My paddle dips into the smooth glassy surface of the Orange River as the sun rises over the grey metallic mountains of Namibia. I kayak through the swift current, in between two countries- South Africa on one side, Namibia on the other. The sun emerges into the sky, promising to warm the cool morning, before I meet Namibia.
I cross the border and I’m welcomed into Namibia by the hot, dry land and rocky black mountains (well, and the border patrol). Thick, yellow and brown bushes are scattered across the cracked dirt and rock landscape, mountains rise up in the background- no people in sight. I’m filled with excited anticipation at being in a new county, undiscovered land, like making a new friend I’ve been reading and dreaming about for months- proof that a shape I’ve seen on countless maps exists- a face with a name.
We drive up to Fish River Canyon- the second largest in the world. It’s as deep and wide as the eye can see. I walk around the perimeter, capturing all the angles, rocks, and green rivers down below. As the sun sets over the brown rock canyon, it casts pink and orange colors over the rocks, creating a rainbow opposite the canyon. The sun drops down over the rocks in a second, painting the sky and clouds with vibrant colors.
Nineteen bodies lay on mattresses in a lightless field, silently gazing up the bright stars, the milky way radiantly dotting the expansive night sky. Nineteen pairs of eyes watch the near full moon rise up, through the clouds, into the sky, illuminating the night, dimming the stars. I imagine the Bushmen admiring their sky, telling stories, appealing to the Gods to make sense of what they see. What stories would I tell? What’s out there? I lay on my mattress in peace, with immense appreciation for the universe, and with gratitude for this moment, silently appealing to my own God (whatever it may be) – surrendering my wishes, thoughts, and ideas to the unknown, the magic of the twinkling stars.