A DOCTOR'S DIARY IN DAMARALAND
May 18.---Windhuk lies almost due east of Otjimbingwe, but there is no direct road connecting the two places, because a large waterless, irregular plateau known as the Komas Highlands intervenes. This region, which constitutes the watershed for the greater part of the whole country, must be skirted either to the north or south. The Burghers had taken the northern route, partly on account of the better water-supply, and partly to avoid having an extensive waterless and difficult region between themselves and their base, but chiefly in order that the wing marching on Windhuk should not lose touch with the rest of the army.
Now we were free to move on to Windhuk, and our orders, too, were to take the northern route and not to delay. Journeys in this country are dominated almost entirely by the water-supply, and the treks must be so arranged that the water-holes are reached at reasonable intervals. Further, trekking must be done at night, for two reasons: first, because the days even in the winter may be unpleasantly hot; and, secondly, because the horses and mules must graze in the daytime, so that they can be watched. In our particular case we are faced with additional difficulties. Our animals being in very low condition, they are not in a fit state to make long treks. We have no food at all for the mules, and only 1 pound of mealies a day for each horse for five days. For the men, too, we have only food for five days. But, worst of all, we have no knowledge of the country through which we have to pass, and do not know where the water and grazing may be. Without a guide, we shall have to rely entirely upon the map, which is quite unreliable with regard to the waterholes, or, rather, with regard to the water in the water-holes. At dawn to-day we are ready to leave the place where we have spent three anxious and strenuous weeks, weeks that have seemed to us like eternities. The inhabitants seem to be sorry that the ambulance is leaving, and express their gratitude for the little we have done for them by making us gifts of foodstuffs, which we know they can very ill afford to do.
Soon B section of the --- Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance is on the road again, three ambulance waggons, three general service waggons, and a watercart bringing up the rear. Men without horses walk to save the mules; men with horses walk to spare the horses. The road is very heavy, the wheels clinging to the sand with a grinding noise. Two or three hungry German dogs follow us, hoping thereby to prolong a miserable existence. The dust rises and hangs in the air, and as soon as the sun is up it becomes unpleasantly hot. The dust of many parts of this country is quite a feature, being often very light and powdery. This is due to the fact that it is composed very largely of mica. A moving column will raise a dust that ascends like steam or smoke, and remains in the air a considerable time. Troops or herds of animals are easily localized in the daytime by the dust they create, which is often visible for many miles, so that surprising an enemy during the daytime is generally out of the question.
During our stay at Otjimbingwe we had collected a good many stray horses, most of them in a most wretched condition, left behind because of their uselessness. Our orderlies would appropriate these animals, and make attempts to improve them, and also to acquire old and discarded saddles and bridles. Amongst our men were a good many from the towns, with no knowledge of horses and little of horsemanship. These were the very ones who had made such efforts to convert themselves into mounted men, and on leaving we were not a little surprised to see several of these gentry booted and spurred and mounted on these sorry nags. But before many miles were done they were all on foot again, the effort of propelling these animals, combined with lack of skill, proving more irksome than walking.
We continued to advance along the road parallel to the Swakup for an hour or two until we reached a spot called Uitdraai, where it was our intention to pass the day and wait until the evening before beginning the real trekking. We had been told that there were both water and grazing here. There was a little water in the river, but no grass was to be seen; for the 2nd Brigade had been here nearly a week, and had eaten up everything. The place, too, was a regular Golgotha, the bones and other remains of slaughtered animals lying about in great profusion. Dead horses and mules there were, too, in abundance. We spent the day under the trees, as far as possible from the unsavoury camp of Albert's men, and at five in the evening we spanned in, the order being to trek until 10 p.m. This evening the travelling was very heavy, for the road leaving the river on the right rose higher and higher; the surface, too, left much to be desired, sandy patches alternating with rocks and boulders. With every step the country improved, and at ten o'clock everybody was quite ready for a little rest. The night was very cold and frosty, but with the aid of large fires and hot coffee we managed to keep fairly warm, and would have been quite happy but for the thought that at 2 a.m. we must be up and off. Of all the abominations one has to undergo in this country, I think nothing is so trying as getting up for the early morning trek. Cold and stiff, you rise more fatigued than when you lay down. With difficulty you mount a tired horse, and with greater difficulty still you make constant efforts to keep awake. In fact, I think it much the best plan to walk as much as possible at this time at least, until you are thoroughly warmed and roused.
