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March 23rd, 2010 | Africa

Keetmanshoop to Windhoek…

After refueling yesterday, finding that due to the slower speeds I had ridden at, I had achieved more than 20 km/litre…! Refueling at the border had not been necessary after all… I had ridden over 250 kms on gravel roads, and had decided to call it a draw… I had tested myself and the bike, making it back onto tar without falling off, and that was good enough for me… As to the state of my nervous system after yesterday…? Let’s just say that we are in recovery mode…!!

I had a few good laughs with the guys at the Total service station… When I pulled up and hopped off the bike, they came up to see what we were all about…

“BMW..” said one of them…

“Ja… !” said another.. “It stands for Bring My Wallet…!”

“Nay, man…” said yet another, “It’s Bob Marley’s Wagon…!!”

Then the first one again, “Or… Bury Me Wednesday…!!”…

This went on for some time, and when I left, there was much back-slapping and hand shaking… Funny guys…!!

Bernice's Beds, the B&B in Keetmanshoop, where I paused to recuperate...

The Bakkie Brigade were in town...

I booked into “Bernice’s Beds”, a neat and comfortable B&B, with secure parking, air-conditioned rooms, a fridge, and a Jack Russell who will run off with your socks if given half a chance ! I managed to retrieve mine just as he was heading out of the door and into the garden…

I got the kit off the bike, washed the dust off my pants and jacket by taking them into the shower with me, and then settled down for some navel contemplation, otherwise known as Egyptian P.T. ….

I have entered Namibia at an auspicious time… Today is Independence Day, and they are celebrating their 20th year of independence from South Africa. It is hard to believe that I was part of the system that fought to “defend the integrity of South West Africa” (as it was then known), and it had been almost 30 years since I did my stint on its northern border with Angola… Time flies…

Over a tasty breakfast the next morning, Christi and Stef Coetzee, owners of the B&B, mentioned that  their family had a farm far south of the B4 road to Luderitz, and her son Francois, later explained how despite the fact that the farm was over 21 000 hectares in extent, it could only support a total of 2000 Boerbokke and Karakul Sheep…  This, if anything, describes what an unforgiving and hard land this is…

Later that afternoon, there was a knock at my door, and there stood Francois…

“Jy kannie so op  ‘n Sondag middag alleen sit, sonder ‘n bord kos….”  (You can’t sit here alone on Sunday afternoon, without a plate of food…!!”) This was typical country hospitality at it’s best, and while I tucked into a great home cooked meal of Schnitzel and vegetables, Francois and I sat chatting about life on the farm… The Boerbokke (a hardy breed of goat) are exported to South Africa, where they are much sought after by members of the Moslem faith, while pelts are harvested from the Karakul lambs, and sent overseas, to Copenhagen in Denmark, where the annual pelt auction is held in April…  He told me that besides the harsh conditions his animals lived under, they also had to contend with Leopard, Jackal and Caracal… He lived alone out on the farm for most of the month, coming in to town twice a month to fetch supplies and visit his parents. He spent his “quiet” moments on the farm reading, writing and playing the banjo…  This when he wasn’t patrolling the camps, keeping an eye on his flocks, and hand-rearing many of the lambs whose parents had abandoned them, apparently a fairly common occurrence in the Boerbok nation…. Sterkte vir jou, Francois !! Vasbyt !!

A dusty and sulking Big Fella, after our day in the gravel and the sand...

Although I had blown all the dust off the discs and brake calipers while I was at the garage the previous day, the bike still looked a mess, so I wheeled it out from under the parking shed and washed it down. While I was doing this, Stef Coetzee hurried over to tell me to keep out of the sun…

“Ronnie… Die Son, sal jou dood maak…! Trek daai motorbyke van jou onder daai boom, en was hom eerder daar…!!” (This Sun will kill you, rather wash your bike under that tree over there…)

I thanked him for the advice, and to protect my pip from the relentless sun, moved the bike under the shade of a nearby tree, and continued getting the dust off it… I really enjoy talking to Afrikaans speaking people. Their language is by far the most expressive you will ever come across, and I often find myself shaking with laughter at their descriptions of circumstances and experiences they have had, and are keen to describe to you… They can be extremely funny, without even trying to be so… Another thing I will miss when I head further north…

With most businesses closed for the public holiday, I left Keetmanshoop and headed north for Windhoek, 500 kms away… I passed the Quiver Tree Forest, and remembered again our visit of 2006… A tame Eland had been walking around the parking lot, harassing the visitors for a treat that most of them were too terrified to give… He must be fully grown by now and probably even more of a menace than he was when only half the size…!!

Entrance to Mariental... There would be no stopping here this time around...

We chewed through the miles, passing  Tses, leaving the Karas Region, and entering the Nanania Plateau into the Hardap Region. Past Asab and Gibeon, we rumbled. I stopped at the turnoff to Maltahohe, and briefly considered that if I had ridden to road to Helmeiring, I could have changed course and instead of heading for Swakopmund, could have ridden north to Maltahohe, and then turned east on this tarred road to Mariental… It would have meant another 230 km of gravel… Then I thought back to yesterday…and I was glad that I had not…  Why tempt fate, huh ??

Admiring comments and glances from the guys at Kalkrand Filling Station...

