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(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. We went on to Luderitz for a few days where Ginger showed a willingness to go on amazingly long walks with me. From there we went to Keetmanshoop, where I had a late pub session with a new friend. )
A cold bath before bed helped me to get up early on that Monday, 6th January 1975. After breakfast at 7:30 we were on the road by 8:30. A brief stop to renew Ginger’s ‘lavatory’, and we drove and drove. Then we drove some more. Just before Mariental, we turned off to view the amazing ‘Finger Rock’ or Mukurob (Finger of God) which, alas, collapsed on 4th December 1988, so the pictures below can never be taken again.
Ginger decided to head for some nearby hills with Much Better Half and Elder- and Younger-Daughter in hot (very hot) pursuit. I left them to it while I took slide shots from each perspective of the miracle rock-balancing-act. It took quite some time to walk round the whole thing. The photos don’t give a true idea of how massive it was – and it the weather was distinctly warm!
I was rather glad to get back to Cambi and the rush of air driving gave us.
After lunching in Marental we drove on, climbing gradually from 1250 m to 2000 m. We had an altimeter in Cambi, and it was very useful. If the temperature gauge went up while the altimeter was doing the same – rises are so gradual that there is no sense of climbing – I didn’t worry too much. However, when the Combi was running hot with no climb to account for it, I would stop to let it cool a bit and would check the engine and air-inlets.
As we got higher so the vegetation became bushier, but the heat was still unrelenting. MBH drove for 90 miles, right through Rehoboth, while I slept in the back.
At about 5:30 pm we booked into the Safari Motel in Windhoek, swam in the pool there, explored the city a bit, and then dined on schnitzel at the La Cave Restaurant. Before retiring, I gave Ginger another walk. He was inclined to do more lurk-and-dashing in a built-up environment, but still stayed with me.
The next part of the trip was planned to be the main route to Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, and then a round-trip return through the Namib Desert Park, where a cat would be strictly verboten. Reluctantly, therefore, we took Ginger to the Windhoek SPCA for boarding until we returned. This was just as well. Apart from giving him shots, they discovered he had ringworm and treated it. Fortunately, none of us caught it.
I may do a separate post on that memorable leg of the trip, but as it didn’t include Fizzy I’ll skip it for now. Suffice it to say that at 1:35 p.m. on Friday 10th we returned to the SPCA to pick him up. It seemed he had quite enjoyed his stay, because, although he appeared pleased to see us, he wasn’t completely ecstatic.
I think that it was then that we started having serious misgivings about the wisdom of our action in having ‘catnapped’ him from the banks of the Orange River in Upington …
(To be concluded …)
© Colonialist September 2013 (WordPress) November 2007 (24.com)