African shoestrings – Namibia Day Sixty nine – Hentiesbaai

Terrace Bay is desert, black stone beaches and a grey sick looking ocean that yielded an endless abundance of fish. This is serious stuff! A couple of guys caught 82 fish each one weighting around seven or eight kilos off the beach! I don’t know that much about fishing but I do know that there are few places left in Australia where you could get a catch like that without a boat.

A few others must have caught a bucketload as well as it was being offered around (cooked that is) by one of the other groups at dinnertime.

This group was led by the ‘knowitall’ you know the type, there’s one in every gathering or group. Even though they were speaking Afrikaans his body language and actions told us “I know it all and I’m going to tell you”.

We were in the bar and he and his friends and family walk in and he just took over the bar. Frans, the barman, must hate arseholes like him just walking behind the bar and helping himself simply because they all arrived together and poor old Frans was a bit slow in keeping up.

Relaxing for a day or so gave Sue a chance to recover, which she did although she still felt off colour. I was hoping that the bracing air and relaxation would clear up my catarrh but that still stuck to me so much so that in frustration I started a course of antibiotics that we had brought with us.

The Skeleton park is infamous for its shipwrecks that dot the coast after hitting one of the treacherous sand banks and some bright spark thought the name ‘Skeleton’ was appropriate. It was one of these shipwrecks that got us into what we thought at the time was big trouble. Our next destination was Swakopmund some 350 kilometres south on the coast, via the Cape Cross seal colony. Bearing in mind our ‘reluctance’ to leave ‘Terrible’ bay, we set out early to ensure we had time.

Well we made good time along the salt road to the park gate at Ugab and then turned off to see one of these shipwrecks. The road had another of these heavily corrugated surfaces that have you bouncing around everywhere and just moving forward at more than 30 kilometres an hour was a struggle. Suddenly a buzzer went off and the oil light flashed on the dash. We both said “Shit!” stopped and turned off the engine. Like any part time mechanic, I was quite capable of opening the bonnet and checking the oil. Plenty there! I checked to see if the filter was loose. No that was ok as far as I could tell. Now we’re in a hire car which is less than a year old and still covered by it’s warranty, somehow fiddling with it didn’t seem the right option without authority. After all it’s my credit card imprint they’ve got as a deposit. So we did the right thing and slowly drove back. It didn’t seem to mind if we drove it at 20 kilometres an hour.

It took forever to get back to Ugab. There’s not a lot at Ugab in fact there’s not even a phone. Fortunately they did have a more modern method of communication than the pigeon, a two-way radio. The gatekeeper radioed the nearest mechanic in Hentiesbaai a small town some 137 kilometres away. His only option in these circumstances was to bring a tow truck.

All we could do now was wait and wait! Eventually Hennie turned up around 3 hours later which I guess wasn’t too bad. He took a quick look at the car and then we loaded into the back of his truck whilst we both climbed into the front.

Hennie was born and raised in Namibia and despite being white considered this was as much his country as anyone else. We talked about the fish, the up coming Rugby world cup (Namibia actually had a team entered) and life in general in Hentiesbaai. Hennie told us that there was around 200,000 whites in Namibia and then turned to us and asked “How many blecks ‘ave you goot in yoor ‘ountry?” When I replied that we had about 300,000 aboriginals. He looked at us and said “Thets nothin man, we got 3 million of them!”

Of course it turned out that there was nothing wrong with the car other than a loose wire on the oil switch in the engine which had somehow shaken loose. It cost N$1235 (US$124.00) to get us picked up from Ugab and I had to break the news to Werner. “We’ve fixed the problem mate” I told Werner on the phone and proceeded to tell him about the oil switch. We had already rang him and told him what had happened and needed permission for Hennie to look at the car which Werner got from Volkswagen. “Thing is, it’s cost N$1235.00 and they want to know how you gonna pay for it?” There was a pause. Somehow I had this picture of Werner looking to the heavens and saying “why me”. Anyway we ended up paying for it on proviso that he would settle with us when we returned the car.

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The inhospitable Skelton Coast in Namibia

The inhospitable Skelton Coast in Namibia

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