“Searching for Namibia.” Alpinist Magazine Feature. Fall 2010, #32.
“Photos of echoing emptiness drew me to Namibia. In the first picture, a scraggly rock face rose to a beveled granite prow. Its curve mirrored the shape of a mud-covered hut below. The cliff was three fingers high; the building was two. How tall was the unseen person who lived in that hut? How small would I be if I found my way to the granite behind? The woman in the second picture was looking away. What was so interesting off in the distance that I couldn’t see? Her hair was tightly wrapped and coated red. A leather headdress adorned the top of her head, silhouetted against the same blanched-out background of the first picture. She is looking at the hut, I thought. Except I didn’t really know this. I didn’t know anything about her at all.
By the time I left for Namibia in 2009, my research files were twelve inches thick, and the gaps in my knowledge seemed only to have widened. The rock face, the hut and the woman with the ochre-covered hair were all in the northern edge of the country, in the Marienfluss Valley of the Kuene Region (aka “Kaoko”). I had GPS coordinates for the location; printouts of distances, fuel costs and water stations…”