For some reason, our trusty Hilux is labouring going up the steep curved driveway at the hotel and smoking badly. Not good…. Not only do we seem to have lost the handbrake (which I discovered when I parked outside the hotel just now) but something is badly wrong here. Clutch we suspect. We will have to call Bushlore first thing in the morning. We are 460kms from Swakopmund and 830kms from Windhoek and there is only one car repair close by.
Our priority today is to get our 4×4 seen to by a mechanic following our smoky arrival last night. There is no Toyota specialist in Lüderitz, but we are told to go to Udo’s Car Service so off we walk over. Udo is busy but is happy to have a look at our 4×4 sometime today if we bring it over. I am not sure if I will be able to drive over or if he will have to collect it. I can give it a go. Reversing out and around the parked car in the tight sloped parking area is nerve wracking – I hear some horrid metal noises and I am worried the clutch will completely fail as I try to back up from a brand new Audi but luckily make it to Udo’s. Not hearing from him for 6 hours, we decide to walk back to Udo’s and see how things are going. Here is what we find:
Udo confirms it is the clutch, it is not completely dead but he has already spoken to Bushlore who have agreed to send new parts overnight from Windhoek. What brilliant service on the part of both Udo and Bushlore.
So our overnight stay in Lüderitz turns into a 3 night stop over. We make the most of our time to walk around Lüderitz, which doesn’t take long as it is so small, and we quickly find our new regular favourite spots: we find a great quaint and quirky tea house with a gorgeous back garden full of flowers, herbs and one giant tortoise and a good restaurant. Lüderitz has a population of around 12,500 inhabitants and has a somewhat eery feel, built on rocks, sandwiched between the wild South Atlantic Coast and the barren Namib Desert, with the winds whipping up every afternoon, suspended in time with some pristine German art nouveau architecture and signs of its mining past. Although the Lüderitz economy is linked to the fishing and crayfish industry these days, the port was quiet while we were there as the fishing season was closed at this time of the year but we did see a cruise ship which visits once a month. We had not planned on spending that long here but we are glad we did.
Slow wifi is only available in the hotel lobby so we make the most of our time there to upload photos and catch up on blog entries while chatting with other travellers and Graham whom we ended up having dinner with twice.
We return to Udo’s at 4pm: our 4×4 is ready so we can leave Lüderitz tomorrow.
Our next stop, 15kms out of town, is Kolmanskop: a diamond mining town abandoned 100 years ago, on the edge of Sperrgebiet National Park, or “Forbidden Area”. The best preserved building, which was the entertainment hall, now houses a fantastic collection of photos, historical information and descriptions of some ingenious and risky smuggling methods such as homing pigeons, crossbows, radios, on and in their body or even involving security couriers. It is strange to see how a vibrant community, where residents were paid in diamonds, ended up this a ghost town swallowed up by the sand and I cannot help but wonder how many of those residents lead a happy life after making the exorbitant amount of money they made while here…
Fish River here we come….