Easy Star Augrabies
All backpackers are the same. The one that we are staying at in the remote town of Augrabies features all of the usual characteristics you find in places like this around the world. Pretty run down and dirty, that glossy orange paint on the walls that you assume is only there because it makes it easy to wash off bodily fluids, messages written on the walls from previous travelers, grim toilet and, most importantly, really odd people.
Whilst sitting in the bar area a man who looked like he could be in his 50s (although I suspect that he is probably in his 40s and let himself go a bit) starts talking at us. I say "at us" because he was drifting between a mumbling stream of consciousness and the occasional question directed to us. He was friendly enough, asking about where we were from and where we were headed. A French traveler in the bar asks the (potentially) old man where he is from, to which he replies, "I live here sometimes".
The man gets up and says "I'm going to play some music now, but feel free to change it if you want". He pulls out a laptop that looks a little worse for wear and plugs it into the beer stained amplifier in the corner of the bar. He starts playing a track with a long intro, it sounded familiar, but I wasn't sure what it was. Then the first chord dropped and I knew what it was straight away. It was the opening track to the album "Dub Side of the Moon" by the Easy Star All Stars (a dub reggae cover of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". Both myself and the French traveler turn to the man and say that we recognised the track. The man's eyes lit up, "you know what this is?” he asked excitedly. We both nodded yes. The man puts his hands together in a namaste gesture, bows, and says "then you understand what wavelength I am on... thank you".
This exchange answered a question that had been on my mind for nearly a decade. What do those eternal pot smoking crusties that go from festival to festival do outside of festival season? They come to live in weird places like Augrabies.
Augrabies really is one of the most barren places we visited. The landscape is almost completely flat with only small pockets of civilisation. It looked closer to the surface of Mars than South Africa. I suspect that if you were an eccentric recluse then living out in the middle of the desert might be quite appealing (I'd certainly be up for it).
After a nights sleep at the backpackers, we got up early in the morning to visit Augrabies Falls. In the middle of this nothingness is a gigantic waterfall running through a canyon. It made for a nice morning before we headed off to our next stop, Garies.