October 2018
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Month October 2018

shongololo, again

So the rains continue to force the wildlife inside. As luck would have it, we discovered a shongololo escaping the kitchen. It’s a small one, about 6″. A fantastic animal.

Then first video shows how the body articulates as it navigates a small step

This shows the feet

It was a bit dark and only had the iPad at hand.

But back to the rain storm for a sec. As it turns out this is the first time the Hudup River has seen water in October since 1972. All around, the roads are in bad shape. Here’s a shot Marika sent me, from the road from Helmeringhausen I travelled a couple of weeks ago. Btw, this is a typical guided tourist vehicle. About 70% of the tourists are from Germany, some self-drive. 25% from South Africa, in their own very capable vehicles. A few from France, a few from Australia. No noticeable Brits, Canucks or Yanks so far, through this village

Here’s the Hudup from the morning after

And here it is, just out of town, dry, from Google Earth

centipede/millipede

Another bug that found its way into my room was this gorgeous centipede. It’s the red-headed centipede (Scolopendra morsitans). Big, about 5″

Here’s a YouTube of someone handling one

After the rain, I walked to the local river to see the flow, since it was dry a day earlier. In the rocks I found this

It was still and I wondered if it was alive, so I poked it. Then it did this

It’s one of the 22 members of the genus Archispirostreptus, the African giant millipedes. The largest grows to 15″. Apparently they’re sold as pets. This fellow was about 8″. According to wiki it has 256 legs.

in trees

On the way to Windhoek (story to follow), this. Giant nests, maybe 6 feet across

They’re built by the sociable weaver (Philetairus socius). It’s the only species in the genus. From wiki

They build large compound community nests, a rarity among birds. These nests are perhaps the most spectacular structure built by any bird.

Picture of the bird from the web

There’s a famous hotel in Namibia that’s architecturally fashioned after the social weaver nests, and fittingly it’s called The Nest. Stunningly beautiful, the rooms start at $1700 CDN a night. For pictures, click the link to the hotel site.

And these nests. Impossible to identify the bird from this, as there are 22 species of weaver bird in Namibia

And another cluster, in town

There was this, an empty Tafel bottle. We’ve all tried to get beer bottles stuck in trees, not so easy eh, so well done this guy

Now, a weaver bird actually seen. The community nests

A pair

A fellow building a nest. The male builds the main structure, the female lines it with softer comfy material.

It’s the southern masked weaver (Ploceus velatus)

on r/t_d, sunday is gunday

And it’s Sunday. We’re scheduled for a night hunt in a few days. John and I took a truck load of weapons out so I could fire the rifle I’d be using

Kevin, John’s son, 13, showed up at speed on his moto

We warmed up with handguns

Then, the rifle I’ll be using on the hunt

Yup, selective video cropping, lol

on r/irl, it’s wednesday

Don’t ask me how I know this, but this is almost the defining and most durable meme on r/irl. I’ve sortof been tracking and collecting internet memes, a casual interest, for about 3 years. Brilliant memes, and there have been a few, are a kind of super-branding. The advertising industry could pay more attention to the added dimension they bring to messaging, and the commitment they have from the targeted audience. Although they probably are already.

Anyway last night there was a huge storm across the desert from the west. It was like this

Afterwards, the unexpected and rare event (there are not supposed to be heavy rains before January) brought out all kinds of small wildlife.

So here’s the branding meme from r/irl

Brilliant. If you have a nicely balanced personality, you won’t understand why.

And look at this, the same toad/frog (not sure which) that got into the room last night

Here’s another pic

You see that red blotch on the right rear leg? I think it’s an egg cluster

to deadvlei

(this updates/expands and deletes the sossusvlei post from last week or so)

I leave my stuff in Maltahohe and catch a ride to Sesrium with Willy. As usual, great conversation

It’s about 1 1/2 hours

To Sesrium

The town on the margin of the dunes that dominate the west of the country

Oryx everywhere. They’re the favourite meat for BBQ

Four small pieces actually

Then the drive out to Sossusvlei for another hour

Beautiful

We went digging in the sand near there for this, a Dancing White Lady. Willy, a local farmer, who’ll appear in my update stories later, says it’s poisonous enough to kill a man. A local black guy, who was doing the digging, says it has only has enough venom to kill a gecko. All the stories vary here, a story later on that too. The wiki

The dig

The final very short drive in on organized shuttles and 4X4’s.