May 19.---About dawn the road ceased to ascend, and we began to cross a series of beautiful river-beds running into the Swakup from the north. Here the country is like a park; grass is plentiful, especially in the beds of some of the streams, and the thorntrees are numerous and large. In the hopes of finding water, I rode up or down several of these river-beds for a mile or so, but in vain, for not a sign of water was to be seen. It was now about twenty-four hours since the animals had had a decent drink, and, although the sun was beginning to get hot, there was nothing for it but to push on to the water. To crown all, about breakfast-time the diesel-boom of the water-cart broke off short going down a steep hill. Our conductor, in despair, wanted to leave it behind, but of course the Major would not hear of this, and after considerable delay we managed to fix the watercart on behind the last general service waggon.
My horse being better than most, I pushed on alone to Klein Barmen to search for the water. At noon I came to the spot, just a drift in a river, with two derelict buildings, but no sign of water or grazing. Hunting down the river-bed, I came upon a well of large dimensions, but it was filled in with rocks and the winding apparatus broken. Coming back to the drift, I saw two small notices, one in German, "Neither grazing nor water here," and the other in Dutch, "I hear there is water and grazing three miles farther; I em trekking on." Cursing the mocking German, and blessing the Dutchman for his message of hope, I off-saddled my now exhausted horse, sat down under a tree, and waited for the ambulance. It was 2 p.m. before they arrived, the mules looking ready to drop. I pointed to the notices. The conductor, after reading, said: "I must span out; I cannot go another step. "Nothing for the animals, not even sufficient shade; they were just tied to the waggons. We made a little porridge and coffee, the first food we had tasted this day; but looking at the mules and horses, and thinking that we were probably going to try to urge them on another fifteen or twenty miles to Groot Barmen, made one too utterly wretched to have any desire for food or drink. Most pitiful is it, throughout these trying marches, to witness the endurance, patience, and sufferings, of the animals. A mule will pull gamely until it drops to rise no more and a merciful bullet puts an end to its career. One would see them trying to nibble bushes as they went along, or swaying out of the course to get at a little grass by the roadside. Our great difficulty was that we rarely found grazing and water in the same place; for the troops preceding us had always eaten up the grass near the water, or, the water being near the homesteads of the farmers, the stock on the farms had done so. Often we would find good grazing, and the mules would be too thirsty to eat, or we dared not stop until we came to water. Then, when we arrived at the water, no grazing was to be found near. Attempts were made to gather grass as we went along, but the quantity obtained in the time at our disposal was never more than a few mouthfuls. Let no man lay flattering unction to his soul for his share in this war, but rather give the full meed of praise to the gallant beasts whose bones will whiten the sands of German West for many a long day.
Encouraged a little by the rest, but more by the Dutchman's message, we moved on again at 3 p.m. We struggled on three miles, four miles, five miles, in the heat and dust, without sign of water. The conductor, able to stand the strain no longer, and probably not wishing to see his animals give in altogether, came up and asked me to ride ahead with him to see if we could find water. In our anxiety we forced our horses into a gallop. Mine felt so weak under me that I thought he would never gallop again. Mounting a rise we saw a roof, then several, then some large farm buildings, and as we descended we saw a large cement dam full of water glittering in the sun, wherein several men were leisurely bathing and washing their clothes.
