Lüderitz; A windy, desolate campground; Tidepools and anemones; The Great Gnocchi Adventure

Lüderitz is a one-horse town, and that horse is dead. Apparently is was quite the going concern back in the last century, during the boom years of the diamond rush, but these day’s it’s not much to look at. I had to do grocery-shopping, being on cook duty, but for once it didn’t take very long and I ended up with an hour to myself and nothing to do with it. I sauntered around the ten or twelve main streets, looking for something – anything – to do, and came up dry. There wasn’t even a place to use the internet. I finally just wound up watching Sheryl write her postcards, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds, and then we walked some more until it was time to leave.

The night’s campsite was a desolate hole even by Dragoman standards. It was a barren wind-scoured spit of land sticking out into the harbour. No amenities, nothing to do. Some neat tide-pools with anemones and little fish and tubeworms and things, though. I played around in them until it was time to start cooking dinner.

It was Lee’s and my third time to cook, and at this point we had a reputation to protect. The previous times we’d produced something quite good and a cut above the trip’s usual fare. This time, Lee’s idea was gnocchi – from scratch. I have to confess I had a few misgivings. I’d never made pasta from scratch before, and neither had Lee. It looked straightforward enough from the recipe he’d clipped from a magazine, but an easy recipe at home isn’t necessarily an easy recipe on a propane camp stove in a howling wind. I was willing to give it a try, though.

Long story short, we should have started a lot earlier. Boiling the potatoes took forever because the wind stole all the heat from the stove, and it took awhile to mix the dough up with the potatoes and the feta cheese (my own modification of the recipe). But what really took the time, and what we hadn’t bargained on, was the rolling of the dough, the cutting and the shaping of the gnocchi themselves. Making enough gnocchi for sixteen people is not a quick or trivial exercise. In the end it turned into a group bonding exercise as everyone helped out. I think their motivation was half interest and half hunger – the hour had gotten quite late by this point. Lee had had the sauce simmering for ages, and once we got enough ahead in the pasta-making he started to cook them one batch at a time, scooping each individual gnocchi out of the pot as it popped to the top after three minutes. We had an assembly-line in action – three or four pasta-makers and a flour-distribution technician keeping the cook supplied with fresh pasta, and a rotating line of people waiting for food. People were going straight from the front of the line to the back, with their food, and eating it standing while waiting for their second helping. It was very silly, but everybody had fun and the food turned out very good, even if it was pitch black by the time we’d finished cooking. Not too bad for a couple of camp cooks.

Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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