Barley a kilometer later, we approached a big sign that said "TROPIC OF CAPRICORN". Now, last night as Raymond explained the next day's schedule and mentioned this landmark, someone asked if we could stop and take pictures there. He jokingly replied that we shouldn't since it was bad luck... Well, we did stop, took our photos, and when we went to start the engine again to leave, someone saw sparks coming off the battery, and pretty soon it was on fire. Someone yelled for everyone to get off the truck in case it blew up, Raymond grabbed the fire extinguisher, and then someone mentioned the bit about bad luck. Hmmmm. The men spent half an hour MacGyver-ing a repair job while the rest of us stood by in the blazing 8am sunshine. I noticed that our herd of zebras was visible on the horizon where we had come from. At least it was a scenic spot to break down!
Onwards, the landscape changed yet again from flat plains to rolling coulees, where strongly bedded rocks were exposed, dipping steeply into the ground. It made for cool topography, as the dark strata were highlighted with rows of yellow grass growing inbetween. We soon veered west, and the landscape eventually became flat once again. Yellow sand dunes and a north-south band of marine cloud appeared on the horizon, and soonafter, we pulled into the coastal town of Walvis Bay. Ocean! And cool air - at least 20°C cooler than the heat of the desert... a welcome reprieve.
Walvis Bay is the main port of Namibia, but we were headed about 20 minutes to the larger town of Swakopmund, which is known both for its adjacent dunescape and the fact that it was the town chosen by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for the birth of their daughter a few years ago. Now there's a claim to fame!
The dunes ended abruptly at the Swakop River, and the town began on its north bank. We filed through the visitor info center to browse through various activities you could do here. We're actually staying here for two nights, so tomorrow is completely at our leisure. And as a bonus, we're not camping! Pink A-frame bungalows will provide real beds and a guaranteed good sleep for a change.
After an afternoon of laundry and errand-running, we all went for dinner at a restaurant that had a sandwich board outside displaying the daily specials: springbok stirfry, grilled oryx, and zebra steak! My jaw dropped at the last one - who could ever order zebra?! Ken had grilled ostrich (which was tasty, texture of chicken but taste of beef) and I had fresh peri peri prawns. So delicious! Birthday cake for one of our group members whose birthday was today rounded out our awesome dinner. Some of us dropped by he "Cool Bananas" bar for a while, which is the only bar in town and is only open on Saturday nights! A few drinks and a little dancing was about all we had in us... the cozy bed and thoughts of no 5am wakeup calls was just too tempting.