Skeleton Coast

I don’t remember where I first read about the Skeleton Coast. It was several years ago; I can tell you that. And it actually ended up in my list of random tidbits in my book ideas binder. This was the picture that really stuck in my mind.

house.jpg

How fantastically eerie is that? It’s a picture of a building in a diamond mining ghost town called Kolsmanskop. Here’s another shot with a bit more detail.

house 2

I think the village is technically south of the official “Skeleton Coast” area, but it shares the coastline and certainly has the same otherworldly vibe.

As for the official Skeleton Coast, Wikipedia has this fantastic intro: “The Skeleton Coast is the northern part of the Atlantic coast of Namibia and south of Angola from the Kunene River south to the Swakop River, although the name is sometimes used to describe the entire Namib Desert coast. The Bushmen of the Namibian interior called the region ‘The Land God Made in Anger’, while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as ‘The Gates of Hell’.”

map

O.M.G…The Gates of Hell?

It’s a scenic and sandy landscape at the edge of the ocean and is littered with abandoned buildings, shipwrecks, and bones. What kind of bones? Oh, not much: seals, turtles, whales, human.

Here are a few more pics for your viewing enjoyment.

 

So, how does all that stuff and up there? The short/easy explanation is that the Benguela current in the Atlantic ocean pushes stuff like shipwrecks and dead things onto the beach.

current

You’d like to visit, you say? Me, too! However, that might be easier said than done if nothing has changed since this 2013 CNN travel article. Here are a couple of quotes.

“The territory extends from just north of the city of Swakopmund to the Angolan border in northwest Namibia, taking in 500 kilometers of shoreline and 2 million hectares of dunes and gravel plains. It forms a national park, divided by rivers.

Independent travelers can apply for permits for day trips but only to the south — and it’s the northern extremes, the Skeleton Coast Wilderness, that most people want to see. Visitors to the latter part of the park are restricted to around 800 a year to preserve the fragile environment.”

“The only way to reach the north is to join a fly-in safari — an exclusive, if expensive, experience. A typical four-day trip costs around $6,000 per person.”

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/namibia-skeleton-coast/index.html

So, a visit might be slightly out of reach. Luckily, there are plenty of pics online.

Sources and further reading

This link has a great slideshow: https://www.ifly2017.com/en_us/48

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmanskop

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeleton_Coast

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/namibia-skeleton-coast/index.html

 

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The Crucifix Fish

Because I collect all the things, I have a modest fossil collection. I’ve been fascinated by fossils since I was a kid.

One of the places I shop for fossils is kind of a weird store. They carry a whole bunch of new age randomness like crystal balls and different rocks/gemstones, Native American trinkets and fairy trinkets, some Christian/angel things, a whole bunch of carved jade animals (there’s a frog with a coin in his mouth that I REALLY want), every kind of bead ever, incense. It’s just a strange place. You can get a psychic reading if you go on Saturday, FYI.

I was there recently, and I noticed an item that I either hadn’t seen or it was new to the store. At first glance, it looked like some kind of flat skull wrapped in plastic. I picked it up to look at it because that’s what I do when I see unusual looking dead things in stores.

There was a card identifying it as a crucifix fish. I did not take a picture at the store, but this is basically what it looked like.

Image result for crucifix fish

I was torn between feelings of: “Holy crap, this is creepy. I should put it down and back away slowly.” to “Holy crap, this is creepy. I should totally buy it.” In the end, the heebie-jeebies won out. I can’t say this is a permanent no, but I didn’t purchase it.

So, let’s look at this thing. The crucifix fish as it is packaged is the skull of top sail catfish. When it’s alive, the fish looks something like this.

catfish

 

The full skeleton of the fish looks like this.

fish skeleton

Hello, nightmare fuel. 

There’s a poem by Conrad S. Lantz about the fish that kinda serves as the “legend”, I guess. It’s what’s printed on the cards that come with the fish skulls. Wanna hear it? Here it go.

“Of all the fishes in the sea
our Lord chose the lowly sailcat
to remind us of his misery.

His body on the cross is outlined.
The hilt of the sword
that was plunged into his side
is clearly defined.

Look at the back of the fish’s bone.
The Roman shield is shown.
When you shake the cross
you will hear the dice being tossed
for our Lord’s blood stained dress.
Those who can hear them
will be blessed.”

And thus, a fish skull becomes a religious symbol.

The “dice” in the poem are actually the fish’s otholiths (endolymphatic infillings), which are parts of the inner ears that help the fish with direction and balance.

I can totally see the crucifix. It’s not like that piece of toast with Mary’s face, and you have to tilt your head and squint your left eye to see it. Does that make it less creepy? I think not.

People actually hang these things on their walls.

wall

 

No thanks. And this coming from a girl with a bear skull hanging on her wall. This fish thing…it’s just too much.

Or is it just enough?