Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scenes From Namibia's Southern Desert


Unusual heavy rains near L├╝deritz - about four years ago.

Dicke Wilhelm - German heliograph station during the early 1900's

Sunrise kisses on a mountaintop - I travel this road quite often.

You have to see this in the flesh to appreciate the true colours ...

A few scenes from The Namibia's not-so-famous southern desert.

I'm not skilled enough to capture the essence of the landscapes - thinking about it, no-one can really 'capture' it - it's a subjective experience - some may feel fear, others may feel free - photos can only whet your appetite ...


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tarzan Of The Apes

Tarzan was one of my childhood fantasy-heroes - Zorro was another.

Ah, the hours spent playing in the massive mulberry tree, rescuing my latest crush from villains, for which she'd be eternally grateful ...

Did you have heroes, or was it only me with an overactive imagination?

Apologies for this lame post, I'm down with flu and my energy levels are low - first time it's hit me in many years ...

More Tarzan and other comic book covers here.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Quiver Trees And Dolerite Dykes

A few pics of Aloe dichotoma trees in Dolerite dykes taken during my last stopover at Garas Park.

Related Posts:

Quiver Trees - Aloe dichotoma

Dolerite Dykes


Friday, August 20, 2010

Work In Progress

A few pics to show what I was doing the last two months off-line:

As explained in an earlier post, a free-standing roof was first erected over the old farmhouse. The new house was then built around the old one and the inner walls were knocked down or modified as I completed each section.

The pic above shows the S-East corner with the last piece of the old farmhouse still standing, exposed.

My first task was to complete the inner-shell of an en suite shower/toilet - the roundish structure to the left in the pics.

I still haven't decided how to do the roof of this bathroom; a corrugated sheet roof is simplest but will look ugly; a thatch roof would be ideal but expensive.

Perhaps I'll do an elaborate dome if there are enough rocks left-over after finishing the walls.

After the wall of the old house was broken down I built the inner wall for the new room with brick and installed a larger window frame.

For strategic reasons the old roof inside has been left intact until I've finished the outer wall and am ready to plaster the inside walls and install a new ceiling.

You can see how low the old ceiling was and how much more spacious and light the new room will be.

After the inner wall was done, I started building the new outer wall with rock. Slate is used on the insides around the window frame.

When I started building, my intention was to only build a rock fireplace on the N-east corner but, after discovering a nearby source of beautiful stones, I decided to do the whole house with them.

There are no architectural plans or drawings - everything is in my head and I get new ideas and adapt as I go along. Looking back at my earliest work, there are some things I would do differently today.

It's sometimes physically-demanding and I'm glad the heavy work is almost finished - it's taken me more than 10 years to get this far.

There's still a lot of work to be done inside; plastering, ceilings, bathroom and kitchen fittings etc. - the expensive stuff.

Each of the four corners of the house has a different feature.

The pole attached to the roof is my telephone antennae - my useless internet connection.

In order to be more self-sufficient, I intend using solar water heaters for the bathrooms and kitchen - there's no shortage of sunshine here.

... and this is as far as I got. The final grouting between the rocks must still be done but that can wait awhile. In October I hope to finish all the outer rock walls.

So what do you think, how should I do the bathroom roof?

Related Posts:

OneStonedCrow's Stoned House

Pics To Illustrate How I'm Building With Rock


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Friend The Witch Doctor

I know nothing about the life of my Maternal Grandmother before I was born. I remember her as a cheerful, kindly woman who had great affection for me because I was her first grandchild.

Recently, my mother shared a 'secret' about my Gran which surprised me.

According to my Mom, in the early seventies when I was caught-up in the whole sex, drugs and rock 'n roll thing, my Grandmother had consulted a Witch Doctor who had given her 'muti' which she sprinkled in my food one night.

The potion was supposed to protect me from my friends and other 'bad' influences.

Can you imagine that? This was at the height of Apartheid South Africa, where inter-racial contact was discouraged and regulated by Law ... she was so concerned about the path I was walking that she had flouted the convention of the day and sought the assistance of a shaman.

Growing up, religion was never an issue in my family. Apart from a few half-hearted attempts by my folks to get us kids to show our faces in church occasionally, the subject was never discussed - everyone just assumed that everyone else was 'Christian' and believed in Jesus.

So where then, was my Granny at? What were her beliefs? It goes to show how little we know about what goes on in the heads of those closest to us.

This may sound strange but, even before my Mom told me the story, I've often felt the 'presence' of my Gran, watching over me ...

Did the witch doctor's potion work? Hard to say but I don't have contact with 'friends' from that period, have few friends today and have generally managed to stay out of trouble throughout my life.

I can't help wondering though, exactly WHAT was in the witch doctor's concoction?

