THE AD­VEN­TURES OF TANK AND NEMO

In Flight Magazine - - THE ADVENTURES OF TANK AND NEMO - { TEXT: CHAR­LOTTE ROGERS | IM­AGES © RYAN AB­BOTT | TCB ME­DIA }

“RYAN, WITH RE­SPECT, WHY ARE YOU OFF-ROAD­ING WITH ONLY ONE HAND ON THE WHEEL?” THIS IS MY CLEAR­EST MEM­ORY OF NAMIBIA: OUR PHO­TOG­RA­PHER AND RES­I­DENT OFF-ROAD­ING NOVICE – AL­THOUGH HE WON’T AP­PRE­CI­ATE ME SAY­ING THAT – WAS AT THE WHEEL OF THE TOY­OTA PRADO (PET NAME: “TANK”) AS WE DRIFTED ALONG THE FA­MOUS SAND-BAR OFF THE COAST OF WALVIS BAY.

Tank was a sol­dier. She man­aged pretty much ev­ery task we asked of her, which even in­cluded winch­ing Nemo (the BMW X2 who also came along for the ride) out of the very deep and very coarse coastal Namib­ian sand.The ad­ven­tures of Tank and Nemo could war­rant a novel, but we don’t have the time or bud­get to re­count the en­tirety of their Namib­ian jour­ney, so let’s rather stick to the abridged ver­sion – a short story, if you will.

Tank and Nemo first met in Cape Town – a When Harry Met Sally kind of mo­ment. Their head­lights met across a Brack­en­fell car park and Nemo fol­lowed Sally – I mean Tank – all the way to the north­ern-most shores of Namibia. Through mostly shine, and not a whole lot of rain, Tank and Nemo car­ried four wan­der­lust-filled jour­nal­ists on the ad­ven­ture of a life­time.

BOR­DER CROSS­ING

After nearly 10 hours on the road, and many, many pit stops, we ar­rived at the Namib­ian bor­der and I must say, it was pretty breezy – not weather-wise (it was hot­ter than Paarl in Jan­uary), but rather the bor­der cross­ing was quick and sim­ple.Tank and Nemo, still fol­low­ing each other to­tally smit­ten, trun­dled along to Grü­nau. I’m from ru­ral Eng­land, so I’ve seen small towns, but this one was an­other story. Wel­comed by the smi­ley owner, we just about man­aged a beer and – through fear of ret­ri­bu­tion – pre­tended to

be avid Bulls fans. After we’d left the rest of the guests thor­oughly un­im­pressed with our Afrikaans abil­i­ties, we all headed to our rooms and promptly col­lapsed in heaps on our beds. Not even the mos­qui­tos could wake us up.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

The next morn­ing – some show­ered and shaved, oth­ers sandy and dirty – we car­ried on up the African con­ti­nent and through the ever-chang­ing land­scape of Namibia. For a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons, you must never sleep on the road in Namibia – es­pe­cially if you’re driv­ing. As a pas­sen­ger, if you close your eyes for just five min­utes you’ll open to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent, and equally im­pres­sive view. Creeped out by a moun­tain that I swear to this day was fol­low­ing us,Tank and Nemo pushed on – by now prob­a­bly look­ing for­ward to a wash, not to men­tion a rest from the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem blar­ing Mar­i­lyn Man­son.

The sec­ond stop in the Ad­ven­tures of Tank and Nemo was Swakop­mund, and the Strand Ho­tel, a haven for four weary souls and two car lovers. Not lovers of cars, but cars in love, that is.

This is where the trip took a de­cid­edly lux­u­ri­ous turn, rain show­ers and all. Decked out in our ex­cep­tion­ally fluffy robes, we veg­e­tated for a good few hours while Tank and Nemo en­joyed a good wash. Later that night we dined at the Brewer & Butcher, one of the ho­tel’s in­house restau­rants. The Ocean Cel­lar and the Farm­house Deli were also open, but as we were in an his­tor­i­cally Ger­man area, we de­cided that a Weiss beer was needed ac­com­pa­nied by as much “cur­ry­worst” as they would give us. As full as a butcher’s dog (or so my Grand­dad would say), we col­lapsed into a deep slum­ber.

Break­fast at the Strand is served at the Farm­house Deli, and it’s the kind of break­fast that makes it to­tally nor­mal to in­hale 17 pan­cakes, three bowls of melon and eight cap­puc­ci­nos in one sit­ting. Per­haps the most telling sign is that, for the first time on the trip so far, none of the driv­ing party men­tioned food un­til well after 14h00 – an ex­tremely rare oc­cur­rence for Ryan, the off-road­ing novice and food waste-dis­posal sys­tem.

Luck­ily for Tank and Nemo, Walvis Bay was only half an hour from Swakop­mund and soon they were rest­ing by the sea­side once more. While we en­joyed a cap­puc­cino al fresco, they lux­u­ri­ated in the sun.

SAND, SAND & MORE SAND

Our next rest­ing point was the stun­ning Pel­i­can Point Lodge off the coast of Walvis Bay. Lo­cated on a sand bar, it comes com­plete with Cape fur seals, jack­als and lots of birds. This was where Tank and Nemo came

into their own. With Tank charg­ing on ahead, and Nemo fol­low­ing in her wake, both ar­rived safe and sandy at the unique venue we were to call home for the next few days.

For­merly a light­house, a lodge ex­ten­sion was added and it be­came one of the best places to stay in the whole of Namibia. I spent pretty much ev­ery morn­ing watch­ing the sun come up, while wrapped in my blan­ket and tap­ping away at my com­puter – writ­ers need in­spi­ra­tion, and this place had plenty. Our days were spent cy­cling to the ac­tual Pel­i­can Point, which was a whole 16 km trip, while Tank and Nemo sat re­cov­er­ing from their slog to get us here.

Their slog wasn’t over though, be­cause on our first evening there, Tank and Nemo were treated to a real ad­ven­ture – get­ting stuck in the sand. We’re talk­ing big-time stuck. First to fall was Tank. The poor girl got bogged down and Nemo leaped at the chance to help, un­til he too fal­tered and found him­self locked in a sandy prison. Un­be­knownst to half the party, who were hap­pily sip­ping wine and nib­bling on canapés in the warm lodge, the other half toiled for hours to free our story’s heroes. Suc­ceed they even­tu­ally did – but not with­out the lodge staff ’s help, along with about six shov­els.

Sandy and tired,Tank and Nemo started their long trek back to their home town – only to be sep­a­rated once back in their fa­mil­iar haunts. Not all love sto­ries have a happy end­ing, but at least both of them – as well as us – will al­ways have Namibia, and the amaz­ing mem­o­ries of our ad­ven­tures there.

The sec­ond stop in the Ad­ven­tures of Tank and Nemo was Swakop­mund, and the Strand Ho­tel, a haven for four weary souls and two car lovers. Not lovers of cars, but cars in love, that is.

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