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Days Thirty and Thirty One - Birthday Gloating

22nd – 23rd October2011

sunny 41 °C

Day Thirty and Thirty One - Gloating in the Sand Dunes – 22nd – 23rd October2011
The following day was Saturday 22nd October. This was a day of immense importance. It was the day on which, 29 years ago, Mummy Somers started getting a belly ache that would result in a baby Somers appearing before the day was out. This meant I had to be on my best behaviour. Our wholesome start to the day would be a 5am rise to get to the Dead Vlei and climb the huge 300 metre high dune that flanks its’ Southern boundary. On the way we had a little birthday breakfast before a little sand driving to our destination.

Some sort of a miracle happened at this point because we were the first ones there. We’d beaten them all to the sand dunes. The sun was still rising, the dunes were glowing deep red-orange on one side but completely shrouded in shadow on the other. We climbed like Hillary and Norgay up the dune for two hours, walking along the crest between light and shade, every foot step creating an actual step in the sand. (Overnight the wind repairs the scarred dune, blowing sand back into the footsteps from the previous day, the track effectively disappears every night.) As our feet struck the sand they sank in, three steps forward two steps back. Or rather one step forward and three quarters of it back. For neither the first nor last time this trip we were out of breath and sopping with our own perspiration. At times we clambered on all fours between ridges but eventually we made the top. It was about half past eight and the sun was still rising but hadn’t yet managed to breach the ridge of the dune. We had birthday Lindt and lemonade at the top looking out across a panorama of huge dunes as far as the eye could see.

Sat astride our dune the best bit of the entire trip so far was about to come, the descent. Three hundred metres at a forty five degree angle, if it had been a rock face we’d have been crapping our pants. But it was sand and that gave us superhero like abilities to do three metre strides whilst shouting profanities across a 900 year old dead forest. Each foot placement meant losing the bottom half of our leg into the sand before trying to pull it out quickly enough to be ready for the next landing. Needless to say tired legs meant there was a huge wipe out towards the end; insufficient training taking its toll. With the adrenaline still pumping we strolled back to the car to head back for a swim.

Now we’re not ‘petrol heads’ by any means, I’m not sure we can even claim to be modestly mechanically minded even though we have tools, keen minds and two manuals. But over time we’ve bonded with old Redders. There have been a few ups and downs so far and we do seem to find ourselves touching wood an awful lot; but as we rounded the corner there was a sight that made our eyes light up. Redvers had been meandering through the deep sand like a childs’ toy driven across his sand pit. Without fear or hesitation, doing what comes naturally, but there in front of us was a white machine parked at an awkward angle, with its front wheels entrenched deep in the Namib sands. I grinned as my eyes caught the glint of sunshine rising from those three silver ellipses that form an encircled ‘T.’ The word ‘Hilux’ shone like a distress flare on a moonless night in the mid Atlantic as plumes of sand shot up from between the little mans legs as he hurriedly burrowed beneath the front wheel like a small terrier looking for his bone. A wife and kids stood by the side of the car looking on in dismay at their alpha male reduced to this humbling task of averting failure. We pulled alongside him, carefully avoiding using our brakes so as not to dig ourselves in, Redvers knew what to do. I climbed out making sure that our man was aware that we were in a Land Rover and I politely asked could I help pull him out. (The glint of the badge now equalled only by the glint in my eye as I tried desperately to keep a grin, far wider than that of a Cheshire cats’, behind my teeth.) He told me through tensely gritted teeth and a moist brow that he was fine and could get himself out. I felt sorry for the poor guy, he looked quite flustered to be honest but he’d made his choice. We climbed back aboard Redvers and slipped him into low range. I then proceeded to reverse him for a little bit in a blatant display of show boating before trundling off back to camp for a little swim. Toyota drivers are world class.

Posted by ibeamish 14:52 Archived in Namibia

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