“Oh,” moaned Emmanuel, “so hung over.” He stumbled about, holding his head.
We were standing outside the police station under blue skies. The wind had picked up and was a little chilly. I grinned explaining how I don’t suffer from hangovers. After a breakfast of a peanut butter sandwich, I thanked the officers who had welcomed me in the best way possible to Namibia and hit the B4 highway to Luderitz.
Francois, the captain of San Miguel (the boat I spent five months crossing the Indian Ocean) had a friend in Luderitz called Boy (yup, Boy). I was hoping to meet him and crash at his for a few nights. I stood by the highway, reading my book waiting for a vehicle to drive by.
If the road could have been emptier it wouldn’t be regarded a road anymore. I began to wonder of my chances of reaching Luderitz. After about a hundred pages a bukkey pulled over. “Where are you going?” I smiled at the driver and his passenger.
“Luderitz,” he grinned.
“Can I ride with you?” I asked, hoping he wouldn’t bring up a request to get paid.
“Sure, hop in.”
The driver’s name was Africa (seriously) and his passenger was Gustav. They both worked for a mining company and had two weeks work in Luderitz. And I guess they both love Michael Bolton who was crooning how he couldn’t live without you from the radio. We drove parallel to railway tracks through a forbidding desert.
It then hit me that I just might be in, “Is this the Kalahari Desert?” I asked.
“Yes,” Africa grinned.
“Tell me,” Africa said, “who do you think will win the World Cup?”
“I was going for Spain but they got ripped apart by the Dutch. I’m hoping that an African team will win. Ghana is my favourite.”
Africa nodded in agreement as he attempted to break the sound barrier on the empty road. We passed wild ostriches which had me thinking, where could they possibly nest? Within a couple of hours we had zipped past Kolmanskop, an abandoned mining town famous for the desert sands that pour through the empty houses.
Ten minutes later we reached Luderitz, a small coastal town with two main industries, diamond mines and fishing. It rested on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. I was in awe to see the desert meet the sea.
The houses were brightly painted in blue, green, yellow and red, dotting the barren landscape. Africa and Gustav gave me a quick tour and showed me the harbour and waterfront where I was dropped off.
“When you write a book, make sure you put me in it,” Africa grinned.
“I will,” I grinned back, thanking them. I made my way to a fish ‘n’ chip shop I had spotted.
“Excuse me,” I politely interrupted the conversation between the owner and a customer. “I was wondering if it’s possible to use a phone to call a friend I have in Luderitz?”
The customer offered his. I brought up Boy’s contact details on my phone and showed them to the guy.
“Ah, you are friends with Boy,” he said, punching in the numbers.
“You know Boy?” I said in surprise.
“Yes, he is a very nice man,” the owner joined in. “I went to school with him.”
Boy explained where he lived to the customer. The owner called up a taxi for me. “Don’t pay more than $10,” she said and ten minutes later I was in Boy’s home.
Dreadlocked and tall, Boy, a panel beater by trade, was hung over from the previous night. We sat in his living room watching the highlights of the World Cup in Brazil.
“Should we go see the game at a bar?” I suggested at 16:30.
“Sure,” he said.
We walked down to the main part of town. A street was closed off and a lot of bikers and spectators were lining the sidewalk, watching some riders doing wheelies and burning rubber.
Literally. One rider shredded his rear tire on his Triumph, smoking up the whole street.
“It’s the annual Luderitz Diamond Rally,” explained Boy. “Bikers from clubs come here from South Africa and Namibia once a year.”
“Cool,” I said. I approached the rider that had shredded his rear tire. “That was awesome,” I grinned, offering to shake his hand. He offered me his index finger, the only remaining finger on his right hand.
I then followed Boy into the bar. It was like a scene from the TV series, Sons of Anarchy. Everybody was drunk, boerwors were being grilled, there was a tattooist on site providing ink, rugby was being watched on the big screen TV in the bar that was dotted with caps and bras hanging from the ceiling. It reminded me of the bar in the Northern Territory of Australia, in a tiny watering hole called Daly Waters. After the rugby game a band hit the stage.
They played incredible covers, some better than the originals including Dire Straits, Money for Nothing (which I’m not a fan of but these guys tore it a new one). I chatted with members of various motorbike clubs including The One Percenters, the Red Devils, The Harley Davidson Group, The Blacklisted, the Desert Hawks and the infamous Hell’s Angels. Everyone was super friendly even though they looked like the kind of people you don’t want to cross paths with.
One guy I met, a Hell’s Angel named Paul, gave me his card. It said that he was a photographer. “I own a bar in Cape Town,” he said after I told him of what I was doing. “If you come down you’ll be my guest.”
“Sweet, man!” I grinned. “Thanks.”
The second band that played were some young guys from Cape Town. The guitarist was Hendrix incarnated. Along with a drunken American kid from Utah and the bartender, I hit the dance floor as we yelled out to the band to play Lynyard Skynyard’s, Freebird. Even the band’s drummer heckled the singer for Freebird.
I pulled out my harmonica and showed it to the band. They threw a mic at me and I wailed to Sweet Home Alabama. They did awesome covers of AC\DC songs and by the end of the night I was smoking a joint with the drummer, watching a huge red-head get into a fight with the bartender who looked like a small figurine compared to the big oak.
I was surprised when the bartender took a swing at him. No fear whatsoever. I don’t know what the fight was about and I stepped back from it when it became physical. I hate violence. Can’t stand that shit. I just don’t understand how people have this urge to get physical with another fellow human. I was standing next to Boy who was also watching the scene as a handful of people tried to break up the fight.
“And yet, marijuana is illegal,” I noted. Boy ‘hmphed’ in agreement.
Boy’s friend drove us home. In the front seat the big red-head sat explaining what had happened in Afrikaans. He turned out to be a nice guy, just misunderstood.
As I lay in my sleeping bag at Boy’s house I couldn’t help but grin at the surrealness of the evenings event. I was watching the World Cup in a biker bar full of Hell’s Angels and other motorbike club members.
In Namibia. In Africa.