The road from Eksteenfontein is the most wretched and depressing road I have ever had the pleasure of traveling on (and I’ve lived in Turin). Even the pied crows had forsaken it. Now might be a good time to confess that I love birds. Birds are by far the most interesting animals on the planet. Birds can fly. Think about that for a minute. I need some milk, I’ll just fly there. Let’s face it that’s pretty amazing. But there’s more. Birds have hollow bones. I imagine I’d be able to shave a good few minutes off my park run time if I had hollow bones. Birds are colourful. They can fly. Yes, I’ve mentioned that before but it’s worth a second mention. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the vast majority of birds are not going to kill you, a fact that I would appreciate far more by the end of the trip. Anyway, of all birds, by far the most amazing are the corvids – crows and the like. They are super clever. Don’t believe me? Watch this or this. They design tools rather than just pick up what’s lying around. They remember human faces for seven years after just one look! If you want to see a marvel of evolution crows are it. They are masters of opportunity. Crows in South Africa have learnt that motorways are roadkill heaven and have accordingly set up shop all along our highways. But perhaps the thing I like most about crows is that they don’t care, they’ll steal your lunch and fly to a pole and mock you with a bird call so unmelodious it’s almost defiant. They outsmart bears and wolves to steal their food. Forget thug life choosing crows, crows define thug life. So when you get to a place where even crows can’t make a living, you know it’s grim.
I will attempt to describe the experience but nothing can compare to living it. The wind was howling and, this being desert, carried enough sand to reduce visibility to a few metres. It was blisteringly hot. Literally, I’m a redhead and my skin is literally just to keep the stuff that’s meant to be on the inside, inside. It provides no sun protection whatsoever. At some point my head started pounding and my bladder filled up. This was a problem. The landscape was completely featureless except for our car and the exfoliation to my nether regions was going to hurt like hell. But there are no petrol stations here, no farm stalls, no bus stops to hide behind. Nothing. And it was going to be another hour until Kuboes. I took a deep breathe and dragged myself behind the car, sand stinging my legs and clogging my eyes, and practiced the squat I had grown to hate. I needn’t have worrying about angles here, the wind blew my stream everywhere. Clearly laundry would have to be done tonight. Then the strangest thing happened. A car, the first of the day drove past. My experience complete I shamefully got back into the car. Richard was smiling broadly.
Did you see the car?
I nodded and a small tear trickled down my cheek. I fought the Richtersveld and the Richtersveld won.
Richard, feeling bad obviously, told me we could stop for lunch and San dancing in Kuboes. He showed me the guide book which spoke of traditional dancing and story telling. Could this be the amazing San experience I was hoping for? Would I sit learning secrets from master trackers aged 3? Richard knows how to show a girl a good time. I was beaming with excitement! Kuboes was just a few kilometres away but we couldn’t get there fast enough!