Saturday, April 28, 2012

Half Bach

Hello Friends - well, I'm bach from Cape Town but tomorrow I'm heading to my home in the North for a month.

I haven't had time to edit the thousands of pictures I took but here are a quick selection:

A Lego-type man built with empty Coca Cola crates at the Waterfront in the City - the ever stunning Table Mountain in the background.

The view from my seventh-storey hotel room overlooking the Waterfront, the infamous Robben Island in the background to the left of the wheel.

I usually stay with relatives and it felt quite strange sleeping so high up in the sky - kind of reminded me of the Cave I mentioned in my 'Six Stoned Sisters' post.

After I'd had my camera cleaned and repaired I bought a whole-day ticket on the open-topped City Tours Buses and spent about six hours being a Paparazzi Tourist

A view up one city street - many Cape Town roads are very narrow and I was left with a feeling of admiration for the bus drivers who navigate these streets for ten hours a day.

I saw quite a few Dreadlocked guys travelling the streets on Skateboards, zipping in and out of the traffic.

A view of the City from the Cable station on the side of Table Mountain - there were hordes of tourists waiting to go to the top of the mountain so I just wandered around a bit before catching another bus.

Camps Bay beach - the weather was great and there were quite a few people enjoying the sunshine.

I spent quite a bit of time at the Waterfront, resisting the temptation to spend too much money on things I like but don't really need - I did splurge on two long-sleeved Hemp shirts which should last for a couple of years.

Here a group of Drummers perform for the passing crowd.

Another view at the Waterfront.

After three days I'd had enough and was glad to hit the road North again.

Tomorrow I head home and the half-good news is that I've been given a device which will hopefully boost my Netman signal and allow me to blog from home - so, if it works you'll hear from me again soon, if not, I'll see you at the end of May.

Take care of yourselves hey ... :)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cape Town Here I Come ...

Tomorrow I leave for Cape Town - I don't like cities much and Cape Town is the only one that I can handle for a few days. In fact, I'm quite looking forward to the buzz.

I need to breathe the sea air again and eat as much fresh fish as I can - Mariner's Wharf in Hout Bay will be one place I'll be sure to visit.

Also on my agenda is the Kistenbosch Botanical Gardens, a place I always try to visit whenever I'm in Cape Town ... green, green, green ...

Before I leave though, take a look at these Desert Flowers.

When I arrived in the Desert last month, it rained lightly one night - four days later dozens of these plants suddenly appeared in the otherwise arid landscape.

What I find interesting is that, in some specimens, there are both white and pink flowers on the same plant.

About four days after flowering, all the plants died-back and disappeared. It was also amazing that these were the only plants which reacted to the one-night rainfall ...

When I return from Cape Town I'll only be in the desert for 4 days before leaving for my home - I hope to have good news regarding my internet connection and also to get a post in before I head North ...

Take care friends.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Animal Signs

Some common Road Signs:

Brown Hyena - near Lüderitz.
I've only seen this nocturnal creature once, a fleeting shadow in the moonlight.

Elephants - Caprivi Strip, Northern Namibia - it seems they could only fit the trunk on the sign.

Feral Horses near Aus.

Tortoise - Western Cape, S Africa.

Zebra - Namib-Naukluft National Park

Warthog - these guys are solid and hitting one of them can severely damage a small car or cause death if the driver swerves and loses control.


Penguins - Cape Town, S Africa
There are also other signs here asking motorists to check for Penguins under their cars before driving off.

I was surprised to see this sign because I was not aware that there are Giraffe in the Namib-Naukluft National Park - I haven't seen any there though.

This buck has been responsible for many a
ccidents and deaths on Namibian roads.



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Southeast Namibia: Gabis

The following are images from the my exploration of southeast Namibia last year.

After leaving Karasburg we headed South again and after about 20km came upon the Catholic Mission at Gabis - there is no 'town' here, only the Mission buildings and a few dozen homes scattered around the area.

This remote Mission is situated on the usually dry Hom River.

I couldn't find much info on Gabis on-line but according to The Oblate Sisters of St Francis de Sales it appears that it was once a farm and the Mission itself was established in 1907, a year after the Nama - German war ended.

In 1904 the Herero and Nama people went to war against German Colonial occupation - this war resulted in the first Genocide of the 20th century, when the Herero and Nama people were virtually exterminated.

Another source states that "On June, 21th 1906, Gabis, west of Warmbad, is attacked by !Gami-#nun Leader Johannes Christian"

Close to the Mission, besides a long-dead tree, are the graves of two German soldiers who fell during this attack.

