8.23: Waking up in Mariental, we had a mission: fix the first tire, so we didn’t have to pay the rental company a bunch of money that we didn’t have. We went to the gas station, who called TrenTyre about a rim for the Tiida. They claimed not to have any. We went to the Nissan dealership (honestly, probably the only one in the whole country. There are no car dealerships in the North); their mechanics weren’t in yet, since we awoke at about 5 and we were there around 7 (the North will make you think weird things, like that everyone gets up at 5). We went to ShopRite, which was also closed. We ended up at TrenTyre, where we asked about a rim. It was there, and shockingly affordable, though it was ‘pearl white’ and wouldn’t match the rest of the car. Then I pulled the tire from the trunk and rolled it over to the garage, where a guy just grabbed it and took it into a work area and started to mess with it. I asked if he could fix it. He said yes, and sure enough, not more than half an hour later they had it banged out, completely fixed, resealed, and back in the trunk. Best part? It was free. We were once again, saved by the mercy of humankind and a lack of American business sense. We got back on the road and decided to head for Keetmanshoop since Luederitz was no longer within reach and we were guaranteed a night in a bed and a free place to stay since Sarah lives at her school there. Before we headed out, though, we wanted to see what Mariental had to offer, namely, Hardap (which means nipples, by the by) Dam and Game Park. After getting lost for about an hour, singing on stage to dear old Mother Namibia, and seeing some really ugly lake, we ended up at the maze/compact car obstacle course that is Nipples Game Park. We drove up some mountains, saw some crazy running kudus, intimidated some gemsbok, hunted some ostrich, and made our way to what we called ‘Dam Vlei,’ which looked a lot like Dead Vlei but there was still water there. There, Sarah and I picked up kudu antlers and we all got awesome pictures. We also had probably the best bathrooms we’ve had in Namibia: outdoor little huts with no doors. What a view for doing the do! We left having seen a pretty small amount of game but having recovered from the panic and stress of the previous day and the hectic morning. Since we were once again on paved roads, I took over driving, and we made it to Keetmans without incident. We walked around town a bit, bought some meat, cooked it, and ate in Sarah’s empty dining room. We once again lit our candles and sang to Mother Namibia and ended the night with a few beers at the local shebeen. Our luck had shifted.
Low: feeling like the drive to Keetmans would never end… but I’ve since figured out it’s just because there aren’t entertaining shebeens, etc. to gaze at on the side of the road in the south.
High: having the tire returned, fixed, free! and knowing that we wouldn’t owe the rental company tons of money, sleeping horizontally, and seeing a kudu cross the road.