My friend the witch doctor
He taught me what to say
My friend the witch doctor
He taught me what to do
I know that you'll be mine
When I say this to you

Ooo eee,ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla, bing bang
Ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang
Walla walla bing bang...

Image Credit: SA Tours and Travel


Sunday, August 15, 2010

ET Phone Home

This is probably one of the most surreal structures I've seen. I pass it often on my trips between north and south Namibia.

It stands near a farmhouse on the Aus - Helmeringhausen road. In this image you can just make it out on the bend in the road ... on the edge of a 40km stretch of desolate desert flatness.The whole setting is so weird, it could be from a Mad Max movie.

It's fairly old and looks like it supports two water tanks.

The wires on top? Well, that looks like an antennae of sorts but for what purpose?

I like to imagine that the farm owner is a UFO freak hoping to make contact with ETs - I've often been tempted to stop and ask what it is but the truth would probably ruin my fantasy - there's probably a simple explanation ... any bright ideas?


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Charged by an Elephant? - Been there, done that ...

Two weeks ago, I visited my buddy Stretch Moonman. He's a Snake Whisperer and Enviro Expert at a major Game Lodge bordering the Etosha National Park. We took a day-trip into the Park. Stretch was driving so that I could take pics.

We spoke about the problems I was still having with the Corolla - it was difficult to start and the engine would cut out sometimes when idling- a problem with the carburettor. Stretch remarked that he hoped we wouldn't be charged by an elephant and I said I didn't know of any such incidents. He replied that some time ago, an elephant had overturned a small car and showed me the spot where it had happened.

Strangely, for this time of the year, there was not much game to be seen, so we drove around and at midday arrived at Tsumcor, a man-made waterhole, where a small herd of Elephant was drinking and bathing.

All seemed quiet and calm but there was a tension in the air.

Suddenly a Tour Guide and her two Guests, pulled up to the waterhole in a Minibus. The vehicle had an irritatingly loud, high-pitched air-conditioner which immediately startled the animals and set them milling about.

Even after she turned the engine off the Elephants were still upset and started to move off quickly on a path just to the side and ahead of where we were parked. As they passed, a few of them moved toward the car, displaying; shaking their heads, flapping ears,trunks swaying and extended and performing a front-legged, two-step war-dance.

Most just passed by, but this one advanced towards us and for a moment it looked as if he was going to charge the car ... after what seemed like ages, he moved on and the whole herd melted away into the bush.

Stretch and I celebrated our little adrenalin rush as peace returned to the waterhole. Other animals came and went but there was still a strange tension in the air, the Giraffe were stiff-necked, alert and all staring in one direction. Stretch said there might be Lion close by.

The Minibus started-up again as the driver moved it to a better viewing position, immediately freaking-out every animal in sight.

The waterhole became quiet again. Stretch awkwardly climbed over onto the back seat to stretch his six-foot-six-long legs and we relaxed, chatting and enjoying the moment.

After about twenty minutes, more Elephant approached from the bush. The herd was tense and aggressive and one Cow immediately chased a sickly Vulture who had been resting nearby. The rest of the herd was drinking and the youngsters frolicked in the water but, all were on edge and nervous.

The tension increased when one of the smaller babies fell into the water-trough and couldn't get out. The mother trumpeted in panic, which sent the whole herd into a frenzy. I managed to get a shot of the mother helping it out using her trunk and pushing it from behind with her leg. Unbelievably, immediately the babe was on dry ground, it turned and plunged straight into the water again, setting off a new wave of panic among the herd.

After the baby had been rescued for a second time the agitated animals started moving toward us on their exit-path, which was in front of where we were parked.

At the approach of the Elephants, Ms Noisy Aircon started her car again and fled down the road with her guests, leaving us isolated and facing a herd of enraged beasts. Her action had inflamed the herd to boiling-point.

As they came toward and passed us, many of the adults displayed and mock-charged the car, making it clear that our presence there was unwelcome.

Stretch was still stuck in the back seat as we calmly rode the storm. I sat in the front passenger seat, hiding behind my camera, taking almost 300 pics of the whole adventure.

Escape was difficult and dangerous because there were two other vehicles parked about 40 meters behind us, blocking the road if we reversed. There was also the matter of my faulty car - would it start first go? ... if not, we could be in big trouble ...

Most of the herd passed by and stopped to have a sand bath a few meters away. We were just beginning to feel that we were out of danger when one of the stragglers, a cow who had passed us with a particularly aggressive display, turned around and slowly made her way back in our direction, eyeballing us all the time.

She moved towards a tree about 10 meters away and began nonchalantly plucking leaves. Stretch became instantly alarmed and warned that he didn't trust her; she was brewing something.