For the moment I think, if I had had a revolver, I would have fired upon those men, for they seemed to be fouling, with their filthy shirts, the water we wished to drink. But, as a matter of fact, there was water in abundance, and they were only washing in the place appointed for the purpose, for somebody had made arrangements for both drinking and washing. I turned my horse to a drinking-trough. He seemed to hesitate. I jumped down to taste it; it was quite hot. Later I made a careful examination of the spring. It came bubbling out of the soil at a single spot, whence it was led by furrows and pipes to drinking-troughs and the large tank. The water came out of the ground at a temperature of 49 degrees C., and I could not maintain my hand in it at this spot, although grass was growing up to the edge of this spring and algae were there in plenty. I noticed also a water-beetle or two. The water was quite odourless, colourless, and tasteless. I was told it is radioactive. A three-inch pipe carried the overflow away. It is in reality a little spa, and a shed at hand had two cement plunge baths in it, with the water laid on. We camped under some massive white granite rocks on the bank of the Swakup, within a hundred yards of the spring. The wide bed of the river, with vegetation down to its edge, the glistening rocks, and the distant mountains, all tinted a peach colour peculiar to African sunsets, made a serene and beautiful picture.
We had hardly outspanned when a commando rode up from the Windhuk road. They watered their horses expeditiously, and moved on at once by the road we had come. A dusty staff officer galloped up to our camp and saluted the Major. "The Colonel says you are to follow the wing immediately to Okasisi." Okasisi, fifty miles to the north-west ! Excuses rushed to the Major's lips: the mules, the horses, the men, his orders. More to the point, he finally asked, "What brigade is this ?" "Colonel Collins' left wing of Colonel Albert's brigade, sir," replied the staff officer. "But I am the ambulance attached to Colonel Mentz's brigade," said the Major in a tone of relief I have never heard equalled. "In that case I have nothing more to say," replied the staff officer, putting spurs to his horse.
Thinking it rather strange that the troops were passing through in the direction away from the capital, I hailed a passing officer, and gleaned from him the following somewhat disconcerting information, that only a few of the Northern Army were now at Windhuk, and that a concentration was taking place towards Karibib. What troops were still in Windhuk he thought might belong to our brigade. He said that they had captured a German ambulance complete with nine wounded prisoners; about 300 Germans were still watching General Mackenzie's troops in the region of Gibeon, not knowing that Windhuk was lost, and Colonel Mentz was engaged in rounding them up; all fighting south of the Karibib-Windhuk line was now over, the German forces having retreated towards Grootfontein and the Waterberg. When asked how the Burghers had been faring, he said that at times they had been very much reduced from want of food; they had been in the saddle every day for twenty-five days, and often they had covered as much as fifty miles in twenty-four hours. Since he left Swakupmund he had received seventeen biscuits only, no coffee, tea, or sugar, and only very occasionally a little mealie-meal, so that they had lived almost entirely upon meat.
Our daily allowance of biscuits is six per man, so that these men had been, not on half or quarter, but on "tenth" rations, and, as a matter of fact, they had been out of touch with all supplies for twenty-one days. They had still a trek of forty or fifty miles to the line at Okasisi, and there was no reason to believe that they would get much when they arrived there. Both they and their horses appeared to have plenty of vim. They were cheerful and keen, although the less said about their clothing and toilet, the better.
The ambulance was now in a regular quandary. Orders were to proceed to Windhuk; but all troops, we were told, were now making for Karibib, preparatory, no doubt, to making a new rush northward along the line. The Major was for obeying orders, no doubt a good soldierly precept. I, on the other hand, counselled remaining where we were until we could get fresh orders, arguing that since we had received orders the whole military situation might have changed. But we were very soon to discover that staying here was out of the question, for there was not a blade of grass for the animals to eat within four miles, and there was nothing for it but to move on first thing in the morning to Groot Barmen, where there was, so we were informed, both grazing and water, also a telephone-station.
