Namibia, orange river to helmeringhausen

A couple of things first:

  1. Namibia is approx the same size as BC without Vancouver Island
  2. Population 2.6 million, 50% Ovambo tribe, 43% numerous others, 7% white
  3. Dry. Nearly all the water supply is (mostly replenishing) groundwater. The north has one of the world’s largest sub-aquifers
  4. German colonial rule from 1880s to 1920s, then Afrikaner until 1990, stable democracy since independence from SA in 1990
  5. Economy is minerals, farming, tourism

Here’s the track, about 715 miles. Map is sized to be border to border, north south. The blue bit is car, see the next story. The return to paved is a red herring, we’re reversing this

We left the Orange river with the promise it would be weeks before we saw water again.

Off we go, on perfect dirt (they call it gravel here). It’s hot, but not that hot, about 85F. Very fast riding. Below, a road junction

And later descended to a large, horrible hotel serving the Fish River Canyon tourism business

Corrugation. New grading leaves a sandy skaty shitty surface

The canyon is huge.The river is reduced to discontinuous pools until it rains again in January

Bike shot. Nice!

Off again. Hotter today. A rare shade tree for a smoke, a pic, and water. The only wildlife was the occasional springbok

We gas up at the Canyon Roadhouse. Very nice. As I write this blog, it turns out to have been the nicest one I’ve seen here so far. An enormous bar. I should have stayed here instead of the large one last night

Fast riding across a featureless landscape, until this, a rise over a ridge past a few mesas. I see a couple of Oryx in the distance

Into our first town, Bethanie, pop 300. The small hotel here is the oldest structure in Namibia, they claim. A check on wiki more-or-less confirms this. Paved in town to reduce the dust. It has a general store and a post office, where I took the opportunity to buy a ton of credit for the cell carrier, MTC, which I converted to data, since wifi isn’t happening out here.

Fast riding the next morning

The landscape changes to low scrub

Into Helmeringhausen. A dozen or so buildings

I took the below 180 panorama from a hill behind the buildings the next morning, well worth a click to get a feel for the big picture

It was a short day and the owner (of all the buildings), an Afrikaner, and I have a long chat. I have questions.

Answers (the first from wiki)

  1. Helmeringhausen was founded as a farm by a member of the Schutztruppe, the colonial armed force of Imperial Germany back in the 1890’s.
  2. It’s big. 22,000 hectares
  3. Power is from solar, water from a well 4 kilometres away.
  4. The owner claims this recent well was found by divining. He said the diviner uses anything that feels right, a forked branch, a metal wire, or even a bottle of water. Obviously, in my mind I’m calling huge bullshit on this. He says, to my gentle probe, no diviner, no water.

I resolve to find out more about this. Firstly, the subject is called Dowsing. Here’s the dowsing wiki. Here’s a sensible looking diviner, from web

Here’s a lunatic looking diviner, from web

What BS, I think, after some web research, although some authorities hedge. But over the next few days I decide to find out about the broader subject a bit more, in a country completely dependent on finding groundwater. More 2 posts from now.

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