Location: Solitaire Camp, Solitaire
Miles travelled: 156 miles Swakopmund to Solitaire
Weather: 41ºC, unbelievably hot
Today we mostly listened to: Elbow
We've been a little bit slack with the blog recently, mainly due to the fact that we've spent the last few days celebrating, both our engagement and also getting down the Van Zyls in one piece, in Swakopmund. Unfortunately though Monty didn't come off as unscathed as us and now has damage to both the anti-roll bar, the fuel tank and the steering. So he spent most of the time that we were in Swakopmund getting a little loving care from some mechanics.
Swakopmund is a very strange place. It sits in the middle of the skeleton coast desert, on the coast line and is usually covered in fog or cloud. 5km inland from it though and it is completely clear and 40 degree heat. It is also like a mini-Germany in the middle of Africa. It was very strange to be walking around a town with proper pavements, bakeries, cafes and expensive shops. Parts of it are very twee and even disney-like in places and the most over-riding thing you notice is how un-African it is!
When reaching the town we hooked up with Pim and Git once again at the Desert Sky Lodge. Luckily for us the camp was also busy with lots of other overlanders including yet more lovely Dutchies - Ben and Hank - who are travelling North. The last few days have consisted mostly of.... 1) Eating nice bread from the bakeries, 2) buying parts for Monty, 3) drinking an awful lot with the Dutchies, 4) visiting the aquarium and 5) jumping out of a plane.
All were fun, but in particular the skydive we both did was amazing. From 10,000ft above the desert, looking out over the skeleton coast and Atlantic ocean we jumped - whilst strapped to an instructor - freefalling for 30 seconds and enjoying a parachute ride for 5mins. Pim also joined us on the jump whilst Git stayed safely on the ground to get pictures of us all. Ric was the first to jump out, followed by me and then Pim. My most memorable moment was watching Dickie sitting on the edge of the plane with his legs hanging out and the next he had completely vanished under the plane. Within seconds it was then my turn to fall to certain doom. With my instructor controlling everything, it all happened in a flash and suddenly I was out of the plane and surprisingly can remember very little of the freefall. The next thing the shoot opened and to my relief I could see Dickie below me safely floating down with his shoot open. Randomly I could also see Pim below me, even though he jumped out last. His instructor was particularly keen on spinning lots which takes you down a lot faster. All in all it was an amazing experience and something I highly recommend on a trip to Namibia.
To celebrate getting back to earth in one piece we bought some crayfish for supper and after a slap up bbq we proceeded to get very drunk and hit the Swakopmund nightlife. A random night followed with all the Dutchies and a strange Afrikkans stag party we bumped in to. We somehow ended up in a Casino at 4am listening to an Afrikkans chap with a blue painted face ranting about the demise of the white farmer in Africa, how he hates elephants and if he manages to shoot one he blows it up with TNT to get rid of the evidence. It was all a bit surreal really.
After 4 days in Swak we were feeling a little clostrophobic this morning, so despite the raging hangovers we packed up, cranked up 'we gotta get out of this place' by The Animals on the wireless and in a cloud of dust sped South. The day was long and very very hot. The only compensation was that the landscape was very beautiful and there was hardly another car in sight.
We reached Solitaire around 3pm and found yet another random place in Namibia. The town consists of a bakery (which serves the best apple cake I've ever tasted) a petrol station and a campsite. After several slices of cake and a conversation with the baker - where I tried to find out his secret recipe - we had a quick dip in the campsite pool and an afternoon snooze.
Just had burgers and chips for dinner and now off for a very early night, it's 2100!
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