I was standing by the side of the road, strategically positioning myself by the service station in my attempt to hitch a ride to the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek. A pick-up truck had pulled over but I assumed he had stopped for the girl and the two younger boys that were with her.
“Windhoek,” I answered as she relayed the info to the driver. I peeked into the single cab, smiling. “Are you going to Windhoek?”
“I’m going to pick up a lady in Aus and then to Windhoek. I can take you but you’ll have to ride in the back,” answered the driver.
“Sure,” I grinned and threw my gear into the tray where I shared the space comfortably with the two young boys while the girl sat in the passenger seat.
The driver sped off at about 140 K an hour. Noticing that the younger of the two boys was shivering due to the brisk wind, I offered him my jacket which he gratefully wrapped around himself. Two hours later we were in Aus, my first stop upon entering Namibia some two weeks prior. I waved at the police officers that had hosted me that first night as we drove by, stopped in a quiet neighbourhood and picked up the lady. The teenage girl joined us in the back.
Leaving Aus, we hit the open black road of the Namib Desert, surrounded by nothing but sand and rocky, barren mountains. we slowed down to avoid hitting the wild horses that were grazing by the side of the tarmac, almost losing control on the sand that covered part of the road.
I resumed breathing as an hour into the mono-coloured yellow scenery the driver pulled over and picked up five hitchers. He demanded 200 Namibian dollars per head ($2 AUD). They scrambled onto the back and I found myself squeezed into the corner, to my left a hitcher and to his left every ones baggage.
I wrapped my hoodie tightly around my head to protect my ears from the whipping wind (no need to rip an ear drum at 140 K’s an hour. Or at any speed really. In fact, there is absolutely no need to rip an ear drum). The Namib Desert soon turned into the outter edges of the Kalahari Desert which isn’t really a desert but a dry grassland. Indeed, shrubbery and trees soon popped up everywhere at the base of protruding mountains and hilltops.
We made a quick pitstop in Keetmanshop, a small town on the B1 highway. As we returned to the open road, traffic began to pick up. I noticed the driver was overtaking a lot of vehicles on the single lane highway. I also noticed he was taking un-necassary risks proven by the angry hand gestures of the cars we passed and the sudden swinging back into our lane as a truck cracked the air when it whipped by.
By sunset we had reached Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. I thanked the driver, hoping he wasn’t about to ask me for money (he didn’t) and headed off to meet my couch surfing host, Edith, who was waiting patiently for my arrival. She lives in the Nurses Home in the Central Windhoek hospital studying industrial psychology. She took us to the roof top where we witnessed the sun setting over the small city with its 240,000 residents.
It’d been a long day and all I wanted to do was watch the last game of the final 16 in the World Cup (which put me to sleep it was so boring) and finally, at midnight, I conked out completely.