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Wednesday, 01 July 2020

Sossusvlei, Namibia - Page 4

Written by Richard Taylor
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There was enough tread from previous climbers to make an ascent feasible but it required a bit of a duck walk and the grade was steep, leveling off from time to time. Werner would pick the flatter planes for water breaks and photo ops, while the man from Milan would cry “Aqaba!” and his wife would laugh and I mused how that T. E. Lawrence movie certainly got around.

The views were stunning.

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“Oooh” cried the Milanese girl at the creepie-crawlie by her shoe.

“Sand beetle,” said Werner. That made sense. What else would they call it? Dune beetle suggested something with bulbous tires.

By the halfway point we were huffing and spent, so Werner let us bounce down the side of Big Daddy. There was no track this time and we sank to our calves with each step.

At the base of the dune was a great white expanse.

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“The color comes from deposits of potassium carbonate,” said professor Werner, resuming his chemistry lesson. Backstopped by sands of iron, dotted with bare spiky trees, the valley looked fearsome and dramatic, whatever carbonate it was and we squatted on its knobbled surface to pour the sand from our shoes.

“Could have descended barefoot,” I mumbled to Werner. “The sand isn’t hot.”

“The sun hasn’t reached this side of the dune yet,” he said. “And it cools very quickly in the night.”

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“By the way Werner,” I asked, pulling on my shoes again, “what’s the scorpion situation here?”

“No scorpions,” he said, sounding definite.

So tonight I could quiver a little less.

We snapped our final pix, collected ourselves for the drive back and the man from Bristol inquired about the leg.

“It’s not bad,” I said. I turned to the rest of the group. “No one can know about this. That I was attacked by a picnic table.”

I considered alternative plotlines: Disgruntled gnus? Deranged sand beetles? Oryx might do, with that nasty crown of skewers. Too noble looking though. Proud animal. National symbol and all that. Cast me in a bad light.

Maybe the hotel cat.

 

(c)Richard Taylor

 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 01 July 2020

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