Saturday, April 16, 2011

Walking My Wheel

Hey Friends,

From tomorrow I'll be off-line for three weeks - My eldest daughter, Megan, is coming back to Nam from London for a visit, I haven't seen her for two years.

I need to take Spirit to the Vet too, he's been wandering around with Mutt and disappeared for 5 days.

In the meantime, a few random pics that didn't make it into a post:

A resident Scorpion which I accidentally disturbed the last time I was home.

A large copper mural on the restaurant wall at the Hardap Dam - it depicts an African Fish Eagle taking it's prey.

Making a living in Lüderitz.

Street Art in Capetown

I ran inside to fetch my camera to photograph this 8cm long Centipede, I took one pic and my camera battery died. I ran inside again to replace it, took one pic and my CF card was full - I ran inside again to replace that and when I returned the creature was gone ... :) ... lovely colors hey?

An abandoned house in the desert - imagine living under those forbidding hills.

I loved the black-red contrast and the rock planted in the tire.

So, like this guy taking his wheel for a walk - I'm out of here ...

... before I go though, here's a song for you - it's a song I just love dancing to - dance with me:

Take care of yourselves my Friends.

I'll be Bach ...


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Hills of Namibia Revisited

In 2009 I posted this pic of a derelict building. I had snapped it from a moving car on the desert road between Aus and Lüderitz.

It was one of hundreds of photos I had taken that day and I didn't know exactly where it was located on the road.

On my recent trip to the coast I was looking out for it because my Friend and fellow blogger, Aurora, had incorporated the building into one of her paintings:

Monica named her work 'Hills of Namibia'.

I love the image - the house in the distance through the window - and, I was intrigued by the Crow and Red Onion on the window sill.

Because I'm not a 'food' person and I don't cook, I couldn't recall ever having seen a Red Onion - well, I've now discovered that they do exist and I've even seen and eaten some.

Anyway, I was determined to find this building again ... and I did:

To my great surprise it was at Garub - the place of the Wild Desert Horses featured in a recent post.

The derelict building stands next to the railway line running between Aus and Lüderitz.

It's a short distance from the bore hole which now provides drinking water for the Desert Horses.

In the past, Garub was a watering point for Locomotives.

No trains pass here now - the track near Lüderitz was covered by the shifting sand dunes and fell into disrepair.

Recently, work was started on the rehabilitation of the line but has come to a standstill - funding for the project has dried-up.

In the early 1900s the building had obviously been Home to the person who maintained the water pump and replenished the Locos.

He surely was an unusual character who voluntarily exiled himself to this desolation - there is no other habitation in sight.

I was wondering about the people who had lived here so many years ago when, walking around the building, I found a strange Sign on one wall ...

... 'They' had been here before me ... :)

There is only one other similar derelict building on the 125km stretch of line, Grasplatz, a few kilos from Lüderitz.

It was here that, in 1908, a railway worker found the first Diamond in Namibia. This triggered a diamond-rush and led to the establishment of Kolmanskop which is today, a famous Ghost Town.

Well, in my usual clumsy fashion I managed to mess-up the original 'Hills Of Namibia' post.

Thanks again to Monica for the painting. She is a talented artist - you can view more of her work at InnerLandscapes.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ghosts On The Lüderitz Peninsula

I don't believe in Ghosts but, for this post, let's just pretend I do.

The Lüderitz Peninsula is an eerie place. To the West, the icy Atlantic Ocean, to the East the forbidding Namib desert.

Dull pastel shades predominate and these are even more subdued when the frequent mist rolls in, creating a very strange atmosphere indeed.

There are a few derelict buildings around, like the one above, likely one of the first Lighthouse Keeper's houses at Diaz Point, dating from the early twentieth century.

This house was probably built before 1910 and, my guess is that at one time it was the Lighthouse Keeper's residence.

The lighthouse is automated now and the house is rented-out as a self-service accommodation - I slept two nights here.

As soon as I stepped into the door I felt the Ghosts - of people who in bygone years had lived at this bleak and isolated spot, in a time when transport and communication were very difficult and clumsy.

I didn't feel uncomfortable in my Awareness. I was at peace but the vibe in the house caused me to have a heightened 'sensitivity' for the whole time I was here.

After settling in, I took a walk along the rocky shore and came upon four graves on a beach, just above the tide-line - only one was marked with a headstone.

The inscription in German reads: 'Here Lies The Lighthouse Keeper Theophil Piechaczek, Born 23/4/1873, Drowned 13/5/1905'.

