It didn’t start well. We had to cut short the tour of the rock paintings, as Sue was once again sick. What we did see (or what I saw) of it was fascinating. Some of the works are engravings that date back over 6000 years and appear to be still as clear as the day they were created. Fortunately Sue had the presence of mind not to leave a remnant of her stomach over any of them. Somehow I don’t think she enjoyed it one single bit.
We had no choice but to press on. Sue had been sick twice now and I was starting to get concerned, but civilisation was now closer at Terrace Bay. The state of the roads didn’t help either. The road back to the main ‘drag’ was full of potholes and those irritating corrugations that leave you still stammering for hours.
The road to Skeleton Coast was marginally better. There were less potholes but still plenty of corrugations and loose stones that had us slipping and sliding from time to time. It was slow going and bloody hot! Sue began to perk up the closer we got as she slowly recovered much to my relief. She had slept most of the way but really hadn’t missed much.
The Skeleton Coast is as inhospitable as it comes. A waterless terrain of grey sand dunes and gravel plains for as far as the eye can see greeted us as we entered the park at the Springbokwater gate. I was amazed to actually see someone at the gate. The smiling gatekeeper with his house surrounded by a little patch of grass, an oasis continually under pressure from the relentless marching sand. He checked our passes and waved with a big grin on his face as we passed through. Did he know something we didn’t?
The coastline of Namibia is an enigma. A desert that stops right at the waters edge. Certainly there are other examples of similar coastlines elsewhere. Our own North West of Australia is very inhospitable but at least it has some vegetation and even trees at the equivalent latitude. The difference is the temperature of the ocean. The Atlantic in this part of the world is bloody cold, consequently it just doesn’t create enough moisture to make it rain so this area averages less than 50mm (2″) per year! What the cold ocean does do however is keep the temperature down. Just as we experienced in Luderitz the temperature drops sharply at about 100 kilometres inland from the coast. Particularly when a southerly breeze is blowing (as it does most of the time) and covers the coast with a cool layer of fog. We went from a hot, dusty environment to a cool, almost cold, misty but still dusty environment in almost seconds. It was like walking into an air-conditioned shopping centre after having spent time walking in 35-degree heat. The change was that dramatic!
There are many places that we have visited over the years that have not been what we expected and we have sometimes asked ourselves briefly “what are we doing here?” Terrace Bay is one of those places that begged the question continuously.
It’s a small basic resort sandwiched between the ocean and the desert 3 million miles from anywhere and full of white South African and Namibian leisure fisherman all jabbering away in Afrikaans. We got chatting to a group from Paarl in South Africa and they even asked us what we were doing there. “Therre’s nothing ‘ere but fish” one of them said. It did have a restaurant where you have to eat, as full board is obligatory, a bar and a small shop with very little. The accommodation was reasonably comfortable. A few fibro semi detached huts with rather sparse self-contained rooms were dotted around the place.
Fortunately we only had two nights here. We spent the rest of the day and the next day, relaxing, reading, sleeping and for a brief time, exploring.
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