A sliver of a new moon, a crescent of hope and beauty, appears above the horizon for a bit. It soon dips below the horizon in embarrassment. It doesn’t have the luminary longevity of its neighboring celestial neighbors. But don’t fret. Our moon is in it for the long run. At least for the next few weeks. Watching the progression each night gives the journey a measuring mark as we crisscross this beautiful country. Every night the moon reflects back the solar mojo from our sun, increasingly every day. Just like everywhere else, Africa welcomes its glow.
I spot the Southern Cross in its local hood, here down under. I’m just above the Roaring Forties to the south. Back home on Bonaire, the Cross is just a astral burp above the equator. I see it often in winter season about 10 pm. But here it appears in early evening in full glory. The constellation soon gets covered with that unwinding twisted rope of stars called the Milky Way. But these are African skies, foreign to me just like the earthscape here of kudu, rhino and black eagle. I clock around 180 degrees and see the Big Dipper in the middle of a disappearing act. We are so far south that only the handle and part of the cup are visible. And it is upside-down, pouring out its cosmic soul upon Mother Africa.
But daytime reveals other kinds of wonders above. Most days the sky is a vivid royal blue and cloudless. This is the dry season. It is not until we head toward the Skeleton Coast along Namibia’s Atlantic frontier that the blue recedes. Fifteen miles away from the ocean a band of thick, gray/brown clouds obscure the horizon. At first I think that it is a sand storm, but it is actually coastal fog. By the time we reach Henties Bay on the Atlantic we are in the soup and remain that way pretty much for the next three days. Only one afternoon while driving the towering dunes of the coastal Namib desert, does the sun make an encore. Even then there are clouds on the horizon. The bottoms of them blush in pink, reflected light from the red sands below.
We travel in Namibia in June, the beginning of winter in southern Africa. These days the sun has the same low bent as the winter sun in northern hemisphere, just six months later. But I find this quite confusing while driving. I check directions with my compass. Yes, I am headed west but the sun tracks low to my north. I am ass-backwards in using this solar navigational device. It confuses me for the first few days of the journey. But I adjust much like I’ve had to driving on the left side of the road, a terrible legacy of British colonization. Now, if I could only learn to stop turning on the windshield wipers instead of the direction signals at intersections, I would be OK. Anything is possible under African Skies.