|[Pics coming soon! As soon as we can find a fast enough internet connection...]
Dave: We are in a land of sand. This is Namibia; a barren, sparsely-populated though astonishingly unique desert nation adjacent to South Africa. I've never seen so much desolate emptiness in one place. Namibia has a raw, simple beauty that we've found incredibly engaging, almost entrancing. The spaces here are vast - we know because we've been driving them. We started out early in the morning from Cape Town last week, equipped with an extra canister of fuel, an emergency jug of water, and a big bag of gummy alphabet letters (there must be a trademark on the bears). We split the 1000 mile drive to the Namibian capital, Windhoek, with a stopover at Fish River Canyon - a Grand Canyon-type place near the South African border. The view was fabulous. We're not ones for being stationary for long, so we took the opportunity to go on a trail run.
We blazed across the dirt and gravel highways towards Windhoek, sometimes going for hours without seeing a single village or even another vehicle (literally). Our little car is doing remarkably well on the dirt roads, considering that Ian and I drive it like it's a Nintendo game. We've hit hundreds of potholes, broken two hubcaps and lost one in the process, had one swerve into a sand dune (Ian's fault), and one high speed spinout (mine). We've driven almost 2,000 miles in Namibia alone, and fortunately we were able to rig up the Ipod (big shout out to AJ) to the car stereo so we can do our cruising to our favorite tunes. It turns out that the type of music directly relates to our driving, among other factors: I woke up from a car nap today to find Ian doing 90 while pounding the steering wheel because he had Blink-182 on and an impending bout of diarrhea.
The accommodations in Namibia have been hard to come by, so we invested in a tent to fill in the gaps between hostels. One memorable night, in a location that will remain undisclosed, the only sleeping option for hundreds of miles was a fancy resort going for waaaaay more than we were willing to pay. So we bribed the night guard to let us sleep in some honeymoon bungalows as long as we left early enough in the morning. And now we're international criminals. Don't tell Interpol.
Windhoek was quaint, though unglamorous. It's a city plopped right in the middle of the desert, sprawling with industry and lots of different types of people. Saturday night we were taken out by a couple locals, Anna and Auraly, to a raging disco in the center of town. Let me tell you - these Africans can dance. With our generic two-step weight-shift move, it was like we were trying to play kazoos in the New York Philharmonic. Or like riding the Tour de France with a tricycle. Or like Ian changing in the grown-up men's locker room. You get the point. We were totally outclassed. (this is what happens when Ian goes to bed inexcusably early and lets me write the posts - he gets burned). Actually, I should congratulate Ian for joining the "pages added to the passport" club, which he had to do at the embassy in Windhoek. So now he'll finally have something thick in his pocket... Alright, quiet down. I'll be here all week... is this thing on?
Next we were off to the adventure capital of Namibia; Swakopmund, which literally means "Mouth of S___" in German and the Nama language. This quite expressive label comes from its likeness, apparently, to the seaweed that seeps up on the shore here. The town is an old German settlement that has become an interesting mix of European and African culture. We could care less, of course, so we scrapped the cultural stuff and went sandboarding. As you could probably guess, this is essentially snowboarding on sand. The boards are snowboards laminated with formica on the bottom and waxed before every run. No chair lifts, so we did some slogging. It was surprisingly great - the boards carved the sand well, it was warm, and falling didn't hurt as much as snow. The only downfall was the tendency of sand to invade every crevice of your body. Ian and I had a big air competition, for which neither of us has yet conceded a winner.
The last two days we've spent in a sand dunes national park, at a place called Sossussvlei (say "sausage fillet" fast). It was a long drive, we were totally extorted on the price ($40 US per night for a campsite?!), but the scenery was completely extraterrestrial. We woke up at 4:30 to catch the legendary sunrise over the dunes, and somehow it was all worth it. After a few front flips down the dunes, we were off to Swakopmund again for one more night (tonight) before we head north tomorrow.
Thanks again for reading, and keep sending us messages in the guestbook! Next post will be from Botswana...