• Joanna

Hakuna Matada

Updated: Mar 21

Before I dive in to this particular day, I have to start by announcing that I have decided to stop taking my malaria pills. In saying this, I realize that I am going strictly against the advice of my physicians, as well as Passport Health... but...

I also must add that there is a possibility that I may start taking them again as we approach Botswana... but right now, malaria pills are just not letting me live my best life.


Since I have been here- they have been (to my knowledge) a direct result of;

  1. Horrendous complexion - it’s been bad for a year but it has hit an all time low. And it’s painful.

  2. Bloated / Gas - don’t say ‘drink more water’ because that is all I do. 

  3. Constipation - since.... try to contain the alarm and / or disgust... day one in Africa.

  4. Blotchy skin - patches of dry that no cream can cure.

  5. Anxiety - through the roof.

I have heard tales of horrible nightmares and thankfully, I have not yet experienced that... but rest assured that daytime bouts of anxiety and panic attacks are very much equal, and are probably more crippling. I’m not a fan of being overwhelmed with the sudden feeling of doom and despair... and not having any idea what it’s about or how to properly fix it.


At the moment, I am literally ‘packing’ right now.

Multi-vitamins, anti-inflammatories, B12, magnesium, Advil, Tylenol, muscle relaxants, diarrhetic relief, Aleve, Midol, Gravol... and on top of that, I have pills to help my sciatica and my restless leg syndrome. I am a walking & talking pharmacy...

Each morning, I load up and pray that my symptoms don’t flare up- and so far, I have been quite lucky.


If I were to compensate for each of my malaria pill side effects, I would need to also load up on Pro-Active, Gas-ex, Bloat-ese, Ex-lax, Zincofax, Prozac and God knows what else!  Ain’t nobody got room in their bag...


“Whaaaaaaaat?”

We spent last night at a beautiful little hotel that happened to have a campground area directly in front.


David told us that this particular little hotel burnt down 3 times. One was due to the fryer being left on and the latest was because the owner (who he described as very, very strange man) refused to pay his manager, so one night, she grabbed all the money from the till and simply lit a match...


They are STILL looking for her. She’s been on the run almost 3 years.

No idea what caused the other fire.

As soon as we were set up, I gathered my things and headed to the hotel pub and do some writing... and perhaps indulge in a lovely glass of wine... or two.

Probably two.

Once inside, I found myself a little corner of the bar, set out my iPad, made myself comfortable and ordered a merlot from the friendly bartender. I decided it might be easier to just pay for two glasses, as I figured I might be writing for a while and I didn’t want to waste his valuable working time or my much treasured me time.

I had not had more than two sips when the (apparent?) owner walked in to the pub. Innocent me, sitting at the bar minding my own beeswax, caught his attention almost immediately.


“Are you with the tour?”


His manner of speaking was quite arrogant.


“Yes.” ?


Was I doing something wrong?


He then motioned towards a sign that hung above the bar. 


“You obviously didn’t see this?”


...once again, rude. 

I looked up at the sign that I had apparently so blatantly ignored. It was a picture of a cell phone with a red X through it.


Would have been perfectly suited to the situation at hand... had I been ON my cell phone.


No electronics in here!” 


No electronics? Or no cell phones? Sign is a bit misleading.

His program is weak.


The other sign the owner had up in the hotel.He was genuinely upset at how I had so defiantly and blatantly I had taken it upon myself to break all the hotel rules single handedly.


“I’m only typing....”struggling to defend myself...

He made me leave the bar at once and sent me to sit outside. Outside... lacking in shade. No gentle breezes  or any air conditioning... 


... and his reasoning was...


Wait for it...


Wait for it...


When you’re in my pub stuck on your electronic devices, the bartender feels he has to cater to you. It’s not fair on him.”


Odd.

Double odd considering I had already paid for two drinks.


But UP I got... and removed my annoying, demanding to be catered too, electronically addicted self from the pub... and out I went in the afternoon sunshine... to die.


RIP me in the unbearable heat.


When it came time for my second ‘owed’ wine, I sauntered back in to the pub... sans electronics. The original bartender was gone and much to my delight, there stood my new favourite owner. I explained how I had originally paid for two and miraculously he believed me.

Sitting at the bar downing back gin & tonics was, from what I could make out, his girlfriend. She was older, slightly weathered and sporting a brand new bleach blonde hair do. As I stood there awaiting my merlot, she spiked up a conversation... 


Where are you from?” “I’m Canadian.” “Ahhhh! I love Canadians! Where in Canada?” “A small town outside of Vancouver.” “What is the name of the town?”“Mission.”

The word, ‘Mission’ coming out of my mouth was met with a squeal of delight.


She had moved to Canada, from Russia, four years ago with her husband. They have since split up but she lives in Abbotsford and currently works as an Architect on Funnel street in Mission. 


Small world.

Well, you can imagine who suddenly embraced me after this new found revelation. Mean owner wanted to hear ALL about my adventures and even invited me in to the pub to continue my writing in an air-conditioned environment... as opposed to the hot sun I was currently melting in.


Jerk...

We pulled out of camp at about 8AM and David was playing the Paul Simon Graceland as we hit the early morning, rugged road.


