03/10: American Pronunciation

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 529 Comments
So here's a thing. There are various different pronunciations in American for things that we would normally think of as different in UK English. For example:

Missile is not Miss Isle but rather mistle. Which actually when pronounced that way in British English means "Bible"...

Im sure there's a lot more but the one that sprang to mind instantly was "The Bush Era" ... which is pronounced in US English to sound like "The Bush Error" in UK English - I wonder if this is deliberate?

01/03: Stop Justifying - keep being.

Category: Hums | Posted by: Cads | 80 Comments
I'm going to try and post something at least once a week in this category. Stuff that I have learned during my short tenure here. Some of it will be personal and some of it will be funny (I hope) and some will just be weird, but I'll try to get the balance of everything right.

Today's comment is something that I was speaking to Piglet about last night. If you have to use a voice over in a movie - you've probably got something wrong somewhere. I was watching (don't laugh) a Hillary Duff movie called Cadet Kelly (link - contains spoilers - like you care). Toward the end of the movie there's a nasty voice over from Ms Duff herself. Apart from being trite and obnoxious, the whole concept of a film is to provide a visual telling of a story.

Obviously there are notable reasons to do a voice over. Derek Jarman's "Blue" is a prime example of pushing the boundary of film and creating an experience that is dependent upon the environment and the image as much as it is the soundtrack - and there is only one image throughout the entire film - the screen is filled with Blue. That's it. But that's experimental film and works because playing the soundtrack on its own destroys the singularity of staring at a swathe of unchanging colour.

Another reason for a voice over is one of style. Imagine pulp-detective films without the voice over... It wouldn't be the same - but that's INTERNAL monologue that cannot be shown, not an explanation of the film. Using a voice over to cleanup a message or provide exposition is just lazy film-making. It's lazy TV too, and Grey's Anatomy (link - image intensive) is one of those that gets on my nerves. We can SEE what has happened, Meredith! We don't need your inane babble to get the message. Of course Grey's is one of those stylistic things too, but it is a pale style in comparison to Desperate Housewives (link - again from ABC). The narration in Desperate Housewives was innovative and provides the external point of view of an internal character. Mary Alice commits suicide in the first episode of season one and as such is in a great position to be able to provide judgment and more importantly rationale for the decisions of the still extant characters. Rationales that are not themselves obvious to the characters and which therefore cannot be portrayed visually.

The annoyance of a voice over that explains a film is fairly well known in lots of circles - including Science Fiction. Blade Runner's final Cut does not have a voice over - no narration. The narration was known for being dire. In fact it was so dire that Harrison Ford was rumoured to have given a deliberately bad reading in the hopes it wouldn't be used (link). Watching the final cut is like seeing a fully restored pre-raphaelite painting - everything stands out so much more and is not blurred by grime or extraneous exposition.

So - this is something that I have learned. Not that Voice Over Is Bad, but that one does not need to provide extraneities when the effect is obvious.

11/16: When did *I* get to be the cynic?

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 86 Comments
There's been a large number of draft blog posts that I haven't posted and have deleted because they expired - this one isn't like that. I just read this article about the NSA (description here, and their website) potentially putting a backdoor into a cryptographical security standard. Firstly let me say this: And you didn't think it was going happen? Any organisation that is interested in Security is interested in Security that it can control. That's the case with ALL organisations - including PGP, CounterPane etc.

The LEVEL of control is what is important. PGP, CounterPane et al. are all about controlling access to sensitive data - NOT about giving themselves some way of seeing that sensitive data. They provide the controlling software but allow you and I to sit down and lock whatever it is that we want away. Think of them like locksmiths with no skeleton key. They provide you with a padlock and a key and you go lock away your beanie bear collection.

The NSA on the other hand wants to be in a position (as all government agencies do) of being able to look at what is locked away with their locks. It's like a locksmith with a skeleton key. The problem is that the types of people that they are selling the locks to are deemed to be criminals, and the NSA is the police. Of COURSE they are going to want to provide some way of looking at what the criminal fraternity is doing....

» Read More

09/12: The Caprivi Strip

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 1473 Comments
A corridor that runs along the top of Namibia, over Botswana to Zambia is bound to have a fair amount of political tension. This is where parts of the Angolan war happened. AK47s are still in evidence in the border posts and the entrance to what is now a game reserve.

