Up to now our life has been fairly peaceful but that is about to change. Generally, Emma, Mike and I wake up at dawn. Emma and Mike set off for 10 miles and I poke a disgruntled Woocash out of bed. He’s pretty sure he didn’t sign up for this, he thought he was going to be doing mechanics not rising early in the morning and being a general skivvy. We pack up the tents then bump our way ahead to cook breakfast for Emma’s mid morning break. There, Emma, stretches, has a massage from Mike, eats and can rest a little. They set off on another 10 miles, we go ahead and find a shady tree (harder than you’d imagine) and cook lunch. Emma has a longer break to get past the heat of the day. Then at about 3pm, she’s off on her final 10 miles and we go ahead, ideally, find a quiet secluded spot, put up the tent and prepare dinner. Emma stops along her route for water and stretching and we head off occasionally for food and water.
On 18th September we cross the boundary fence that cuts across thousands of kilometres from the west side of the country to the east. Breaking the country in half.
The boundary fence is ostensibly there to prevent foot and mouth outbreaks in the North of Namibia from spreading to the South. But it is much more than that.
The area we have just passed through consisted of desert and then largely commercial white owned farms. In the North, the land is, mostly, black communal farms. The fence prevents free passage of people, goods, and wild animals along their migratory routes. And, apparently, tourists regularly have their fresh meat confiscated. That’s not a problem for us; we don’t have the luxury of a fridge.
For the team, the difference comes in the number of people. Everywhere.
After we cross, I stop at a village shop to ask for bread. It’s the first village shop we have entered. Until now we used supermarkets in towns. The women in the shop are lovely and friendly. They laugh that I am so dirty and one of them comments that, “sometimes its nice to be dirty”. I agree. Elizabeth, who runs the shop, has no bread but says that she is going to Rundu later that morning and will get us some! I am surprised by her helpfulness (not something I’m used to in my culture). If you are ever on the road from Grootfontein to Rundu her shop is just north of Mururani, please pop in and say hello from me.
In the afternoon, we have gone ahead to look for a camping spot as usual but the village Katjinakatji keeps going and going. Every few yards, there is another group of houses. There are no quiet side roads. We are well past the distance Emma wanted to run and eventually, I tell Woocash we have to stop at a point that seems a little quieter. There are three teenagers, I ask them if we can camp there, outside their homes. As teenagers are, they are a little playful. One of them tries to convince me that it is his village. Having tested me out, they tell us we are welcome to camp and head off to play football.
Then the younger children come asking for sweets and money. Not knowing if they have access to a dentist (or toothpaste), we give out crisps. Kids are always hungry. In the UK, a sure way to increase numbers at a youth club night was to advertise free food.
We entertain them with the camera and some playing cards (which they are really happy with).
We don’t speak a common language. Fortunately, Elizabeth turns up with bread and explains to the children what we are doing.
We teach them to cheer Emma, “Go, Emma, Go”. They are fascinated by everything we have and do and try to help as much as they can. At one point, they have a discussion amongst themselves. One of the little girls runs off and comes back with a machete, as they think we need it! I let them, one at a time, up the ladder to look in the roof tent.
Mike warns us over the radio that Emma is really tired. She is attracting a lot of curiosity. Having explained this to the children, they cheer her in and then soon leave us to rest.
I’m impressed by how considerate they are. Night comes in and adults pass by in the dark. The cheekiest little girl comes back with her mother and we attempt conversation. The mother smiles and says, “it is good” that we are there.
Total Distance Run by Emma: 809 km / 503 Miles