Sand. Says the road sign helpfully. 16 wheeler blunt-nosed trucks shimmy towards me. They are watercolours that become an industrial drone that in the time it takes to rub your eye they suddenly mmmwwarrrrrgggggggghh past sooner than you expected. Driverless.
It's 25 straight hot miles from Walvisbaai to the remarkably teutonic Swakopmund north but I'm determined on my bicycle. The heat is unmentionable, I'm filthy. Nothing lies between the two towns on this stretch of the skeleton coast except a huge guano-caked off-shore platform and the word JESUS written in white sandbags on a sand dune, and sand. At one point of course, I'm twelve miles from anything but the Atlantic on my left and the Kalahari desert on my right. I collapse the bike on the sand by the side of the road and squint burnt eyelids at glistening tarmac half blinded and half choked by the sand. Driverless trucks mmmwwarrrrrgggggggghh. Mesmerised by the blur of their black underbellies. Rationing water.
I get to Swakomund, have a beer. I buy a book in a small bookshop and put it in my back pack. Wide sandy boulevards. A woman and a child fight with gigantic seagulls on a deserted sea front. Namibia's holiday playground. I turn back. After several miles I realise the Atlantic is still on my left and the Kalahari is still on my right. There's only two roads out of town, both are the Trans-kalahari Highway. Always had a catastrophic sense of direction.