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.
Hitchhiking is a great way to bridge borders. It’s also when you are standing on the road that you notice that you are far from being the only one who’s hitching a ride in this world – birds ride on cows’ backs all the time, and both animals come out happy, and the little birds groom their hosts the time of a ride.
Self-driving in Namibia offers you a unique opportunity to be as flexible as you wish during your travels.
Having your own car is also a chance for you to give back a little back to the people who are sharing their land with you.
And so instead of speeding along roads that were never intended to be a racing track, slow down and become aware of the people around. The people you will pick up are most likely to be heading no further than the next village, or next town, which usually lies on the way to your next destination.
When you start picking up hitchhikers you will notice that this is a common mode of transport where public transport is lacking and I think of it as a way of letting people carry on with their lives.
Giving someone a ride is also a great way to meet people you would probably have missed out on.
Whilst travelling around Namibia I met a young rap artist from Katima, whose CD was still playing in our car long after he went back home; talked to a young English teacher in Kongola, who told me where the elephants hid in the region.
I practiced my sign language ability with many people we helped out, including a young mother and her child who thought I was hilarious although neither of us were saying much, and dropped a young schoolboy home just in time for lunch.
The fabulous thing about hitchhiking is that it works both ways, and really it’s when you’re standing on the other side – on the road side – that you realise how common hitching really is in Namibia, particularly in the more populated North of the country.