Hot spot!

While glancing at Accuweather this morning, my eye was caught by this graphic in the sidebar.

It brought back many memories.  Vioolsdrif (literally translated as ‘Violin Ford’ or ‘The Ford of the Violin’, after a legendary local who was said to play the violin there while waiting for wagons to arrive in the old days) is the main border crossing on the Orange River between South Africa and Namibia.  It’s desert country, and the heat is fierce and vicious during summer – the sort of heat that can kill you before you know it.  Very few people live in the area due to the extreme climate.  It’s so hot, in fact, that in high summer (i.e. now, in the southern hemisphere), from a long way off you can see a ribbon of steam rising into the air from the river as the blazing sun sucks up the water.  Courtesy of Wikipedia, here’s how it looks.  (Click the image for a larger view.)

I’ve crossed the Orange River at Vioolsdrif several times, and the contrast in air quality never ceased to amaze me.  A few hundred yards on either side of the river, the heat is as dry as you can imagine – no moisture in the air whatsoever.  Step onto the bridge over the river, however, and suddenly the air is humid.  It’s a very sudden and rather disconcerting change in the atmosphere.

I doubt I’ll ever see Vioolsdrif again, but the memories linger. It would be nice to savor once more a Windhoek Export Lager light beer, brewed according to recipes and techniques brought to Namibia by German colonists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was (and presumably still is) a favorite way to re-hydrate after a long day in the Namibian sun.  I can still taste the beer in my mouth as I think about it . . .



  1. You paint an interesting word picture.

    I know the phenomenon you describe. I went to college in Phoenix, and being both young and stupid generally wore no more than a t-shirt for protection while riding my motorcycle. There were quite a few streets bridging open (and large) irrigation canals, and crossing them on a motorcycle was like hitting a wall of hot, moist, air, followed by another sensation of sudden (relative) coolness as you left it behind.

    Vioolsdrif is not a place I expect to visit, but if I ever do I'll make sure to hoist an Export Lager in your honor.

  2. There were a bunch of German settlers down in the Hill Country of Texas, IIRC. Might be a good place to go looking for a brewery!

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