May 20.---This morning I interviewed the manager of the neighbouring farm, a blond and communicative Hun mounted upon a mule. He was taking the imminent change of Government in a very philosophical if not cheerful way, and prognosticated a speedy conclusion to the campaign. He said the war would last another five months, and then he dismissed an unpleasant topic with a shrug of the shoulders. This large farm, Klein Barmen, belongs to the German Farming Company, which was really Liebig's, but went under a German name in this country, London capital being at the bottom of the enterprise. At present they were milking 200 cows, making butter and cheese which they sold to the military. Altogether there were on the place 4,000 head of cattle, and when the number reached 50,000 or 60,000 it was their intention to start Liebig factories. Labour was a great problem with him, especially, of course, since our arrival in the country. The natives, he said, are very "low-class," and only work if compelled. "For disobedience we give them twenty-five sjamboks, and then they are all right for another six months. It's like medicine," he added with a laugh. "We don't flog them ourselves, but just send them to the police with a note, saying, 'Kindly give bearer twenty-five lashes,' which is done without inquiry. Every native capable of working is registered, and wears a brass label with a number on, and the name of the town near which he dwells. When we require labourers, we simply ask the police to send them, and the natives have to come whether they want to or not."
The Germans must have had very large numbers of men and women so registered, for I subsequently bought a good many labels from natives, bearing numbers such as "Karibib Pass 8,376" and "Omaruru Pass 11,347." The natives themselves parted most willingly with these passes, as if they regarded them as badges of servitude, as indeed they are.
It seemed rather strange to see a man so well dressed as this manager, and controlling such large interests, riding a mule, so I asked him why he was doing so.
"Because I have no horse," was his trite reply. Horse sickness being very common from here northward, very few horses were to be had, and they were very expensive. In fact, people often rode oxen, and recently he had sold 400 "good riding oxen " to the soldiers of the Kaiser. Land, he said, was cheap, the Government selling good farms at 50 pfennigs per hectare.
Lizards are very plentiful in these parts. One small, very agile variety I noticed first in the desert between Salem and Tsaobis. The body is the colour of the sand, and the long tail a vivid transparent salmon colour. When disturbed it makes for cover like a streak of flame. Another very beautiful variety is found on the sunny rocks. The largest I saw was about 10 inches long, including the tail. The body is rather more squat than a lizard's generally is---halfway between a lizard's and a frog's. The head and neck are marked like a tiger's, but of lemon, yellow, and black. It holds its head well up, and looks about in a very perky way. It has scarlet epaulettes, and the body is grey marked with white. Its power of holding on is phenomenal, and I saw one running up and down the smooth cement side of a house, just to show what it could do.
Immediately after breakfast I was despatched to Groot Barmen, a distance of ten miles, in order to select a site for the camp, and to try to get into telephonic communication with headquarters. This short journey to Groot Barmen is along the Swakup River, which the road crosses several times. The white sandy river-bed, the great trees and mountains, combined to make it very picturesque. Mica here is very abundant, large flakes glistening in the sun like diamonds. Sedimentary rocks, not noticed nearer the coast, were in evidence on account of the strata being twisted and bent in a most marked manner. In one place a layer of sandstone could be seen following the ups and downs of the mountains with great regularity.
Groot Barmen consists of a farm, a deserted police-station, and a ruined Roman Catholic mission. At the farm there was a telephone, and we were able to talk to Okahandya. There is a hot spring here, too, the water being hotter than at Klein Barmen. "You can cook an egg in it," they say. On the farm was a young Dutchman who hastened to tell us that he was a "British subject." Subsequently it transpired that the farm belonged to a German who had fled north, and that he had got the "British subject " in at the outbreak of hostilities, thereby, no doubt, hoping to protect his property. He possessed 300 milking cows, a thousand oxen, and several thousand sheep, all in very good condition. We were able to buy butter, cheese, and milk, in abundance, and our hungry orderlies were soon to be seen literally filling themselves with milk at threepence a litre. The police-station, or rather barracks, stands on a little hill with a very good view of the surrounding country. It has the appearance of having been out of use for years.