Hardly had he spoken when she was on top of us, filling-up my camera lens. She stopped short of hitting the car but it was clear that she was very angry as she ran around and approached from the front.

She charged the car a few times, ears flapping and ratcheting up the intensity level with each lunge, stopping just inches short every time. She wanted us gone and she was going to thump us eventually. I was still taking pics and from the angle of this shot I must have been trying to disappear under the dashboard at this stage.

Stretch said calmly behind me that it was time to move. I don't know how I levitated my long legs over the central console and gear lever and got them under the steering wheel but, in my next awareness, I was in the driver's seat shifting the gear into reverse, my other hand on the ignition.

This was our Moment Of Truth - if the car didn't start or faltered we were going to be hammered big-time, no doubt about it.

The engine sprang to life and, keeping my eye on the enraged beast still prancing in front of us, I kept the revs as low as possible as I reversed slowly backwards for about 30 meters until Stretch warned that I was heading into some rocks. Thankfully, the elephant seemed satisfied with our retreat and didn't follow. She pounded and scraped the ground in triumph.

The two other vehicles at the scene had fled as soon as we started reversing (I hope they got some good pics) and, it was at this stage that I realized that my heart was beating furiously in my chest, pumping pure adrenalin.

We breathed again but the drama wasn't over yet, a large cow was bearing down on us from the side, ears wide with bad intent ...

It was then that I decided that we'd used up all our luck and I took-off down the road - slowly - (in order to maintain SOME semblance of dignity) - my last impression of the scene was through the rear-view mirror; a massive hunk of flesh filled the road, watching us depart.

The Elephants had prevailed, the humans were in retreat.

In retrospect, I can't fault Ms Noisy-pants for making the welfare of her clients her first priority but I must admit that, as I was leaving the Game Lodge the next morning, I saw and directed a few bad vibes at her ... surely she must have been aware of the effect her vehicle was having on the animals and that she was placing us in danger.

For Stretch and myself it was an awesome adventure shared between friends. We'd handled it pretty well. Even though there were moments of heart-stopping tension, neither of us had succumbed to fear or panicked - we'd been on the Edge and had escaped unscathed.

For me though, the greatest satisfaction from the whole experience is that, for more than an hour, we were not just observers of an age-old drama, we were participants.

I've uploaded more pics of the whole sequence to a folder Angry Elephant in my Picasa Album ... you can view it as a slide-show there.

Related Post: Etosha Elephants


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fixing A Hole

Well, I'm enjoying having a fast internet connection again. So much so that I'm pigging-out on it slightly and neglecting other things, like editing my photos and composing decent blog posts.

I haven't posted any music vids for awhile so this one's an easy way out; It's a song I've had playing in my head almost daily for the past two months while I've been building.

It's usually a pain when you have a tune running through your mind and you can't get it out but, I've enjoyed this one - I don't know why, because it's not among my favorite Beatles numbers and I can't figure out any associations.

Thank goodness it wasn't something lame like "Achey Breaky Heart" which is probably the most irritating song I've ever heard ...

So, step into my mind for a few minutes and enjoy the music:

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
and stops my mind from wandering
where it will go
I'm filling the cracks that ran though the door
and kept my mind from wandering
where it will go

And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong
I'm right where I belong
I'm right where I belong
See the people standing there
who disagree and never win
and wonder why they don't get in my door

I'm painting my room in a colorful way,
and when my mind is wandering
there I will go

And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong
I'm right where I belong
I'm right where I belong
Silly people run around
they worry me and never ask me
why they don't get past my door

I'm taking my time for a number of things
that weren't important yesterday
and I still go

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
and stops my mind from wandering
where it will go
where it will go
I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
and stops my mind from wandering
where it will go

Edit: Damn! ... I shouldn't have mentioned that other stupid song ... grrr - hope I haven't infected you with it ...


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Flowerpot Car

It's amazing what you see when you have a camera in your hand and you're looking for images to capture - I must have passed this old pick-up more than a dozen times before I noticed it. It stands slightly off the road and, together with the metal figurines, is used as signpost at the entrance to a farm.

Can you guess what make of vehicle it is?

Yup, you were right, it's an old:

... I have no idea in what year it was made though ...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bach In Spayce

Image Credit: Unknown

Hey Friends,

Well, I've finally made it back to cyberworld after a tough two months in the North.

I managed to do a big chunk of building - I'll post a few pics soon to show you where I'm at.

It wasn't all work though and last week I visited the Etosha pans and had a hair-raising encounter with a herd of Elephant (yes, I got pics).

Jeepers, I don't know if it's just age but, every time I'm off-line for a while, I have to re-learn so many things.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to catching-up on your blogs and having a bit of interaction with you.