East winds are here again, blowing from the desert for a few days. In Walvis Bay we probably have 27 degrees Celsius on land, and we can feel the hot desert winds out at sea and witness the sand storm behind the dunes. The dunes have obtained a black rind that indicates a shadow: the wind has blown the edge of the dune over toward the sea.
A weekend off means exploring the desert. This time with just a clumsy 2WD Volkswagen, but it does fit all 6 of us. The road between Walvis Bay and Windhoek, toward the junction of Solitaire, is terrible. From the junction onward it is dreadful. No paving but a sand road through the Namib desert, with ridges and bumps so my teeth shake in my mouth. There is a mountainous area with a few narrow passes, and otherwise there is sand on the road, enough for some proper swerving of any type of car.
After the highlands come grassy plains. Everything is yellow and dry after December rains (the first in 4 years). Still, the plains are inhabited by hardy animals: zebra, springbok, oryx, wildebeest. The oryx can apparently live on the tiny amount of water in desert plants, and only need to top up with drinking water every few weeks.
It is a strange experience to drive in the desert. There are signs to lodges, but nowhere does one pull up into a nice lookout spot with the buildings hiding in the shadow of trees. Simply, someone staked a plot of land and decided to put up a number of houses in the sand. A road sign, and voilá: done.
Before cars there was no living in the desert. People only crossed the desert because they really needed to, even with risking their lives factored in. Today, one can experience a night in the desert by entering from one side and exiting through the gift shop the next morning. (Namib desert, Namibia; July 2017)