At a distance of about half a mile it is surrounded by four or five small buildings, which were no doubt blockhouses employed to guard against a surprise from the Hereros during the rebellion. The precautions had not saved the mission-station, which had been set on fire one night. Whether the holy fathers escaped or not I did not learn. We camped near these ruins under some giant acacias and date-palms. The church, of simple Norman architecture, is almost intact, only the roof, windows, and doors, having disappeared, a wooden ceiling, panelled, and supported by wooden pillars, being quite in a good state of preservation. The only article of furniture in the church was what I took to be the pulpit, but on closer inspection, it turned out to be a Berlin lucerne press. Two rude confessionals built of mud and stones, and whitewashed, stand at the west door.
The adjoining monastery showed signs of having been burnt, charred ends of the bamboo and fern thatched roofs and ceilings being visible. The building was large and rambling, suggestive of both poverty and toil, which no doubt the missionaries gladly endured until they were driven out by their own dock, to return no more. Bats innumerable inhabited the rafters, hanging in clusters like grapes, and I captured one with ease. They were of a small mouse-coloured variety, with tiny deep-set eyes, quite unlike those possessed by nocturnal animals generally. The ears, on the other hand, were very large and funnel-shaped, pointing forward. From this it would seem highly probable that bats rely chiefly or solely upon their sense of hearing for capturing insects at dusk, and, as their food consists only of the mosquito class, it seems all the more likely that this is the case. The sudden changes of direction these animals make in their flight lend support to this view, for they often alter their course at an angle which, judging from the position of their eyes, cannot possibly be in their line of vision.
May 21.---We stayed over at Groot Barmen the whole of this day in order to feed the mules and to give them a chance of recovering from recent exertions. Fortunately, there was an acre or two of ground round the spring, fenced off, so that we were able to leave them to feed during the night. The two nights we were here were exceedingly cold, the thermometer registering 4 degrees below zero Centigrade.
Four signallers belonging to the 2nd Brigade visited our camp. Both they and their horses appeared very worn. They told us that the road to Windhuk was very rough and difficult in parts, but with regard to grazing and water we would have no difficulty. Their whole brigade was on the way to Okasisi to reorganize, and the one wing under Colonel Badenhorst would pass here either to-day or to-morrow. We gave these men a few biscuits and a little coffee. They seemed hardly able to believe their eyes, and their delight and gratitude were quite touching. Later we had to send out an ambulance five or six miles to bring in a sick man belonging to this brigade, as they had no waggons or ambulance of their own with them. What the poor fellow must have suffered trekking from Windhuk, with his disabilities, I can hardly bear to think.
May 22.---Before we left, part of the 2nd Brigade turned up, and one of their scouts recognized a horse among ours which he said was his. It was a fine grey in good condition, but, as it bore the German Government's brand, we could not very well understand how it could be the legal property of a scout of Albert's brigade, and said so. The trooper rode angrily away, saying he would bring witnesses to prove his claim. He returned bringing witnesses who no doubt swore false witness; but the Major was obdurate, and the man retired this time threatening us with his officer. He returned with his officer plus the Colonel of the brigade. We meanwhile, fearing violent seizure of the animal, hid it away. But the diplomatic Colonel soon wheedled the horse out of us. "Of course," he said, "my scout has no title to the horse; but scouts are scouts, and they cannot scout without horses, and my brigade is now very short of horses." "In that case," replied the Major, "I will surrender the animal, although I am very short of horses, too." Thus ended an incident which promised to be unpleasant, for the Colonel told the scout to thank the Major for "giving" him the horse, which the latter did with a good grace. Later I saw our man who had lost the horse consoling himself with a fine brindled bulldog, which he said the scout had given him for the horse. This remarkable dog had trekked from Swakupmund to Windhuk and back to Groot Barmen with the brigade. He became much attached to the Major, following us all the way to Windhuk, where he unfortunately disappeared.
