Ancestors Rock Art in Namibia

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December 3rd 2006
Published: December 10th 2006
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Ancient Rock ArtAncient Rock ArtAncient Rock Art

The white color came from Ostrich egg shell or hyina dunk, and the red from ochre
We are now in DAMARALAND, on Northwest Namibia. Africa is regarded to be the cradle of mankind and here in Damaraland palaeontologists have found fossils of our ancerstors. Today we will be hiking to see rock art of closer "relatives".

Up at 5:00, still dark, to prep and get on the road. Today is to be the most most physically challenging day.
We got dust and more dust, on a very bumpy ride on this semi-desert land. Some donkeys, kudus, spingbocks didn't distract us much.

THE PETRIFIED FOREST: It was hard to enjoy this geological wonder under 40C heat. The once trees have been fossilised into rocks 240 to 300 millions of years ago. The most interesting was to see the "Welwistschia mirabilis" plant, a sort of underground tree, in reality. Two leaves are exposed and they bloom once per year, the female and male plants having distinct orange flowers. One was about 250 years old and the small 5 centimetros one was 27 years old! Incredible to be that old, still alive and blooming!

On the way to BRANDBERG, an oval-shaped massif towering high above the plains, the rocky mountain was gorgeous. Hiking in brutal 44 centrigrade
The groupThe groupThe group

It was impressive that Nobert, the 65yo, was the hiker in better shape. He led the pack without complaining, while we younger ones huffed and puffed all the way, up and down. He shot the picture.
heat was super hard, but this day is about dramatic rocky montains and tracing the signs of ancient cultures. Thus, how not to find the stamina to endure the cruel heat and exercise?

Up we went to see the first ancient San people rock art. The paintings and carvings around the region date from 6 to 20,000 yrs and reflect the San's people relationship with nature. Animals, hunting scenes, trance dancing, spiritual healing, all here, where they were once created, and not in display in a museum in NY or London.

We drove to the last hiking place and were told about the 3 hours hike to see the famous 20,000 year old rock painting called the "White lady of Brandberg".
I heard that "the walk will be around the riverbank". My dehydrated mind drew mental pictures of running cool water..." Well, it turned out that we walked through a completely dry river. I suggested to the guides to add the word "dry" next time, to avoid hallucinations like the one I had.
Back to the "white lady", research has reviewed that it isn't a female or a white person, but a male medicine man wearing body paint. Oh, well. The name has remained unchanged.

About the 3 hikes of the day: Brutal? Oh, yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely, particularly when I settled to think about how this very land, where I now lay staring at the stars, was millions of years ago. Did the San people sing? We will never know.

Exausted we arrived at the new campsite late in the afternoon, starved, muddy, hot...

After the usual routine of tent setting, showering, etc, we seat around the cracking fire once more, to eat and chat.

I've been experencing the best Namibia has to offer, but I wanted to know more about the real country where the Namibians, not us tourists live. I tried to get an off-the-record picture of Namibia from my fellow local friends. "We are not suppossed to talked about politics and such", I was told. I reminded them, in low wisppering voice, that this was a ghost chat, completely off the records.
Is the apartheid really history? "Yes".
"So, there isn't any separation"? "Well, since this conversation isn't really taking place... My parents and their genaration have not forgotten their suffering. There is still harsh feelings from both
Exausted hikers restingExausted hikers restingExausted hikers resting

The Damara female guide spoke Damara, a language with interesting sounding "clicks" made with the tongue.
sides. Inequalities, oh, yes. It will take a long time to forget and repair.

Corruption? Oh, yes. Namibia is not socialist like the SWAPO (the rulling party and the one responsible for the indepence of the country) was. Capitalist all the way now and with lots of corruption.

Another time I asked about the medical system: I learned that there are lots of Cuban doctors in North Namibia. There is a sort of exchange. Doctors come from Cuba for a 3 or 5 yr stay, and the Namibiam army goes to Cuba for military trainning!

I asked a lot, but as a simple transient, and curious tourist, that's only so much info I could get.

Before hitting the sleeping bag, we are told not to wander in the middle of the night because the rare desert elephants or black rhinos walk around the campsite quite often.

During the night I wake uu hearing loud steps. I knee down on my tent and I hear that other campers are also are awake now. I peak thru to mesh window and since the animals are closer to my tent, I can see shadows about 20-30 feet away.
I softly shouted: "Small Elephants!!!" We all stay still, excited and scared at the same time, and than we hear a very loud noise, a quite familiar one too. Exclamation marks appear in my, and the in the other ones' minds too.
"Did it sound like a Donkey?????" We went back to sleep, a little scared, after the animals' steps couldn't be heard any longer.

Yeap, the morning reviewed the foot prints of donkeys, not elephants, and I became the joke of the group, with hystherical laghter and all. Oh, well! Nobody told me about wandering donkeys, you know!

And with that we started another safari day.
"cheerio" and forgive me for typing errors. Too little computer time for editing.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


11th December 2006

VI outra vez. beijos, pi.
11th December 2006

What an enriching experience. I know you weren't able to choose your season for visiting, I'd like to try for some cooler weather. The kind of heat you're describing would melt me. Rock paintings are particularly fascinating for me but I don't know if they would be enough for a 3 mile hike at above 40.
11th December 2006

Hi Grete
The birds were also fascinating and reminded me of you and Roger a lot. Thanks for keeping in touch. Love, Patricia
11th December 2006

Hi Pi
Por favor faca traducao pro papai e quem mais se interessar. Nao ha tempo pra escrever em Portugues. Beijos mil, Pi

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