Turns out that after a six week bike expedition through north west Namibia (3 showers, 4 kilos of rice, 4 jars of peanut butter) I needed a bit of a rest, which turned in to almost a month off the bike, which I spent mostly spent on farms around Windhoek.
I saw some cool things.
I said my goodbyes to my cycle buddy Killian in Swakopmund. I’m on the road solo now! Killian has been on his bike for three years. He rode from France, through Morocco (where we met 2.5 years ago) then down the west coast of Africa. You can see some photos of his travels on his blog http://lesrayons-desoleil.com. He’s now making his way towards South Africa and I wanted to go north to Angola (big crayfish there I hear!) so we parted ways.
I caught the bus with my bicycle from Swakopmund to Windhoek (for some Angola visa admin) and I got in touch with Gawie, whose farm I stayed at last time I was in Namibia 6 months ago.
I didn’t actually hang out with Gawie last year, he just passed us on the road and told us we could stay alone on his farm for a few days while he was in Windhoek. So I thought it would be nice to properly catch up and see the farm again, 6 months on.
I meet Gawie at his house in Windhoek where he lives with his family, 3 German shepherds, 2 beehives, a cat, a cockatiel and an albino hedgehog. I lean my bike up against a giant freezer in the dining room. I’ve seen many freezers this size in Namibia. They’re usually full of delicious top quality Namibian meat and enormous fish, fished over the Christmas break in Henties Bay. This freezer is no different. But it also contains a frozen leopard. Really.
I pack my bags into the back of the bakkie and we are off to the farm, with a stop by the biltong shop to get a huge bag of thinly sliced dried beef meat and fat rolls (sheep fat wrapped in dried beef). Car snacks.
First thing we do when we arrive at the farm is we go see two hyena cadavers that have been left on the side of the road. They were trapped then shot after they attacked some sheep.
The heads of the hyenas are propped up on big stones, making them look like creepy werewolf witchcraft offerings. They’re much bigger than I imagined. One of them has been dead for a few days and smells full on. The other is fresh. They’ve been left on the side of the road “for the blacks to eat”.
I don’t believe the “for the blacks to eat” part but a few minutes after we arrive a car pulls up. Three guys get out and throw both hyenas into the boot. The fresh one will go “in the pot”. The other is for the dogs. It explodes a little bit of juice when they shove it in the boot.
Next morning I explore the farm and say hello to the cows, the chickens, the giant parrot and the pet kudu called Kudu. Gawie shot Kudu’s mother because it had rabies (a big problem for the kudus here. A whole bunch were wiped out) and cut the unborn foal from her belly. It survived and is now a nice pet. Except it likes to come in to the farmhouse uninvited and chew on things, like the cables of the karaoke system in the lounge room.
That afternoon we slaughter some chooks. Two big fat ones, dead, plucked and in the pot. They’re for lunch tomorrow. Some guests are dropping in. A reverend and his family. It’s Sunday and there will be a bible reading at the farm. The reverend explains to me he is a “Topper”. Weird, my favourite Namibian biscuit brand is called “Toppers”. I didn’t realise there were religious biscuit brands. I ask him about it and he quickly corrects me and explains to me the Protestant branch of Dopperism (oups).
The chickens are delicious. It’s the start of a basically 100% meat diet for the next two weeks. And I mean 100%.
I spend a couple of nights with Liza on her cattle farm near Otjiwarongo. We have a meat marathon.
The night I arrive we have spaghetti bolognaise. I’m about to go to bed when Johan lights the braai up and cooks pork cutlets, because mince meat isn’t real meat and we must have real meat for dinner. It’s 11pm but sure, why not, I’ll have some delicious organic free range pork chops. Next morning we have leftover pork chops for breakfast. For lunch we have awesome organic beef steaks at the Omaruru Rest Camp. Before we head home we stop at the supermarket to get dinner: steak. And chicken wings and pork cutlets and lamb cutlets. Next morning Johan fires up the braai and we have leftover meat for breakfast. That night we have steaks for dinner. It’s time for me to get back on the bike at this stage. I want to have a look at the Waterberg Plateau, the dinosaur footprints (be careful of dinosaurs when cycling Namibia, they're dangerous) and the Hoba Meteorite (biggest meteorite in the world!). Liza sends me off with a care package - meat wrapped in silver foil and a bag of home made dried sausages.
The Hoba Meteorite was big. But there was also a freezing cold head wind (and my water bottles started frezing overnight). I was glad to get to Grootfontein and to hitchhike the busy tar road to Oshakati. But first I went to a national CrossFit competition in Tsumeb and stayed for the after-party at Marlinda’s house. As I’ve said before, every day on the bike is a surprise. Marlinda is a national CrossFit champion and top gymnast. I share with her that I’m feeling a little nervous about cycling solo, with not much of a plan (especially about getting a puncture and breaking my crap plastic tyre levers). She tells me “if it doesn’t scare you it’s not big enough”. Noted.
I spent a week in Oshakati waiting for my Angola visa. The big outdoormarket there is great. You can get all sorts of things. Dried mopane worms (I finally tried that worm I found a few weeks before! Salty. Oily), all kinds of deep fried things, all different kinds of maize meal, big dried fish, small dried fish.
My visa for Angola didn't come through in time. Re-plan. My Namibian visa was about to expire so I made a quick overnight bus dash to Katima Mulilo (“quick”. It took 20hrs. The bus broke down) and from there I crossed over into Zambia.
My time in Zambia was short and sweet. About 6 days all up. Time to see the epic Zambezi river and some big baobabs.
The road between Katima Mulilo and Livingstone is very straight. And quite flat. And very potholed. Sometimes the road is actually just one big hole. Be careful. There are also a lot of trucks.
For my first two days in Zambia I was constantly chased by enthusiastic kids squealing “makua!” (white person!), “how are you!” and “gimme money!”. Quite a change from quiet Namibia. And very intense.
Secretly camping along that road just wasn't possible Too many people and villages everywhere! So every night I asked to pitch my tent nearby a house or village. But I was never allowed to sleep in my tent! Each night, the families would insist I sleep with them in their house. It was such a delight.
Arriving in Livingstone after the very boring cycle from Katima was a relief. The town is busy, green, with hundreds of mango trees (so many mangos in December!) and big baobabs. I spend most days at the big market,. You can buy everything, from dried fish to peanut butter to pots to second hand clothes. I make a quick plan for my next stop - Zimbabwe.