I’ve got sand in my ears. I’ve got sand in my nose. I’ve got sand in places I didn’t even know. That is what staying in the Namib Desert is like. It’s a sandy void where not much else stirs.
During our last day here we hiked up to the top of the dune one last time to enjoy our last sunset staying at the Gobabeb Research and Training Center. My adviser, Tobin Redwine asked us, “Doesn’t this beat working at the bookstore this summer?” That’s when it hit me that I was in Africa. It took me being on top of the dune, watching the sun go down over the mountain to realize how grateful I was to be in Namibia, sifting my hand through some of the oldest sand in the world and laughing at silly jokes.
The last week of my life in Africa can only be described, in my mind, through one word: adventuresome. The tempo of the trip has been a constant go, go, go and we have hit the ground running. Whether it be gallivanting around the desert dunes or taking long exposure photos of the Southern Hemisphere sky at 4 am, it is always an adventure with this group.
Through our adventures our first priority here is as photographers. On June 22, 2013, Gobabeb has been certified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On behalf of their new certifcaition, the center requested that we assist them in updating their fauna and flora photo archive. Our driving force the past couple of days has been to capture as many living creatures that crawl around this desert. With the submission of hundreds of pictures, we have successfully improved their biota register.
What is so interesting about the trip and our “job” here is a group of students, just like us, from Texas A&M visited the Gobabeb Center last year making posters and mottos to promote the application to be certified. With success, it is wonderful to get to carry on their legacy. The old saying goes, “If an Aggie does it once, it’s a mistake; twice, it’s a tradition.” Being our second time at Gobabeb, a new Aggie tradition was started in 2013.
Even through all of our adventures and fun, it was quite strange to be at a place so far from civilization. Social interaction was limited. Personally, it is already hard being so far away from home, with so limited communication, and putting an isolated setting into the mix made it just that much harder. The adventures here are real and lively, but the solitude of the center’s community is often eerie.
Nonetheless, the adventures here in Gobabeb have been unforgettable. It has been cool to get to experience the different aspects of a place different than any other I have visited. The center has created ample opportunities for us by asking us to take pictures that could open many doors in the future. The memories of hiking up the dunes and sunsets will be engrained in my mind, as we travel elsewhere.
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