by Kevin Kiker

So my wife and I set out to drive back from the coast of Namibia to the central highlands to catch a plane later that day in Windhoek, the capital and home to the only large airport in the country, and we received some rather dodgy advice about the trip by the owner of our guest house, wherein he said that the road back was different from the road we took to get there, which meant that it was a “dirt road” and “this road is pretty flat most of the way with an abrupt climb about halfway through” that would deliver us up to the highlands, only this was a dramatic understatement because while the original part of the road was flat, the part about the radical climb did not prepare us for what we found, a dangerous and almost life threatening journey over an incredibly steep mountain pass with elevation grades that would defy gravity and almost demolished the pathetic little rental car we were driving, resulting in the following account of how we almost died in Namibia when the road deteriorated, as rapidly as it ascended, up to the peak of Boshua Pass, a wild untamed stretch that is supposed to be a drivable road, only the vehicle required to conquer this stretch of “road” would truthfully have to be a four-wheel-drive, off-road 4×4, with mountain tires and a powerful engine, none of which we possessed in our desperately inadequate economy rental car that was never designed to get us over this world class insurmountable mountain pass, when we finally came to the road pass of death and began to climb, and it quickly became clear that we were not going to succeed and began to bang around and slide on the golf-ball-sized loose rocks and fear became the opponent when we lost control and slid dangerously close to the edge of a precipice that plunged 500 feet down and would surely have finished us had we gone over, but we were able to stop the car and stop hyperventilating and the only choice we had was to back down the hill and try again, and the choices were very limited, but we took another run at the severe slope and instantly developed a very grave concern that this little car would not – and could not – make it up this hill, and we had to reverse back down again, and we were getting very nervous with the cliff side looming and my wife said “let’s turn around and go back” only this was not an option because it would take several hours, in fact pretty much a whole extra day, and we would miss our flight and starve to death on the side of the road in Namibia which might be preferable to going over a cliff, however I figured we had one more chance to give it everything and climb this hill, so I put the car in gear and maxed out the engine and it smoked and howled and we slid and bounced and bumped and believe it or not, made it to the top, with a severe case of me freaking out and almost throwing up, and my wife with almost permanent white knuckles and the poor car beaten to a pulp and … we lived to tell about it.

Kevin is a long time resident of the Willamette Valley, and he and his family have deep roots in Oregon. His love of travel has generated many rich experiences, and his love of writing has inspired him to record many stories. Kevin can be read online at: http://www.justkeepheadingwest.blogspot.com/

Salem Writes seeks to reflect the creative writing spirit in the greater Salem area. Contact Ruth Hudgens at salemwrites@outlook.com.