9 November (Part II)
Two Rivers and Samevloeiing water holes were strangely quiet for the time of the afternoon. Usually a springbok or two came to drink, but there was nothing to be seen, except for the brooding clouds on the horizon. Close to Leeuwdril we found the first evidence of the storm that passed Twee Rivieren completely. The dunes had changed from sun-baked orange into a deep reddish terra cotta, underlining the landscape that was vibrant with intense colour. We stopped to watch a family of Cape Foxes that sat outside their den – the coolness of the afternoon made them playful after what I suppose, must have been a very stifling Sunday afternoon snooze.
Not far from Leeudril water hole, the road had become a shallow river with rivulets of water draining into it from the clayey surface of the Nossob river. I wish I could describe the mood of that afternoon – the paradoxes of emotion carried on the air. There was gentleness yet the dark, almost black-blue clouds on the horizon betrayed that. Around us, small animals like tortoises, mice, mongoose and birds became giddy around hundreds of pools of water, yet there was an aura of brooding silence as bolts of thunder interspersed the dark clouds.
We traveled through the river that was previously the Nossob road in the direction of Rooiputs. It was the second time I had witnessed a summer storm in the Kalahari and the experience left me in awe. Perhaps my association with earth as mother and rain as blessing to bring forth abundance brought on a silent reverie in my being. When I said to partner that I wanted to see a summer storm in the desert when we were on our way to the Kgalagadi, my dream was not only to witness the spectacular event. It was more – it was to share the awakening of new life, to celebrate the abundance and blessings of earth, for sometimes I wonder how long it will be before earth will not be able to give…
We arrived back at camp, spattered with mud. The vehicle as well… Now that is a rare sighting in the Kalahari! Still in Sunday-mode, we made reservations at the restaurant earlier as a visit to KTP is not official until you have had venison pie and a few bottles of smoky Oranjerivier Pinotage. Since we were having an “evening out” after braving the bush for so long, we spruced up and when I appeared back at camp, partner looked at bush woman with sparkling eyes… Yes, I exchanged khaki’s and hiking boots for a sexy dress and lipstick…(but stopped short of high-heeled strappy sandals – there is too much sand for heaven’s sake…).
A few bottles of red, much laughter and yummy venison pie later had us searching for our campsite in the darkness. I will blame this “searching” on the fact that we forgot to bring a torch along, although the sky was clear and a three quarter moon was shining brightly… When partner suggested another Amarula coffee to celebrate us finding our tents, I rolled my eyes, took of my (flat) sandals and headed for the ladder of the rooftop tent. Thank goodness, I made the bed before we had set off for dinner…
Two things woke me, no, three. Partner was literally squeezing me so tight that I could not breathe; I was incredibly thirsty and very cold. Nice, I thought, someone is pouring water on my face, so I can just open my mouth and drink…and that is when the second and third thought hit me simultaneously – which had me fighting partner out of his steely grip on me. The water was rain blowing into the open tent flaps and my cold condition was due to very soaked sheets. Partner’s grip was not a romantic move on a tipsy woman – he was holding me down as a mini-tornado was loosening at its very height around us! It was downright scary as the whole vehicle rocked and at times it felt as if our tent was going to be torn from its fittings. This gave new meaning to the phrase; riding out a storm…although this felt like one of those electrical rodeo bulls…whilst having an icy shower.
An hour later a deathly quiet fell. The storm moved on to rage somewhere else in the darkness. The campsite, which had filled up significantly after we arrived, was in chaos from the little that I could fathom in the darkness. Everybody literally crawled from their tents. At that moment I was once again thankful for our rooftop tent, as some of the campers were standing ankle deep in muddy water in their tents. It was past midnight when everyone had settled down once more after cleaning up and drying out as much as possible. Strangers jumped in to help each other and it was not long before the whole calamity of the storm gave way to a feeling of solidarity with quite a lot of laughter that resounded in the early hours of the morning.