In Namibia we had to watch a short movie before they gave us our 4WD rental car. We’d never had this happen on a holiday before. EuropCar rental agency at the Windhoek Airport meant business: watch the film and sign a form saying you’d seen it, and then you’re handed the keys….
But not before you’re shown where to put the jack on the undercarriage, because chances are high you WILL have a flat tire before your trip is over.
The roads are phenomenally bad, drivers go too fast, and before you know it you’ve blown a tire, crashed, or sit stuck in sand. The EuropCar film claimed that the rate of road deaths in Namibia, a country so sparsely populated only Mongolia has fewer people per square mile, is 50 times higher than in Europe.
Oookay. Message received. We started off early in the morning for Sossusvlei and the world’s highest dunes. The main road out of Windhoek is fine, but the pavement quickly ended. It changed to a bumpy bad gravel road; most of the time we were the only car on it. In less than an hour we came across a jeep pulled over to the left (Namibians drive on the left) and a teary-faced woman waved us down. She’d flown into Windhoek a few hours ago, picked up her rental vehicle, and almost immediately gotten a flat tire.
No, I take that back. The tire was shredded. I mean, what remained had exploded. Of course Uwe helped her remove what was left and put on the spare. In the 40 minutes or so that we assisted her not a single car went by in either direction.
I’m sorry my photo is so lousy. I was trying to be clever and use the panorama function on my cell phone camera to capture how in-the-middle-of-nowhere she’d broken down. But in any case: Oookay! The next message received! Always stop to assist a stranger, because that car could be you. We saw someone broken down almost every day.
It was a miracle we made it through Namibia and Botswana without ever getting a flat tire. When we returned the car to EuropCar 4 weeks later, they were surprised (and impressed) that it still had all the original tires.
This is my last post for 2023. Happy New Year everyone! May your only blow-out be the celebration tonight to ring out the old and ring in the new! See you in 2024!
NOTES: ©2023 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography and his photos of our trips can be viewed at viewpics.de.
My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded and The Trail Back Out.
Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.