Impressions of Namibia – thoughts on sand

Sperrgebiet renamed to Tsau //Khaeb
November 6, 2012
One night at the Namibian Hilton
November 9, 2012
Sperrgebiet renamed to Tsau //Khaeb
November 6, 2012
One night at the Namibian Hilton
November 9, 2012

This guest blog was written by French visitor Natacha Faullimmel who jotted down her impressions – all the weird, wonderful idiosyncrasies she picked up on – while spending time on the Namibian road.

“I’m so happy we’re not eating sand tonight”

Sand is such a large part of a self-drive across Namibia.

dunes sossusvleiI cannot remember whether this sentence – “I’m so happy we’re not eating sand tonight” – was blurted out by my travel buddy or I, but it succinctly summarises our state of mind after a week or so of travelling in Namibia.

Well almost. It also highlights the extent of our braai-ing talent, or rather lack thereof, and our disorganised car.

Going on a self-drive around Namibia is wonderful way of discovering the country at your own pace, and particularly effective at giving you a taste of life in this – dare I say – delicious nation.

I recently read a quote about Namibia which I found particularly striking:

“If we could eat our country, we would. Instead it is us who are consumed by our land.” [My Hungry Heart, p. 13].

This is certainly a feeling I think both Namibians and visitors to the country can share. I definitely do. Sand somehow slithers itself into every aspect of your travelling life – from the car driving in front of yours spurting a large cloud of dust in front of you, and your car carrying a long trail of dust, like an invisible cape you never asked for, to the sand that sneaks into the car, into your bags, into your memories.

sossusvleiSand is everywhere. The omnipresence of sand made Coleridge’s verses spring to my mind, and hopefully his lines will not be misquoted here:

“Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798.

The Giant Sandbox in Sossusvlei offers another great chance of being consumed by an ocean of flaming sand: the hissing of the wind, the never ending whipping of the sand, the sheer extent across which the sand spreads and the numbing heat of the midday sun unit to create the irresistible magnet that pushes you towards the ascent of a dune.

sossusvlei deadvlei Yes, I admit it, I did sit on the apex of a dune in Sossusvlei, which seemed like a good idea as I was doing so, but which I bitterly regretted when I realised the sand had, very literally, consumed me. By dinner time that evening, I was persuaded when I crunched  a little bit of sand with every mouthful of the soggy pasta we made. I may have taken Ms. Hugo’s words too literally that day – “If we could eat our country, we would.”.

All photos by author herself.

Natacha at the Kuiseb Canyon.

More about the author:

Currently based in London, but caught the travel bug early on in life so she says she can’t and won’t stop moving. Passionate about people, braais and tents. “Namibia taught me to get excited about rugby and gave me my second winter of 2012. I missed out on hippos this time round so I will definitely be back!”

Since my first visit to Namibia, when I was 10, I’ve always wanted to return. This year, I was lucky to explore the country for over two months, engaging with its magical blue winter skies, rugged landscapes, and of course, with the exceptional inhabitants of this land of contrasts. I made wonderful friends, expanded my horizons – as you would expect no less in the land of endless horizons – and made sense of Theroux’s lines”

“Travel is at best accidental, and you can’t explain improvisation”.


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