Some days like today just seem like play days, when everything is fun from the morning the whole day through. I love them and wish every day could be enjoyed so thoroughly.
This day started with moonset; a big red moon setting into the Spitzkoppe mountains as the sun rose. I threw on clothes (the same ones as yesterday), found my tent which had blown away onto the rocks, grabbed my cameras and made my way to the rock arch to wait for the first sunrays to hit the granite peaks and transform them into gold. And so it did … magnificently.
Spending some time exploring, I started to make my way back along the rutted road, stopping to take photographs of the crystal sellers along the route (and giving away all my fresh food). I travelled at snail pace and then made up for it 30km later when I reached the tar. Then, it was time for music and a more rapid pace. I had the Saturday morning market along the Swakop River as my destination to (hopefully) buy some fresh Swakop asparagus. I made it with only moments to spare. Some produce like olives and asparagus grows really well with the brackish water, and Shalom Farm also sells an assortment of their freshly-picked vegetables – a real boon in this arid country. So, with asparagus, olives, rocket and red peppers in hand, I sat down happily and hungrily under the palms to enjoy a sandwich and coffee.
The timing was perfect. I drove into the mist bank hovering over the town (brrrrrrr!) in time to put up my tent and still make feeding time at the aquarium. Although I am against keeping animals in captivity, I couldn’t help smiling and laughing with the rest of the visitors. The small aquarium has been closed for renovations for several years and has reopened with new features such as a fishpond scene projected onto the floor, touch screens for children and the main tank featuring a tunnel that enables you to walk below the sharks and fish. With the affordable prices, everyone can visit – and does, and I’ve never seen such a happy get-together before in Swakop. The good mood was catchy.
And there was still time for more – to walk to the end of the jetty. The beauty of Swakopmund is that you can park your car (if you are staying near the centre) and walk. Quickly. Brrrrr. Having visited periodically over the years, I now understand that in the Namib Desert, where rain is minimal – if it falls at all, the mist is the life-giving force on which animals and plants depend. So, although at times I think I am part reptilian and need to soak up the sun like a big ol’ lizard or bend to the sun like a plant, I make allowances and don my winter gear. The mist is life, after all, out here in the desert.
Ron Swilling is a freelance writer, based in Cape Town, writing for Namibian and South African publications. She is a regular contributor to Gondwana’s History and Stamps&Stories columns and documented the information on the Wild Horses in the Namib Desert for Mannfred Goldbeck and Telané Greyling. She invites you to ‘Follow her footsteps’ on her journey from the Orange River, exploring the Gondwana routes through the intriguing country of Namibia.