African shoestrings – Namibia Day Fifty one – Keetmanshoop
Alfred and Bridgett gave us a lift back to Keetmanshoop, where we met up with Riet again in her B&B.
Because Riet didn’t have to collect us we got a free tour of the only two tourist attractions in Keetmanshoop, the quiver tree forest and Giants castle.
Giant’s castle is not worth the wear and tear on the word processor.
The quiver trees though were mildly interesting. Named after the San Bushmen who used the branches to make Quivers for their arrows, they are from the Aloe family and have a highly efficient method of retaining water by having a coating of wax on their leaves and branches. The forest had about 250 of these little oddities (they can grow up to 8 metres) growing out of very inhospitable rocky landscape. Mind you from what we had seen of Namibia so far the whole landscape is pretty inhospitable and pretty bloody hot!
Riet for some unfathomable reason or other seemed a lot less friendly than she had been when we first met her. Not that she didn’t do the right thing but we sort of had that sense that we were imposing rather than being valued guests. Maybe it was because I snored! Certainly I think she was glad to get rid of us the next morning when she dropped us off at the train station to catch the bus to Luderitz.
There are trains at this station but not one that was going our way. There used to be a train from Keetmanshoop to Luderitz but that was discontinued and a bus service runs in its place.
It was a long hot and uneventful ride made uncomfortable by more than just the heat and the dust, I had a nose that wouldn’t stop running, the bus was full and quite cramped and we were permanently on guard watching our bags in the luggage hold. Africa in general has a reputation for making luggage disappear from public transport. Somehow we felt our luggage was a lot more secure in the Intercape Mainliner hold. Every bag was labeled and a steward got out and found your bags for you. On this bus it was chuck it in the hold and get it out yourself.
This was also the first time we were the only whites. That’s not being racist but it did take us out of our comfort level until we got used to it.
The landscape was just desert of varying shades of brown from the light rust coloured sandy stretches to the dark brown almost grey lunar landscape with the odd small town carved out of nowhere. At a couple of points the bus actually runs along the still existing rail track and pulls up at the once rail now bus station in places like Aus and Seelhelm. The towns in fact were a welcome distraction from the harsh and fairly flat landscape. Personally I’m more of a train person. When the train pulls into the station I enjoy watching people get off or on or just shuffle around the platform. In this case I was just clutching at straws to ease the boredom and take my mind off the heat and the tap that passed for my nose.
It’s been said many times before but I’ll say it again: Why is it that we can send a man to the moon, swap organs, eliminate diseases like small pox and genetically create different species of flora and fauna but can’t cure the common cold?
At around 30 kilometres from Luderitz we felt a significant temperature drop. The coastline of Namibia is severely influenced by the very cold Atlantic Ocean. I say severely because the maximum temperature almost never gets above a 23/24ºC. If there’s not a blanket of sea mist, there’s a cool breeze that often imitates a gale force wind. Surprisingly enough the rainfall is actually lower along the coast than it is 160 kilometres inland. It was a very welcome relief after the heat of the last few days.
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