After Kolmanskop and Lüderitz I head back inland. I roll into the tiny one-street town of Helmeringhausen in the middle of nowhere. I camp behind the hotel and walk up and down the street like a lone cowboy. I befriend the chef, Steven, a local who has been at the hotel for 11 years. "Yes, it's a long time and it's never been this quiet." The ripples of the COVID-19 wave reach far and wide, even to the most remote places.
I stroll down the hot empty street towards two horses tied to the signposts on the edge of town. I take a picture or two. Two dusty men with ragged clothes and hats come from the shop carrying food and coca-cola. They smile and wave and squat down for lunch in the shade of their horses.
'How far are you travelling?' I ask.
'Far', says one of them as he chews and points to the sign that says 107 km to Aus and he says, '107 km to Aus.'
'That's very far,' I say, having come that way myself.
'Yes, yes, very far!' says the other.
'Do you mind if I take a picture?'
'Okay,' says one and he shows a peace sign.
I feel like a tourist so I say, 'I'm a tourist.'
They smile and laugh and I greet them and walk back down the town.
The next day, I pass these two riders on the long dirt road leading to Sesriem and Sossusvlei, heading away from Aus. They smile and wave and as they grow smaller and disappear in the dust in my rearview mirror, I wonder about their life on their horses in this vast, dry land.
See the famous dunes and iconic dead trees of Sossusvlei next.
© 2021 Barry de Villiers