Here is my thirteenth (M) entry for the Blogging From A to Z Challenge.
I never met a challenge I wouldn’t think about. Some of them required little thought at all before I decided to do them or to run away from them. This one I accepted before Tim, our guide, had even finished his sentence. There was no real risk of physical harm, no one would be mortally offended (and if they were, there was something seriously wrong with them anyway), and even more importantly, it would cost me very little to do. Yup, sounds like a challenge I could not afford not to do.
We were making our way west, towards the coast and the town of Swakopmund. Swakopmund is the adventure capital of Namibia. From here you can go ski diving, deep sea fishing, dune bashing, etc. We would be there the next day. We had already spent five nights in Namibia, including two in Etosha National Park – where I saw that faint glimpse of a cheetah. We had stayed at a cheetah farm, where the three tame cheetahs that live with the family there let us pet them, and one decided that my leg was the perfect Tootsie Roll and he tried to see how licks it took before he got to the centre.
Today’s journey was to the famed Skeleton Coast – home to countless shipwrecks throughout the ages. The waters of the Atlantic are in constant turmoil here, the unforgiving sea leading onto a land as barren as my dating prospects in Saudi Arabia were. Feel free to come up with a true representation – we’re all friends here. The big draw to the Skeleton Coast, besides the chance for some truly eerie landscape/seascape photos, is Cape Cross, and the colony of seals that make their home there. We were told there would tens of thousands of seals. And as impressive as that is, you would also have the smell of tens of thousands of seals. And that led to the challenge discussion again.
“After we’re finished here, we’ll head down the beach for lunch.” Tim told us. “There aren’t as many seals there, but you can still smell them.” He laughed. “You’ll probably smell them until Swakopmund and a hot shower.”
No worries I thought, I’ve probably smelt worse. “So who’s doing the challenge?” I asked.
Dave put up his hand. No one else. Figured. Only Dave and I were brave enough. Our challenge was to eat a tuna sandwich with the smell of seals all around us. While it might not seem like much looking in from the outside, I can assure you that the smell radiating from the beach was 100 times worse than any fish market I have ever been to. And the wind seemed to swirl around, not really blowing in any direction, just kind of mixing the smell around, folding it over like it was making a meringue for some weird pastry.
On a side note … there are two crosses at Cape Cross. They erected the first one and realised it was in the wrong place so they had to erect a second one. Kind of makes that time I handed in my history report in English class seem as funny as my professor thought it was and not as dreadful as I thought it was. We walked along the beach with the seals for around an hour. The cold grey clouds and the angry sea leaving me shivering and churning up fish for the seals. This in turn brought in the sharks, but we could see none from where we were. We spied a couple of jackals off in the distance, waiting for their turns to pounce on the young and sick, some remnants of their victories scattered along the beach. I was hoping to see the odd penguin, as I was told they sometimes ventured this far up the coast, but I saw none. Instead I worked on my resolve and fortified my stomach. My big test was approaching. We hopped back in the truck and drove a couple minutes down breeze.
Dave and I prepared our sandwiches at one picnic table, the others used a different table. Quite honestly, the smell wasn’t that bad. When our sandwiches were made, we “chinked” them together in a mock cheers, and took our first bite. Simple. Nothing to it. We decided to up the stakes and walk down the beach, gradually getting closer to the mass of seals.
We stood about as close as we could get and finished our sandwiches, neither one of us flinching at all. Undaunted, we returned to the rest of the group. We were met by wild cheers and confetti. No wait, we were met with little fanfare at all. It was like we hadn’t even done anything impressive. We then decided to take off our shoes and walk into the Atlantic in May. You know how certain parts of a male’s anatomy are rumoured to shrink in cold water? I’m not sure if that is true or not, but I do believe mine pretended to be a frightened turtle and tucked himself into my body.