I stood in awe in the doorway, staring at the sand that had swallowed up what must have once been a master bedroom.
“It’s like walking through a Salvador Dahli painting,” I said aloud, Zach agreeing in just as much awe.
“This is awesome,” he said.
We were in Kolmanskop (Coleman’s Hill in German), a small ghost town that had once been a thriving diamond mining community. It had it’s own ice factory, general store, a 200-bed hospital, power station, skittle alley, theater, casino and was the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to have an X-ray machine.
The town was named after Johnny Coleman who abandoned his ox wagon during a sand storm on the outskirts of Luderitz. In 1909 Zacharias Lewala, a local worker, discovered a diamond in the area. He showed it to his supervisor, a German named August Stauch and thus the diamond rush of the early 20th century began. Back then, diamonds were literally just lying on the surface.
But as with most natural resources, the diamonds were exhausted pretty quickly and by 1954 the town was abandoned like an unwanted newborn. The Namib Desert, one of the oldest and driest deserts on the planet, slowly reclaimed the town as strong winds pushed the sand dunes into the houses, breaking windows, doors and drowning the homes, hospital and anything the sand could get into.
It’s now a major tourist attraction and a great place for photographers seeking that surreal experience. Entrance is $75 Namibian dollars ($7.50) and for an extra $25 ND ($2.50) you can join either the 9 AM or 11 AM tours and refresh yourself with a cool milkshake or whatever beverage fancies you in the old ballroom.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to shower out half the Namib Desert from the crack of my ass.