked. Most obeyed the law it would appear rather than risk a fine.
Rwanda has a law that all motor cyclists must wear helmets and only one pillion rider allowed . Everyone obeyed because they believe in the law.
Plastic bags banned in both countries.
Kenya appears to have a law few worry about and weren’t concerned about being caught.
If even half the stories I have been told about the police force and government here are true, it is a sad state of affairs; ‘people’ have little confidence in either.
One example – we drove past a police recruitment drive : 1000 aspiring recruits were being put through their paces in a field alongside the main road. The only prerequisite is a ‘I have completed school certificate’ although an additional couple of thousand Kenyan shillings won’t go astray. Recently 42 new recruits after one month training, were sent to the Somali border and all were killed. It transpired that many of them had paid up
300 000 ks to the recruiters to be accepted.
It feels familiar; litter everywhere, streets dying, barbed wire and glass topped walls and for many a heart beat away from abject poverty, corruption normal in even small ways and there is a general sense of disengagement from The Country. And beautiful jacarandas.
We witnessed a hijacking on the main road in broad daylight right in front of us – won’t go into the details on fb ; but the sense of shock followed by helplessness then horror – Good Samaritans we were not 😢
And for all that I have been welcomed everywhere with smiles and a sense of good will – if also a shoulder shake of how it is. Wanted to buy a bird book – they had no change and no credit card machine today – and that’s it – broad smile but no sale.
The game parks seem to stand apart / poaching? Apparently nil ; new poaching units instructed to shoot to kill – apparently working ; zero poaching I am told although the Maasai Mara proved the exception.
The plastic water bottle : produced with enormous environmental footprint is found everywhere – I mean Everywhere. Alongside every road, in the game parks (particularly Masai Mara), in the rivers and even in the lakes 😢
How big a part the numbers game and climate plays , someone with real knowledge will tell us : Rwanda about 1/4 pop of Kenya. Rwanda and Uganda very fertile, Kenya noticeably less so.
Disclaimer : this is only my opinion based on a very short visit, observations and discussions with locals – it does not make it The Truth 😜
As I watch giraffe doing a mating dance on the lawn in front of me – I eavesdrop (okay again, I’ll admit – what else is one supposed to do when travelling alone😂)
And all the way the most common conversation between people has been climate and weather – Poles telling Israelis; Brazilians telling Germans and everywhere guides telling me ; this river used to flow; this was never a river; this lake bursts its banks 3 years ago and still the same
Whatever the experts say; the people have plenty to say about changes in our climate
The CB radio is like white sound in the vehicle – voices talking loudly non stop and when we congregate at a lion or rhino they all sound together – a cacophony of modern technology
– perhaps I was the only one who noticed?
Miles and miles of open plains. The great herds gave left ( not sure if I should be pleased or not – with the herds come hordes if you know what I mean). The views are lovely.
Lunch on a rug – all very civilised until I stood up with a wet you know what – the ground is sodden everywhere.
It has rained each afternoon so we went exploring to visit a very upmarket camp where we had coffee, and drove back in comfortable silence with the windows wide open
There is nothing as lovely as the bush just after rain – the buck twitch their ears, the birds call, the air has a smell that fills lungs with joy – unique; everything is washed new – well actually the roads were washed not new but totally away 😂 but we won’t spoil the story
And then just as I was thinking how perfect – the heavens opened and dumped solid sheets of rain. It took us over an hour to get 7 km!!!! The road was a river, Livingstone at times couldn’t see at all and we just had to stop – it was unbelievable
And here I sit an hour later on the deck -clear skies savouring a g&t
I am travelling in luxury a 8 seater Nissan (or maybe Toyota ) something – just me and when we arrived at the game park up went the roof, into the back went I and stood up feeling like the pope 😳 – able to look all around without the sun burning my head or the rain destroying my hairdo 😀😀
We left Nairobi this morning and arrived at lake Nakuru for lunch – an extravagant luxury resort looking down on the lake – my bathroom as big as my lounge at home snd the bedroom – well almost the size of my house 😂😂😂
As to game – we go back to that ‘benchmark’ I referred to earlier. If like me you were lucky enough to ‘cut your teeth’ in the delta, Zim and mkuze etc in the 70’s you have a different benchmark from many :
We have seen good birds, zebras by the hundreds, Impala too – a lovely rich orange colour when compared to ‘ours’; Thomsons gazelle ( also deep orange) waterbuck; huge trios of vervet monkeys, Colobus monkeys and hundreds and hundreds of buffalo.
I am told there are both black and white rhino here. They have obviously learnt to keep well out of view of poachers ( and everyone else) so for the moment I must take ‘their’ word for the presence of rhino
I remember when we used to see so many rhino we stopped looking at them and a nagging thought would not leave me today couldn’t
‘would a time come for zebra
or buffalo when we say the same? ‘
Uganda- 40 mill landlocked people with Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania as neighbours.
Entebbe, on the shore of lake Victoria – the largest freshwater lake in the world and the source of the Nile river – is a bustling thriving city with a pulsing energy that you can’t ignore – colour, noise, apparent chaos – and yet not
Burra burras, cars and pedestrians all use the road as if it’s theirs – but there is, if one observes carefully, a respect of each other and a gracious courtesy that is quite different from the gritted teeth courtesy I’ve seen in other places.
Travelling as I am with two serious photographers my trusty iPhone has stayed well tucked away – I shall hopefully tag us in to great photos shortly
Back to Uganda – depends what eyes you use: ‘western eyes ‘ may see chaos, danger, poverty, deprivation, hard labour, hopeless…
The Ugandan sees opportunity, community, dignity, pride.
Schooling accessible to everyone and they are all taught their recent unhappy history
Medical services are available throughout the country
I’m told extreme poverty is almost non existent ,
AIDS treatment Gov sponsored so numbers decreasing rapidly :
Serious crime very low – rape minimum. sentence is life; death sentence is common
Illegal Possession of a gun is also a life sentence – so no one will touch them even if they find one in the street 😀
“We have peace in our hearts” is how one Ugandan “friend” described it to me
So if I haven’t bored you yet I’ll post about our 13 hour road trip
A stunning country – come and visit 😜
[photographs by Neville Jones, me (video on my iphone!) & Karen Weskob]