Gosh, THAT was exciting!!

8 October 2018

I had a silly incident last night, when I woke up needing the loo at 02:00. I leant against the hatch of the van, which opened and I fell out sideways, managing to stop myself from landing too harshly on the ground by grabbing the sides of the wall. Luckily, I only tore a toenail – dealing with a dusty cut in the middle of the night would’ve been difficult!

We are starting the days at about 32 degrees and it generally heats up quickly. I had to go to sleep with my cold bottle of water tucked against my side last night, but at about 05:00, I was cool enough to pull the covers up over me.

Bugsy stroked my head to me me know she was up, although she probably should’ve stayed in bed for a bit longer as she was generally unhelpful, telling me she was ready to get dressed, then climbing back into bed, asking if she could help with the washing up, then refusing to help. 🙄 Anyway, that’s four year olds for you!

We had breakfast, and I made sandwiches ready for lunch, before we packed away the camping gear and left Hobas for our next stop, the Namibrand Hideout, about 440kms away.

Very shortly after we had started the journey, we saw several ostriches, a gembok and a couple of springbok. To our surprise, we also crossed a railway track and passed the station, which was a small platform at the side of the road. Michel, the cyclist we had seen a couple of days was resting under a tree in the shade having something to eat, so I wound down the window to give him a cheery wave, which was returned! We reached tarmac again which felt quite strange after a couple of days on tracks! We passed through a little river, next to a dam, and a large vineyard – an oasis in the wide, flat dry land. It is very cloudy today and at midday, the temperature had only reached 33 degrees.

After a couple of hundred kilometres, we reached Bethanie, a small town really in the middle of nowhere. It was bustling with locals, and smartly-dressed school children, and had a church and Town Council building as well as a fuel station, mini market and bank. We stopped to fill up again – we are taking every opportunity to make sure our tank is full – and topped up our fridge supplies with UHT milk, bread and beer. I said to Cornelia that we would buy her an ice cream and put it in our freezer and she could have it after lunch if she ate all of her sandwich today. She was agreeable enough to that! We also made friends with a stray dog, Jackie, who was very sweet and friendly and Cornelia adored him! He followed us around the store and the shop owner said that although he was a stray, he was very well fed, and often stayed at their house overnight, as well as other people’s houses. Strokes and pets done, we left the smooth tarmac and set off on the gravel road again, in search of a lunch spot “somewhere not so dusty”, as Ian put it!

He needn’t have worried, as although we pulled over at the side of said dusty road, no cars passed us in either direction. We opened up the doors to let the air in, and Bugsy ate her entire sandwich whilst watching cartoons on her Kindle, and we sat quietly listening to her various chomping noises, before setting off again to the next little town of Helmeringhausen.

As the ATM in Bethanie had not been working, I was hoping that there would be one here, but there wasn’t, a though I was able to withdraw cash from the shop, when making a purchase. Luckily, I was buying more cheese and some orange juice here, so took out some extra cash, in case we need it further on. Cornelia, meanwhile, drank her ice cream which had melted despite being in the freezer which was apparently reading +10 degrees. Slightly worrying…

The landscape changed as we drove into the mountainous area, with rocky ground around us rather than sandy. Cornelia fell asleep again, before I’d noticed that it was happening (she usually asks me if she can have a nap first). We passed a few goat farms and an enormous ranch in which we spotted a few horses and cows, but nothing more exciting than our ostriches from earlier! We came out the other side of the mountains, and rejoined our flat, straight graded road, bumping around in delight, drinking in a real feeling of “Africa”. We stopped to take some photos of a tree from which an enormous bird nest was hanging, and an extraordinary rock formation – unfortunately my limited photography skills simply don’t capture the 3D element of it!

We also passed a South African couple clearly on a long adventure walk – he was pulling and she was pushing a large trailer in which they would be storing their food and camping equipment etc. Ian slowed down to speak to them and offer water but they said they were all good, so we continued on our way.

We stopped again at Betta, an immaculate little campsite with a very well-stocked shop where I bought some frozen chicken and minced beef to use tomorrow, and nipped to their loo… hand wash and a towel…paradise!! About 10 km down the road, as we were keeping a watchful eye on the clouds and lightening in front of us, and as Ian made his way along the ever more gravelly road, we spied a vehicle stopped on the left, and a couple waving us down.

