Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dune 45

We drove back into Sossusvlei late one afternoon, to see the dunes in a different, un-dawn light; through the gates near camp, handing our permit to the perennially suspicious guard. The same man who checked us in pre-dawn the previous day was the man on duty late this afternoon - a very long shift if he'd been on duty all day. The gates only close at 8.30pm.

This was an odd thing: whenever any permit was inspected, great suspicion rose in almost visible layers from the person reading the document. In the end I decided that the problem was one of literacy. Or its lack. It was very strange.

A small gang of bokkies welcomed us.

And off we went, having reached the (too?) accessible dune. There were a couple of people ahead of us. But I have read that "in season" in winter, there may 100 ahead of you. God. It makes you not want to climb in those footsteps, which is an amazing arrogance, in its way. It's OK for me to be here, but not for you. Even if you're Spanish and drove all the way from Spain. 'Strue.

The leg of my husband. It's a nice leg.

I sat down once we reached the summit. My shoes were full of sand again and I was wobbly: afraid of heights, you see. So I sent him on while I sat at sandblasting level and tried to take pictures without ruining my lens.

The sand is very soft, and very pleasant to touch, when it isn't stinging. I felt very bad to be messing it up. Thinking of all sorts of ecological setbacks we might be causing.

But, wow. The beauty.

I can't wait to see Vincent's pictures. He was so happy. Having dreamed about this place since he was a boy.

Photographing the oldest desert in the world.

I sat for quite a long time.

And decided to take a sideways route down. I could have skiied.

On the dune's flanks, grasses like fur.

Lizard tracks - tail in the middle.

The dune's foot.

Vince charging down, while I mixed our G&T's at the car.

We sipped, tasting quinine and juniper and lemon and ice, and watched the sand colouring anew as the sun set. We managed to break both our glasses by balancing them on the car's running board and opening the doors.

And headed home to a braai, the barking geckos, and a jackal in the firelight.


  1. I am loving all of this! And the picture of Vincent,atop the dune with the sand whipping around him...
    Thanks for overcoming your fear of heights!

  2. What fear of heights? You should see yourself going up the very exposed and slippery chains on the face of Lion's Head...

    But yes, this is all simply stunning. My post(s) will be quite redundant, but at the very least, we'll have pictures of you. :-)

  3. gorgeous pictures! interesting that even these dunes are not bare of life...and how green that clump of grasses at the foot look.

  4. MIT - you're a great audience :-)

    Beence - I did see myself. It wasn't pretty.

    QC - Yes, that amazed me too, and made me think that Iwas IN a documentary movie; the kind where they have a time lapse showing rain in the desert, with Vivaldi's Four Seasons sawing away prettily. I think we all saw them at school when we are about 8?


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