A First Time For Everything
Petro Van Rooyen
Copyright 2021 Petro Van Rooyen
say there is a first time for everything. Well, De Jerez, who was one
of Columbus’s crewmen, was apparently the first European to
inhale the smoke of burning tobacco leaves.
tried it, after seeing the native people of Cuba, at that time, doing
it. When he repeated this stunt in Spain, however, it did not end all
that well for Rodrigo de Jerez. People thought it was the work of the
devil when they saw smoke coming from his mouth and the Inquisition
was informed, which led to his arrest. It was not a good idea to
start smoking for the first time in those years; it was 1492 after
a Welshman, some years late, saw an Englishman smoke for the first
time he was shocked and upset to see smoke coming from the man’s
nose. They were drinking in a pub and to quench the “fire”
the Welshman threw his bear in the face of the Englishman (Or did he
just look for an excuse to do so; who will know?)
electricity was first installed in the White House, it is said that
the President residing there at that time, was so scared of it, that
someone had to be hired to switch the lights on and off for him!
first time escalators were installed in at this one posh shop in
England, the people who entered this escalator for the first time in
their lives had to be revived afterwards with brandy (or was it
whisky?) upon reaching the top floor!
first times can be scary, strange or even weird sometimes.
first visit to the Namib was neither of these, luckily. But it surely
was a unique experience. I was twenty-six at that stage and went
there with my hubby and mother-in-law. We didn’t go in the
summer, but rather chose a cooler time of the year to visit and yet
it was the warmest, temperature-wise that is, that I have ever
one stage we stopped for a short period of time to investigate some
strange rock formations and my husband also needed a bit of a break
to stretch his legs, as the distances between places can be long
indeed. When we returned back to our car, the fizzy drinks were so
hot that you could scarcely drink them! Thus I can advise people to
rather not leave cold things in the car while you are out
gallivanting in a desert.
first the long distances from one place to the next got on my nerves.
It feels as if you are driving forever to get to the next camping
place and all you see is sand dune upon sand dune; you feel hot and
sweaty and the water becomes lukewarm in no time; no matter if you
keep it on ice or not. I sometimes wished that we could just get to
the next camping grounds so that I could have a cold shower or
feeling of irritation persisted for about two days and I sometimes
wished that I was back in a civilised world, but then something
changed. It was as if the Namib was growing on me in a quiet way. In
time I began to notice just how many different colours sand there
really was: red, yellow, brown even black and pinkish and many other
shades; grey even.
start to see things as if for the first time. The little family of
ground squirrels peeping from behind a small dune; you notice a
little bush next to the road where two sleepy owls hide; the one
opens his eyes slightly to see who it may be disturbing its sleep and
it is so cute. When you stop to stretch your legs later you may even
see an orange-pinkish gecko running about on the hot sand. These
little fellows run fast, lifting two legs from the sand and running
on the other two and a while later they switch legs so the other two
are on the sand. It is probably to prevent them from burning those
cute, little knobbly toes they have.
you open your eyes and your mind to notice the little things, you
might see strange insects scurrying across the desert sand and even a
snake now and then. Some snakes you do see, however, others hide
under the sand in wait for prey. I never saw a snake of this nature,
but only read about it in a brochure I got at this one camping site.
It gave me a shiver down my spine; not the photo of the snake, but
the realisation that they hide beneath the sand. One of them could
have bitten me that time I rolled down a sand dune!
people I did! After being so indifferent about my first visit to the
Namib in the beginning it later became such fun. The realization that
everything is unique and that there are life forms waiting to be
discovered in and on top of the miles and miles of sand opened my
mind to so many new possibilities.
one night we held a barbecue at the camping site. Hubby was doing his
thing and me and mother-in-law sat on our camping chairs talking when
suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I saw something that might as
well have been a “lurker" escaping from the PC-game
“Gothic” or that is what I thought it was, having a vivid
imagination and all. Then as my eyes became more adjusted to the dark
I realised that it was the lone shadow of a hyena I saw and it gave
me a bit of a shudder; to think it was walking about among us camping
there at that Namib campsite!
have never heard of them biting people, however, but they have been
known for stealing meat straight from the barbecue grid! They are
scavengers after all, so this kind of behaviour might be expected. It
was a bit scary to have the hyena that close; so
close in fact
that you could actually smell the strange beast with its strange
the end I really enjoyed our visit to the Namib. The wondrous sand
dunes in so many hues greeting you everywhere; even the dead trees,
which sometimes stand like strange, forgotten skeletons in the sand,
started to look beautiful to me and no I did not
stroke people. It is just that my eyes were opened to see the beauty
all around me; the true beauty of the Namibian desert.
last night, at our camping site, even the moon seemed brighter there
and bigger and it was as if you could almost touch it! I was almost
sad that it had to be the last night in this desert place we were in
and to think that in that harsh world my eyes were opened to so many
wonderful things. Things I might have missed out on, having had this
city attitude where you sometimes stop seeing beauty and just rush
through life with blinkers on to get from point A to point B.
are sometimes so blasé that we tend to miss things that we may
have seen for the first time and as they say there is a first time
am from South Africa and this is my travel story. We visited Namibia
in 1996, but it was an adventure. Something to remember fondly now
that I am unemployed and thus unable to travel any longer.
have always been a creative person. Illustrating, painting, a bit of
crafting and a lot of writing. Wrote my first poem at the age of ten
in Afrikaans. These days I write in English mainly. I
have not published anything yet, but am in the process of making this
dream become a reality. It takes time to do it the traditional way,
but being an older person I would prefer to do it that way.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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