Here’s the Sossuvlei wiki.

Although we’ve arrived early, the tourists are beginning to pile up. The famous sight here has been a huge draw for over 30 years. Firstly, Namibia is Africa “lite”, with its excellent infrastructure and conveniences, going back to apartheid days, it’s zero stress. Secondly, this beautiful place is a snap to get to. Fly into the international airport at Windhoek, rent a car and drive for 4 1/2 hours. Then go home and feel like you’ve had an adventure.

Here’s the major dune over Deadvlei. It’s called “Big Daddy” and is one of only three you’re legally allowed to climb

Now walking up a monster sand dune isn’t my idea of fun at the moment. The hundreds of tourists, having paid their money to get here, despite minimal hassle, dutifully trudge up it. Me, I pick a nice wandery dune where I can be in peace 

There are beetles everywhere

Close up

Then down to Deadvlei, one of the most photographed places in Africa. The dried trees here are about 700 years old

Due to the ease of access, it’s been a top destination for fashion shoots, car roll outs, everything imaginable for decades. There are Chinese tourists doing their own fashion shoots

Tourists huddling under trees like ‘roos in the outback

Yes, it’s beautiful. But I’m not sure what to say about the experience.

on the farm

Next day, Marika, her husband, Willy and I go out to inspect the sheep at 2 stations, a few miles apart.

Leaving the main road, a universal image

Off we go

Willy and I are now bff’s

The new floppy hat. Here’s the Australian attitude from a couple of years ago: cheery

And the Namibian attitude. German and Afrikaner: serious

That badge is the Namibian flag. It shares the colours of the bold and beautiful SA flag.

Anyway, the sheep have come in from their daily wandering on the farm and patiently wait to get to the water trough in groups of about 20

Here they go. Man are they thirsty. Really good sound effects here

Marika and her head keeper inspect them

Then, somehow, they get them running around them

Then, the guy stops them and readies himself to grab one they’ve identified for inspection

Then they have a close look, not sure what for

It may be a good time to mention what unskilled blacks make in Namibia. I only have a couple of examples. The above fellow earns $US125 a month. I double checked the number, 1700 rand.

water

This post wanders bit, but it’s a story, which I haven’t done in a while.

The plan was to ride from Helmeringhausen to Maltahohe and down to Sesriem. We didn’t make it, which was the best thing that’s happened in Namibia so far. We stopped at the hotel in Maltahohe (the only decent building in the village) for lunch and to ask about the road conditions through, which we do every time we stop

The lady owner is chatty, is 3rd generation Namibian, from a further 3 generations of Afrikaner in SA. I decide to stay.

The town of Maltahohe has a bad reputation for drinking and associated issues. It has some striking buildings. Like this little house

This church

This public pool

Some ladies

Mostly it’s like this

Maltahohe is here, a couple of hundred miles over the great dunes from the ocean

The next day we go out to her farm, which is here

And looks like this

It’s in the middle of her 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) holding. This is the break-even minimum size for farming in Namibia. We set off with a load of sand and concrete in her bakkie (in Australia, ute, in North American, pick-up)

About half way there, we pass Willy, her business partner, with a flat

Which is where we saw the viper (previous post). They wanted to kill it but I plead, successfully, for its life

Now to one point of the story, the thing I’m very interested in, how these incredibly remote locations, and farms, generate power and draw water. I have a friend in Pemberton who would be sooo into this

Here’s how they do it. All power is solar. A small farmhouse like this one only needs this small array

Battery storage

Now water. There are three ways to get the water to the surface.

Solar pump. Marika shows it off

Windmill

Or, if your lucky, sub-aquifer pressure. The well below has been supplying excess water since 1958. This is a very rare find. Here Marika tells me about the wellhead (her father found and bored). She’s awesome

An exploratory hole is expensive. About $30 a meter, the average depth is 100 meters, but may be 200, and the chance of hitting randomly is very low. So how do they find water? They hire a diviner (see previous post). Marika’s grandfather was a diviner. They don’t miss. So as much as the whole thing has been debunked and buried, here it’s the only way to not go bust looking.