My hair and Gordon’s health are not the only things we lose in Cape Town. It is the end of one cruise and the beginning of another, so many people leave the ship, including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whom we will miss. But Nancy and Margaret, the two Australians are staying on with us.
They too have returned from a safari, but they went to a different park. Their lodge provided them with a fully stocked mini bar in their room, which they were told was free. They took that to mean that they had already paid for every bottle of booze in the room and returned to the ship with 24 miniature bottles of assorted liquor. They had only stayed one night and so felt they had done rather well. Which only goes to prove, that you can take the woman out of Australia, but you can never take Australia out of the woman
Our next two ports of call are in Namibia. It is the start of our cruise up the West Coast of Africa and we will be stopping at some countries with names that we hardly recognise, and most of which we could never find on a map. We are hoping for a fascinating couple of weeks.
But Luderitz, Namibia is not a good start. A very small town stuck in the middle of a very large desert. There are diamonds and diamond mines in the desert which means that most of the desert is fenced off and you have to have a permit to enter. They are worried that we will spend our eight hours in Namibia sifting through sand looking for something sparkly.
Instead, we rent a car and drive along the coast where there are no fences. There are no real roads either, just tracks. When the tracks divide there is no sign post telling us which way to go. This seems like an adventure on the way out when we have nowhere in particular to go, but is most disconcerting on the way back when we need to find the town. We arrive back in port and discover that diamonds are not the only industry in town. There is a thriving oyster industry, which appeals to us far more than diamonds. However the trip has exhausted Gordon so he returns to the ship to sleep, while I find a quaint oyster farm and bar overlooking the bay and indulge myself with a dozen oysters and a glass of something with bubbles in it.
I buy another dozen to take back to the ship. Two dozen oysters washed down with bubbles costs $10. Namibia is looking better!
The next day we arrive in Walvis Bay, a much bigger and more prosperous town set behind a lovely curving beach. It too is surrounded by desert. But this desert is renowned for its beauty and its huge sand dunes. We have booked a jeep to take us over the sand dunes to Sandwich Bay, a famous and beautiful spot, accessible only by driving miles along a sandy beach at low tide.
This morning, Gordon cannot get out of bed, so I set off on my own. The company taking us had arranged for us to share the jeep with one other person, a young man from New York, but as Gordon isn’t coming they ask if they can add two German women to the jeep.
The four of us set off with a driver. We introduce ourselves. The guy from New York is indeed a “guy”. He is thirty four, a little on the hefty side and in serious need of a shave and a haircut. He is dressed in a T shirt and shorts with a baseball hat on backwards and a pair of slick black shades. The cap and shades are adjusted regularly for maximum coolness, which goes with the maximum attitude that he exudes. He has just resigned from his job as a hedge fund manager which explains the attitude. He has been sleeping in the rough in Namibia for three weeks which explains the lack of personal hygiene. After thirteen years he could no longer take being reviled for what he does for a living, so he has taken a sabbatical while he decides what to do next. He has been working with a charity in Namibia for three weeks trying to persuade the villagers to stop shooting the elephants.
He says his passion has always been wild animals.
“So will you continue to work out here” I ask.
“No way, man” he replies in hedge fund speak. “Working with the animals is totally cool and maybe my passion. But my main passion is making money”
Then he better get used to being reviled.
He says his legal name is Andrew, but it doesn’t go with his new life. He now wants to be called “Trip”.
As in bad trip, I want to ask
The two women are Gertrude and Erika from Germany. They like to be called Gertrude and Erika. They are two of the most unattractive lesbians I have ever met. A week ago I wouldn’t know how to describe Gertrude, but now I do. She bears a striking resemblance to a warthog, without the tusks, but with the whiskers. She also grunts a lot.
Erika, bears no resemblance to anyone or anything which is fortunate. One is enough.
They are however fascinating company. This is their tenth visit to Namibia and they have been traveling the back roads for a month.
Our first stop is Pelican Point. We drive for almost an hour to get there across miles and miles of sand flats with not a road to be seen. I am not too excited as we see plenty of pelicans in our lives. However when we arrive, there isn’t a pelican to be seenI ask our guide and driver, Len, if Seal Point wouldn’t be a better name.
He just shrugs.
Len is a huge man of around thirty who barely squeezes in behind the steering wheel. He is endearing, full of good humour and spends most of the day with a huge smile on his face. Unfortunately he imparts very little information.
From Pelican Point we drive along the beach until we come to the famous sand dunes. They are on average two hundred meters tall and change in colour from the usual sand colour to red and brown. It is a completely new landscape to me and is stunning.The ocean actually laps the edges of these majestic dunes which is what has made this place such an attraction. We are lucky and the tide is out far enough for us to drive along the beach:
until we get to Sandwich BayWe periodically ask Len to stop so that we can take photos. When ever we do, Len climbs out of the jeep, flops down on the sand and relaxes.I am not quite sure whether he is imitating a sea lion or whether he is posing for the centrefold of Playgirl.
This is way more serious than Dubai and this time the passengers are all egging Len on. Gertrude is grunting her appreciation louder than ever. But Len needs no encouragement. This is what he loves to do. We roar up the sand dunes, flying off the top and then brake and come down them a little more carefully. Len tells us the maximum decline of a dune is 45 degrees and that the jeep can handle anything up to 42 degrees. That leaves a margin of error of 3% which has me worried.How does he know which dunes are over 42% , I ask.
Len gives another shrug, accompanied by a huge smile and floors it.
Gertrude grunts in excitement.
I try not to think of her having sex.
I haven’t had so much fun since being voted Mardi Gras Queen. But that’s another story.
There is not a bush or tree in sight. The girls ask Len to stop the jeep. We assume they want to take a photo. But they just walk behind the jeep, drop their shorts, squat and pee. They have obviously done this many times before, but presumably not in Germany.
After a while Len drives down to a valley in the sand dunes. He stops and suggests we walk around for a few minutes. Meanwhile he pulls out a table, table cloth, four chairs, two bottles of champagne, a dozen oysters, deep fried fish and a pasta salad.How fabulous is this? I feel like Lawrence of Arabia. I dust off the sand from the Fabulosity Meter.
Then, once the girls have marked the territory behind the jeep we are off over the dunes again.
Finally and rather sadly we return to the ship. It’s been quite a day. I’m exhausted.
And so apparently is Gordon who is still in bed, coughing his lovely little heart out.
I’m starting to get worried