We managed an early start and planned to ride through to Windhoek hoping to be at the car rental place prior to 5pm to avoid paying for another day. Back on the paved part of C41 for 60km and then south on C35 we drove about 70km of typical but good Namibian gravel. Passing though about 35km of new road construction it this road through the Kunene desert lands, it was evident that within a year the road would be paved all the way to Opuwo. We noticed small ad-hoc tent camps along the side of the highway. Construction workers rode heavy machinery, waved flags, directed traffic and shoveled gravel. We were far from anywhere. And these construction workers happy to have a job but have no means to get to work every day. So they sleep on the job site in tents. There’s no running water. No electricity. And nothing to do but listen to the hyenas and watch the stars. This is their job. And a good part of their life.
We noticed a few Himba people guiding a herd of goats across the road. We stopped and the girl asked if we wanted to take her photo. For a dollar. Two young boys spotted my water bottle and asked for a sip. I gave them the bottle. And they wanted the empty one that was crackling under my feet as I drove. We gave the kids some food and sweets and water. Then we moved on.
More water for the Himba people as we head back to Windhoek.
Two things waited for me in Windhoek. I was expecting a couple packages. One from my brother with my replacement lens and video camera for which I would have to send back my damaged goods in exchange. The second package from John Angus (aka Johnny A) who has served as my logistics coordinator for my journey. In the package were more video tapes and a DVD of the latest Apple operating system – Leopard. I eagerly anticipated this because since the release of Leopard, Boot Camp, a Apple Utility that allows me to run Windows XP on my MacBook Pro, was only a beta copy and expired. This meant I couldn’t update software, maps, routes or waypoints on my Garmin 276c GPS. Also in Windhoek sat my trusty steed, Doc. I hadn’t been in contact with Hedley since embarking on this four-wheel adventure, but assumed all was okay with my electrical problem.
Upon receipt of packages and confidence that the bike would be ready for Northern Africa, I would journey to Namibia’s Caprivi strip – a tiny slice of fertile green land that is sandwiched between the borders of Angola and Botswana serving as the panhandle for the massive Okavanga Delta. Grant & Jules have decided to spend a few weeks in Windhoek – banking on further investment return that as cash accumulates they are able to prolong their journey. They hope to be 2 or 3 years more on their journey. Me? Without the means and with many things to look forward to both on the road and home in the States, I’ve got to move on as my clock continues to tick.
We rolled into the car rental place at two minutes before 5pm. Cutting it sort. But cutting it well.
The next day, Hedley at Danric said all systems were go for my motorcycle. I examined the lights, the GPS and took a quick test spin. Yes. I was ready to go. While sorting out my bill and talking routes with Hedley, I met British Colombian (Canada) Mark Stevens. He had purchased a new GS1200 in South Africa and was on a month long journey through Namibia, the Kalahari and then back to Cape Town. He had an unfortunate accident on some slippery sand and rock and broke a few protrusions on his steed while tearin g a few ligaments in his leg.
Britsh Colombian Mark Stevens on his test run in Windhoek on a new GS1200.
The plan would be to leave tomorrow or Saturday, January 12th. But within ten minutes of leaving BMW I noticed something funny. I pulled over and confirmed my suspicion. The fuse blew again. No lights and no power to the GPS. Shit. Back to BMW and then back to the electrician. It took about 30 minutes to isolate the short thanks to a simple but effective surrogate fuse that blasts an alarm when shorted. The wires connecting the GPS and PIAA lights were secure. I had secured them. Hedley had secured them. And this electrician had found a small breach which he thought to be the culprit short and proceeded to secure them. But this wasn’t the culprit. There was something else. Drawing my power from the parking light circuit we reasoned that the taillight was also on the same circuit. So we traced the wire to the tail piece and into the hidden stash compartment where the seat lift lever is located.
The short was beneath all this in the tail piece. Note the fracture on the metal frame tubing.
In this small but effective stash I had stored a spattering of small spare parts and small jumper cables. Pulling all of this out and wiggling the wires the alarm signaled. Bingo! But to get to the wire requires pulling off more parts. We also noticed that the tail frame had cracked and would require replacing or welding. Not a serious problem, but something to keep an eye on. With the wire repaired and the short finally and officially sorted, Doc was ready for Botswana and points north.
Meanwhile, I’d been in contact with fellow GS rider and South African entrepreneur Ronnie B., he was in Grootfontein and if I would be leaving in the next 24-hours would wait for me to catch up and we would be able to ride through the Caprivi and Botswana together. I also learned that massive flooding had caused evacuation and relocation of nearly 50,000 people in Mozambique and parts of Zimbabwe and Zambia were under water – including bridges washed out on major routes. Water. Simply water. Either too much or too little.
As for my packages. The camera and lens arrived but required a big of negotiating because Namibian customs wanted to charge me $200 in VAT. But upon proof that these products were simply provided for in exchange and to replace items I already had brought into Namibia, customs with the help of DHL waived the additional tax. The package from Johnny A? It should have been here on the 5th or 6th but was nowhere to be found. And I can’t wait in Windhoek any longer. Making contacts and friends with the EMS division at NamPost, when it arrived they would arrange to forward along to me somewhere in Northern Africa. As for Africa maps? I’ve been without except for the few my friends loaded on my GPS in Aus but had been largely not useful because I’ve had no power. Upon recommendations by many, I stopped by the local Cymot/Greensport store, a auto parts, camping and sporting retailer, and bought a copy of Tracks4Africa. This is a selection of maps that have been compiled by a community of overlanders and include auto-routing for a few countries and good information on roads, distances and petrol locations. In the store they were kind enough to load the maps on my GPS so for now I can wait for my package with Mac OS X Leopard.
The next morning we sorted the accounting from our Etosha and Himba trip and Grant and Jules and I bid another farewell, hoping that we would one day ride together again.
One last sunset from the terrace at Hotel Thule in Windhoek.
Goodbye Grant & Jules, I hope to see you in Northern Africa!