July 18, 2013

Days 6-7 (no-man's land)

Looking at any map, you'll see a bunch of solid lines marking the boundaries between countries.  But that single, solid line isn't reality.  On the ground (at least in Southern and East Africa), you first go through an emmigration office to leave the country you're in, and then you either walk or drive a ways to a separate immigration office to enter the country to which you're heading.  Leaving you with a period of time and space in a literal no-man's land.  Really, the maps should show two parallel lines at all boarders, with a vacant, unaffiliated space between.

And while the very easy way to view this process is as a hassle (double the paperwork, double the lines, and twice the immigration officers scrutinizing your movements) there's also the chance that maybe they're right.  Maybe it's good to spend some time in no-man's land.  To completely finish with one thing before you start the next.  Perhaps this just the bureaucratic equivalent to asking: Why the rush?  Why such a hurry to take two separate things (an end and a beginning) and smush them into one?  Just wait.  Take a minute.  Breath the unaffiliated air, unencumbered.

Which is all just to say that we crossed our first boarder today, from South Africa to Namibia.


Driving into and through Namibia felt like driving into a Calvin and Hobbes moonscape.  Which, let's be honest, is exactly what I was hoping it would feel like.  (Who doesn't want to be Spaceman Spiff?)  We drove by craggy rocks and funky looking trees, alternating with vast stretches of shrubbery in warm afternoon sun.

Spiff coming in for crash landing!

Dry, cracked earth

Scenic shrubbery


The first evening brought us to sunset at Fish River Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the world, after the Grand one.  

Technically, it's two canyons.  The first caused by tectonic shifting, and the second caused by river water erosion.  As this was being explained to me in the fading light, I kept squinting, trying to identify the second canyon.  Where is it?  Is it beyond those hills?  I only see one...

And then I realized- it's not two separate canyons, but rather a canyon twice over.  The second carved into the belly of the first.  

Our second night in Namibia was spent camping in the Helmeringhausen Area, just outside of the Namib Dessert, where we watched the sky turn from pink to dusk, and then whiled away the night with drinks around the campfire.

Our guide found a scorpion and put him in a halved soda bottle.  Scorpions have the unique quality of fluorescing under black-lights, with no apparent or known evolutionary cause.  

As if the opportunity to impress at a roller-rink 80s night weren't evolutionary reason enough?

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