It's an odd feeling to be driving on a main road that runs through a game reserve. The speed limit is low, (thankfully - we'll miss the animals otherwise), and the road well paved. It feels cooler here, and the end of our Nambian tour is approaching (one more night camping, and one morning in the box and we are in Livingstone, Zambia). We are hopingfor a leopard today, but nothing materializes.

The scenery is much greener - has a more forested feel to it than we had in the main part of Namibia. We had to leave Botswana at 4:30 this morning to deal with the 13k of sand and get to the border for an easy crossing. We aren't awake. No coffee. No sleep and no respite in the box. It's definitely the way to see the country though. Sunsets and sunrises are spectacular, and getting to the Caprivi Strip early means that we get more chances to see wildlife. And once again, it is there almost as soon as we get through the gates. On a main road! We don't see as much as in Etosha, have lunch on the side of the road, but drive into our campsite at around 2pm.

We set up camp and establish that there are showers (apparently hot!) and set off in search of hippos and leopards and elephants and things. There is a great plain that I spend ages staring at through binoculars, thinking that I see a lion on the prowl. It turns out to be a tree trunk.

We do get to see Hippos though - something that we missed in Botswana - you'd think that there'd be a large number of encounters with them in the Delta, but the Mokoro polers do take time to avoid them... they are the most dangerous animal in Africa apparently. We get to see them wallowing around and just generally being hippos. We don't get to see the wide gape that they all seem to do for the cameras, but that's fine.

The morning sees us up and running early again, but there are a few more miles before we get to Zambia. This part of Namibia doesn't inspire the amazement or awe that the rest of the country does, but that might just be 12 days in a box. Next stop? Livingstone, I presume!

09/07: The Okavango Delta

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 21 Comments
Botswana is covered in Kalahari sand. 80% of the country is sand. The Okavango delta is Kalahari sand with a difference. It's covered in water. The sand becomes swamp where the Okavango fades into the ground. There are islands where elephant and crocodiles roam, where leopards wander and where fantastic birdlife roosts. It is also the slow moving, sluggish pace of hippos. There's no rush here, unless you count papyrus. There is just time to soak in the cool and bask in the heat.

Guma lagoon is 13km along a sand ... thing. I'd call it a road, but ruts and no verges and only a vague indication of direction established by an inner sense of rightness doesn't count as a road. The lagoon is a vast gulp of water in a parched and thirsting landscape. The green assaults you as much as the heat from the Namibian desert overwhelms the senses. A wooden deck in front of a bar hangs tantalising over crocodile and snake infested water. Midges and mosquitoes and insects of all vampiric varieties are fended off with DEET and "mozzie rep". But the tranquility is everything. It holds us in its palm and tells us that despite the danger, here all is right. Our eyes drink in the sight of the water even as our skin pulls the moisture right out of the air.

Even as we run up a bar tab, the helter-skelter pace of the previous days starts to slow to a more manageable crawl. This is a welcome respite and sure, we might be sleeping in tents, getting up early to go over to an island, having lukewarm showers, but this is our haven of sanity. It is easy to imagine Rudyard Kipling writing about the "great grey green greasy Limpopo" looking out over water such as this. The Everglades and the fens are just pale imitations of what truly lazy water can be.

The next morning is a late morning - 7:30 start. But we are up and awake already, watching sunrises that pull in images of New Zealand to overlay on this most african canvas. A boat comes to pick us up at a rickety jetty and takes us across to Mokoro Island. This is an island in the delta that the Mokoro polers use as a base of operations. They store their boats and their poles there, because from the lodge to the polable delta there is very little shallow water. The lazy pace of the dugouts (fibreglass replicas now) doesn't begin to hint at the effort that must be applied to punt 200kgs of tourist and bags through hippo-created channels. We don't get to see any hippos, but the delta is very rich in birdlife. Thimba is our guide and takes us on a couple of nature trails over the next 2 days and we get to learn a lot about the wildlife from spoor, footprints and direct contact.

Thimba is a walking National Geographic issue. He uses phrases such as "this forest collosus" as part of his speech. He delivers this with Jesse Jackson's intonation and gravitas. At each branch or interesting piece of vegetation, a different evangelist for the environment is channeled through this normally shy and meek man. Without him we would have a very bland and insipid experience, with him we investigate Vervet Monkey trails and clean our teeth with tree roots. A quick aside here, I have wanted to clean my teeth with this root ever since Emma told me that she used to do the same in Ethiopia. I finally feel I am getting closer to what makes her tick. She has seen my childhood homes, driven past my school, and relived moments that I rarely admit even to myself. There are whole gaps in her history that I want to fill in. Cleaning my teeth with a tree root is a moment that connects the childhood me with the childhood her. I feel a little more whole.

