Thursday, 7 February 2008

Essential repairs

We’ve now been in Namibia for three weeks, which is the longest we have spent in a single country since we left Egypt. It is a vast country with lots of open space and a population of only two million, and been one of the best for camping out in the wild. Some of the places we have found to camp have been absolutely magical.

We ended up spending four nights camped out in the sand dunes near Swakopmund. On the first night there we decided to walk up the dunes to watch the sunset. Walking up sand dunes isn’t easy at the best of times, but after seven months of sitting in a car with very little physical exercise it nearly killed me. My little heart felt like it was try to jump out of my chest, but it was worth it for the view. Pretty good fun coming down too.

Most of the days there were spent making repairs to various bits and pieces of the Land Rover. Each day there was a new job to attend to, but finally after a couple of days everything seemed okay for us to be able to get to Windhoek, where we knew we would be able to buy parts for the larger repair jobs we had been putting off.

On what we though would be our last afternoon there, we went into Swakopmund to get fuel and water, and to post Catkin’s blog entry which she had been busy writing while I worked on the vehicle. However, on our way back to the dunes, the occasional squeak that we had heard over the last couple of days suddenly became a loud grating noise, which after a bit of investigation we determined to be our front left wheel bearings. This was quite exciting for us, because we actually had wheel bearings and associated consumables in our very carefully considered supply of spare parts. Up until now, aside from fuel and oil filters, we had only used one universal joint of the parts we had carried all the way from England. Everything else that had broken we had either had to mend or buy en route. We slowly made our way back to the campsite, and a good part of the next morning was spent dismantling the front left hub and replacing those bearings.

After that, we decided to go into Swakopmund for a swim in the sea, then stay another night and leave early the next morning.

It was a long drive through to Windhoek, but on the way we detoured past Spitzkoppe, a massive rock outcrop.

We have now spent three days in Windhoek, and again most of the time has been taken up with repairs. We have been camping in the carpark of the Puccini Guest House very close to the centre of town, and I have been able to carry out all the work there. The guest house owner pointed us in the direction of an excellent Land Rover parts dealer who has had almost everything we have needed, including a new fuel tank and set of front coil springs. While I have been busy trying to remove old parts and replace them with new, Catkin has been traipsing around to the parts stores to get all the extra bits and pieces we need as more things break or need fixing. Now the fuel tank is in, the anti-roll bar that we took off in Botswana is back on, and the front of the vehicle is level and restored to its full height with the new springs, which just happen to be very close in colour to Rover Sandglo, the official colour of Camel Trophy Land Rovers. We even have new rubber mountings for our air cleaner housing, replacing the broken ones that we first repaired in Slovakia all those months ago. No more wire holding it all together.

So, not much in the way of sightseeing lately, and no exciting news to report, but it has been a busy week nonetheless. All our washing is done and our water tank is full so tomorrow we head out of town, into the desert again. Not fully sure exactly where we will head for yet, but we will be sure to let you know.