The Namibian night is full of stars. They take the edge off the darkness. But still, it’s very very dark, and cold too, at least in winter just before dawn.
Namibia is Southern Africa’s odd man out: Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique are all two hours ahead of Greenwich, and Namibia is too, except in winter, when the country falls an hour behind. Drive into Namibia in winter, and you gain an hour.
A few winters ago we drove into Namibia from South Africa. No-one at the border mentioned that we might want to change our clocks, so during the next few days we were unaware that we were waking, driving, eating and sleeping an hour before everybody else. It didn’t really matter; Namibia has a lot of space and not many people; we felt on occasion that we were the only people on Earth.
We finally gained that hour one morning around 4am – though our watches said five – at the gates of Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft National Park. We spent that hour, huddled in our Land Cruiser, like this: we sat patiently; looked a bit puzzled; became slightly frustrated; became irate; tried to wake up anyone in the gatehouse; developed hunger pangs; developed a sense of unease that ours was the only vehicle at the gates; pored through the guidebook; swore.
The up-side, of course, was that we were the first people through the gates and into the dunes that morning. Namibia is beautiful even in the darkness.
Now when I see GMT+1:00 I think of Namibia.