I had an opportunity of watching the Burghers' behaviour while they were at this farm. They arrived in a famished condition, and, with the exception of helping themselves to a few pumpkins, they paid for everything they took. It spoke well for the docility and restraint of these men to see them asking the price of butter and cheese, and paying without cavil the somewhat exorbitant sums demanded. By four in the afternoon it was cool enough to make a start. The pleasure of travelling was much interfered with by the number of dead horses on the road. One saw dead animals as early in the trek as Riet, and they became increasingly frequent, until now one might be seen every few hundred yards. The corpses nearly always lay in the road, pointing to the conclusion that they had been ridden until they dropped.
We trekked this night to Davisdrohe, and most of the way the road was in the actual bed of the river, high mountains on either side making it impossible for a road to be constructed on either bank. In places it was only with great difficulty that the mules were able to pull the waggons through, for the river-bed here is composed of loose shingle interspersed with boulders and rocks. But, however the river punished us, nobody was ever heard to grumble about it. In or near the river there was always a road, there was always water for the digging, if not wells or springs, and there was always some grazing, even at Swakupmund. Had there been no Swakup River, the advance of the Northern Army could never have been made; the water problem alone would have baffled it. At Swakupmund, Nonidas, Husab, Riet, Salem, and Otjimbingwe, the river and the river only had supplied us with water. Even after we had passed the desert we drew our water from the same source, for Klein Barmen, Groot Barmen, and all the water-holes up to Windhuk, are on the riverbank. At Tsaobis only did we rely upon other water, and this failed long before the requirements of the army were satisfied. The inexhaustible supply of pure water gushing out of the rock in a waterless waste, as at Riet or Salem, is as much a miracle as when Moses smote upon the rock in Horeb.
It is interesting to notice how the composition of the bed of the river changes gradually as one ascends from the mouth towards the source. At Swakupmund it consists of a fine impalpable mica mud which, when it dries, breaks up into laminated plates with curled-up edges and of considerable hardness. At Otjimbingwe the material in the bed is sand like that of the seashore; not a stone or pebble is to be seen in it. This gradually changes into a coarse gritty sand, and at Davisdrohe, as I have said, the bed is of shingle. Higher up still, boulders and stones predominate. One may conclude that a large stone starting at Windhuk is in the course of ages gradually ground down to powder in its passage to the coast. We get a faint glimpse of what geological time means when we are told that previous to this season the river had not been in flood for about fifteen years.
At Davisdrohe we were obliged to camp in the bed of the river, so broken or precipitous were the banks. It was very cold there, camping on low-lying ground, and whenever possible it is much better to choose an elevated spot to camp on during winter nights. Throughout the campaign cold nights were the rule, and many of the men were very ill supplied with blankets and coats. On some of the treks they were only permitted to carry one blanket or a greatcoat on their saddles. The infantry particularly suffered in this respect, and had not the supply of dry wood to make fires with been most plentiful, I am sure men would have died from exposure and cold.
May 23.---Not finding any water at Davisdrohe, it was necessary to make an early start, and we spanned in at 5 a.m., a heavy frost lying on the ground. During the night the mules had stampeded, and, although the drivers had searched for them all night, two were still missing. At 11 a.m. we came to the farm Otjiseva, where there was a good supply of water pumped up from the river by a gin into a cement tank.
