A group of us at the hostel banded together and rented a car to go down to see an Oasis in the middle of the Namibian desert.
There has been an uncommon amount of rain in Namibia this year - so much so that the usual sandy color of the landscape has been replaced by green.
Rain in the desert is an event that is waited for by an entire ecosystem - eggs that lie dormant in the hot, dry sand for decades before exploding in a frenzy of growth, reproduction, and quiescence again.
Rain in the desert is also a very destructive force - torrents of water washing tons of sand and trees towards the sea.
We were fortunate that the car hire man decided to save the wear and tear on his car by giving us a four wheel drive for the same price .. and we were very lucky!
All of the roads we were on were on were dirt roads - fine in the dry desert, but no match for quarter mile wide rivers of floodwater that rise in 10 minutes and are gone in 6 hours.
We had to cross these holes in the road, ford the streams that remained, with much use of four wheel drive. We got to the campground, where there was a sandstorm in progress - we elected to stay in the car until it was over. One poor guy was lying in his flattened tent - his profile visible - also waiting.
We were then greeted with a river of mud flowing through the camp - from a small storm on a local hillside, that got our 4x4 stuck, and also the campground truck trying to pull us out .. mud everywhere.
We spent a rather wet night in tents, and headed out the next morning at 5:30 AM for 67 Km across the desert to Sossesflei, the end of a river from the mountains, that is a huge lake among the dunes. there has been no water here for 10 years, and not a comparable amount for 17 years.
Beetles are the insect of Namibia - they were out in force. The muddy lake was teeming with life - some swept down the river, but much of it the specially adapted dormant desert flora and fauna.
Isolated pools dry up at the rate of 2 inches a day - and despite the floods we encountered on our way there the river feeding the lake had long since dried up. Mats of algae and associated pond life was again being turned into flat biscuits of clay. Bird life was abundant - flowers and thorny bushes were everywhere.
We made our way back to the camp at the end of the day, and then attempted to get back to Windhoek, but were cut off by fierce rivers that had appeared from nowhere. We waited at one river crossing for 4 hours, were then towed through half a dozen by an earth-mover on patrol fixing the roads (Fiat - the Caterpillars lay broken down in the fields, short, no doubt, of the needed spare parts after a prestigious foreign aid giveaway).
We were halted by an even larger river - we made the driver tea and conversed in sign language (he used Africance - a legacy of South African involvement here).
We had to give up, and found a friendly Guest Farm that allowed us to camp on their property until the AM.
I ran across a tour guide that told me that an ecological research station nearby had sifted sand from an area 10m x 20m x 2m and was now involved in classifying the huge number of larvae in the sand. Among them was the Bombadier beetle, which when alarmed rears up and shoots two chemical jets that combine at the target to produce a temperature of 3,000 degrees centigade. I allow a measure of exaggeration here - it is africa ..
Having nearly run out of petrol we got back this PM - most welcome was that first world luxury we will never give up - hot showers.