Driving through Namibia
Much like my first night, my second night in a tent ever on this African roadtrip was equally anxiety producing. During the night I heard something sniffing around the tent. As I am quietly panicking, I attempt to rustle Maxwell awake to no avail. I tell myself it is probably just a small, curious springbok that has wandered into our camping area considering there was no fences at this place!
*Note to self: Maxwell is not a good protector if an animal attacks us in the middle of the night*
The main goal of today was to explore the dunes of the Namib desert, which is one the oldest deserts on earth. These dunes have been around forever and the biggest sand dune in the world is here. Maxwell had previously climbed it and we were determined to do it together!
It was a bit of a drive from the Sossusvlei desert lodge to the location where the dunes were. Once we got to a certain point, we had to get on 4×4’s and be driven to the bottom of the biggest dune. This was a beautiful drive because the sun was rising. It was an early day but if we wanted to climb the dunes without scorching our feet, we had to be done by 10:00am.
Once off the dune buggy, we had a distance to walk before we reached the start of Big Daddy (literally what they call the biggest dune).
It was a beautiful sunny start to the day, but was still chilly. At this point we were in sweatshirts and our hiking boots while walking to the dunes. This would change quickly.
The peak in the back is Big Daddy, our goal. Though we were both in peak physical shape, climbing the worlds highest dune is a physical task. Sand is not the easiest thing to walk on, so we had to get to the crest of the dune.
To get to the desired walking path of the crest, it was a hike.
When we reached the crest, I had an immediate moment of panic. Prior to Maxwell, I did not take risks. I am not an adrenaline junky nor did I like being out of my comfort zone. At this moment in our relationship, I still wanted Maxwell to think I was “cool” and “adventurous”. But this illusion came crashing down as I being to have a full blown panic attack at the height of this dune.
*It should be noted that we were only a third of the way to the peak. And panic attacks like this continue through our travels
I did not like the vast and severe drop-offs on either side of the crest. I was afraid to fall which was inevitable when climbing a sand dune for an hour. I sat down on the dune and completely lost my mind. I cried out my anxiety and declared that this was as far as I could go.
Maxwell was supportive and agreed that I was a mess enough that we should probably stop. This did not stop him from taking pictures of me in my emotionally escalated state though.
I tell myself that it is okay that I was not able to finish the dune climb in the moment. Having years to look back at my pitiful self, I am angry. This sand dune haunts me. Whenever I think about this day (especially writing this post looking at my messy self), I am disappointed. Why didn’t I just finish it? Why didn’t I just man up and do this once in a lifetime thing? Why did I let Maxwell see such a vulnerable side of me?
Why did I waste this moment?
Though retrospect is 100% a bitch- I now realize that this is part of my story. I wasn’t meant to climb that dune that day. I was supposed to wait for our return to Namibia in 2017.
After the meltdown, we came back down and just explored the dune area. This was much less exerting and allowed us to focus on the location as a whole rather than reaching the peak.
We are walking around on ground that is beyond dry and weathered. This place was the first desert I had ever been to and it looked like something out of a storybook/movie.
(Around this area was featured in Mad Max: Fury Road by the way. When we saw the movie’s scenery, our hearts were full.)
Right after this photograph was taken, Maxwell turned around to talk to me. He got this terrified look on his face and lets out a quiet, “Turn around slowly.”
An oryx was following us. SO NEAT. I love animals and to be walking with a wild oryx- my Zoo Tycoon dreams were coming true. We had to be careful though, those horns are known for killing Cheetah. So the vision of riding this oryx while holding on to its horns while going off into the sunset could not happen 🙁
Eventually we left the Sossusvlei dunes when it got too hot. It was forecasted to be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit / 40 degrees Celsius so we thought it best to get out of these. No surprise, we had a long day of driving ahead of us.
As we are driving through the barren land, Maxwell spoke of this tiny town named Solitaire. It had a world famous bakery in it and I am never one to turn down sweets. Solitaire was correctly named because when we arrived, there was a sign stating it’s population of 93. There was nothing there besides a gas station and Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery.
This bakery was owned by an old Scottish man, Moose McGregor. Though small, it boasted the best pastries I have ever had (and I have had my share). While we were there, there was a German documentary film crew there. They asked if they could film us buying our baked goods and of course we agreed. We ended up getting: apple strudel (their famous of it), a brownie, a blueberry tart, and a cinnamon roll. All of this for under $7 USD.
Sadly when searching for the German documentary online a few months later, we learned that Moose McGregor died a month after we were there. I don’t believe that the film ever was published because of his death. To my knowledge, the bakery is still operating as he had a full staff with all of his family recipes. He was a bright spot on our trip as I am sure he was to many others. Moose McGregor <3
After our sugar rush, we discovered that we would soon be crossing over the Tropic of Capricorn. We had to take the photo opportunity 🙂
Most of our drive looked like the picture below for the rest of the day. Open, wild, barren land.
We arrived at our destination for the evening, Swakopmund. In contrast to our scenery of the day, this city is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. We enjoyed the beach, the city, and the German influence as we ate dinner at a Brau Haus.
Our backpacker for the night was near the ocean in someone’s backyard. I was somewhat weirded out at first because there were many people there that had clearly been living in this woman’s backyard for some time. But this place had a great shower facility and with the lush grass, my feet did not get immediately dirty again while walking to our tent.
We settled in for the night, got a little Wifi which allowed me to contact our parents to let them know we were alive, and sleep soundly.