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essays | places


old as sand



Solitaire / Namibia · 2017   retirees



   They let me in for three months, so I stayed for three months, friendly flea I am. That little road trip at the beginning had helped conceptualize the topographies of country and culture, but most of my Namibian time I spent in a cardboard box. Well, the Carboard Box. Potato, tomato. Two backyards snuggled the western and the southern flank of the Windhoek hostel, and that’s where I lived that life. The West was my bedroom, the South 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.


a glimpse


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

   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.

Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   hard-hatted


You are that hard-ass from the movies, but harder and a little softer.

Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   hard-assed


Walvis Bay / Namibia · 2017   turquoise port


near Solitaire / Namibia · 2017   nowhere lodge



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






places / stories

Shipwreck Coast / The Day the Seals Were Dead


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.



Shipwreck Coast / Namibia · 2017   totaled ship


Namib Desert / How the Car Caught on Fire


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 a cloud of sand our tires had whirled up. She was right and I was wrong, and the other half of our quartet had already started bolting away from the car like springboks. It was an oily fire somewhere underneath the trunk where a fat jerrycan brimming with 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 3000 km 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



Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   salt, sand, sky


Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   ghost trees



Namib Desert / Namibia · 2017   closing in


Windhoek / The Paths That Led Us Here


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 his paranoia and conspiracy theories: a famous boxer/assassinator and a bunch of other what-have-yous, his family at the heart of the plot, Jaime in hiding inside the tent next to mine. 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 hostel folks for a piece called The Paths that Led Us here (coming soon). That was suspicious and got his paranoia all fluttering.



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 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 suddenly started babbling about Dinosaurs in Cameroon and alien bloodlines and was never seen again. Suspicious. Maybe he was right after all. One day, a group of new arrivals came in from the airport, bad news in tow. Some shady characters had followed them and didn’t need more time than their check-in to break into the car and take the 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.



Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   blue office


Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   yellow bedroom



Windhoek / Namibia · 2017   downtown gold



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 paying a freestyle visit to the hunter-gatherer San people, following Jordi the filmmaker’s example, or heading into the opposite direction to play with sand in some photogenic, abandoned desert town taken over by the dunes, or going back to Botswana to stop by a variety of villages and Peace Corps outposts one would not ordinarily visit…




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