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The Nomadic Diaries

The Nomadic Diaries

May 2017

I stood in awe in the doorway, staring at the sand that had swallowed up what must have once been a master bedroom.

“It’s like walking through a Salvador Dali painting,” I said aloud, Zach agreeing in just as much awe.

“This is awesome,” he said.

We were in Kolmanskop (Coleman’s Hill in German), a small ghost town that had once been a thriving diamond mining community. It had its own ice factory, general store, a 200-bed hospital, power station, skittle alley, theatre, casino and was the first place in the Southern Hemisphere to have an X-ray machine.

The town was named after Johnny Coleman who abandoned his ox wagon during a sand storm on the outskirts of Luderitz. In 1909 Zacharias Lewala, a local worker, discovered a diamond in the area. He showed it to his supervisor, a German named August Stauch, and thus the diamond rush of the early 20th century began. Back then, diamonds were literally just lying on the surface.

But as with most natural resources, the diamonds were exhausted pretty quickly and by 1954 the town was abandoned like an unwanted newborn. The Namib Desert, one of the oldest and driest deserts on the planet, slowly reclaimed the town as strong winds pushed the sand dunes into the houses, breaking windows, doors and drowning the homes, hospital and anything the sand could get into.

It’s now a major tourist attraction and a great place for photographers seeking that surreal experience. Entrance is $75 Namibian dollars ($7.50) and for an extra $25 ND ($2.50) you can join either the 9am or 11am tours and refresh yourself with a cool milkshake or whatever beverage fancies you in the old ballroom.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to shower out half the Namib Desert from the crack of my ass.


This Nomadic Writer and his buddy Animal are on a truly unique journey, which includes a system of bartering in exchange for a global adventure of note (he’s not that into money). Simon lives by only a few rules, which include, in his own words, the following:
• No commercial flying
• Try to volunteer with wildlife conservation where possible.
• Stay in each country for the duration of the visa I’m provided with


A pink punk hairstyle, big round eyes and a permanent smile are just some of the distinctive features of Simon’s travel buddy, Animal. Animal has criss-crossed Namibia alongside Simon, who tells of how they met …

My brother used to live in New York back in 2002. I flew over (this was pre-nomadic, no flying era) to visit him and he took me to New Jersey for a fun day at the Six Flags amusement park. Walking around the game stalls I made eye-contact with Animal who seemed to be begging me to free him.

“What-ta I have to do to get Animal?” I asked the operator.

“Just knock down the cans with this baseball,” he said, handing me the ball.

On my first shot I blasted those cans into the back wall. “Release Animal,” I demanded, and he’s been with me ever since.

Because he’s crazy (his character is based on Led Zeppelin’s drummer, John ‘Bono’ Bonham) and we’re both musicians (he plays drums for the Muppet band while I jam on guitar), he represents my crazy side.

As I was packing for my nomadic ways I asked him if he wanted to come along. He grinned and nodded, ripping out a drum solo. We’ve been inseparable ever since.

Nightjar Travel