Africa Calling – desert life

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It’s what lies beneath, what one does not see that gives rise to the beauty around us and the insurmountable joy in times of dryness that gives this colour to life. One has to be aware of these attributes in deserts in order to find them and then see what contribution they make in order to enjoy them.

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Deserts are hard places – often described as despicable, they seemingly contain a lot without necessarily providing anything in return, especially life. However, the life they do contain work in unison, without complaint, in order not only to survive, but thrive. The desert would not be what it is without this life. How often do we miss the small things that give colour to life? What is your desert situation and is it really as hard as you think it is?

IMG 0763Desert wind: driving for around 60 kilometres though a sand storm (with intense road corrugations) on the South African side of the Orange River between Alexander Bay and Sendelingsdrif. This southerly wind evidently reached the central parts of Namibia over three days of relentless blowing. There was no way we were stopping, opening the doors or windows on this stretch!

On 4 October 2019 we departed Cape Town in South Africa with no idea where we would eventually call home as we headed north towards and through 5 countries and to the Equator on the African continent overland via vehicle. How do we see the small things that assist us see and makes the whole? Sometimes just focussing on what these small things are is all we can do as we keep driving…and so the whole picture slowly comes into focus. The bigger picture then puts the present challenges into perspective…usually through a desert.

IMG 0865Surface water cutting through desert. Dusty after that storm, we made our way across the South Africa/Namibia border via pontoon on the perennial Orange River, giving life to its banks and commerce stretching back around 2000 kilometres to its source in the highlands of Lesotho.

This Tale highlights these seemingly small things in some desert places we have recently traversed in Africa Calling, how they stand out and how they contribute to the greater picture that is created as we navigate our way through the African continent and where we heading.  With no idea of what the big picture looks like, like the desert, the adventure has felt extremely dry and lonely at times…

IMG 0900Stark contrast? Sometimes looking for the flowers with simple eyes amongst the dry desert is what is needed. Josiah picked this for his mom at a road side picnic stop.

IMG 0904The Wild Desert Horses of the Namib near Aus, southern Namibia, seem to thrive in their chosen habitat.

IMG 1297Desert dry air – ideal for quick drying of homemade pasta in camp.

IMG 1345Desert heat - crossing more than one degree. Reaching the Tropic of Capricorn at 23,5 degrees south of the Equator, it also reached 45 degrees Celsius ambient temperature at this point.

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Sun energy: cooking and heating water in a solar oven and parabolic solar cooker above and below respectively, Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust, NamibRand Nature Reserve.

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IMG 7618With the correct irrigation and shade, a lot more can survive and thrive that we thought possible in the desert…using vehicle tyres!

IMG 1470The desert floors the wheel at its own command. The Martin Luther (rebuilt), so named after the reformer who would not budge from his convictions, failed to provide the overlanding transport it was meant to provide in the Swakopmund area due to the difficulty of moving in the desert sand more than 100 years ago.

IMG 1707Requiring simplicity, our vehicle carries everything we need, just like a desert for its inhabitants. A certain dry point was being broken into in Windhoek, Namibia where most of Joseph’s trail running equipment and trail running shoes were stolen. Naturally, we felt very vulnerable after this driving into Botswana, like one would be if alone in the desert…

IMG 7736Keep going and keep going deep for water to sustain life on the ground – windmills dot the Namibian countryside in their thousands to feed the farmers stocks and survive themselves. We have had to dig deep mentally and Spiritually to survive Africa Calling and keep driving. Usually one just has to keep going to get through a desert. We would not have it any other way.

IMG 1726Manna, or simply a braai bread. Thankful for the provisions we are able to enjoy – they all and always come from above.

IMG 1226Desert rain: providing a backdrop to life, rain brings changes to the sky and the ground to which it falls. It usually doesn’t always fall where we think it does or when it should fall, hence the dryness and such is life. But when it does, its always blessed in ways we could never imagine.

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What desert race are you running?

Africa Calling – passage
Africa Calling – stepping

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