This blue marble

– and yet it spins

Namibia on wheels

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caretoshaThe Etosha campsites are busy villages: busloads of campers dine and sleep in tents and make incredible noise both late at night as well as at dawn. I had never seen so many cars so close to each other at a campsite where people usually seek privacy. No such concept at Etosha Halali Camp, which is not even the busiest campsite.

The road to and from Etosha is long and straight and busy (and paved!!). Fortunately none of the warthogs and guinea fowls scattered around the banksides made an attempt to cross. Overtaking was tough enough on a narrow, shoulderless, single-lane road, at 120 km/hour. In most other countries this would have been considered dangerous, but in Namibia it is standard practice.

I drove our Land Cruiser most of the 5-hour-drive to Etosha, and back down to Windhoek. It was a struggle to keep the car on the road due to the wind which kept pushing us into the ditch the moment I let my full attention go. The Land Cruiser was a fabulous thing on bad roads and off-roads, but it did not do well on a tar road at 100+ km/hour. The huge, profiled, broad tires were almost impossible to keep in a straight line, and even without wind the car needed constant correction. Overtaking was not really practical in 5th gear and nearly impossible uphill. The poor car would not even make it up the hill in 5th gear at any speed lower than 100 km/h. The gear box was like that of a cargo truck, and I would often end up in 4th gear when aiming for 2nd gear. Getting the car in reverse required two hands and often a few tries, in-between which the car made sounds like it was being tortured miserably.

The indicator light was on the right and the windshield wipers to the left, which meant that if I was not consciously paying attention I turned on the windshield wipers when making a turn. The handbrake was difficult to release, as it often appeared released but got stuck and frightened us with the warning sound when I tried to drive off.

In general, everything linked to driving was on the wrong side, as in Namibia everybody drives on the wrong side of the road. And so I often tried to not only indicate my turns with the windshield wipers, but also tried to shift gears with my right hand, groping empty air or the door of the car. Thank goodness that the clutch, brake, and gas pedal were the right way around. Otherwise I would have been a hazard on wheels. etosha-1(Etosha, Namibia; July 2017)

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