Ginger William of Orange (viii)

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Previous instalment links: (Map) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii)

Ginger William - 'Fizzy'

Ginger William – ‘Fizzy’

(Boxing Day 1974 saw Much Better Half and I setting off from Durban on ‘rideabout’ in our Combi Camper ‘Cambi’ with our daughters aged 4 & 7. By Saturday 28th December we had reached Upington, and while camped on their island in the Orange River we were adopted by a scraggy ginger cat. After we had tried and failed to find where he belonged or any SPCA,  he stayed in the Camper while we booked into the hotel overnight. Next day he came with us to Augrabies Falls and then into South West Africa.  We camped on the edge of the Fish River Canyon and he vanished just after we saw the New Year in, but reappeared in daylight many hours later.)

 Cambi in NamibNew Year’s Day 1975 saw us on the road to Lüderitz – well, it started off as a road, but after it had done about 1000m drop to the Namib Desert it hardly deserved that title. The desert beggars description. No pictures or words can convey the impact – it has to be experienced. It is frighteningly beautiful, and fascinatingly forbidding.   It gives a feeling of awe and alien-ness which I have only once since experienced, and that was at the extreme northern tip of Skye. 

During that first trip across the desert, the wind was doing its best to moveDSC01596 Cr dunes across the so-called road, and had got more than half-way with some of them. It also nearly blew us over a few times. We were rather grateful to reach Lüderitz with nothing worse than a totally wrecked exhaust.

Luderitz 1Cottages at  LuderitzWe managed to book into a rather remote and primitive beach cottage – with the mist and cold as a sudden contrast to the desert heat, it was nice to have some shelter we could move around in more freely than in Cambi. Ginger and I tried an evening walk, but the weather soon made us eager to return. 

German-style house at Luderitz

 Fishing Boats at LuderitzThe following morning I had the exhaust fixed, and after a look round the quaint town with its Germanic influences, we all took a drive to Shark Island. Poor little YD fell while running across some of the volcanic-type rock there, and the scar remains on her knee to this day. 

 Conditions were more pleasant that evening, and Ginger and I went for a quite astonishingly long walk along the coastline and back – he made a most entertaining companion. Part of the time he was not content to follow my chosen route, but nagged me until I went with him on his. When I submitted to his will on these occasions he would give an approving meow, as if to say, ‘That’s a good boy!’ One takes a dog for a walk, but a cat either takes you for a walk or you go as equal partners!

 Agate Beach 3 Agate Beach4More adventure followed the day after. We visited Agate Beach eight kilometres north of Lüderitz in the Sperrgebied (restricted diamond area) and swam in the icy water – one touch of that and my legs went numb while my twiddly bits shrieked and dived for cover.  The agony is prolonged by the fact that one has to wade for some distance even to get to waist-deep.  I marvelled at some of the locals, who came from the sweltering inland conditions but seemed able to stay in that freezing ocean for amazingly long periods without apparent discomfort.Deserted Cambi

 Then we had an expedition to the ghost town of Kolmanskop, again in Sperrgebied, but some ten kilometres inland; however a gale-cum-sandstorm blew up and we didn’t see much. The wind broke the catch on our fibreglass roof, so MBH was trying to hold it down by hanging onto a towel looped through the handle – but she was being lifted into the air every few seconds. I managed to tie a rope around the belly of Cambi to keep the top in place until we could  complete the return journey.  

  Diaz Cross 2  Diaz Cross

 I was able to fix the catch the next day – a Saturday – and we took a drive to Diaz Point and near to Halifax Island, but by now the chill weather was getting to us and the novelty of the utter bleakness had worn off.  The evening walk was a very short one, and we left the following day and headed inland and then north.

 The shock of returning to the Namib heat was considerable, and Fizzy announced that he had changed his mind about enjoying travel.  When we cut our fresh bread for breakfast in the desert, it was crisp like toast by the time we came to butter it.


Even after leaving the desert again at Aus (‘Out’ – of the desert -) the heat remained at stifling levels. By now almost out of the fuel we had taken in at Lüderitz, we booked into the Union Hotel in Keetmanshoop.  Ginger was happy to stay in our room while we took a trip out to the Kokerboom Forest, some 14 kilometres northeast of the town, with a family from Natal we palled up with.  Roy and Marion S and their two kids were also marooned over the weekend by petrol restrictions, on their way to Walvis Bay.

