Serendipity and Poetry

Over the last week or so I’ve dug out some watercolours with poems about Namibia written back in the 70s and written them into the red bound moleskin that will be the journal for this trip.
Today, listened to an old ‘Excess Baggage’ programme from the bbc and the subject was travel poetry.
Here is Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ the final two sentances those often quoted.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh. I kept that for another day!
Yet knowing how ways lead on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I..
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

So here is one of the poems I wrote on the last bush trip we had up into the Kalahari…and one which won’t be re-travelled. Remember these words were written 30+years ago as the sun set on a damp evening, sitting by a campfire close, but not too close! to a waterhole frequented by game with a Dan Hill song playing on a very dodgy cassette player.

A campfire glows
Yellow and gold
A focus of warmth and light.
Hereroland skies
Are grey and white, pregnant with rain
To spiky horizons of thorn trees
Beyond rusted corn coloured grass.

Seek life from this land,
Buried water beneath red sand
And scanty game
hidden in concealed corners
Hunted with bow and arrow
Carried carefully
In strapped leather sacks:
Tiny men
Like wizened children
So wise in the ways of pure existance,
Rich men
With a handful of tobacco
Rich men
In their surroundings,
Open skies
Horizon boundaries to their world
And the everchanging sounds of the bush.

Are the roots of man
Unchanged through millenia
Provided by water
Dark and light.

Night is now full
And the red eye of the fire
In our part of of Hereroland.

‘He who would travel happily must travel light’

a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery and looming closer with less than four weeks to go..not that perhaps he was referring to the check list for the suitcase and handluggage! A hopeless packer of bags, and no it’s not shoes but extra pairs of jeans and t shirts.There is usually a swag of cameras, just in case, and with two flights on smallish planes overweight is not going to be an option or very expensive.
Have a couple of maps…google earth is great but it’s not on paper with that simultaneous thrill and frustration of wrestling with an acre of map …and being a stationary nut the pen and sketchbook collection is growing and have a little collection of moleskins to take too, thankyou Mr Chatwin.
So with all this already taking up space it will be a pair of jeans and cargoes, some T shirts, a sweater..big woolly grey job …thermals, gloves and a beanie for camping. No little black backless number or Manolos in this collection.

a month to go

just over a month before the first adventure back ‘itwby’.’Tickets booked and a dream safari through Namibia, returning after 30years!!! eek!!! happening a week after  arriving in South Africa.
Namibia, wow, this was the country where Africa got into my blood and has remained ever since. Back in the 70s it was South West Africa. Windhoek was home and the rest of the country a rich mix of adventurous people,landscape, colours, gemsbok, meerkat and elephant and a moon that rose over the Namib desert  red as  a blood orange . Getting married in a blue dress  with Paul resplendent in a 70s lapelled suit and  tie a jumbo jet could have landed on!

It was time in the diamond area living in a ghost town, digging for old bottles  and flying into camp in a DC3  stripped of all seats and loaded with fuel , cement, water, a double bed and a drillrig in pieces. Camping  and exploring in Tsondab Vlei and Bushmanland, fishing on the Skeleton Coast, digging for tourmalines,travelling through Etosha in a yellow kombi van with Frankie, watching ‘ABBA The Movie’ at the drive in and playing in a band. It was exploration camps in caravans and tents, drill core and mad drillers who slurped a dozen raw eggs at sun-up . T cups buried at a metre and going crazy counting the ‘tracks’. Arriving at properties where the farmer looked for the ‘boss geologist’ and was aghast to find it was me, a 23 year old woman  and farmers wives who took me under their wing and sent pots of jam, cans of milk and biltong to camp. Learning to  shoot a Beretta and a Dirty Harry Magnum and  a precious evening bath in an old tin bath heated over the coals under a starry sky. 

David and Willem who taught me to find the best camping spot under a broad spread acacia, roll tobacco in brown wrapping paper, spit roast the haunch of a young warthog and find ‘bush tucker’ and water in the desert and how to climb on top of the landcruiser to dive into a water tank for a swim – and even more importantly how to get out of the tank!!