I later discovered that in those times, when the Lighthouse Keeper needed supplies, he was obliged to row across the bay to the town of Lüderitz, a distance of more than 5 km.

Theophil Piechaczek and his assistant had drowned in rough seas upon their return from town that day.

The spooky aura was enhanced by the skeletons of Cape Fur Seals scattered along the shore.

There is a large colony of Seals on a nearby island and it seems that many had come here to die.

I had to remind myself that no massacre had taken place and that the ghosts I was seeing had accumulated over a number of years.

The next morning I climbed the small rocky outcrop on the edge of the ocean, up to the Diaz Cross

It was on this spot in 1488 that the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Diaz, having rounded the Cape Of Good Hope, had erected a stone cross on his homeward journey.

The present cross is a replica but, I was aware of the ghosts of the intrepid seafarers who had passed this way in their flimsy wooden ships more than 500 years ago - what had they thought, how did they feel as they gazed upon this awesome desolation, so far from their homes?

Later, on a drive around the peninsula to visit the numerous bays and fjords, I came upon these two graves on the beach at Knochen Bucht.

Any writing on the wooden crosses has long been erased by the abrasive weather.

Who were these people, how had they died and how did they come to be buried here? Their Ghosts did not answer.

At Wit Muur - White Wall - the magical spot mentioned in an earlier post, The Sea, I found another grave.

There was no writing on the stone and, barring human interference, it will probably still be standing there thousands of years hence.

At Sturmvogel Bucht my heart became heavy for the first time.

I came upon an old Whaling Station with a bleached Whale-skull lashed to a wooden post, bleak testament to the horrific slaughter which had taken place here in years gone by.

American, British and French whalers had hunted Whales to near extinction here early in the last century.

I stood on the causeway where hundreds of thousands of these magnificent creatures' lifeless bodies had been dragged from the sea up to the processing plant, there to be rendered into lamp oil for the hungry European and American market.

Whale numbers have slowly been recovering in recent years but, the damage has been done.

A pet cemetery at Messum Bay - some residents of Lüderitz have buried their beloved pets on the beach.

One grave marker, in German, reads: 'Gypsy Please Come Back' - this plaintive expression of grief caused me to recall how, as a child I had cried for the first time in the face of Death, when my Sausage Dog, Hans, had died.

And then there were my personal Ghosts.

A few days after my 21st birthday in 1972, I had arrived in Lüderitz with my buddy Brian (left in pic) aboard a small wooden Fisheries Research Vessel.

Brian had gone ashore one night and got badly beaten up by some local knuckle-draggers because he had long hair.

I ended up staying in Lüderitz for a year and Brian returned to S Africa - we lost contact shortly afterwards.

There are other Ghosts in Lüderitz but, the horror of their story deserves a separate post.

So, were any of these Ghosts real, or were they just figments of my imagination?

I guess I'll only know for sure if I become a ghost myself ...


Friday, April 8, 2011

Feral Horses Of The Namib Desert

I've traveled the road between Aus and Lüderitz in southern Namibia a number of times and seen the roadsigns warning of the presence of Wild Horses but, I've never seen any of the animals themselves.

On my recent trip to the sea I spotted a lone horse grazing in the distance - I felt lucky, I'd finally seen one of the famed Wild Horses.

In the background is Dicke Wilhelm - Fat Wilhelm - a prominent mountain on the flat landscape, upon which a German Heliograph station was located in the early 1900s.

Garub is a bore-hole and watering trough about 20 kms west of Aus. It was originally established to provide water for locomotives on the nearby, (now unused), railway line.

The water point is situated about 1 kilometer from the main road, with a sheltered spot for visitors to observe the horses.

Three days later, on my return from the sea I was even luckier - scattered in the area around Garub there were about 40 to 50 animals, grazing close to the road and in the distance.

Two Wild Horses stand by a telephone pole.

Modern electronic communication has made this line redundant and I expect the poles will be removed sometime.

A group of horses crossed the road ahead of me.

To the left (north) of the road is the Namib Naukluft Park and to the right is the Sperrgebiet - Forbidden Area - forbidden because of the wealth of Diamonds to be found here. Unauthorized entry into this area can result in arrest and a prison sentence.

Personally, this draconian control of land by a Corporation irritates the anarchist in me but, the upside is that a vast area of land still remains in pristine condition, unspoilt by the presence of Man.

Horses are not indigenous to Namibia and there is much speculation as to the origin of these animals, which have been roaming free in the desert for almost 100 years.

You can find a summary of the various theories here.

The most plausible theory is that a core group was left behind by South African troops in 1915 as they advanced Eastwards against German forces at the outbreak of World War One.