There are elephants on the island. They eat the leaves and rub the trunks of the trees all around, devastating the vegetation. We see them when we get to our camp site (just a place out in the open near the shore of a small island in the delta - this is proper camping, except that one of our guides has brought a loo seat for us just in case!) The prospect of elephants wandering through the camp is worrying, a little. Hippos frighten us more - what if we happen to be camping in their territory? Hippos are fiercely territorial and will attack anything that is seen as a threat. Norm sees a snake that night, possibly a boomslang (according to the guide) or a black mamba (Norm and a photograph in a book). All I know is that I'm glad I didn't see it, and that when we woke up, none of us was flattened by elephant paws.

Again we are in the Mokoro. This is the way to travel. We sit back, relax, look at bee-catchers, lotus flowers, hippo footprints underwater (they like sandy bottoms, and the currents are softened by the vast seas of reeds). The sun warms us, hiding its onslaught in the cool of the water. The sunburn only kicks in later... I could come back here, learn to fish and show tourists the baobab trees and antelope running madly away from some predator. The Okavango draws you in, and in true swamp fashion, has a hard time letting you go. It is a slow pull into its grip, but it is relentless and woe betide you if you struggle. You might escape by quietly moving on, but it will stay with you anyway.

09/03: Thimbi Thimbi - Day 5

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 23 Comments
A blitz run up to Etosha started at 8:00am. The land in Namibia doesn't seem to change much on the north south routes, or rather not as much as on the east west routes. Tarmac, with some villages and towns, until we arrived later at Etosha. We'd already had lunch on the side of the road, and stopped off at another craft fair. But today was all about Etosha - get there, get there early, get there safe, but get there.

And we did. It's a little disconcerting to have driven nearly 400km and not seen any animals to then see elephants right inside the gate. Not 3km inside the park, we had to stop and watch a herd of elephants just hanging out. And it's not like they are herded up and penned inside the park - nope, these elephants just happen to hang out so that Tourists can come and take photos of them... We think that perhaps we are on a schedule, and elephant guides tell other elephants about the distinctive markings of the brit, the traveller, the yank, the yuppie and the gaudy. They probably have different names - the Whingeing Pom, the Showy Birkenstock, the Overit, the whiny brat etc...

Etosha National Park is full of animals. African spotted cats (how Martin even saw that I'll never know) the Corrie Bustard, Giraffe, Rhino, warthogs, jackals, hyaena, lions, leopards, elephants, wildebeest ... the list goes on. Etosha is massive, and the game can live here quite happily (until it gets eaten by some predator or other). The size of the park is important, because it allows the animals to interact quite normally, rather than having to compete dramatically for food etc. Etosha is unique in this respect - there is enough space here for several naturally occuring territories, rather than having too little space for whatever species, thereby promoting higher levels of predation.

The night was spent in camp inside the park, looking out at animals at a watering hole. We can't go on about the amazing nature (in both senses of the word) of this place enough. Apart from the new human arrivals at the watering hole, there is an awe-struck silence. The Moon rising over the black mirror of the water. The reflections of the drinking animals. The variety of species (some of whice are, or are becoming, endangered). The only people that were noisy were the kids, and even then it was in a subdued and gob-smacked manner.

Taking photographs here requires a tripod. The watering hole is lit by low-level light. Enough for us to see them, but not for them to see us. It's a strong moonlight effect, and we had rhinos right up to the fence who could smell us, but couldn't see us. It is easy to see why people become wildlife photographers in Africa. It's the Ansell Adams principle - it's hard not to take good photographs when the subject matter is this amazing.

Days 6 and 7 involved more game drives, ending up in Bushmanland. There is so much experience in these game drives that jotting it down here is more damaging than enlightening. Suffice to say that Namibia takes on a whole new dimension - not only is it starkness and desert and sea and dunes but also wild grasses, veldt, savannah (cider as well as geography), wildlife, stars, warmth (people and temperature) and a richness of colours and emotions that is hard to beat.