I breezed through Mariental, and stopped further north at Kalkrand to refuel for the last run to Windhoek.  A few kilometers before Kalkrand, I had passed four cyclists, and while I refueled, they dragged themselves into the service station, and hurried inside to buy a Coke…  Three of the quartet, were from Bloemfontein, and were on a 5 month tour of Southern Africa… 9000 km’s on a bicycle…!! After referring them to a psychiatrist I knew, we settled down to chat about our respective trips… They had also taken the road to Ai-Ais (silly buggers !) and had spent 10 hours getting through the 85 kms of sand and gravel… The fourth cyclist, Robert, was from London, and had flown his bike to Cape Town from there, and was on his way to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia… He had met the three South Africans somewhere in the Northern Cape, and had decided to join them until they reached Windhoek… To Stefan, Dewald, Lodewyk and Robert… Maximum respect, Dudes….!!!

Biker / Cyclists AGM, Kalkrand, Namibia....

And it was on past Tsumis and Kangas, and 20 kms short of Reheboth, I stopped on the Tropic of Capricorn… I would cross this line 4 times over the next few years, and decided to record the event… I set up the small tripod on the back of the bike, and shot a few frames…

1st crossing of the Tropic Of Capricorn... 22nd March 2010.

Entry to Reheboth... Hot, dusty and forgotten....the town I mean...!!

Then came Reheboth, home of the Basters…. This hardy nation of cattle herders are mostly concentrated around this town, proud of their heritage… The little town lies west of the Karubeamsberge, which straddle the Tropic of Capricorn…

I had stopped at the very same filling station where I now stood, two years ago, and in the tiny cafe adjoining the station, was served by the very same, unsmiling lady who had helped me the last time… I asked for two pies and she put them into the micro -oven and nuked them for almost two minutes…!!!!

The pies had been badly nuked...but I was hungry, and ate them anyway...!!

What appeared on my plate a few minutes later, did not resemble what had gone into the micro a few minutes earlier… The pies had collapsed in on themselves, and had almost been liquidized…. I mixed it all into a thick paste, showered those babies with tomato sauce, and started munching…

The tin of coldrink I had bought with the pies, helped get the pastry that was stuck to the roof of my mouth, off…but I practically had to gargle with the stuff to assist in the process…

Outside, a pick-up had arrived, pulling a trailer filled with Boerbokke… I wandered over to take a closer look at them, and was surprised to see that they showed no fear of me… I put my hand through the bars of the trailer and scratched between their eyes, while they gazed back at me with apparent interest… It must have been tough traveling with the sun beating down on them, but they all seemed in good health…

"Get me outta here, Dude...!!! I have a bad feeling about what lies in wait at the end of this little trip...!!! What's an "abattoir"...?"

We had now entered the Khomas Region, named after the Khomas Hoogland, a range of mountains west of Windhoek. The road began to pass through the foothills of the Auasberge, just short of the city of Windhoek, and I arrived there in the mid-afternoon, and set about finding the home of Etienne, who I had met in Springbok a few days ago…

I made it up his house, was greeted by his delightful wife, Liesel, a pack of Dachshunds, a Boxer, and a large black cat… It was pandemonium for a while, but once all the animals had settled down, we were able to hear each other and properly introduce ourselves… Etienne was hitting the covers off a few golf balls, and would not be home for a while, so Liesel showed me around their beautiful home, situated in the suburb of Eros, and looking west over the mountains in the distance. I remembered how special the views of the setting sun were from up here…

We enjoyed a quiet evening, Etienne barbeque-ing a fillet to perfection, to accompany some wonderful salads Liesel had earlier prepared. After polishing off a bottle of fine red wine, we enjoyed a single malt and a coffee before retiring to bed… It had been a long day, but it had ended off in the very hospitable company of two fantastic people…

What more could you ask for…??

What you might do, if you decide to take this road..... I stayed the hell off it, and continued on to Reheboth...

© GBWT 2010

10 comments to Keetmanshoop to Windhoek…

  • Riekie

    Nou ja as jy die Afrkaans so geniet moet ek dalk maar vir die volgende 3 jaar in Afrikaans met jou kommunikeer, dit sal jou laat tuis voel. Told Chamz we have friends in Germany, Denmark, Belgium and Holland where you can stay over, also in Houston (USA) not sure if you going that way. Thanks for a great read and excellent entertainment. VOORSPOED!!

  • Mark Behr

    Ja – Nee

    As Oz has more South Africans here than there are in South Africa, we are often entertained in Afrikaans. My work colleagues all say Boet and know what it is to be “Gatvol”. Nothing expresses such feeling as when you tell someone you are Gatvol.

    Enjoy Namibia.

  • Charmz

    Shame “Big Fella’s” nose must be “out of joint”, he is filthy dirty and choking on all that fine dust. Come now Ron, keep him off those nasty roads! Thanks for letting us all enjoy your journey with you, Be Safe and take care of those injured shoulders.

  • My Afrikaans is nog goed genoeg dat ek daarem alles kan verstaan, maar partykeer sukkel ek vir die regte woorde !! Thanks a stack for all your comments…can’t always reply to them, but I am getting them…. Sometimes I just don’t have enough time to reply to all the ones I am getting…. Keep sending them though, much appreciated…!!!

  • Shoulders holding up…for now !! Yeah, the gravel and sand can wait for Tanzania and Kenya now…..!!

  • I came across your website, i think your blog is awsome, keep us posting.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • Andrew Borrageiro

    Hey Ronnie. When are you coming to do a trip around the USA.

  • Hi Andrew ! Another Borrageiro crawls out of the woodwork !!! Will be in the States in September 2011, all things being equal !!! Let me know where you are and we will hook up !! Cheers, R.

  • George Borrageiro

    Hi Ronnie, I am Ronalds brother from Uvongo, wishing you an awesome journey, you have our support, will advertise your Website in our various Mapping publications. Drive hard and stay safe.

  • mika andimba

    appreciate u passing through our town kalkrand and letting the world know that we exist “thumbs up”,we see tourist passing by every day taking pictures and wondering why…….now i know why

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