Mystical Magical Namibia – 1988

2 February 1998.  It’s late at night and I’m dancing, barefoot around a log fire in the Namib Desert.  Last week, I was involved in a “cloak and dagger” operation, working on a Police Investigation, this week; I am a free spirit moving rhythmically to the sound of Alex’s resonant drumming.  Overhead, billions of glittering stars pulsate in unison as Hein, Britt and Edna join me to experience the steady rhythm of the Desert’s Heartbeat and as I rock my body to and fro, I feel the sorrow lodged in my heart centre begin to melt away.

When Andrea Stauch invited me to visit Namibia, nothing could have prepared me for the impact that Namibia would have on me, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  The Namib Desert is the world’s oldest and perhaps most fascinating desert, a strange silent, empty, hauntingly beautiful wasteland of shifting dunes, of hard, flat plains and rarely flowing rivers with sandy beds.  Egypt pales in comparison to this awesome splendour.  The ghosts of yesterday linger here in a breath-taking collection of mystical spaces and nowhere else in the world, is a sense of individual destiny and immortality so present.

In Nordic Mythology, “Asgard” means “the upper place where the God’s live”.  Managed and owned by Andrea Stauch and Edna Will, this charming guest house in Walvis Bay welcomed me with open arms.  I think the most memorable experience I had in Walvis Bay, was the “Dolphin Cruise”.  The brochure says, “Watch the Dolphins, Seals and a variety of Bird Life, Walvis Bay Harbour, Bird Island, Russian Trawlers, Pelican Point and Walvis Bay Lagoon”.  Now my idea of a “safe” ocean cruise is a ship the size of the Titanic.  When I saw the size of the launch however, a thousand vultures began to beat their wings wildly in my chest.  Quaking with fear, I stepped off the harbour wall into the rocking, swaying belly of the boat.  I must have been a slave, chained to the oars, in the bowels of a ship in a previous life, because as the launch pulled away, I was convinced that I was about to breathe my last.  I had forgotten my fear of the ocean and believe me, it was the most spiritual experience of my life – I have never prayed as hard as I did that day.  A trip on the ocean for me does much to strengthen my connection with the Almighty.

Jokes aside however, I shall never forget the exhilaration of the launch cutting cleanly through the water, while hundreds of pink flamingos escorted us out to sea.  The sight of dozens of dolphins frolicking around the launch and “Big Daddy” seal coming on board for his breakfast.  Later that day, when I lay down to rest, it still felt as though my bed was still rocking and swaying and I had to laugh at myself, when I realised, I was holding onto the mattress trying to steady the bed.
Andrea, Elsa and myself visited the Lunar Landscape later that week. As I gazed upon the huge, barren, stark, endless range of mountains, carved out of the surrounding desert, I sensed that it wasn’t always like this.  At one time, it was a tropical paradise until one night, a huge meteor crashed its fiery furnace into mother earth, burning, clawing, ripping her apart as it ploughed its way through her belly, leaving a burnt trail of devastation behind. This powerful site simply, commands you to be quiet as you contemplate the mysterious landscape.  Perhaps it’s true that the Temples of the Angels are buried here for I was dumb struck for hours afterwards trying to “digest” the powerful atmosphere generated there.

A few days later the phone rang at 4.20a.m.  “Time to go”, said Andrea as I fought my way back from the world of dreams.  Chris de Villiers of Inshore Safari’s was taking us out into the desert to watch the sun rise.  It was cold and pitch dark outside.   I muttered to myself, “Maybe I’m getting too old for this kind of thing” as I groped my way through the darkness to the white Venture waiting outside.

The Venture’s head lights probed the awesome darkness of the early dawn as Shaun, Elsa, Alex, Britt, Chris, Samantha and I, journeyed outwards towards Rooibank, the original home of the Topnaars. This Ethnic Group of people belong to the Nama, who for their part, belong to the Khoi-Khoi race and these are among the oldest inhabitants of Namibia.  Sadly, these people live under poverty-stricken conditions and are in danger of becoming extinct.

For days now, we had been exploring Namibia’s sacred sites and as the molten sun rose over the desert dunes, a deep, purple aura filled the sky and everyone in the party saw it.  Even the sand beneath our feet seemed to come to life as the rising sun gently caressed it into wakefulness.  The indigenous healers of Africa believe that Namib Desert sand is holy, that it has powerful healing qualities and as we stood, gazing at the sunrise, we could feel a healing sensation flow into the soles of our feet.

A week later, Alex and Britt took me camping at Spitzkoppe, the Namibian “Matterhorn”, a stark range of sharp pointed, smoothly polished, mountain peaks, north east of Swakopmund.  Early man found refuge from the elements here and so did I.  The air was so soft and clean that I could smell the different exquisite fragrances coming off every tree, shrub and flower.  You need time to “tune” into the atmosphere of this place, to hear the symphony of birds singing, flies buzzing, wind blowing and the gentle hum of insects as they scurry through the desert.  If you have lost your soul, this is the place to find it.

As I sat in the amazing silence, I came to the realisation that only people who have lost loved ones can truly appreciate the excruciating emotional pain that feels like a huge black crater where the heart should be.  This gnawing pain has no concept of time, so even if our loved ones passed away many years ago, the sorrow lives on.  We can read all the books in the world, go for counselling, listen to the advice of others, but the rawness and sense of deep personal loss stalks us wherever we go.  In my case keeping myself busy, travelling and communing deeply with nature helped me to handle and hide my sadness from others.

We pitched our tent inside a cave that night.  Our protection against snakes, lizards, insects and the odd leopard that might decide to pay us a visit while we slept. Supper was cooked in a pan over a blazing, red, hot open fire while a billion luminous stars kept watch outside.   Nature is a great healer and in the profound silence of the starlit desert I found a measure of peace for the throbbing rawness of my soul.

In the deepening silence of the sacred stillness that surrounded us, I also realised that when the work of life is done, Death will come, and like a friend, will cut the cord that binds a human boat to earth, so that it may sail on to smoother seas.

It is human nature to become totally engulfed by one’s problems, and like myself, not everyone is able to see with their inner eyes the greater scheme of things.  All the losses in the family and the various challenges I had to face over the years made me realise that nothing external could ever guarantee me happiness and peace of mind.

We all long to find a City of Gold, where we can fill our souls with fragrance, our hearts with secrets, our pockets with gold and rubies, and our ears with music, and our eyes with beauty and live happily ever after with the person of our dreams.  But earthly possessions and relationships like sand, can slip through our fingers in an instant.  Nothing lasts forever and so we must treasure the exquisite sweetness of every moment of happiness.  Like a good wine, the good times in life, need to be slowly sipped and savoured, so that they can live in our hearts forever.

Loss can take the form of children leaving home, serious illness, divorce, retrenchment, the break-up of a relationship, financial ruin and so on.  In times of great loss, the crisis occurs when the Outer fails and we have not yet discovered the power of the Inner.

We will do anything to avoid pain, yet pain though harsh can guide us to find our personal Golden City within, just waiting to be discovered.  After all, the body is purely a temporary vault for the safekeeping of a beautiful soul that lies undiscovered inside.  When we attempt to separate the body from the spirit, or the spirit from the body, we move away from the real meaning of who we truly are.  Things that people do, things that people say, events that happen to us do warp the way we perceive ourselves and the way we react to life.  Through the pain of loss, however, we can discover who we really are and eventually see, hear and touch a universe that sits right inside our hearts.

Katharine Lee Kruger ©
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