Born in the same year, they died on the same day, far from home.

A 'shrine' to the Virgin Mary - a distinctly Roman Catholic symbol - outside the old Farmhouse which, it appears, has now been converted into a Guest-house.

A grave marker in the small cemetery close to the Mission.

Another grave in the cemetery, the marker cut out of sheet-metal shaped like a map of Namibia and painted in the colours of the Namibian Flag.

At the Mission a group of kids came running up to the car and started fooling around for the camera - unfortunately all these pics were under-exposed.

The kids said that they were part of the soccer team, hence the matching t-shirts.

We drove about 16 km along the gravel track running parallel to the Hom river.

There were a number of homesteads along the river and what struck me most was the absence of litter.

The occupants are obviously dirt-poor but take pride in their homes - a stark contrast to the rubbish which surrounds many settlements in Namibia.

Home Sweet Home.

A rickety shelter in the middle of nowhere - what I couldn't understand is why the owner built it out in the open, under the blazing sun, when there were ample large shady trees around, closer to the river.

It's scenes like this that cause me to question my perceptions of reality - two kids, also in the middle of nowhere, happily driving their home-made cars.

Would these kids be Happier lolling in front of a computer, surfing the Net? - my guess is that they aren't even aware of the existence of the WWW.

I understand that information is access to knowledge and personal liberation but, on the other hand, to take this lifestyle away from these kids and immerse them in technology seems somehow obscene.

Does Knowledge bring happiness?

It also makes me think that wealth does not equal happiness and poverty does not equal misery.


Related Posts:
Southeast Namibia: Warmbad Pt 1
Southeast Namibia: Warmbad Pt 2
Southeast Namibia: Karasburg & More Poverty


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Kolmanskop - Diamonds Aren't Forever

Kolmannskuppe is a Ghost Town in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port of Lüderitz.

It was a small mining village and is now a popular tourist destination run by the diamond-mining company NAMDEB.

The town was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement - Kolmannskuppe in German and, the generally used name, Kolmanskop, in Afrikaans.

The town developed after the discovery of diamonds in the area in 1908 - which led to a "Diamond Rush".

The rush lead to the establishment of a busy little German-style village, served by a general dealer, butchery, bakery, furniture factory, soda-water and lemonade plant, daily ice and milk deliveries, 4 skittle alleys, a public playground and swimming pool, a grand community centre complex complete with a theatre and an orchestra that played at tea dances, until well after the sun had set.

The discovery of diamonds saw the amazing sight of lines of men, crawling through the desert by the light of a full moon, sifting the sand beneath them for diamonds.

Subsequently, the German authorities declared the land 'forbidden territory' or Sperrgebiet, awarding the Deutsche Diamanten Gesellschaft (DDG) the sole prospecting rights.

The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954.

The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand.

Kolmanskop is popular with photographers for images of the desert sands reclaiming this once-thriving town - it has also been used as a set for movies and TV series.

The Bookkeeper's house - a most important job when Kolmanskop was producing millions of Deutchmarks worth of diamonds.

The top officials lived in grand style and, it seems, life was pretty good for all, except probably the labourers.

An old Bathtub makes an escape on a sea of sand in front of The Teacher's house.

There's no stopping the sand, slowly but surely it prevails.

One of the crumbling houses with a view over the Desert.

A garage close to the Mine Manager's house - I wonder what grand old Auto it once housed - now it shelters only sand.

Exposed bricks where the abrasive wind has worn away the plaster.

The Mine Manager's house.

In 1980, a number of buildings were restored and more followed with the advent of Namibia as a premier tourist destination.

More pics in my Picasa Album

Related Post: Colonial Architecture Of Lüderitz




Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shapes On Sand

Someone once told me about the interesting aspects of Snail Shells in the desert but sadly, I wasn't paying attention - something to do with the thickness of the shell ...

Stick on sand.

Baboon hand-print on dried mud near the Orange River.

Stick in riverbed - the whitish tinge to the sand is caused by abundant chemical salts, sometimes forming large patches of white crystals.

Bushman's Candle - when this plant dies it leaves behind a waxy skeleton which burns like a candle when lit.

I don't know if it was used by the San people but the name implies that it was.

Dead in it's tracks - the ghostly skeleton of a Millipede.

Kilroy was here - A beer can lies where it fell after having been shot, probably quite a few years ago.

The sun-bleached skeleton of a beetle.

Alive, these normally black creatures scurry around the desert - they make me think of Volkswagens.

When it rains these grass patches sprout green and mature quickly to spread their seed.

Another type of desert Snail shell.