Timely rescue in the Namibian desert

We decided to enjoy our 2 weeks holiday and go on a roadtrip with our girls. Everyone we know here in Windhoek said the North would be too hot, the coast too busy….so, South it was.

DSC_0955Trip planned, hotels booked, car serviced, new tyres purchased, plenty of snacks and treats packed. Yes! We were ready to go. Overall we had planned to stay in 4 different locations over a period of 15 days and I have to admit I’ve lost count of the kms we were about to tackle.

On the 30th of Dec as we were driving to our last destination we stopped at a small petrol station to fill up the car. We were having a snack when 2 guys and 1 girl approached us and asked if we would be willing to help them out with some cash to fill up their 2 cars as they had run out of fuel and the petrol station didn’t have credit card facilities. We were heading in the same direction so they promised to come to our hotel later on and pay us back. I didn’t really think we would ever see that money again but the moment they explained what the problem was it reminded me of our previous “adrenalin filled moment”! Two days earlier we almost ran out of petrol ourselves – and the thought of how anxious I felt when I realised the fuel light came on, the extreme heat outside and the fact that we were still 20km away from the nearest town made us agree to just give them the cash.

We drove off. About 50km down the road our back tyre burst (probably due to the heat), we lost control of our car, swerving over the dirt road, until we finally came to a stop. Matt and I jumped out, grabbed the girls, held them tight (so tight) and realised how lucky we were. The car was damaged beyond repair. Several dents, broken glass and 3 burst tyres… but we were all okay. I still remember the fear, the stress, the relief when I realised we stopped and I could hear our girls crying in the back. If they were crying they obviously were alive and conscious.

There we were, stranded in the middle of nowhere, in unbearable heat with two young kids and no mobile phone network.  As I stood there thanking God that we weren’t injured but terrified about how we were going out I saw the dust of a car coming in the distance. As the car drew near, we realised it was the guys we had helped earlier.

photo 1(3)   photo 2(2)

They stopped to help us out, we managed to fit all our luggage in Colin’s car (one of the 2 guys), installed the girls seats in the back and off we went feeling a bit sore, very anxious, very relieved, filled with love for our family and daughters and so so grateful to be safe.

The next 2 days and the process of getting the car towed from the middle of the desert, being able to access a rental car and most importantly having to drive back home were a huge challenge but the feeling of relief when we drove through our front gate was indescribable. Home Sweet Home!

This whole experience, as horrible as it was, made us realise that we shouldn’t wait for the next birthday or public holiday to celebrate with the ones you love. Just get together! Gifts should be handed out whenever you feel like making someone happy and showing them you care. And for me personally I know that I won’t wait until New Years Day to make special Resolutions of changes I would like to implement in my life. I have not only the freedom but the power to make changes every day. And so do you….

Colin’s perception of the whole situation is that good Karma was on our side: we helped them and they were there to help us. In Matt’s mind physics somehow made it all work out: the speed we were driving, the pace at which we tried to break the car design ensured we were able to stop the car and be safe. And in my heart and soul I knew that God and our angels were there protecting us.

And it probably was all 3: Karma, Physics and God which together made me realise that the best New Years Resolution for me is not to have one….but to live every day as best as I can, sharing as much love as I can give, absorbing every positive energy around me and being grateful for all we have.

PHOTO: Tanja Rudd

PHOTO: Tanja Rudd



Tanja is currently living in Namibia with her husband and family. Over the next 12 months SALT Magazine readers will share the Rudd familyís experiences as Australians in Africa.

1 Comment

  • Reply January 8, 2014


    Tanya, you have AMAZING perspective on what happened. The perils of this beautiful country with its wide open spaces and long lonely roads… I am inspired by how you and Matt have taken this as an experience with a positive lesson. Am so grateful you are all alright.

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