Although some of the animals look a bit scruffy because they are not groomed like domestic horses, they generally seem to be in good condition.

It's estimated that there are about 150 animals roaming the area around Garub - looking at the sparse, poor grazing, it is indeed fascinating how these animals have adapted and survive in this harsh landscape.

Additional links:

Fighting For A Life In Freedom


Wild Horses Of The Namib


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Monkey Through The Looking Glass

Two of the three Vervet Monkeys I take care of are absolutely fascinated by mirrors.

Here Stoffel challenges her reflection - she's been fighting with herself for over 20 years now. Despite the futility of the exercise, if I'm around, she cannot pass a mirror without posturing; raising her eyebrows, approaching her image and chattering in anger.

I have no idea what goes on in her head, I can only speculate that it's her uncontrollable jealousy - she gets insanely uptight if any female, human or other, approaches me

This is Tumbili peering at her reflection in the camera lens - she's cuddling a stuffless stuffed toy.

She has a strong maternal instinct but I can't allow her to mate because that would just perpetuate the 'monkeys in captivity' thing ... Primates should be left in the wild, that's where they belong.

Tumbili using her new porridge bowl as a mirror.

I've given her plastic-framed cosmetic mirrors in the past but she destroys them within a few hours.

She seems to prefer tiny mirror shards, manipulating them to see inside this wonderland which she can't enter - it's too funny to see her turn her back on me, mirror in hand, and watch as I approach with her food.

Lucky shows no interest in mirrors. She is very difficult to photograph - as soon as I point a camera at her she ducks and hides.

She distrusts humans in general and it is only recently that she's begun to approach me and cautiously take her favorite snacks from my hand.

Lucky was found trapped on a barbed-wire fence. She had a dog collar around her waist attached to a short piece of rope which had become entangled in the fence.

She was in terrible condition, her teeth had been knocked out, her mouth deformed and she was full of scars, with a particularly nasty wound around her waist from the dog collar - she had obviously escaped from her tormentors when her restraining rope broke ... hence the name 'Lucky'.

A fur-less monkey takes a photo of his reflection in a window.

This particular specimen generally ignores mirrors but, at times, is obliged to look himself in the eye when he shaves.

A great shot of Stoffel taken by my daughter Nadine. Notice that, because Stoffel only has one arm, she's using her foot to hold the mirror.

Like Tumbili, she spends ages manipulating the mirror to peek into every corner of the 'otherworld' - I wonder who is more entertained? ... her, wondering? ... or me, wondering what she's wondering?

Related Posts:

Soul Sister


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Big Six O - Oh No!

Twenty years ago I was given this mug as a birthday gift. It was a joke, in a funny-ha-ha kind of way - but, I wasn't old then - tomorrow I'll be old.

Tomorrow I turn Sixty.

This pending milestone has been bugging me for months now. I'm not a habitual whinger and I have much to be thankful for but, the inescapable truth is that getting old sucks - my body is slowly shutting down.

All my pointless complaints are trumped though, by an anonymous quote I came upon this week:

'Do not regret growing older - it is a privilege denied to many.'

So, looking to the next twenty years, (I dare not even contemplate that Twilight Zone beyond Eighty), I have many thoughts, many fears.

Personally, my greatest fear is of losing my mind to a disease like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's because, without my identity I am nothing.

I feel afraid for the future of the Human Race - we are unable to rise above our barbaric nature. The Earth is groaning under the sheer weight of our numbers, we are reaching a critical mass.

Conventional wisdom says that I should try to 'grow old gracefully' - I don't know what that means but it sounds kind of lame. What is the alternative? To go down kicking and screaming? - Hopefully I can find a balance between the two.

'The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are' - Anon.

In my youth, when I had the energy and should have been an activist, I was too self-absorbed to care about wider society; to rage against injustice or change the world.

Today, I have no need to 'find myself', I never was 'lost' - my vision is broader and what I see is making me an Angry Old Man - I'm angry at the way our world is driven by human greed in all it's forms and Man's Inhumanity Toward Man.

Heaven forbid though, that I should become a Grumpy Old Man - I think that a sense of humor and of the absurd is probably critical in maintaining a healthy balance.

And the seasons they go 'round and 'round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and 'round and 'round
In the circle game
And go 'round and 'round and 'round in the circle game.

We can't return and I don't wish to.

Going forward, I have people who care about me and I enjoy good health - I need nothing else on my journey.

I'm alive - Now - sharing this moment in time with You, my Friends. I breath and I am acutely aware of the wonder of Creation, of Existence ...

I am Blessed.