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Mike's Pilot Log: South to South Adventure

Olivier's birthday! 43 today!

Olivier's birthday! 43 today! His present would be to get to Namibia.

Our hosts took us to the airport. Olivier gave someone a quick flight. I needed the toilet, but they send all passengers to a spot behind the remains of a crashed Boeing where human excrement and bits of paper littered the ground everywhere. Yuck!

After refuelling, packing, filing a flight plan, stamping our passports and haggling over the payment of fees, we were on our way. The weather was good. Again we settled at 4,500 ft where we found a tailwind.

After 3 hours we passed the town of Namibe and decided that we would try and land a little further on – on Baia dos Tigres, a little island just off the coast where Olivier had heard that there was a fishing camp that Namibians sometimes go to for fishing holidays. Well, we flew over the island and decided not to land because it looked very similar to the kind of scene that was portrayed in the movie Mad Max. The island was about 10 km long and about 3 km wide, just sand and the occasional small bush. The half-standing remains of factories and buildings dotted the one coast, a church was one building that looked almost intact apart from the roof which was starting to fall in. The tar runway was also one of the streets and was partially covered in sand. At the one end of the runway there were 3 dark figures who were the only inhabitants that we could see. As we approached they moved into the shadows of the deserted, roofless buildings. Olivier went down low to have a closer look at the runway and immediately called me on the radio to say he was not happy with the situation and suggested we go on. I was happy with this, too…. I pictured screaming madmen running at us with swords and spears.

After another hour we passed over the Cunene mouth and I sang a happy birthday melody to Olivier over the air. We were both very relieved at making it to Namibia. We landed on a dusty runway in the Hartmann Valley after a 6-hour flight, where we had some condensed milk and water to celebrate our arrival in Namibia. At last we were virtually free from the terrible bureaucratic hassles that were had been tormented with for so many months.

We rested for a few hours and after transferring the fuel from the auxiliary tanks that Olivier had been carrying, we took off for the runway at the Epupa Falls. Olivier had been there many times, but somehow still miscalculated the distance, so suddenly we found ourselves racing against the fast setting sun. Olivier was just starting to talk about looking for a place to spend the night, when we saw the runway about 8 km ahead of us in the gathering darkness. We both raced as fast as we could to get down before total darkness.

We parked the trikes near to some palm trees, placed a guard on them and headed to the Epupa Lodge in search of some food and a beer. We met Janus Joubert and NJ at the lodge. Janus is one of the owners and had met Olivier on a few occasions before. On hearing our story, he immediately offered us a meal and a bed each in our own luxuriously appointed tents, for the night – at no expense.

It was such a relief to be in Namibia – it was however still a little difficult to comprehend that we had made it safely into Namibia. I often wondered how far we would get on this trip – never wanting to be over-confident about our success, lest my over-confidence caused my untimely end.

NJ brought me a doobie just as we were heading off to bed. Olivier and I smoked it in his tent and soon started to speak a lot of rubbish about R'bati the snail. The story of R'bati will be told in the next episode. We both nearly had a heart attack from laughing. Later I went off to my tent after making a detour via the car park. In the night it started to rain so I stumbled outside to close the flaps over the windows and got a bit lost. After a while I managed to find my tent but then couldn't find the door. Slept well - had good dreams, mostly about sex.




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