Sleepless in Sossusvlei: Part 2 of How Nicole Got Her Groove Back


If you didn’t read last week’s post none of this will make sense to you, so you may want to start there.

So there I am smack-dab in the middle of my Namibian vacation and I’ve met a man. Our Swakopmund love affair was giving my forgotten loins life and my endorphins were making me forget the rules of a vacation hookup, particularly rule No.4.

  1. Be safe
  2. Be smart
  3. Have fun
  4. Remember – what happens on vacation stays on vacation

And just when the getting was good, it was time to get out of Swakopmund. My hosts, Tangeni and Nankelo, had graciously planned an itinerary for my visit and the next leg of the adventure was taking us to Sossusvlei. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take Mr. Goodstuff with me. We wouldn’t see each other again until the last part of my trip when I returned to Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. In the meantime, I was Sossusvlei bound and a bitch in heat without a mate.


Sossusvlei is one of the natural wonders that Namibia is best known for–a salt and clay pan framed by splendid red sand dunes. I’d seen the dunes a thousand times on my computer screensaver but the images do not do the place justice. It’s truly breathtaking.

The drive from Swakopmund to Sossusvlei was about five hours southeast on rough terrain. We took the scenic route from Kuiseb Pass to Gaub Pass, over the Tropic of Capricorn, and through a small town named Solitaire. Between snapping pictures and napping I had a lot of time to marinate on my situation with Mr. Goodstuff.

I was trying to check my emotions by reminding myself that the hookup was a dead end–much like the meaning of the place we were heading to (Sossus means “dead end” in Khoekhoe, one of the national languages spoken in Namibia). CIA agent Nankelo was helping to feed my madness by telling me stories about friends of hers that survived a long-distance relationship and ended up happily married.

Whenever I closed my eyes all I could feel were his lips and hands on my skin. One vivid dream left me flushed and I turned to see if anyone had noticed–thankfully they had not. It was getting hot and it wasn’t because we were driving through the Namib Desert. When we arrived at the beautiful Namib Desert Lodge, about an hour from Sossusvlei and nestled in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, I made a B line for the pool. But even the water could not cool me.

That evening we did a sundowner, a sunset drive through the red ancient (~one billion years old) fossilized dunes on the lodge property. The beauty of the landscape was indescribable–flat yellow expanses of land dotted with green trees, flanked by tall red plateaus, purple mountains in the distance, the moon showing faintly in the blazing sky. At sunset a soft gold light shimmered on everything it touched. It was hands down the most romantic scene EVER and I was just…lonely.

That night in my room my horniness was unfortunately replaced by an unexpected cloud of depression that kept me up late into the night (along with the loud baboons howling outside). Back in NYC I had prayed many nights to meet someone that was hubpo–hubby potential. But my wish had not yet been granted. My mind was stuck on the question: why can’t I meet a Mr. Goodstuff where I live? Why is he here on another continent over a 17-hour flight away? Why? Why? Why? I laughed at what seemed to me to be a cruel joke God was playing on me.

I woke in the morning somewhat restored and what funk remained the beauty of the sunrise chased away. I was eager to get to Sossusvlei and climb Big Daddy, which offered the best view of Deadvlei. It’s best to get an early start before the sun gets too hot and the tourists get too thick.

Previously an oasis with several acacia trees, Deadvlei is now a dried out clay pan. The remaining trees are dead, black and twisted, each one worthy of a museum masterpiece. Surrounding the white clay pan and the twisted black trees is Big Daddy, the highest sand dune in the Sossusvlei area reaching about 100 stories (1066 feet) high. To stand at the summit of the red dune gazing down into Deadvlei is to truly be awed.

To get to the top however you must climb… on the narrow ridge where the two faces of the dune meet. One wrong step to the right or left can send you tumbling down the dune (which might actually be fun). I don’t know how long it took me to get near the top but with each step I gained strength. After a while I looked back and I was the only one still climbing.

My mind felt clear so high up and I was reminded, in the grace of the curves of miles and miles of dunes, that God has a plan for us all. Now, I’m not a religious person, but it’s hard not to believe in a higher power when traveling introduces me to so much splendor–in people, landscapes, nature–the earth is a canvas.

After taking in the view I ran down the dune full tilt! The rush of the air and the spray of the sand was thrilling. That night, instead of being horny or sad, I felt optimistic. I had the thought that maybe Mr. Goodstuff is just a prelude to what is waiting for me back home in NYC. Only God knows…


4 responses to “Sleepless in Sossusvlei: Part 2 of How Nicole Got Her Groove Back

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. In part one, you said you might be offering TMI, but you weaving in your personal story made these posts so fun to read! It also made me think about your Italy posts with your ex. I would definitely read your travel/romance book filled with your beautiful pictures…just my 2 cents 😉

  2. I had no idea there was a book in the works…i’m a fan
    i’d certainly read it w/o mr goodstuff 😀
    i concur with Ms Tanya, the intermingling of your personal battles made reading about this trip so much more entertaining. come on Nicole, gets to writing please hahaha

  3. Pingback: 10 Things Being Single and Traveling Solo Have in Common | nicole marie richardson·

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