Kokerboom Forest 3 Kokerboom Forest 2

 We all travelled in Cambi using my two reserve 5-litre cans.   I had expected something Sherwood-y by way of forest, but the reality was only a scattered collection of these strange plants – Aloe dichotoma – but in greater profusion than are usually found in one place.  They are known as Quiver Trees because the hollow stems are handy for arrows.

 Kokerboom Forest 1

I discovered that Roy and I shared interests like cave exploration. After dinner he and I had a boys’ night out until the pub closed, so Ginger missed out on any walk there. 

 (To be continued… ) 

P.S. In a fit of typical African idiocy, the Namibian government recently decided to change the name of Lüderitz.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they have chosen a name one cannot even spell, much less pronounce.  This is how it is expressed:  !Nami=Nüs    Apparantly the = and ! represent clicks.  Maybe the  ü is a legacy from German, though, which would be richly ironic.

© Colonialist September 2013 (WordPress) November 2007 (

About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
This entry was posted in Beach, Cats, Colonialist, verse, writing, music composition, fantasy, Africa, journal., Personal Journal, Roving, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Ginger William of Orange (viii)

  1. Pingback: Ginger William of Orange (x – Finale) | Colonialist's Blog

  2. Pingback: Ginger WIlliam of Orange (ix) | Colonialist's Blog

  3. 68ghia says:

    A place I’ve always wanted to visit – South West. So thanks for showing me the sights, albeit 40 year old sights 😉
    As for the idiots in government changing the names, it’s what they do, being that they’re idiots. And, as we all know, nothing any whitey has ever done will be left unmolested. It’s the African way.


  4. batzed says:

    Thank you!
    Things are a bit strange here but I am sure with time I will get the hang of it.


  5. Gingers are just so very special.


  6. nrhatch says:

    Col ~ you might want to enter Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie Contest.

    You can find the details here:


    • colonialist says:

      Thanks – a comment I tried to post there is self-explanatory – but I can’t seem to be able to register successfully:
      Nancy said I should go for this one so I wrote it in a hurry. Now I see I only need it for Monday week! Ah, well. ‘Tis ready. And just to be on the safe side it is titled, and starts, ‘Spooky Black Cat Cackle’. 🙂


  7. linda says:

    I love the idea that Ginger took you for a walk, and think the Quiver trees are beautiful. What an easy way to make toast.


  8. adinparadise says:

    What a great adventure, Col. I guess Sherwood Forest should have had a few Quiver trees for Robin Hood and his merry men. 🙂


  9. That first photo of the van reminds me of every photo my husband’s family took of when they first moved to Sasolburg in the Free State; that looked like a desert as well 🙂


  10. You do know how to go on an adventure, do you? 😉


  11. This was am amazing trip you took, Col, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading all about it!


  12. cobbies69 says:

    Question if I may,,, are the photos ones of yours at the time,,, because they are so very good,, and adds so much depth to your story as well..Not many had photos of the day,, cameras not to good and film… it is this that make it so more high in quality… 😉 thank you.


  13. bulldog says:

    Col … places I’d love to see… all where you travelled, never been to Namibia and it is one of those places we definitely will spend time in the future… that desolation shown in your photos is one that really attracts me… I’m enjoying this trip and keeping notes…


  14. The Asian says:

    It’s amazing how detailed your description of your holiday is. Did you keep a daily journal when you were on your road trip?


    • colonialist says:

      For many years I made a daily pocket diary entry, and it was surprising how much detail I could get into one tiny page. I’m sorry I lost the habit – but the blog does act as a bit of a substitute here and there.


  15. What an adventure, and those quiver trees are like something from a fantasy novel 🙂


  16. nrhatch says:

    When we drove through the Nevada desert, I felt just the same, Col. I couldn’t wait to get to the end of it. But it kept going and going and going.

    Made for a long day.


  17. Pussycat44 says:

    Melting, freezing, shrinking, quivering and all that jazz. Glad you had the time of your life with William of Orange and other family members 😉


  18. disperser says:

    Adventures of epic proportions.


  19. Jeanius says:

    Just to say hello and that sometimes I look at a few of you but since I have been so thoroughly dumped I just go my own way hey:)


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