I come from a very cold and wet and green country. The Dutch have reclaimed land for centuries, build canals, dykes and the best water management systems in the world. It’s resulted in many Dutchies spending most of their lives below sea level. But even as a little girl, I didn’t dream of water. I dreamt of the desert. I’d look at my globe and wonder about all the brown and yellow areas my mom told me were places with nothing but rock and sand and all I wanted, was to go there.
For all my bravado, I still hadn’t made it to the desert. Travelling around the world, but strangely never making it to the empty spaces on the map. And now, we are going to Spitzkoppe or as I like to call it: MY DREAM COME TRUE!
The desert is for dreamers. Having come here for a few days, I am now certain. Who else would come to a place so dry that food and water are scarce and the only time to hunt for them is in the few hours the sun is not eating you alive? Who else would be comfortable with the intense silence, so far away from other people and who else could fall in love with the thousands of different shades of deep and somehow lush orange of warm rocks?
We arrive at Spitzkoppe more as adrenaline junkies than dreamers though. Finally, we are allowed to sit on top of our truck Caprice for a little while. The roof opens up, we climb on to the seat, strap ourselves in and put on loads of sunscreenlotion to protect us from the wind. Bumping along on a dirt road, the dust of passing cars blowing in our faces and looking as if they come straight out of a cartoon. I tie a scarf around my nose and mouth and admit to feeling like a total badass. And then we see it, Spitzkoppe. A narrow head aptly named. And I return to my dreamer’s state.
We drive around the mountain, farther and farther away from any human habitation. Further and further into the arid wilderness. Until suddenly, there is a turn and a small brick barbeque. We cannot believe it. Is this where we will spend the night? Gazing at Spitzkoppe in the warmth of another mountain? Life cannot be this good! But it is.
We set up our tents – no rain cover, we’ll be stargazing tonight – and those of us who are not bothered by the heat, climb up the mountain. There are times when I am not quite sure it’s safe, but once I see a soccer team heading up in their flip-flops, I am certain my sturdy teva’s will do the job. We get to the viewpoint and are amazed.
There is desert as far as the eye can see (not sure what else I expected). Rocks in every imaginable colour between brown and yellow and orange. Big rocks and small rocks and just right rocks. A few trees manage to survive this place and provide a bit of green. The sun is over it’s highest point, but still scorching hot. The burning sky should be nearly white but instead it’s a beautiful crisp blue that is neatly contrasting with all the tones of the earth. It’s simply beautiful and again I am reminded of natures infinite beauty.
We spend the rest of the afternoon walking around and learning about the indigenous people: the bushmen. Our guide talks about their language and customs and shows us what it took to survive in this area. He also tells us about the land they have left and the fact they are no longer allowed to hunt, slowly making it impossible to maintain their culture. It’s a devil’s dilemma, especially since we’ve also learned about the dire state some animals are in. I am only sad that our world has come to this and very grateful not to be asked to make any decisions in this regard.
And grateful to just be here. We enjoy the sun for a while, have a great dinner, enjoy the game of shadows on the ground and sit in awe of another beautiful sunset. I am starting to understand what people mean by “living in the moment”. As awful as that phrase is, it’s what I am doing here. Simply being with all the beauty. Part of the thousands of colours the sun brings out in this landscape. Being inside the slowly cooling heat of the day. Observing the stars as they appear. One by one. A true part of this world, no longer cut off from it.
I spend time under the immense dome that is our sky. From horizon to horizon it stretches. Filled with more stars than I have ever seen in my life. Little pinpricks of light that gaze down on us. So close I can nearly touch them and so far I can see infinity in the spaces between the light. Sitting alone. Just me and my camera.
And I know I am not alone because we are all a part of this bubble that travels through space. Spaceship earth that none of us can really grasp, except maybe here. In a place where words are not enough, but sleeping under the stars is. And so I get into our tent and just exist with the stars. Until the beauty of the sunrise wakes me up and it is time to stop dreaming and continue traveling.