Sossusvlei - Beetles, Spiders and Sand Dunes

Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
Trip End May 28, 2009

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Am a little behind with my blog as we haven't been near anywhere with internet for a while.

Just to carry on from the last blog, there were a few more things I wanted to share regarding Swakopmond.  It is a very unusual place, a little like a Stepford Wives town.  Only one third of the population live in the actual town (which has really, really wide streets with no one around and very few cars) who are white and then the other two thirds live in the townships on the outskirts.  It's a bit surreal.  There is a massive German influence and we went to a great German restaurant on our last night and could have been in Munich.  There were guys dressed up in the traditional Leiderhosen (my german isn't great!).  We had a lot of fun there, but it is essentially geared up for the tourists to go off and do exciting things and then leave.  It's only after a few days of being there that you realise it's all a bit plastic.
On the way from Swakopmond to Sossusvlei there was a great sign, given that we were mainly surrounded by desert; a triangular sign with an exclamation mark and the word sand beneath it....excellent! It was difficult getting back on the truck after a few days of freedom (not having to get up at 6am and "Roll out" of camp by 6.30am).  There are a lot of positives too....when someone shouts "Ostrich at 9 o'clock on the left" it's all a bit surreal!:-)

Sossusvlei was the base camp for us to do the sunrise Dune 45 climb and also meet a Bushman to teach us about the desert.  We were up at 4.45am for a 50  min drive to the Dune.  I was mistaken, it's not the largest dune, but one that has a great shape and isn't too difficult to climb.  It took about 20 mins to climb up and we were pretty high.  There were really nice views as the sand is an excellent contrast agains the clear blue sky.  The sunrise did what is said on the rose up!   My buddy Sonya and I decided to run straight down the side of the dune rather thand treck back down the crest, it was much more fun....until we saw all the snake tracks in the sand!  Sometimes you forget where you are and become a bit presumptious.  Our breakfast was waiting for us at the bottom, a good fry up with Sausages and Scrambled Eggs. Charlie the cook is great.  He even bought Marmite for me, but we have a deal whenever I make it for me, I have to make him some too!

The Boers Man (Bush Man) met us and took us out in the desert. He had some amazing stories to tell.  He was great at tracking.  We saw an excellent Beetle that has channels down it's back so if there is any moisture it will roll down in to his mouth!  There was a spiders nest that he was able to locate.  They make a little doorway which is like velcro into it.  He managed to carefully lift it up and sprinkled a little bit of sand into the next and the spider, who was a metre or so below climbed up and closed his door again.  It was really cool to watch.

The guide told us about the real San Bushmen and how they had to survive.  It's not for the faint hearted.  Essentially, it was survival of the fittest and if the tribe/family had to move on to find food and there were elderly or young children not able to keep up they were left behind.  That evening at the camp fire the mother would sit by the fire wherever the smoke was blowing to hide her tears.  Up until the 1920's the White and Black people could obtain licences to hunt and kill the San Bushmen (who were yellow).  They got their name of Bushmen as they used to hide behind the bushes and pop out and kill their enemy.  Progress is a wonderful thing...or is it?  The children of the Bushmen used to spend time with their mother in the early years to learn what her footprint looked like so they could alway follow her and also when they were ready to learn life and hunting skills from their father.  Now they are sent to school to learn how to read and write, but are lacking the traditional skills they would have learnt from their parents.  Their future is in doubt due to this, as you have to question the priority of reading and writing skills in their society.

It was a really long drive to Keetmanshoop and the highlight was a stop for ice-cream.  Everyone was so hot,tired and dusty we had a mini mutiny and wouldn't get back on to the truck until we had eaten our ice creams in the shade and had a drink! Ummmm!
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