We pulled over, of course, and they were in “a bit a trouble”, or as Claus put it “We’re fucked”! The wheel bearing had snapped and it was unrepairable. We asked how we could help, and they asked if it would be possible to take them back to Betta, as there was no way that vehicle was going to be fixed in the next day or so. We threw our mess into the back of the van, they packed a suitcase and some other bits and pieces, and we left their car there, complete with roof tent pitched (they thought they may end up staying the night in their tent). Beverly is from Namibia and he is Danish, and they live in Copenhagen. They were just off to visit her family in Windhoek and had decided to take a little detour on the way – little did they know! Anyway, they were so relieved to arrive at Betta and there were plenty of cabins available, so hopefully they will get themselves sorted quickly. And we ended up with an open invitation for dinner in Copenhagen – hurrah! We missed it out on our trip around Europe, so it will be great to have an excuse to go!

Well, our excitement for the day didn’t end there. As I mentioned earlier, we had been keeping an eye on the lightening, which we were now approaching very quickly. We could see in front of us something that looked like fire smoke, and wondered if perhaps the lightening had struck the dry land and set fire to it. (There was no rain yet.) But no, it was a mega dust storm, reducing our visibility to zero in front of us, and about two metres to my side. It was crazy and wild and awesome fun! Just what an adventure should contain! Ian did amazingly well, navigating through slowly, and we wondered when it would ever end. It did, about thirty minutes later, when it also started to rain. Great big fat raindrops splattered in our windscreen, cleaning it perfectly. The rain and storm then continued all the way to the Namibrand Nature Reserve, where we left the road and entered the Reserve through a metal gate. I got drenched as I unlocked and opened the gate as quickly as I could, feeling slightly nervous about the lightening strikes around me, especially when I fiddled around trying to close it! Anyway, our reward further down the lane was a beautiful rainbow, stretching so wide from one edge of the mountain that, even though I ran down the track in front of the van some distance, I couldn’t fit the whole thing into one frame. It was EPIC. The lighting, the rainbow, the lightening, the rolling thunder, the mountains, the fields…Truly breathtaking, and even Ian was quite overwhelmed by it all.

When we had nearly arrived at The Family Hideout, Steven, the house manager was waiting for us, and indeed had been for some time. We apologised and told him about our earlier adventures, and he was quite understanding! He told us about the self-drive we could do tomorrow, and about the tyre pressure that we must use… needless to say, Ian and I had a chuckle as soon as we left, as Ian fully intends to do it, now that Steven has told him… 🙄

The Family Hideout is an incredible house. There are four bedrooms, with eleven beds in total. The kitchen is amazingly well-equipped, and although there are only two lights in the whole house, there are plenty of candles to light it up. The evening light was incredible – and I even managed to take some stunning shots! We unpacked everything from BigBell before the rains started again – Steven had told us that it hadn’t rained since July!

I cooked macaroni cheese, with Cornelia’s help, and we sat by candlelight enjoying our meal, mesmerised by this incredible lightening show going on around us. Bugsy helped Ian with the washing up before heading to bed for three stories, two of which were new and were supplied with the house in the children’s play area. However, she didn’t settle until after 21:30, by which time, I was ready for bed too! I stayed up for a bit with Ian, reading about the history of the house and this whole area, before I was in danger of falling asleep on the chair!

5 thoughts on “Gosh, THAT was exciting!!

  1. After a very busy week (wonderful wedding last Saturday at Carlyon Bay Hotel) and week preparing, cooking serving lunch for 21 on Friday have almost finished the clearing away and putting house back to normal. I was pleased to have a tel call from Enid last week to say that you were well. I think we were all concerned that you had been off the radar for a long time. Now we know why wow what an adventure and what a book this is / must be!!! A few more maps needed please!!! I know I would be terrified, hot, and bothered so cannot say I envy you. I love the way you have a rapport with just everyone. The story about the broken down vehicle and couple from Copenhagen (?) is just what would worry me. By the end of this adventure you will have your holidays mapped out for the rest of your lives. Well done. Keep safe and having fun in that awful heat. Are you going anywhere near Port ELIZABETH? That is where Susan’s daughter Rosie is living . Love to you all. Jill and John xx

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  2. Mel, great pics & script as always. There is one photo of the dark menacing sky which blew me away with a tree slightly to the left of centre.. It would be amazing blown up on canvas to adorn one of your landing walls. Apologies for the artistic imput. Can’t wait for next instalment. Xxx

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