It is indeed very sad to travel through a dry Namaqualand at the peak of the flower season!
Nevertheless, this year we discovered new fascinating places with plenty of photographic opportunities.
See all the best photos in the photo gallery.
The first location was Hondeklip Bay, a small little town along the West Coast. Marine diamond mining started here 60 years ago, and that was a good time for the locals. Later the boats moved to Port Nolloth and mining was replaced by crayfishing in Hondeklip Bay. Now the factory has closed down and there is hope that the new abalone project will lead to the creation of new jobs for the locals.
Very often one of the diamond mining vessels runs aground and has to wait on the beach until the next big tide. Other fishing boats also seem to wait for better weather near the jetty or in the gardens. Everything is very quiet in the village with its tiny colorful houses, except for the waves crashing on the rocks behind the fishing cottages.
In the evening, we enjoyed Stanley's simple but delicious food at the Fisherman Cottage, where everyone is invited to have a seat around the big family table.
A short visit to the abalone project, was an eye opener on how cute the little abalones are and to hear that these edible molluscs sell for $200 a kilo when at maturity after 4 years. There are a few abalone farms along the Indian Ocean but none along the West Coast due to the colder water temperatures. If the experiment of farming abalone in the colder water of the Atlantic Ocean succeeds, then a new farm nearby will soon offer jobs to the locals.
The West Coast is known for the many shipwrecks and there is a nice one 5 km south of the village. The Aristea fishing vessel built in 1934 ran aground in 1945 and since has been corroded by the salty water. I may not have found the carpets of flowers around Hondeklip Bay, but I was very pleased to photograph the work of nature slowly consuming the thick metallic exoskeleton of the boat. As the wreck is on the beach it is also easy to climb onto and look closely at the details of the effects of the corrosion.
And nearby the wreck, there were nice flowers... the first ones we discovered!
The rest of Namaqualand was completely flowerless, except around Karas Farm, east of Garies, to my great satisfaction and the huge joy of my students. There, a couple of fields were displaying the colorful orange carpet of Namaqualand daisies.
The following day spent at Skilpad was not so colorful as all the little orange daisies stayed closed due to the cold weather. Illah and Marthy's children were not disappointed and had a lot of fun playing in the water of the potholes carved in the big granite outcrops.
This year 2010 was certainly the poorest year that I had for flowers but very rich in other discoveries and meeting nice people : Myrtle & Louis Wessel who rented the house where I stayed in Hondeklip Bay and the whole team of Namaqua Lodge, 27 km South of Springbok, which offers in my humble opinion much better accommodation and a jovial atmosphere than the old fashioned and unwelcoming Kamieskroon Hotel.