This image comes from the Sossusvlei area of Namibia and there was some effort (or disaster) involved in getting this shot...or really any shots that day. There is a saying that I came across referring to life in Africa which now having experienced just a little of daily life in southern Africa I can see how it is totally valid. The saying goes - "Africa Always Wins." I think there is some negative connotation in terms of race relations that relate to this but I'm not here to discuss that. What I can relate to on a very small scale was a pattern of events in which it seems as though the odds are against you and some external force is actively working to see you lose on a daily basis. I'm sure this is very different and very real for those who are locals, but even to me (a suburban raised white middle class American) I got a little taste.
On our last night at Sossusvlei we had planned to drive out to the actual Sossusvlei site and watch the sunset. The drive was about 45 min from the lodge to the Sossusvlei Salt Pan plus there was a little walking involved over the sand to get into the famous salt pan. When we set out to drive down to the area we drove the 45min over a nice tarred road and then suddenly when the dunes had closed in on every side the dunes consumed the road and the road turned solely to sand. As we approached the sand I felt like this would be easy. I had read up this particular drive and it was only an additional 4-5 km to the salt pans so I put the truck in low 4x4 mode and carried on.
At this point it was about 4pm and there was only 1-2 other cars in site making the drive. As we were making our initial drive over the sand a truck similar to our was suddenly stopped in the sand and appeared to be stuck. As I looked ahead to the truck I tried to assess the situation and figure out which way to go as to avoid the same mistake when all of a sudden our truck slowed to a stop. We were stuck too. In utter unbelief I tried to rock the truck forward and back but we were certainly not going anywhere as sand was reaching up past the center of the wheels.
Stephanie and I crawled out of the truck and began to dig around the tires to free them from the sand (this seemed routine as we had been stuck in mud twice the week before with others driving) but the sand was extremely warm and soft proving difficult to clear.
Luckily (and I mean extremely luckily) a land rover drove up shuttling some fellow tourists to the salt pans. Normally, the land rover shuttles end earlier in the day but this one driver was doing his last shuttle of the day a little later. The driver very confidently told us "Get in and I'll take you the salt pans. We'll come back to the truck later and I'll pull it out." Basically, I had no other choice at this point so Stephanie and I grabbed a few things and jumped into the land rover. I remember even locking the truck which seems silly now since there really was no other human being within 50 km. The German tourist couple in the truck had a nice laugh at us silly Americans getting stuck. As our luck turned out the German man was a guide and Land Rover driving instructor. His ego was nice and big after an hour of teasing us.
After about an hour at the salt pans we returned with the driver to the truck and quite literally he had our truck unstuck in about 2 min. At any rate, we gave him a nice tip and thanked him immensely before moving the truck off the sand and back to the hard tarred road. Now after all that (and being covered in sand) we were determined to explore a little, get some shots and enjoy the sunset albeit not quite where we had intended. We ended up taking a nice walk to a much more well travelled area and found some nice trees and bushes to shoot. At this point the German couple and the shuttle drivers had left and we actually had the whole area completely to ourselves which was amazingly beautiful and also kind of eerie. After all that happened we had the whole dunes to ourselves albeit not quite what we had planned. The lesson learned again was that whatever you have planned - Africa probably has something else in mind.