I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life
Namibia first impressions
- The border crossing passed without stupid or difficult questions from the border guard, good start, the clock is reset at 90 days.
- The dirt roads so far have been as nice as promised.
- People seem friendly.
- The first police car I saw stopped to ask if everything was ok, of the 60-80 police cars that passed me in SA non of them stopped.
- A farmer stopped while I was making my sunshelter to check I was ok.
- Even the kids in the first town started by trying to do small pointless jobs for me before asking for money (and I almost gave in).
Getting my arse kicked
It was fairly obvious from day 1 that if I wanted to cycle through the Kalahari in the middle of summer that at some point I’d get my arse kicked. Up until 2 days ago I thought, wow I’m going to make it. I didn’t let my little crash stop me, the very painful ribs or the very bad roads. With alot of respect for the weather and enviroment the heat didn’t get me either ( it was close though).
Tuesday evening after a longer day than usual ( I was enjoying cycling on a nice road again), I’d had a light dinner of bran flakes because I wasn’t very hungry and didn’t feel quite right so went to sleep for an hour. Then I got the 30 second warning……..
Food(water) poisoning is not very pleasant at the best of times and we all know how it goes so I’ll save you the details. But having it from a tent in the middle of the desert is a little more hassle. 30 seconds is not alot of time to get out of a sleeping bag, open 2 zips, put some shoes on run 10m from your tent (dont forget to avoid the puddle of sick just outside the door) then dig a toilet. So it was a long night as you can imagine, and already quite dehydrated from cycling 110km this was a recipe for disaster.
Lying in my tent a 6am I had no energy left and the only obvious solution was to pack up and try and get a lift for the last 70km to town. On the previous days I’d been passed by a car about once per hour, so just had to hope one of the cars was going to town and had room for me.
” Come on get up” , ” I can’t I’m too tired” , I packed up my sleeping bag and got dressed then collapsed onto my bed again. ” Come on mate, if you’ re still lying here when the sun gets out properly, this is only going to get alot worse”. And so the conversation continued for an hour and a half as I slowly packed up my gear. ” If you don’t get back on your feet now and push the damn bike to the road, you could well die here”. It was obvious to me that if I stayed put things would get alot worse very quickly, sitting out in the open with morning temperatures of 40 degrees is not smart. Luckily I slowly managed to muster the strengh to keep moving with the occassional break to launch green/yellow energy drink out of my mouth and nose at 100km/h.
I’d planned to cycle a couple of kilometers down the road until I found a shady tree to wait under but after 200m it was obvious I was going nowhere. So just sat down and waited. Luckily I only had to wait another 30 minutes and the farmer had room to take me to town. And the rest as they say is history.
At moments like these travelling alone I really feel and know that I’m walking on the knife edge, at a crucial moment like this a person balances between just a bad day , or the first in a series of event that lead to becoming ” that guy that died in desert”. This is not a game, and I’m pleased I had the common sense and strengh of character to move from my hidden spot near the road onto the road, and got lucky with a lift, otherwise it would of gone down hill very quick. Luckily in the desert drivers know how acute your situation can be if you’re at the side of the road asking for help. I wonder if I’d of gotten a lift in the countryside of somewhere in Europe in the same situation.
I wanted a desert adventure and I guess I got what I asked for, though its interesting how quickly things are no longer in your control and no longer fun and very scary when it does go wrong. Luckily I got a lift and it turned out to be a 24 hour version so I’m recovering quickly and I’m my usual positive self and looking forward to the next stage after a long rest here in Keetmanshoop. Not an ideal place to rest but the biggest town I’ll be seeing this month.
On a lighter note, my ribs and arm are now more a slight irritation than painful, so things are looking up.
So for the record, thats enough adventure for now, I’m happy for the quiet life for a while. And when I head into the Namib desert, I plan to take it very slowly……
A good friend said to me just before I started this trip “your blog is fine but you can’t possibly share everything, in Africa you’ll experience a dozen things a day that we find strange, interesting or weird and for you it will seem normal”.
These normal things have happened to me in the space of 48 hours during my time in the Kalahari.
- Almost hit by a car or two
- Saw Springbok, Gemsbok and Idontknowhisnamebok
- Saw lots of Meerkats
- Saw dozens of lizards, beetles, bugs and insects
- Saw kids carrying a huge eagle they’d caught/killed
- Dropped Mr Hyde in the sand a dozen times
- Had a headache because I couldn’t drink faster than I was sweating
- Found a gecko swimming in the toilet after flushing
- Watched a full sized Puff Adder do a dance for me at a distance of 3m
- The farmer and owner of the campsite I slept at gave me a beer, and dried meat for the next days though wouldn’t let me pay for anything (not even the campsite), he also offered to let me borrow a car for a few days if I really wanted to see the Kgalagadi national park. I’d spoken to him for just 5 minutes (that’ll be the Afrikaans hospitality everybody talks about)
- Thought I was going to pass out from the pain of a bruised/cracked rib while cycling the R31
- Stopped a tick from burying itself into my baby soft skin between my thumbnail and thumb
- Got scratched a dozen times by thorns from Camel thorn tree’s (my shirt has been trashed by these buggers)
- Had to shit in the desert a dozen times in one day because of dodgy water
- Watched a dung beetle get to work on my pooh before I was finished with my paperwork
All during a perfectly normal couple of days in The South Africa, boy I can’t wait to get into “real Africa”.
Coming soon, gear talk 3 months in…….