Archive for May, 2010

Awrf! Awrf!

After three days in Swakopmund, we were back on the dusty road headed north towards Cape Cross. Cape Cross is home to a colony of cape fur seals that live there year round. We pulled up in the truck, and before we’d even disembarked you could hear them in the distance. It’s hard to describe with any justice the sounds coming from the beach; there was a mix of barking, braying, screaming, bleating, mooing, coughing, and wailing. It was simultaneously offensive and hilarious. The next thing that hit us was the smell. As we got closer to the beach, a heavy, sticky odor started to wrap itself around us, as if we could feel it embedding itself in our clothing. We pressed on, and as we walked out onto the viewing walkway we caught our breaths, and not because of the smell. In front of us, and as far as the eye could see in either direction, were seals. Hundreds of them. Thousands, in fact. They were everywhere: in the water, on the rocks, rolling in the sand, sleeping on top of each other, arguing over territory, looking for their young, and keeping a wary eye on us. We found out that this colony is usually between 80,000-100,000 seals, and to be in their presence, it was no stretch at all to believe it. I may have even guessed a higher number had I been put to it. It was astonishing.

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air time

Yesterday morning we piled into vans and drove out of Swakopmund and into the dunes. It was time to try some sandboarding! There were about 12 people from our truck that went, half of whom did stand-up boarding (on snowboards) and half of whom did lie-down boarding (on thin pieces of plywood). The snowboards were slightly modified for sand: the base was covered over with a slippery, more durable material, and they required a quick polish with wax after every run to keep them fast and smooth. The downside of sandboarding is that there is no chairlift, so you have to walk up the dunes after each run. The upside of sandboarding is that it’s AWESOME!

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Gemsbok in the wild

After leaving the wineries of South Africa behind us, we crossed the border into Namibia and began to put some serious mileage behind us. On our first night in Namibia we were introduced to bush camping, which is something we’re going to be doing a lot of. Basically, the truck drives all day until the sun is dropping towards the horizon, and then finds a convenient spot off a side road to pull over and set up camp in the desert. We’ve bush camped three times so far, and they have all been in the most incredible settings, with bright moonlit nights. We’ve started to do yoga together regularly, and I have a hard time imagining a more peaceful setting: at our last bush camp, we did yoga in the middle of a vast desert landscape, while Barbara-Jeanne played music for us on her ukelele. The sun was setting in front of us, while the moon was rising huge and red behind us, and a distant lighting storm played along the horizon and the stars began to come out above us. Not bad at all.

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View from Table Mountain

After spending nearly a week in Cape Town, we’re finally on the open road, headed north over the great continent of Africa. Cape Town itself was great; the city is beautiful, and the setting is stunning. The part of the city that we stayed in is nestled between Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. Table Mountain is so flat on top that it looks like the upper half of the mountain was simply sliced off and discarded. We rode the cable car to the top, and despite fierce winds and bitter cold, we enjoyed spectacular views off both sides of the mountain.

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Meet the truck

Life on board

Over the next 15 weeks we’ll get to know our fellow passengers intimately. We’ll be traveling together, cooking together, sleeping together, and even peeing together. There are 21 of us in total, plus Andi, our fearless leader, and Grant, our capable driver who built the truck with his very hands. So far everyone seems to be getting along just fine. As personalities start to reveal themselves, things could get interesting…

We’ll maintain the blog as best as we can whilst traveling Africa. So far, Internet is intermittent and slow, but we’ll do our best to document the journey for our own continued benefit and for the benefit of our new best friends.

In no particular order, allow me to introduce the Cape Town to Cairo 2010 truck:

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