The only part so far that has been less than ideal is Bushmanland. While we broke out our own tent to beat the cold, we were informed we would be treated to a traditional set of dances from the bushmen, and also a bushman would show us how he used to survive before modernization and reprehensible government practices began to eradicate his way of life. This last was very useful, showing more about a traditional culture than anyone could learn from a book or museum, even in its paucity of time. However, the whole thing felt a little disingenuous, almost as though "they trotted the natives out for us to gawp at". The teaching was expertly done, and it was good to give something to the community other than money (salt, sugar, oil, tobacco) - but seeing the tribe sharing out lollies just showed how demeaning it is to be a tourist here. In the presence of one of the oldest cultures in the world and in return for timeless life-saving knowledge we bring opal fruits and chocolate...

09/03: Thimbi Thimbi - Days 3 and 4

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 71 Comments
Walvis Baai is Western super-mare gone mad. There's the mud flats and the general shabbiness, along side the surreality of a mountain of salt harvested from the sea. Driving along the main road there is pure sandy desert on one side while on the other is the blue atlantic trying to eat its way inland. There are flamingos and the salt mill... there is a wind that rips out of the desert as the ocean reflects the warmth of the sun. The wind snarls and grabs at our legs and clothes and we bundle up warm in fleece and wind-cheater. This is midday in Africa and we are wearing the latest technical clothing designed to be up an alp somewhere. It is as normal as putting socks on your ears. Walvis Baai is the meeting point of two cultures that will never see eye to eye, but need each other. The ocean and the sand break against each other, each giving no quarter and taking what they can where they can. That humans have planted grass and lawns out here just adds to the confusion - white, not pink, flamingos round out the whole surreal package.

The road to Swakopmund is a virtual trip through the images of the middle east. Baghdad looms over the horizon, Kuwait is a memory that lingers in the rearview, and at the end of the straight blacktop is Swakopmund, thriving metropolis. There's a full on backpacker scene here with adrenaline junkies catered for as in all mainstream places. You can hurl yourself from perfectly serviceable aeroplanes, ride quadbikes around the dunes or even grab hold of a waxed piece of hardboard and launch yourself face first down vertiginous sand. It's a weird little outpost of backpacker hell, but topped off with the wonderful friendliness of Namibia. There's no pressure, no hard rush and no money at the bank. Things happen with a lacksadaisical efficiency along the lines of "maybe yes, maybe no". If there is one thing that Swakop needs, it's a surf shop. There is a guy who will lend you a board, but when the wind is blowing surf to nothing, there's no point. I was really hoping to surf Namibia, but the closest I got was belly down in a dune.

If you've ever tobogganed down a hill near your school, or slid on a slip'n'slide, then you've got no idea at all what it is like to sandboard. The long hard slog up the hill is made harder by every step slipping back 3 feet. The sand is everywhere. There's no cold. You are superheated by the sun and the climb. Fitness is not advisable, it's required. Getting to the top of the dune, some dude will dig a bit of hardboard out of the sand for you, and say "Off you go then!". There's no training, no safety helmet, no forms to fill in, and all of it is gleefully lapped up by the inner child. If Watterson had been Namibian, Calvin would have had a field day. The moment of truth comes as you launch yourself belly first down the dune... And you keep going... and going... and then you have a moment of clarity where you are past the fear and feeling the speed and the soft swish of the sand under the board and you keep going... and going and BANG... wipeout. Remember your left and your right, Cads. I marched up the small hill twice or so and then the large hill another two times. My final ride was a full on stand-up throw myself through the air, land and sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiide... "Wheeee" as Calvin would say.

We spent a little longer in Swakop than we desired due to funds issues and a broken driveshaft. But then it was a rip back to Windhoek via a small craft fair. Craft fairs are what describe the locals trying to eke out a living from passing tourists. We bought a stone and took some pictures, but after Swakop this brought us back to Africa with a huge thud. It was as though we had been parachuting through tourism and dropped back in on reality before we realised it. It is impossible for these people to live except through tourism and yet there they are trying to work for a living, to supplement whatever food they can grow, catch, eat with some money from the rich westerner who somehow exacerbates the issue while all the time trying to help. This part of Africa is somewhat still the old dichotomy of white and black, but where black was oppressed and downtrodden, now white is taken advantage of, and does not realise it. Or perhaps they are willing partners in the game. When truly disposable income for a typical western traveller exceeds the quarterly earnings of a local, perhaps I should be less cynical. There is a work ethic here that I admire and respect greatly. It is offensive to locals to be tipped large amounts of money. A small tip is welcomed, a large tip is an affront. With some grounding in what tipping should be, it was good to see that tipping responsibly is fast becoming the norm.

