HITCH HIKING IN NAMIBIA – PART II

featured-on-hitchhikershandbook-300x180-px‘No,’ I repeatedly shook my head at the onslaught of taxis that were speeding on the B1 highway. It was a Saturday morning, 07:30, a slight chill in the air as blue skies became bluer with the rising heat of the sun. This 3-laned highway was occupied by cabs of all shapes and sizes.

400 K’s to Swakopmund on the west coast. It’s gonna be a long day.IMG_4500

I had walked with my North Ridge 65L backpack, my smaller day pack and guitar for about 3 K’s in search of an appropriate place to hitch. I was beginning to get whiplash from the amount of ‘no’s I had to convey with my head. And why can’t the cabs behind the ones I decline not figure out that I’m not in want of a taxi? A few pulled up but I brushed them away with my hand. One was nice enough to suggest I walk a little further up the road to the service station. It was here that a local finally pulled up.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Swakopmund,” I smiled.

“You must go to the highway,” he said.

No shit.

“Come, I’ll take you.”

I threw my gear in and Edward drove me about 5 K’s down the road to the turnoff. I thanked him and before I could open the door another local had crammed his face in the window.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Swakopmund,” I said, knowing what was coming next.

“OK, come with me,” he attempted to reach for my bag.

“Stop,” I said assertively. “I don’t have money.”

He stopped and stared at me. “OK,” he said, backing away with a befuddled look on his face.

I grabbed my gear, suited up and trekked down the turn-off, ignoring the taxis beeping and flashing their lights. I smiled and “Good morning-ed,” fellow hitchers who were willing to pay as I set up on the side of the B1 highway. Checking the map on my phone, I saw that if I could get a ride to Okahundja, that would be my best bet to secure a ride to Swakopmund.

I had barely put my bags and guitar down when a car pulled over. Being in Africa, I knew that a lot of drivers will be asking for money.

“Where are you going?” asked the driver.

“Swakopmund,” I smiled.

“OK, come with me.”

“I don’t have money, though,” I said, not even attempting to reach for my gear.

“No money?” the driver looked baffled.

I explained my ways of travel.

“Are you Christian?” he asked.

I suppressed a laugh. “Religion has nothing to do with it.”

He shook his head in disbelief and drove off.

Another car pulled over.

“Where are you going?” asked the driver.

“Swakopmund,” I smiled.

“OK, come with me.”

“I don’t have money, though,” I said, not even attempting to reach for my gear.

“No money?” the driver laughed and drove off.

The theme repeated itself for the next three hours until a bukky pulled over.

“Where are you going?” asked the driver.

“Swakopmund,” I smiled.

“We can drop you at Okahundja,” said the driver, his passenger nodding in agreement.

“I don’t have money, though,” I said, not even attempting to reach for my gear.

“That’s fine,” the driver said. “Get in.”

Sweet. I rushed over to my packs and threw them in the back, making sure to avoid the greasy parts of the tray and squeezed in beside the passenger who now had the middle seat. The two gentlemen were very chatty construction workers who I entertained with my travel stories.

They dropped me outside of the shopping centre in the small town of Okahundja on the B2 highway. I stood on the corner and stretched out my thumb. Within 10 minutes another bukky pulled over.

“Where are you going?” asked the driver.

“Swakopmund,” I smiled.

“We can take you about 40 K’s before Swako,” said Deva, the passenger.

“That’s fine,” I said, adding, “I don’t have money, though,” not even attempting to reach for my gear.

“No money?” the driver looked baffled.

I again repeated my philosophy.

“Get in,” Deva said.

I packed my gear into the back and hopped in the back seat. As we hit the road I introduced myself to Deva and the driver, Fortune.

“We are technicians for MTC,” he explained. They were on their way to fix a mobile antenna tower placed on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. As we flew along the B2 Fortune stared at me in the mirror.

“You play guitar?” he asked.

“Yup,” I answered, knowing that he would then say,

“OK, play for me. You are bartering, no? So play for your lift,” he laughed, pulling over to the side of the road so I could bring in my guitar.

So glad I didn’t give it away in Indonesia, I thought to myself. Ol’ Red was paying itself off. I jammed some Bob Marley tunes and a reggae version I had come up with for Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

As the dry grasslands extended over the Namib Desert I noticed numerous warthogs grazing by the road and train tracks that followed through. Real life Pumba’s. Then I saw their tusks.

Glad I wasn’t out here hitching.

We pulled into a shop by the entrance to the Rossing Mine, a uranium mine owned by the Australian mining giant, Rio Tinto. Namibia is the world’s second largest exporter of uranium following the land down under. Deva and Fortune fed me a slab of steak and a roll of bread, dessert was a bag of mini enerjelly sweets and I politely declined offers of soft drinks.

“I don’t drink that crap,” I said.

IMG_4508 As discussed, 40 K’s out of Swakopmund I was dropped off. Thanking the boys for the 350 km ride, I gave Deva my email address upon his request and looking around, realised I was in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Nothing but blue skies, a black road and yellow desert. It was 12:45 in the afternoon and luckily, there was  a bit of traffic coming through.

My final ride was with Adam, a journalist for the national paper, The Namibian. Telling him my story he offered to interview me for the paper and gave me his brother-in-law’s details.

“He loves surfing and has a tour company that explores the dunes,” he said. “Africa’s little 5.”

“Little 5?” I questioned him.

“Spiders, bugs, lizards, snakes, plants.”

“Awesome,” I grinned as he dropped me off outside of the best guesthouse in town.

“Good luck,” he waved as he drove off.

I headed into the guesthouse and asked to speak with the manager\owners.

“Why?” asked the local at the reception desk.

I explained my bartering ways.

“They will be here on Monday,” he said.

“You can’t call anyone?” I asked, hopefully.

“No, not on the weekend.”

I had one contact in Swako via a South African friend I had met in Thailand. “Can I please use your phone to quickly call someone in town?”

He nodded and I rang up Stephen. Turns out he lives two minutes down the road and his wife is the niece of the owners of the guesthouse.

“You can stay with us for a few days if you need,” Stephen saved the day.

“Thank you so much,” I said, grinning. I looked at the time.

13:30.

6.5 hours and 4 rides later and here I was, at the beginning of the infamous Skeleton Coast.

And a sandstorm.

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Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Hitch Hiking, Namibia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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