Maybe it was each of the continuous 20km without even ten meters of relief of perhaps the worse corrugated, rocky and gravely road I’d been on during my trip. Bone jarring, teeth rattling and bike beating nasty washboard with spots of deep gravel. Or peradventure, was it the 130km of dirt riding requiring heavy concentration with pangs of suffocating dust? The kind of riding that should you decide to break the rhythm and let your eyes drift along the riverside scenery you could miss a patch of sand or large rock resulting in an unwelcome destiny with dirt. Whatever it was, Robin had enough. After only three days of riding he would turnaround and head back to Cape Town. Or maybe it was true that his wife did call and yanked the leash pulling him back home, as Robin explained it. Though he’d perviously traveled this route in a 4×4, the roads, views and the patience required are much different from a saddle and two wheels. Perhaps it was me. Did I rode too fast? Too slow? Regardless, when we reached the petrol station at Rosh-Pinah and after a few conversations on his cell phone, Robin confided in me he would not be continuing on to Windhoek as planned. There amongst the 20 or 30 shade-longing loiterers hanging around the gas pumps in this dusty mining town on the fringe of the desert, Robin with a slight quiver in his voice made a sincere offer should I decide to take a break from my travels to return to Cape Town for the holidays is home would be open for me. Then we parted ways. I for the grand Namib Desert and he for the land of Table Mountain and the city by the sea.
The road looked good, albeit sandy patches, until we got to corrugation much later.
Robin taking a break discussing overlanding with André, a 4×4 traveler from South Africa we met along the Oranje River.
Leaving Rosh Pinah I was WorldRider solo once again. Blessed with about 150km of new pavement, the area to the west is restricted due to diamond mining. One local told me that if someone manages to get a vehicle into a restricted mining area, it’s never permitted to leave. The car becomes the property of the mining company. In fact, in South Africa it is illegal and punishable with jail and a hefty fine to be in possession of an uncut diamond. These days South Africa is less the diamond production machine than before. Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe all have more active diamond mines. So the money from these Namibian mines certainly contributed funding for this road that would be the last stretch of pavement I’d see in over a week.
Along the banks of the Oranje River we spot many Quiver Trees, named this way because the indiginous people used the sharp ‘leaves’ for arrows.
Aus is a small settlement about 120km from the Atlantic coastal town of Ludritz . Once a prisoner camp for German soldiers after they surrendered to South Africa in 1915. It remained such until the 1919 signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Today it is a small settlement with a few stores, a gas station and home to my accomadation this evening. The Aus Vista Lodge is perched on a hill outside of town overlooking the Namib desert serving stunning vistas of this wild desert painted gold, yellow and ocher. And as the sun descends creating infinite fire on the horizon, the sky slowly reveals a mind numbing array of stars including the milky way with its swath of dense stars whiter and clearer than I’ve seen in a long time. And high above is the constellation I never can see at home, the Southern Cross, proud and bright. And while summer is nearly upon us here in southern Africa I learn they’ve got June bugs. As December is the equivalent to June these bugs are bigger and rounder than I have in California, but they’re just as stupid. Flying into things bouncing and landing backside down with tiny little feet frantically pumping while the bare movement of the wings causes them to jerk around the porch of my cabana.