After our trip back to Windhoek, it was awesome to get back into a comfy bed (though Swakop was good) and relax before the next part of the adventure... Etosha, Bushmanland, Okovango and the Caprivi strip. We'd be getting up early, but hoping to see the big 5...

08/26: Thimbi Thimbi Days One and Two

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 70 Comments
The safari that we had booked was for 12 days - travelling through the Dunes area of Namibia (made recently famous by Brangelina) and then back to Windhoek for one night before ripping north through Etosha, into the Okavango Delta and then to the Caprivi Strip, winding up in Livingstone, Zambia.

Knowing that we had a lot of road to cover and a lot of things to do and see, we were still a little surprised by some of the early starts (a couple of them at 4:30am!!). We were traveling with 6 others and 2 guides, and camping most of the way in tents provided.

Day one kicked off with a trip across Namibia through everchanging scenery to the Sesreim Camp. If you are like me, the only impression that you have is that Namibia is desert with big dunes. No-one seems to mention the endless crossing of dry river beds that get so swollen in the rainy season that for 2-3 days, entire villages get flooded. The middle of the country is a dry place with little water but much vegetation, and large geophysical differences. There are mountainous rocks, trees growing in dried-up river beds, and so many different shades of brown and khaki. It is truly like traveling through several different countries just to get to the famous bit. I wish that I had known the massive contrasts of this country before - I would have come here a long long time ago. Sunset over the dunes is glorious - and it is weird to watch a sunset by its effect on the land, rather than the sky. We saw the sun set over a dune, but more dramatic is the way the colours change and fade on the desert to the east. The pinks in the sky are turned scarlet by the sand and slowly the dark blue of the night fades to black as the colour drains from the surrounding mountains.

Day two was a fast wake up and start with a drive into the dunes to see a sunrise. This was our first inkling of the nature of the tour. It would seem that some people don't do mornings. And with Piglet in a fair amount of pain from her back (and starting a cold, would you believe), 6:30 was possibly a little harsh. But it was needed, and well worth the effort. I just wish that we as a group could have gotten our act together a lot faster and made the early mornings easier for us all. It doesn't seem that hard to me that you get everything sorted the night before, and then you just have a sleeping bag to pack in the morning before stripping the tent down. Oh well...

Sunrise cracks like a diamond over the disant mountains. A slog up a steep dune gives a great vantage point and the cold (about 2-3 degrees celsius) is gently warmed as the rays reach out over the desert. Dunes are amazing. The knife edges of sand that is blown constantly are precise and as sharp as the sand is soft. Even the National Geographic photographs don't get anywhere near close to how the real thing is. There is a stark richness to this land. A red beauty that in its harshness softens the soul and moulds you to the land. Sand gets everywhere - in your eyes, your shoes, your pockets and just about every nook and cranny. But it is not an uncomfortable feeling. It is a feeling of one-ness. Of returning. Of the land.

After a fairly hasty breakfast we are off into the deeper dunes. Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei. The vleis are lakes that have evaporated leaving a hard pan of crust behind. Better to drive on whatever hard pan there is than get stuck in the sand. After we extricated 3 successive cars from the sand (including our own), we continued on to the white lakebed that is Dead Vlei. A march over about a kilometer of red sand doesn't really prepare one for the sight of dead black trees trapped in the white pan for half a millenium under the glare of the sun. The trees are petrified. Held there rigid by their long-dead root systems under the cement of salt pan. It is an ethereal, eerie feeling that is broken and made cinematic rather than real by the incongruences of tourists. Would that I had come here alone, parched, crying for moisture. Would that I had Vultures circling my fading body. Would that this was as real in my body as it is in the belly of the dunes. A vague ache in my legs and my eyes hurting from the squint is all that held me close to the agony of this arid place.

That afternoon saw us travel to Sesreim Canyon for another beautiful sunset. Sesreim Canyon has water. Not that you'd want to drink it with the dead birds in it, but it has a puddle that is about 2-3 meters in diameter which doesn't dry up all year round. The water seeps into the rocks and comes out closer to the coast, but here there is a puddle that shows that Namibia and the Namib-Naukluft desert is not just one layer of dryness on top of another. Here there is hope. Here there is moisture and the promise of moisture to come. The Canyon is small. It is not Fish River or the Grand Canyon. It is more the alley between two plateaus that have been softly cleaved by erosion. Hyaena come here. A Vulture has its nest here. It is the gate that ties life and the desert together and hides from the sun those that seek shade. It takes 6 lengths of rope to pull water from this canyon when it is in full flood. But today we can walk through the bed of the river, see the tracks of the animals and climb on dry rocks that have tumbled here from the walls. I have become a tourist. I see the canyon and it is another image for my memory. It takes an effort of will to realise how remote and dangerous this is.

