Between Okakueujo at the west end of Etosha to Namutoni at the east lies 120km of white, gravel road. I have never in my life driven on so much gravel nor travelled such a distance at 50km/hr (except once with a spare tire 80km outside Rochester, NY on a Sunday). It was along this road however, that I saw cheetah in the wild (very rare), and more springok than you could shake a bunny rabbit at (they are Namibia’s rabbits). Half way between Okaukuejo and Namutoni is Halali where I stopped for lunch. Going out however, I followed the sign pointing us in the direction of Namutoni but encountered a road closed sign with directions for a detour. I travelled along this road for a good half hour and with each passing minute I concluded that we had been led down a blind alley. The road itself seemed to be parallel to the one we were on before the detour and going back in the direction we came. I turned the car around, doubled back and got some info. Yes, the sign was wrong but they hadn’t gotten around to putting up a sign at the exit from Halali that the direction to Namutoni had changed. So sorry, have a nice day. Ok, then!
Along the way I encountered several stopped cars. Now when cars are stopped and no one is saying a word it is because something special is happening. In this case, it was a family of cheetahs resting in the shade. This was communicated to us in a loud whisper. While we obviously did not pose a threat to the mother, she nevertheless decided to move further away. I managed to photograph some of the action from the car window in between other cars moving forwards to get a better view. It was kind of amusing as everyone’s eye were on the cats and only peripherally on where they were going.
While the wrong was long and wearying, I did see many wonderful animals. Here is a gallery of pictures from that portion of the trip. The photo captioned DSC_3563 is a mirage. At first I thought it was a lake but with the searing heat I knew it could not be true. What I saw but knew not to be true collided in my mind. I realised fairly quickly that it was a mirage, but while I had seen what looked like water coming off a very hot highway, I had never seen a true mirage of such huge proportion before. Such is Africa.
I am sure the title of this post got everyone’s attention! I live in an area of Windhoek called Eros Park which given a certain orneriness that I am more or less blessed (or cursed) with I thought was quite appropriate. I immediately wondered if indeed the sense of humour of s/he who gave this area its name also had proposed naming any other area Thanatos. When in jest I asked this question of someone, I was met with an uncomprehending stare. Indeed, there are so many streets named after famous philosphers, politicians (yes Robert Mugabe avenue and Nelson Mandela avenue do indeed intersect) and musicians that I expressed mock disappointment to see that there wasn’t a street named de Sade or Cassanova. (My bizarre sense of humour I guess.) Like other countries in Africa, Namibia shares a history of differing ideologies, religious beliefs and social conservatism. Here are a few pics of the ‘hood and my temporary abode:
With the end of winter and the arrival of spring, the soundscape changes like it does everywhere else. Because security is an essential part of home life in Windhoek, most houses are walled and atop each wall one typically finds an electified fence (7000 volts !!). As if that isn’t enough, dogs are the most popular pet; iindeed, many homes have two or three dogs and cats. Dogs are quite noisy creatures which, of course, fits the bill perfectly from a security point of view, but is a bit disconcerting when, as you walk by house after house, a contagion of barking breaks out. It starts with the first house and then progresses like waves from a passing ship by each house until the passerby has left the vicinty and the noise finally subsides. It is impossible not to go unnoticed in my neighbourhood.
As soon as I can get Windows Vista to recognize my iPhone once again, I will be able to post pics of the ‘hood! Who says that Windows is getting easier??!!
© Frederic Borgatta and Fredericsblog, 2009