Posted by: passedportsnyc | October 31, 2009

Notes from Namibia

Oct 18 Flying into Namibia felt like arriving in some kind of No-Man’s-Land. (We travelled from Tanzania down to South Africa entirely overland. We cheated only once, on a quick flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek, Namibia. We were able to include the segment free of additional charge on our round-the world ticket.) There is no one here. For hundreds of miles we flew over nothing – literally nothing, not a single town or house or road – and then we were landing. We stared out the plane window bewildered by the fact that we were allegedly arriving in the capital city and there was nothing.Namibia is about twice the size of California but has only 2 million people. There are fewer people than in this entire country than in the Borough of Brooklyn. Windhoek, the capital and largest city, has a population only about 240,000. There is no urban sprwal. The desert starts as soon as the city stops. And the airport is located about 30 miles outside of the city, in the desert. So it is no wonder that it felt like we were landing in the middle of Nowhere. We were.

Oct 20 Driving in the south of Namibia is a bit like driving through the empty sets of the Star Wars movies. Every 15 minutes or so there is an abrupt change of landscape and it feels like you’ve entered another planet, each landscape stranger and more arresting to the eye than the last. And there are no other people or cars anywhere. Sometimes it feels like you are the last two people on the planet, driving to the end of the Earth after a nuclear holocaust. It is phenomenal.

Oct 21 On our first full day with the car – a double cab Toyota Hi-lux pickup – we blew a tire. In the middle of the desert. A couple of city slickers, decidedly non-desert types, who have never owned cars in our lives, stuck in the desert with a busted tire. Fantastic.

It was about 100 degrees, so little humidity you wet laundry is bone dry an hour after hanging it, and we were way down a lone rocky road a few feet from the edge of a vast canyon. We jacked up the car. The lugnuts wouldn’t budge. We tried again. Still nothing.

I stood on the wrench and jumped up and down. The lugnuts still wouldn’t budge. An hour passed. No other cars. Thank God for that extra 5 liters of water we stashed in the back, in case of emergency.

Finally Max used my technique, standing and jumping on the wrench. His weight was enough to loosen it, inch by inch, slowly, slowly. We wouldn’t die in the desert afterall.



  1. I have a friend who is working in Namibia right now. She’s having a great time teaching and learning while she is there.

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