By Jaco Bekker
My partner and I took to the road with our slobbering companion, Hurley, an 18-month-old Labrador. Planning a getaway becomes a tad more complicated when there is a new addition to the family, especially if it’s a furry one. Luckily, Namibia is quite accommodating when it comes to traveling with pets.
It was the 17th of December and we were on our way to the Spitzkoppe. We’d been on a leave for almost a week, giving us enough time to prepare for adventure and shoveling dog manure.
As we’re pretty sure that at least one of Hurley’s parents is a Duracell Battery, part of the traveling plan included tossing him a ball in an attempt to burn some of his inexhaustible energy before setting out on the open road. We planned to leave by 12:00, we left at around 14:00. Not a single ball was tossed and he kept trying to take the steering wheel as we drove.
It was still pretty toasty when we reached the Spitzkoppe, but we nonetheless stocked up on firewood at the reception office. Steffi had to jam it into the passenger seat, as the rest of the car was filled with mandatory camping equipment, food, alcohol and a dog. I’m still pulling splinters out of her legs. Oh, we were traveling in our VW Polo.
We had been to the Spitzkoppe earlier that year and had a basic idea of where we wanted to set up camp. To be frank, neither one of us make any secret of it that we actually dislike camping, or camping for extended periods of time. Guess it’s the city that’s spoilt us a bit, but this wasn’t just for us. The dog had taken centre stage in our lives by now. He had survived parvovirus as a puppy, as well as a weird growth on his head, which I’m pretty convinced, only grows on dead beached whales. The least we could do is to show him the most beautiful parts of Namibia. And then he could poop there.
After erecting our ridiculously small tent – which now also had to fit a dog with severe flatulence – I spent about 20 minutes and 500 calories blowing up our mattress. We didn’t climb any rocks. We had been active enough throughout the year and needed to relax now. We drank whiskey.
It was time to build a fire and we had enough wood to send smoke signals visible from space. We poured some more whiskey. You see; we were celebrating our first solo camping experience. We’ve been together for almost 10 years, so it was probably a big deal. We were going to do our best.
We had no chairs, so we stood most of the evening. The food we’d prepared earlier had gone off. Those delicious onion and bacon rings we were looking forward to went down the throat of our dog. So did the chicken kebabs. The disappointment was tremendous. Luckily Steffi had baked bread the night before. And we had whiskey.
One wouldn’t really notice the other campers if it weren’t for the silence. We could hear laughter being carried on the wind. Hurley was constantly on high alert, until he smelled something fresh (or not so fresh) to ingest.
The skies were clear, giving us a stellar view to the greatest show in the universe – the universe itself. Getting out of the city into a place void of light is the only way to see the stars in true High Definition and, oh boy, it did not disappoint.
We stood silently around the fire. The world seemed calm at that moment. Everything seemed so far away, including our worries. Maybe it was just the outdoors cooling our minds. Or maybe it was the whiskey. We went to bed.
We were awoken several times by our companion, barking at the unseen noises outside of our tent. “City Slicker,” I said under my breath. “You’re one to talk,” said Steffi in Hurley’s defense. We opened the flap so he could see the world outside. Escaping Hurley’s flatulence was another reason.
We took a quiet little stroll through the area the next day. We didn’t really come prepared to do any climbing, so we just stuck to judging the height of the peaks. I came to realise that I’m terrible at guessing.
My morning wash was made ever more interesting when a domesticated mongoose ran into the shower. I didn’t scream out of terror. I squealed with joy, although Steffi prefers to believe the former.
As we drove off, I couldn’t help to think just how out of place the Spitzkoppe appears. It protrudes from the surface of the Earth like it wants to be seen.
We said goodbye to the Spitzkoppe…