Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Home via the Karoo - March 2008

With the end of the Richtersveld weekend behind us, our road home was going to be the long one...

The road to Port Nolloth seemed as straight as an arrow.

The searing heat of the morning seemed to be cooling as a bank of grey clouds spread across the desert.  It looked as though a cold front was approaching from the west.

Port Nolloth is semi-desert, flat, sandy and scrubby.  Apparently the temperature here remains an almost constant 17 degrees Celcius twelve months of the year, with variances in February, when it can be baking hot and again in July when it goes from cool to cold.  August and September are the recommended months to visit as from October to March southerly gale force winds blow, making it rather uncomfortable for visitors to the area.

Clusters of houses face the sea and the small harbour is well protected by a reef of rock. 

The calm waters within the reef are somewhat inviting, but the Benguela Current flowing up the coast is bitterly cold - maximum 16 degrees Celcius.  Rainfall in the area is low - about 45mm a year, this because of the low sea temperature, which resists evaporation causing low precipitation.

We drove through the town and surrounding area.  There is a hardy character about the place and if one had the time to explore every nook and cranny, the memories of past things, tough men and forgotten adventures of this old copper harbour would come to light.

We just happened to be here on the wrong day - a public holiday, so all monumental buildings where shut tight and the town was still sleepy on Easter Monday...

A beautifully maintained Church and Convent stand out in the bleak greyness and attract one's attention... a place of peace and solitude.

We all seek refuge somewhere, somehow, sometime...

The history of the town is such that it developed from being a harbour on the Namaqualand coast for the shipment of copper ore dominated by the Cape Copper, the South African Copper and the Okiep Copper Companies, to a commercial fishing village with three crayfish factories and then, with the discovery of diamonds, the place boomed and affluent people such as Hans Merensky and Ernest Oppenheimer became involved in the mining operations, which caused all types of upheaval amongst diggers and the government and began what became known as the Namaqualand Rebellion.

If ever you are in town, you have to stop off at the little fishshop, Port Fisheries, for fingerlicking, lipsmacking fish and chips - fresh from the sea!  We armed ourselves with our bundle and went down to the beach.  Sitting on rocks we satisfied our hunger with seagulls screaming at us, trying to launch themselves at our treasure, which we shared with them anyway - at the very end.

Once refreshed, well fed and watered, we made our way back to the road we had arrived on and bade a "we'll be back..." farewell to Port Nolloth, leaving behind a sleepy little town steeped with history long gone and rich with mineral wealth... 

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