Ovamboland 2001

 

Some time earlier in 2001 we had a Braai at Bodo's place and he was telling us about this traditional Ovambo wedding he intended attending towards the end of the year. This immediately piqued Urda and my interest. Work pressure towards the year-end is immense, as most people only seem to realise on Christmas Eve, that they have a vehicle that needs attention. But I decided to close the Workshop on the 14/12/01 but keep spares sales open (this way I would support my customer but not strain my employees unduly).

 

So it was planned to leave on the Morning of Friday the 14'Th using my now nearly finished BMW R80 GS Motorcycle (I am still looking for a Steering Damper). We would sleep somewhere close to Oshikango and then be at the Church in time for the ceremonies at 10 Am that Saturday Morning. But due to having to be at the Airport early that Morning entertaining our guest etc. we were only ready to leave at 2 Pm. I decided wisely to sleep over in Windhoek and leave at some unearthly hour on Saturday Morning.

 

We left home at 7 and went via Kapps Farm, Hochfeld then Okondjatu in Hereroland west, which probably has the worst maintained roads in Namibia. The Chalk surface had deep grooves in them from the spinning tyres when it last rained. On a Motorcycle they can be deadly ! Early in the afternoon we were in Grootfontein, where I pumped up the Tyres and then proceeded to the Minen in Tsumeb where we both quaffed a Beer and hoped that our mind would come alive again.  On we went on the Tar road via Oshivelo, wondering what it is that makes the Butt so numb on a Bike. The Roadblocks were uneventful except for the indifferent attitude of the Special field Force. Every larger town had a roadblock that demanded a drivers License and Passport !

 

By 9 pm we were in Oshikango, but only an answering service on Bodo's Cell phone. Was MTC down again ? Did Bodo pass out ? Was his phone stolen ? Finally we did manage to contact him and we proceeded to Odibo where the bride stayed. The festivities were in full swing and we were made most welcome. The next day we proceeded to the Grooms village. The Ovambo traditions are quite interesting and very Christian. We then had a elaborate Lunch and observed that most people consumed Alcohol very conservatively. Monday lunch we were invited to a neighbouring kraal for a delicious chicken with Mahango. At night we observed the slaughtering of a pig especially for us. I must say we were treated royally and with respect.

 

When we left on Tuesday morning it was with mixed feelings, as we were so dikgefreet. Upon starting the bike, Urda saw it pee Oil and we realised the oil filter gasket had split. Urda then cleverly suggested carving one out of a tetra pack milk carton. It is still working as I write this. We then cruised through northern Ovamboland via Ongenga toward Ruacana. I then phoned Mr. Haehner in Windhoek to enquire about where he would suggest camping (aren't cell phones wonderful ?). We carried on along the Kunene towards Kunene River Lodge. These 60 km took 3 Hours in sweltering heat. At some stage Urda and myself sat down next to the river totally brain dead. This is a beautiful stretch and it is sad that we could not really take it in.

 

At the lodge we saw salad on the menu and enthusiastically ordered that. After 3 days of meat abuse- heaven. "Sorry no Salad" was a real turn of. The scenery is beautiful (I was going to use the heavily abused word tranquil but I am not going to lower my standards) and well worth a visit. We swam drank (It is VERY important to drink LOTS of H2O) and relaxed. This is where the frequently asked question "What do you do about a papwiel ?" started. My reply "Fix it". Then it dawned on me, that most people who can now afford 4X4's and their associated trips have little "mechanical or bush sense". These bushwhackers over inflate their tyres and drive to fast, causing "deurstampers" which result in blowouts.

 

Wednesday morning we proceeded towards Swartbooisdrif and then Epembe, Opuwo and finally hitting the T at Sesfontein. We were greeted by another Roadblock in the middle of nowhere. They had no Clue where to find our ID number in the Namibian ID book, or VIN number of the Bike. These "Cops" then pointed my loaded Revolver at each other trying to find the Serial #. In their Records I observed that at 5 in the Afternoon we were the 9'Th vehicle passing through. All of them "foreigners". What an effort (financially and logistically) to harass Tourists, the locals may proceed without questioning. In Sesfontein they had no fresh meat, so we bought 2 Blikkies ,a six-pack Beer & Cokes.

 

We camped at Warmquelle. Initially we were the only ones there. Soon we were invaded by Vaalies and their Gen. Sets etc. One even Towed a Caravan into the gorge, it broke on the way out "Die 4X4 hy wasse die taai, maar die Caravaan, oish het hy seer gekry". These community campsites should police these things better, or why do we pay 25N$ ? After our Morning Coffee we were of to Palmwag gate and then we turned of into the Twyfelfontein Road, because the Road was so corrugated. For those we passed with  papwiele- 3.5 bar inflation coupled with speeds exceeding 120 Kph does do that to your tyre.

 

Just before we turned of, we relaxed at a "Bush bar or Cuca shop". The secondary road was much smoother (as the Gautengers cannot race here) and we saw neat things. Finally we passed Sorris Sorris, laboured through the Ugab and hit Uis. Were we hammered ! After staggering into the Bar (we don't always do things differently) and quaffing our first Beer, we meet one of Urda's colleagues who was busy studying Archaeology. Dinner was Steaks (I was seriously considering becoming a vegetarian) and the party carried on. The Belgian owner decided that his place should become famous for its parties. I think paying    N$ 300 a night without Water in your room (the rest of the complex had Water), is a rip off.

 

Friday mid morning we departed leisurely for Henties. Here we had a drink for Lunch, marvelling on how the town had grown in the last few years. That afternoon my folks in Swakop welcomed us. Here we spent Christmas and then left for Windhoek via the Us pas on the 26'Th. The next day we swapped the Motorbike for my Bantam and headed in comfort for Cape Town. We decided not to use the Bike going off road, as we have now done that trip twice. What did surprise me is that the rear tyre only lasted 5000 kilometres.  What is next ? Maybe Malawi by Bike ? Any suggestions ?