Sunday, October 9, 2011

Swakopmund to Tsumeb, Namibia

I think we both slept the sleep of the dead the previous night. When the alarm went off, I didn't want to move but managed to drag myself out from under the fluffy duvet and into the bathroom to assess my arm in the mirror. Impressed with my bruise, I attempted to raise my arm above my head and was unable to do so. BUT, you don't need to ride with your arm up unless you ride a chopper with ape hangers, so I was good to go. Colin and I discussed our possible routes last night and decided toward the Caprivi Strip, which is the farthest northeastern portion of Namibia and leads to Botswana and to Victoria Falls.

Today, we rode through central Namibia, making our way to Otjiwarongo for the night. The route took us into several small, dusty towns that looked like what I imagined rural African towns would: small, single-story buildings with fading and sometimes crumbling stucco exteriors, dusty gravel main streets, old advertising signage, bougainvillea and jacaranda, people strolling or sitting, watching the occasional traffic pass, and children playing in the streets. When we got to Otjiwarongo, it was a larger version of this. We camped in town at Acacia Park (very nice, clean, and cheap), which had its very own flock of helmeted guinea fowl that pecked their way aimlessly back and forth across the grounds. I went to the supermarket to pick up something to cook for dinner (we had boerwors, boiled new potatoes with onions and butter, and carrots) and some eggs for breakfast. As we sat digesting after dinner was eaten and dishes cleaned, the local cats made an appearance. All but one were very nervous, the bold one actually came over and let me pet him. We told them they were unfortunately too late for dinner, but if they came back in the morning, we'd make them some eggs. 
We went to bed, and in the morning, sure enough, the bold cat sat at the edge of our campsite, meowing for an invitation to breakfast. I gave him some scrambled eggs (as we promised), which he devoured once they cooled. As we ate, the cats arrived, one at a time, and we put down more eggs for them (we both could stand to miss a meal or two, so the cats enjoyed their fill). Since we had a short ride to our destination, it was a relaxed morning and we took our time getting ready to leave. While we drank our coffee, one of the cats decided we were safe and jumped onto the braai to help himself to the remaining butter. We laughed as he and another cat tried to figure out what to do with it. 
Our next stop was Tsumeb (only about a 3 and ½ hour ride), where we hoped to find some internet access to catch up on blog posts and ride reports and maybe do some laundry before moving on to Caprivi. We camped at a site recommended in the Lonely Planet guide that was supposed to have internet, but alas, no. We did splurge and have our laundry done in a real machine (serious luxury!) and spent some time talking with a German man named Yves, who'd been hitchhiking across southern Africa for the past several weeks. We asked where he'd traveled and what the highlights were, and he said his time in Chobe National Park in northern Botswana was some of the very best of all. He gave us the name of a place to camp that offers good game drives and boat trips in the park, so we decided to stop there on our way to Victoria Falls. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the outdoor sofas, Colin dictating ride reports while I typed, enjoying a Carling Black Label or two, and then went to bed.

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