Day 14 – July 27
(CHRIS) The dewey day awoke us with fresh promise of more sand! After some tasty TV tangerines, choco-bread, coffee, and Ablutions Galore, we struck out for the north. Only 15 km’s later, we ran into Swakopmund and were held for questioning by some SS officers. After, they incarcerated Sam in the ghetto, Paul and I explored this African town that is more German than Germany (except it is 85% black.)
It really did look like Germany and even had a large brewery. The buildings were gorgeous and the town very neat and orderly. The beach looked like it might be nice in the summer and we stopped to look at African craft-seller’s goods. Sam bought a little rabbit-skinned baboon as a gift for his wife on their wedding night. We liked Swakopmund, but we pressed on…
The coast was bleak. It was also uniquely beautiful. After Hentie’s Bay (where we fixed our busted headlight and got gas), the sand gave way to gravel and moon rock. We began to realize that animals were not going to be seen here except in SKELETON form. THUS THE NAME!
Welcome to the Skeleton Coast. We had to pay a small fee to enter the actual National Park of this name, but we had the whole park to ourselves. 10’s of 1000’s of sq km’s we looked at without seeing a soul except a few workers. We eventually stepped out into the windy desolation in order to walk a bit along the coast where so many wrecked Portuguese sailors said their last Act of Contrition. Sure enough, in addition to rocks and seashells, we found a couple of skulls. The jackal we attached to the front grill, its hallow eyes and evil grin telling the world, “The Tumbleweeds are coming – get out of the way!” The ostrich skull we put on our antenna, in effect saying, “The Tumbleweeds are coming – we are completely insane.”
Eventually, we had to head east and kiss the Atlantic goodbye for a few weeks. We saw one of the most gorgeous sunsets ever as signs of life appeared as rock made room for grasses and brush. We saw many springbok and some jackals. We ran out of gas on a hill that overlooked the valley. As we put the spare gas in, Sam froze in terror as something approached from the brush. We had been warned to be wary of the mad desert elephants.
But it was merely a Bostonian tennis teacher who was camping there. After offering for us to partake with him of his “block of herb,” he sent us off with a smile and a poof of odd smelling smoke. We found a man with a stash of petrol in a little town on the way to Twyfelfontein. He told us a little about Southern Africa as he poured. He also warned us to beware of elephants walking the night roads.
We were now tensed and ready to see our first elephant, but all we ever saw were rutted roads and some cattle. Just a few klicks from Twyfelfontein was a primitive campsite with water. We slept secure knowing that the animal we heard walking next to the tent was a mere calf.
The above mentioned day was made complete when we earlier stopped at Cape Cross, north of Hentie’s Bay. Here we saw the replica of the cross Cao erected for the Portuguese sailors to know where they were 500 years ago. At this same spot was a colony of seals 300,000 strong. They crowded the beach and water in massive smelly noisy packs. We could hardly believe our eyes, such was the mass of brown and gray wet mammals. We could get within a few feet of them as there was a rock wall to separate us. They responded in droves when I raised my arms threatenly. They all got up from their lounging and ran for the water except for a few barking bulls. Truly Amazing! Sam modeled a seal pelt hat for us, but felt that social mores were such that the hat was impractical. A granola girl might throw red paint on him.