The farmer here, who looked more like a Berlin clerk, did not receive us with enthusiasm. He told us most emphatically that this was a very bad place to outspan, and that good grazing was to be found at a spot three miles farther on. Disregarding his advice, I searched about, and found very tolerable grass near-by, much to his disgust, I fancy; so we outspanned near his house, and borrowed some of his neatly chopped firewood. The lady of the house, popping her head out of the kitchen door, said to her husband in German, "Are there some more of those things here ? I thought we had seen the last of them." Unfortunately for her, a sergeant near-by understood her remark, and on the spur of the moment could think of no better relief to his feelings than pirouetting his horse on her flower-garden until he felt cooler. After this our host and his spouse went inside, and we did not see them again. We left this inhospitable place in the afternoon, passing through rich pastureland along by the river. There were several empty dilapidated houses near the road, and on close inspection one could see that some while back they had been destroyed by fire, in all probability the work of the Hereros during the rebellion. The dust here was worse than any we had encountered. It was as light as flour, and lay on the road a foot thick. The drivers could neither see nor hear the waggon immediately in front of them, so that collisions were frequent, and the mules were constantly leaving the road.
It is quite impossible to do justice to the beauty of the country we passed through this-night. The road and river were winding up a narrow gorge, frequently crossing each other. Giant acacias fringed the snow-white bed of the river, and extended to the greensward beyond. White rocks shone like silver in the river or on the mountain-sides, which towered high above everything. Down below on the road a slowly moving cloud of dust represented our cavalcade. All this, illuminated by a most brilliant moon, has left an indelible impression in my memory.
It is wonderful how soon man adapts himself to his surroundings. When we arrived at Walfisch we found walking in the sand most irksome; at Swakupmund we gradually got used to it, though one generally arranged one's peregrinations so that maximum use could be made of the wood pavement and the sleepers of the railway. Now we can walk for hours in the heavy sand with little fatigue. Many men have adopted unconsciously a shortened step and a high vertical lift of the foot. It may be inelegant and like a goose-step, but it is efficient and to be recommended. It seems especially to minimize that fatiguing backslide which is experienced when walking in sand in the ordinary way.
We found a nice wooded rise with an open space for the waggons to outspan on near Ongosi, and soon had a dozen fires going worthy of Guy Fawkes. Seven hours' fast, and most of it spent in walking in the sand uphill, made the despised clinkers with jam and butter most acceptable.
May 24.---The last stage to Windhuk was entered on with great enthusiasm by all, though the formal occupation had taken place nearly a fortnight ago. For five months the word Windhuk had been continually on our lips, and pessimists in Cape Town had told us that we would lose a third of our number in the attempt to take the place, that we would be ambushed in the narrow defiles, and that finally big guns would have to be faced and trenches stormed.
North of Windhuk are beautiful undulating highlands, rising higher and higher until within two or three miles of the town. The country here is well wooded with thorn-trees, and grass is plentiful, now bleached by the winter frosts. About here a few fences are to be seen, separating the farms, but, compared to what we have in the colony, of very inferior construction.
Windhuk lies in a basin on the top of the watershed of the whole country. To the west the land gradually slopes down to the sea, to the south to the Orange River, to the east to the Kalahari, and to the north towards the Kuneni River. It is the pinnacle of the country as well as of our hopes and ambitions. An irregular ridge runs across the basin from north to south. On the eastern side of this ridge is the hamlet of Klein Windhuk, and on the western side Groot Windhuk. The Windhuker Swakup winds through the valley on the eastern side, its source being in the Aus Mountains, which form the southern boundary of the basin. This range of mountains, the highest in German South-West, rises to nearly 9,000 feet, and is the most conspicuous feature in the landscape for fifty miles in every direction. On the west of the town is a conical hill, the Kaiser Wilhelm Berg, beyond which are the Komas Highlands, stretching away to the western horizon. Finally, to the north are the undulating hills through which we had approached.
The whole landscape had a dappled appearance due to the green thorn-trees scattered freely amongst the white grass and sand. The inevitable columns of dust were rising at several points, and the sombre aspect of things was only relieved by the bright red roofs and white walls of the houses. But what riveted the attention above everything else were seven slender black towers standing together in the plain west of the town. Five of these towers are 400 feet high, the other two being a little shorter. They belong to the renowned wireless station, or, as the Germans call it, the "Telefunken."
Doctor's Diary in Damaraland index