I took my newly broken heart to the oldest desert in the world
For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t worried about my miserable relationship, but rather worried about being caught by the lone leopard seen roaming the area recently. I made my peace with this eventuality and indulged in the barking gecko symphony; a species endemic to southern Africa that calls for hours in search of a mate during the summer months, only to be kicked out of its painstakingly constructed sand burrow right after copulation, and forced to find a new patch and start the whole process sorry again. I could relate.
I spent the next morning watching a bat-eared fox run across the plains as the hot wind blew sand into nothingness. There, I feasted on freshly baked cookies in the company of a brave white-tailed shrike who hopped at my feet, pecking at crumbs. I had realized that this was the perfect place to be injured; alone in the desert, nobody’s pessimistic companion, free to ruminate without interruption. Brooding, I think, is a much underrated coping mechanism. With that out of my system, my morale improved a lot.
We crossed the expanses of another world, past mirages of endangered mercury, to the mighty sand dunes of Sossusvlei. Franco and I got tired of climbing the highest – “Big Daddy”, a 1,006-foot-high heap blown from the Kalahari – before gliding with great pleasure into the white salt marshes on the other side, where we ended up. walked among the dead trees of camel thorns still rooted, stubbornly, in cracked clay. Elegant rot was everywhere. Even Namibian elephants adapted to the desert have an unexplained fascination with death; they’re prone to carrying old bones, Franco told me.
We drove through the famous town of Solitaire – a remote graveyard of abandoned vintage cars – and ended up in Sonop, another brand new luxury lodge built – unrealistic, it seemed – atop a scramble of boulders and on the model of the lavish explorer camps of the 1920s. It was a sanctuary, explained the managing director, “to British travelers who have traded in their beloved homes for the bare dunes of the Namibian desert”. After some thought, I couldn’t blame them.
The next morning, while cycling around the reserve’s impending geological masterpieces, I came across a pair of bloated bloggers. They got off their bikes and asked their guide if global warming was the cause of the last drought in Namibia. The guide shook his head, as if he had been asked this question a hundred times, and said, âThese weather conditions come in cycles, this is nothing new.