We were warned that today was a LONG day of driving. 6-7 hours. Not only was it going to be a excruciatingly long drive, but a bumpy & rough drive, to add fuel to the fire.

Today really provided the insight in to the vastness of rural Namibia. It was like we were disappearing in to the abyss... the void. Goodbye to strip malls and paved roads... hello more desolate landscapes, sparsely populated farmlands, wide open spaces and more sky than you can even fathom. 

We have been told that if you want to see the real Africa, visit Namibia. Without question, it embraces the dry, the empty and the vast and wholeheartedly turns it in to such stunning and soul-stealing beauty.... 

I recently saw a quote that said, “Take me to Namibia. My soul needs to breath.


Lunch was a pull over in a dusty corner of the world and we feasted on ham & cheese sandwiches. The cheese is actually cheap version plastic cheese slices, poor quality and almost see through in their density. I avoid the pink, rounded-corners ham with the spam-like texture. I don’t have pills for “thought it was ham.”

Being desperate for a bathroom break takes on a whole new meaning for females in the desert. There are no public toilets to be found. In fact, there is nothing to be found.. as far as the eye can see. 

A few trees off in the distance... a lizard... maybe a spider... We managed to find refuge behind what could easily be mistaken for a permanent piece of tumbleweed. 


These are the things that made Takako go Whaaaaaaaat? Or Wowwwwwwwtoday:

  • A cow.

  • A sprinkle of rain.

  • A fence located in front of a tree.

  • David turning left when she thought he might turn right.

  • Finding out that it’s not a good idea to feed cantaloupe to wild animals.

  • Realizing that you just had to push the gate to get in to the pool area.

The cantaloupe part; she actually asked ME if wild animals liked the fruit. I continuously need to remind her that I am not the guide.


What are those mountains? Why is this sand red? Why is it hazy over there?

We entered in to Namib-Naukluft National Park, which is the famous park of the Namibia dune fields covering the western reach of the desert. We are camping on the doorstep of the dunes.

That translates to ”in the middle of nowhere.” ... I would say Namib-Naukluft was closer to the sun that the rest of the world, because that is the only way I can describe the heat I was feeling and also the only way I can make allowances for having my skin melt off my body. Saying it was hot was an understatement. The only thing left to comfort us was the reassurance that it, without a shadow of a doubt, gets hotter. Shade was scare, an unachievable dream ... air conditioning, a big group laugh.... and finding perfect locations to set up the tents was a delusion. I set up beside a little tree that deceivingly offered a branch of shade, but by the time I had my tent set up, it was nothing more than a mere leaf or two.

The wind is so strong here that if we didn’t anchor down our tents, they would be gone as soon as we turned out heads. David has warned us that this campground is known for its snakes & scorpions, but now my one concern is chasing my canvas tent across the desert.

We pulled in to a gas station near our campground and at the entrance, looking defeated and exhausted, were two young cyclists. Mostly we just stared at them with sheer disbelief. 100km or so, we had just done being inconveniently bounced around through bumps and dust... in a truck. They were on bicycles. Just thinking about the portioning and lack of water made me want to collapse.

BIG respect for these two.


As soon as we were all placed, dirty and sweaty beyond belief, we headed to the pool.

The campground pool was a much anticipated and temporary utopia for all of us. Sticky, sweaty, dirty and covered in sand.... we eagerly paraded ourselves directly over there, elated at the opportunity to fully emerge ourselves in to this small murky, dirty little pool filled with leaves and sand.

Bliss...

We have been quite lucky with all of our locations so far. Although they vary vastly in camping stars- most of them have had the big 5. Pool. Pub. Flush Toilets. Showers. Shop.

I came back to camp after brief exploration to find everyone setting up for dinner. As I came around the side of the truck to grab a couple chairs, British Humour was there grabbing a chair as well. We headed in the exact same direction and she proceeded to set her chair up.


I noticed it was slightly lopsided and realized a screw was gone from the side.


Claudia... I think your chair is broken.”

Actually I didn’t think... I knew.

She looked at the chair... then at me. Her expression was that of...?????


How am I to know when something is broken or if it is not?”


What does that even mean?


She’s the creepiest German I have even met.

At 4:30, we had an activity planned. David and Malinga were taking us to see where part of the Lion King was filmed. It’s the place where Mufasa dies. We were late getting there because no one could find British Humour. Odd... Tick tock... tick tock... tick tock..

There is an African proverb that says; “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I agree... unless Claudia is with you. Finally she appeared.. and off we went. Down in to the Sesriem Canyon to explore the remarkable depths of the canyon and make our way through the maze that winds itself along the (sometimes) bed of the Tasauchab River. And then... ... we saw a snake.

A horned adder. It didn’t attack, just froze below a rock and remained in position until we were gone. One bite from this snake can void you of all white blood cells.


David says that these are the kind of snakes that seek protection underneath our tents in the desert.

  • Snakes

  • Scorpions

  • Stray Dogs

  • Scavenger Birds

  • Violent Winds

Bring it... The tour itinerary stated that we would all fall asleep in the peaceful desert, to the sound of the Barking Gecho.


I think I fell asleep to someone snorting in the tent next to me, but we can call it the Barking Gecho...

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