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Solitaire / Namibia · 2017   retirees
 

 

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   They gave me a visa for three months, so I stayed three months. That little road trip at the beginning had helped to conceptualize the topographies of country and culture, but most of my time I spent in two backyards in Windhoek – one that was my bedroom, and one that was my office. I’d set up camp, and then I worked, worked, worked, 10h, 12h, 16h a day, to create and craft the framework and design of the website before you.

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a glimpse

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glimpse:
 JOURNEY | In the end, the journey wasn't all that much about traveling.
 


glimpse:
 MOON MAGNET | I’ve heard the designation “Moon Landscape” a couple of times over the years, wondering who on earth would really know what qualifies as such. Anyways, for lack of having seen the original, I took whoever’s word for it and presumed that this little-known natural delight outside Swakopmund in Namibia somewhat resembles the surface of our satellite. One thing is for certain: upon looking at it from the view point, the lunar landscape drew us into its otherworldly depths just like the moon’s tidal force persuades the oceans and the gravity was of a magnitude that made us wander off without even locking the car.



 

You did it the only way you know how – with a big fat smile
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Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   hard-hatted

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You are that hard-ass from the movies, but harder and a little softer.
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Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   hard-assed

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near Solitaire / Namibia · 2017   growing up the wall



 

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Walvis Bay / Namibia · 2017   turquoise port



 

 
near Solitaire / Namibia · 2017   nowhere lodge



 

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Big Daddy Dune, Sossusvlei / Namibia · 2017   day and night
 

 

 

 

 

 

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places / stories

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Shipwreck Coast / The Day the Seals Were Dead

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Shipwreck Coast / Namibia · 2017   between desert and ocean

 
Shipwreck Coast / Namibia · 2017   seal cemetary





They were just closing the conservation center and threw as many firm noes at us as we threw pleads – no seals for us.  Noes, what a strange word, but not as strange as what happened next. Maybe we should have left it at the noes, but a few backroads later we found access to the seal beach, and there were plenty of them, many dozens, just none of them alive. Well, one was, but barely. Helplessly, it looked for something in our eyes, but all we could give was an equally helpless nothing. Apparently, a lot of the young ones aren't great swimmers and collide with the rocks or starve. Then they wash up along the shore. Maybe those conservationists had merely disguised friendliness with unfriendliness to spare us the sight.



 

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Shipwreck Coast / Namibia · 2017   totaled ship



 

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Namib Desert / How the Car Caught on Fire

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Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   ants in a pile of sand





It’s hard to tell where a non-fictional plot starts and ends, but I want to say that this one started with a perplexed elephant in Botswana, continued with a burning car in the Namib desert, and ended with a waterfall wedding in Zimbabwe, and everything that happened before and after was a different story.

I could tell you that story, but I think it’s just as well if you tell it yourself. Your imagination will do the talking anyway and the less I prompt it, the more it talks.

Let me just say this:

…it started with a disheartening noise somewhere deep inside the car’s guts and we pulled over onto the desert shoulder as the engine sputtered out. The night really is darkest before the dawn and the red glow by the trunk was vivid against the blackness. “The car is on fire,” she said. I thought it was the hazards flickering in the cloud of dust and sand our tires had whirled up. She was right and I was wrong, and her half-brother and her Peace Corps friend had already started running away from the car. It was an oily fire somewhere underneath the trunk where a fat canister of gasoline was begging for its big moment. But the more certain I was that the whole thing would blow up any moment, the more I dragged my feet, heavy with the imminent loss of all my tangible and intangible possessions in that red family car – every notebook page a piece of my heart, every picture a piece of my memory. And here my memory fails me a bit when I try to retrace the detours that led me from the burning car to the waterfall wedding – the 3000km pickup, the three months in a tent in a Windhoek backyard, so your guess is almost as good as mine…




 

Dry soil in the Namib Desert

 
Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   cracked skin



 

Broke down car in the Namib Desert

 
Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   so long car



 

Jeep in the Namib Desert

 
Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   come and go



 

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Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   salt, sand, sky



 

 
Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   ghost trees


 

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Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   closing in



 

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Windhoek / The Paths That Led Us Here

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Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   Christine





Windhoek, as a city, left me a bit indifferent, or maybe I should say I left it a bit indifferent after three months. Either way, it was all my own doing. I had locked myself away inside of it to work on the makeover of my website and there were more than a few days I didn’t even set foot outside the hostel. I’d pitched my tent in the backyard, where I was in the good company of other long-term tenants, like Russel who worked hard on renovations and beers, or Jamie who worked hard on this paranoia and conspiracy theories: a famous boxer/assassinator, and a bunch of other what-have-yous, his family at the heart of the plot, he in hiding. He was nice and I liked him. Only sometimes I wondered if he would murder me in my sleep. Especially after I started conducting interviews with folks at the hostel for a piece called The Paths that Led Us here (coming soon). That was suspicious and got his paranoia all fluttering.



 

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Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   Jordi

 
Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   Azania





Most days I’d roll out of my tent with the morning heat, pull an all-dayer – switching forth and back between my reception office and my backyard office – and spend the remaining minutes making and grooming friends. Some days I would go out to restock my groceries. And very some days I would meet a friend outside. All this hostel business was only bearable because this one wasn’t a backpacker pond and the only one I can recall that was heavily frequented by locals, who either lived there or came by to hang out on the terrace or by the bar. And the traveling folks, they weren’t so bad either. Quite a few characters. Like Yangkai the Chinese cyclist who was on day 963 of his journey when I interviewed him (with a translator), or that British magician Dave who hadn’t work-worked a day in his life, or the Chilean dog sitter who one night babbled about Dinosaurs in Cameroon and alien bloodlines and was never seen again. One day, a group of new arrivals came in from the airport, bad news in tow. Some guys had followed them and didn’t need more time than a check-in to break into their car and take their backpacks. Another time, someone put a knife to a backpacker’s throat right outside to relief him of his backpack. And then there was a minor break-in, but Russel and others stopped it mid-way. Other than that, it was always quiet.


 

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Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   blue office



 

 
Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   yellow bedroom



 

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Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   downtown gold



 

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Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   straight lines with a twist





In the end, three months had been consumed in just a few breaths and I had to ration the remaining days. I was contemplating a freestyle visit to the hunter-gatherer San people, following Jordi the filmmaker’s example, or a visit to some photogenic, abandoned desert town where dunes crept into houses, or going back to Botswana to visit a variety of villages and Peace Corps outposts one would not ordinarily visit…

 

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elsewhere

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in Africa