Eight Go Mad in Epupa

Some time ago the idea was mooted of a Boy’s Own Adventure in which me, Mike and Matt would head out into the wilds of Kunene (at the very least to Purros but probably into Marienfluss) and live out under the stars doing manly things like belching, scratching ourselves and talking about girls. It was to be christened Operation Brokeback Monkey.

However as these things have a habit of doing the idea morphed from an extreme lads survivalist outing to a much more genteel co-ed trip to Epupa owing to time constraints and other considerations.

The roster now consisted of me, Mike, Cynthia, Julia, Ant, Matt, Lindsay and Brian. Six VSO, one Peace Corps and one non-volunteer with an actual job and everything.

By the time I got back from the bush Mike, Cynthia, Julia and Ant had arrived from Otjiwarongo (in Cynthia’s car as Mike’s was unwell and down in Windhoek being witchdoctored). Text reports came in from Matt who was also having car trouble that he was on his way but would be getting into Opuwo quite late.

My excellent new neighbour Erwin though away at VSO training had offered his house so nobody needed to camp in my front yard. We sat around with a beer or six swapping stories of daring do and Matt made it shortly after nine.

Mike, bless his cotton socks, believes in early starts to “maximise the day”. In the end we managed to compromise on going to the shops for supplies at 8.30am before shooting up to Epupa falls for the night.

At 8.30 (somewhat bleary eyed myself) we found that there was no bread or sausages or much of anything in the supermarket. Eventually we tracked down some meat in the butchery and even though there was no bread in the bakery either Brian used some sort of voodo magic and came out with two loaves.

So we set off in two cars – the Otjiwarongo contingent back in Cynthia’s condor (of the four-wheel drive variety with all mod cons) and four of us in my mighty condor.

Having just come back from a wet and wild few days in the bush I thought we may well find some difficult bits and flowing rivers on the way but the road was good as ever with just a few patches of mud and the rivers mere streams.

A few miles from Epupa there was a big rock in the road which I tried to have pass under the right-hand side of the car (thus missing the petrol tank on the left and the diff in the middle). I almost managed it but hit the rear wheel resulting in a massive bang, a quick jump and a very flat tyre.

The team sprung into action and we jacked (with the excellent bottle jacks that came with the car thanks to Alice and Mark), swapped the wheel and then inflated the new one (having sat in the back for close on a year it was totally down).

Off again and into Epupa just after 11.30.

Camp setup we wandered to the falls and messed around on the rocks taking pictures and (in some people’s cases) casting glances at either the nubile Himba ladies wandering around or the naked buffed up Himba guys washing in the pools dependent on preference.

The wind built up and up with some spray being blown in making us keep thinking it was raining. Thunderstorms rattled away in Angola.

Earlier on when setting up I had mercilessly taken the piss out of Matt’s tent that needed pegs to even stand up. I never use pegs here, just weighing my tent down with my various precious things.

With the wind building and building Karma taught me a lesson as my tent (and all my precious things) started rolling away over the campsite (luckily away from the river). I grabbed it before it went too far and as everyone else laughed and took pictures Matt generously came over, helped me right it and then lent me some pegs and even hammered them in for me.

There may be a lesson there somewhere. But probably not.

Back to the bar we had some drinks, played some cards and planned the trip most of the others will be taking to Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique at Christmas. I was able to stand on the periphery tutting and interjecting loads of random stuff they really ought to buy like extra spare wheels. I was told to get lost and stop interfering in my condescending way a few times but not physically barred from making input.

Dinner of sausages with Brai relish (whatever that may be) and then back to the bar. Most people played Boggle while me and Matt watched the rugby on the TV (big plasma screen at the Epupa bar which was a bit freaky). I can’t play Boggle owing to flashbacks to being forced to happily playing it with my mum who always thrashed me without mercy.

On the wildlife front there were several massive (four foot long) lizards that kept wandering around and were very interested in Mike’s tent. There was also a dog with a worm hanging out of its arse and wriggling around. Nice.

Sunday we drove back to Opuwo. About halfway home my rev counter and temperature gauge (and I discovered later some of the warning lights) stopped working but we had no more tyre dramas, just a near miss of going off the road to our deaths. Oh and after a bit of rain the roof started leaking on Brian as well.

Lunch at the Opuwo coffee shop and then everyone headed off home. Lindsay managed to steal my sleeping bag but as a consolation left me Matt’s tent.

In summary: a good time was had by all. By which I mean by me.

It turned out the gauge issue was just a fuse (well I hope it’s just the fuse not something bad causing the fuse to go). Of course you can’t get fuses in Opuwo so I’m just back from a 1000km (600 mile) round trip to get a 15A automotive fuse and have full dashboard functionality.

Now just to get the silicone sealant out and find the hole water is getting in. Then again I never sit in the back so it doesn’t affect me very much… But maybe I should pay attention to my Karma lesson before it’s too late!

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