Tonight we camp once more before heading to Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. The moon comes out, along with the jackals, and I again feel part of the universe, and not just an observer. The sky and the sounds of night are real because I hear them through the walls of the tent and I am separated from them. Each scratch is a frisson of fear that keeps me alive as I slip into sleep.

08/25: The Trip North - Part II

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 31 Comments
Springbok to Windhoek is 2 days of almost relentless straight road unless you detour onto gravel and dirt. It is of course a very worthwhile sidetrip. After crossing the border (straight forward - just a couple of forms) you are cleared to carry on your 160kph (100mph) scream north. From Springbok we decided that the 120kph limit was what we would drive at - until 5 or 6 cars ripped past us. So we crept up a little. And more cars left us in their rearviews. So we crept up a little more until we were running at 160kph. Not the most comfortable of experience, but no more cars barreling into our rear-end just to overtake at the last minute. After about 15 minutes of this, there was a scream as a BMW left us standing. And I do mean standing - it must have been running at least 120mph or about 200kph. I stayed at a safe 160... (yeah, safe... - something like that).

The border came up quite rapidly at these rates, and we prepared ourselves for the 1hour of waiting about which we had been warned. Not for us. I was accused of murder, but let off (I claimed that the bird committed suicide, and therefore I was not at fault) and we filled in a couple of forms. Travelling into Namibia was great. We finally clambered into "real" Africa.

Just up the road from the border is a road off to the left to a place called "Ai - Ais". It is the Namibian version of Pontins or similar. A holiday camp that really needs some good old-fashioned British Caravans, deck chairs and complaints about the food - you can get Fish and Chips, and all sorts of german sausage, but I was really hoping to meet some Namibian Redcoats, but it was not to be. We paid for a place in the swimming pool and did indeed get to have some relaxation until 3 large spouts spattered us with water. After a sort of hammering massage we got back on the road and ended up at the Canon Lodge in Ai-Ais.

Populated with D&G wearing luxury travellers this was not our scene but the thatched huts and mosquito nets were. The food was awesome and the host very welcoming. We had a couple of beers and some Savanna Light and nipped to bed. The morning was wonderful with great breakfast and good coffee. The fact that someone had had the time and presence of mind to straighten her hair with straightening irons so that she matched her designer shoes and glasses was just a little mind-boggling, but we had to get on the road for a 600km dash to Windhoek.

Not much to say on my part for that - just a lot of driving and some lovely wide open spaces. Namibia is VERY friendly and we like it.

08/16: The Trip North Part I

Category: Bumbling | Posted by: Cads | 44 Comments
Wow - a lot of mileage (kilometrage just doesn't sound right) and some rather fast speeds. Clan William was a small and delightful town next to a dam. The B&B we were in was run by a nice lady of Germanic/Dutch origins, with a puritanical streak, placing us in a room with only 2 single beds. But she did leave us hot water bottles in covers, so I hugged mine almost all night.

We wondered what we should do in Clan William and the surroundings - knowing that we had to get to Springbok to go to Naries Guets farm, we looked for things that we could do reasonably quickly. Then we found out that there was Rock Art. Yay! Pink Floyd? Tommy? no - the San or Khoisan (I'm not sure of the difference) apparently painted pictures on their meeting places out in the middle of the wilderness. We thought that we'd love to see this, having missed out on Lascau and even on Aboriginal art in Oz. It was fabulous. Some exceptionally large bottomed women are painted, along with an archer or two, several deformed warthogs and cattle (more deformed than deformed rabbit), and a couple of groups of people are represented.

The main reason that we were in Namaqualand was to see the wildflowers. Apparently at this time of year, all through the desert people plant wild flowers. Or rather, the desert bursts forth in colour from the flowers that throughout the rest of the year look as though they are dead (personally I think they are just pinin' for the fjords). A couple at breakfast had however warned us that it wasn't a good display this year, and we should try for something else. Not to be deterred we set off toward Lamberts Bay along a known flower route, after viewing the rock art.

» Read More