Pavlov’s Blog

1 05 2008


Beep! Beep!

If you ask my parents, I was a gentle child with a mild temperament and a placid demeanor. But beneath that idyllic façade was a cruel brute who longed to see Wile E Coyote savour Roadrunner with fava beans and a nice Chianti. It wasn’t so much that I particularly liked Coyote as it was that I found the Roadrunner to be just a little too smug for my liking.


All of this came back to me as I nervously lay in the middle of a desert highway, staring up at the blue sky and wondering if I was about to be crushed by an unseen plummeting anvil in retribution for my childhood bloodlust and evident cruelty. Quite why I was lying there with the hot asphalt searing my shoulder blades and the sun burning my face I still couldn’t really say.


There are things we do because we want to, things we do because we have to, and things we do…well…simply because we can.


The highway to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast was likely the most isolated stretch of tarmac I had ever seen. The perfectly flat, arrow-straight road quite literally stretched to the horizon in both directions. Except for the odd heat shimmer, it was also completely, utterly and emphatically empty.


No vehicles, no tumbleweed, not so much as a wispy shadow. 


Just as Pavlov’s dog salivated every time the bell rang, so I can not help but look both ways when crossing any road. Even one completely deserted. It’s clearly a reflex action because science suggests the horizon on a flat surface is 5 kilometres away for someone of my height. Therefore, any vehicle that sneaked up on me in such terrain would have to be travelling at approximately 9000 km/h in order to surprise me. Having never been a fan of maths, I ignored common sense and still diligently looked right, looked left and looked right again before venturing into the centre.


Once there and gazing at the ends of the earth, I suddenly had an odd and perverse desire to lie down. Right there, in the middle of that highway. Quite why, I don’t know…except that it was there and I could.


My body wasn’t quite so enthusiastic however, and that deeply ingrained caution that suggests that lying in the middle of the road is not a good idea, had me twitching like two magnets facing each other.  Despite the intense heat of the tar on my scalp and back, I felt a shiver knife down my spine and quickly bounded to my feet. The road was still as empty as ever, but I wasn’t taking any chances.


Although not a monumental achievement, I was rather pleased that I had succumbed to this particular whim where and when I had. If it had struck when I was in London or Los Angeles or Lima, I’d probably be The Pancake Blogger today!


Photo and Post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008




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