Around Gaia: NamibiaMotorcycle Diaries
Namibia is like that friend who you didn´t meet for a long time and who has the incredible ability to arrive without warning, at the right moment and directly telling you what you are becoming, whether you like it or not.
It’s recipe is very simple and begins as always, before putting the meat in the oven you have to make it soft and marinate it. The first thing that Namibia does when you cross its border is to make you feel useless because now you are not the one controlling the speed you move. Forget about going fast, you will cross the sandy routes in slow motion.
Then after only a couple of very long days when we end up with very exhausted, looking for a place where to camp in some of the creeks around the Orange River, we begin to understand the true immensity of this country. Its size is equal to Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom together but with a population one hundred times smaller. But besides being a huge country we must add that on this lands there is not exist words like “assistance” or “urgent”, so easy, whatever will happen to you over there you will be depending only on yourself, nobody will come to solve your problems.
Namibia from the beginning make you to spend all your energy and intimidates you with the intention to cause you vertigo,Namibia want to see how truly special you are. Maybe you have come very far but rarely to a place like this. In just one week Namibia transformed us into what it wanted, a lonely traveler, exhausted and vulnerable in the middle of the desert ready to enter in the oven, it’s time to cross this country at 40ºC and let its magic cook us.
The first thing we ask ourselves when the trip becomes so hard is what we are doing here, and then it is when we remember the young couple we were just before starting the journey and how we were excited because we decide to go out and see the world. That couple did not care about not having experience driving a motorcycle, or that without gloves or boots we were ready to face any challenge of the route, we felt like giants.
It was with enthusiasm and trusting ourselves that we were overcoming battles, learning from from those obstacles and growing with experiences and as a persons, and also as the kilometers were passing we also discovered the possibilities of spreading that virus that all dreamers have. What we were getting through became attractive to the family and friends who followed us, then to the friends of these, then some magazines offered to publish our experiences and more and more people began to travel with us … eventually all of this It ended up attracting some brands willing to sponsor us.
Everything was happening without planning, and it seemed so natural that we didn not question it, so we accepted the tentative offers were arriving to us and and with this decision our way of traveling was changing so slowly slowly that we even didn´t notice it.
We entered Namibia from to the sourthern border with South Africa and one of the very interested places we arrived Kolmanskop, a ghost town where we discovered that not all lands are prepared to receive the luxurious lives of Europeans.
In this country the desert is the king and the king will send its army of dunes to defeat anyone who tries to go in opposite direction. In Kolmanskop the desert devoured those buildings that once no long ago were high society clubs and elegant shops where was possible to buy the best perfumes in the world, turning this very popular place for the rich people into a ghost town that today warns the visitor of the consequences of going against nature, against your instincts.
But although in the south of Namibia this rich and powerful town had no other choice but to succumb to nature, further north we saw that the poor Himba nomads continue to survive over the centuries, always with a smile on their faces perhaps to tell us that the desert is not a ruthless king but something more like a kind judge.
The Himba walk almost naked through these hard terrains, and they do it barefoot because they are still connected to the earth and they allow the red sand to climb up their bodies, covering their skin to protect them from the sun and mosquitoes and reaching the hair of their women giving personality to this people.
The Himbas allowed to be conquered for the land becoming themselves an extension of it, in return they are rewarded with animals to hunt and hold water where to drink … and of course with the wisdom to know how to find them. It must be that philosophy of life that makes the Himbas laughing at our appearance of astronauts when they meet us on the road, they sure think that we are ignorant people who forgot that the protection that Mother Nature offers to those who know how to listen it It’s much better than expensive helmets or suits we wear.
But who can listen to the voice of the planet when you are so busy making photos that the companies that sponsors us now request, editing videos that show their products or trying to get more followers to convince them of the importance of traveling with the best equipment. Every time we sleep less under the starry sky to go to luxurious hotels that offer us their beds in exchange for recommending them in our social networks. We were fooled by the comforts and facilities that were offered to us and we entered a world of fake smiles published on facebook.
To see how the Himba came so far, in a land so hard and with so little reminds us of that couple that once we was, who see no limits and that without the help of sponsors knew how to find solutions to keep moving forward. And now that we measure the trip with facebook statistics and not with sensations, Namibia arrives just in time as that friend who came to tell us the truth of what we become, to teach us how maybe we have taken a wrong path in this trip.
But all the motorbikes have a brake to stop and a handlebar to turn, at that momento we feel it’s time to change our direction and face our last African stage before returning home, finishing this dream with a perfect photo, a change that take us to our original motivation. Namibia showed us the contrast between what we were and what we became, but that’s what life and travel are about, contrasts, that’s why one day we are in the hot Namibia and another time in the frozen Arctic Circle.