The story behind the photo 8/10
After spending the day in the stunning Palace of Versaille I was reminded of this photo. I am amazed when I visit a historic building and get a sense of the place. Standing in the gardens of the Palace I could imagine the life that once took place, the perfectly manicured hedges lining the multitude of walkways. The Palace itself is the embodiment of opulence. Granduer and royalty is everywhere, but then again approximately €400 million euro is currently being spent on its restoration.
Now look again at Andy’s photo. A setting sun throws the shape of a glassless window frame on the wall and sand which has filled the building. This is the absolute embodiment of abandonment. Kolmanskop in Namibia used to be a place which was literally brimming with wealth. In the early 1900’s diamonds were found in these sandy grounds and it didn’t take the German colonisers long to set up camp.
A self-sufficient German styled town was built; ballroom, power station, sports hall and a theatre shot up. A tram (the first in Africa) was built to deliver the diamonds to the nearby port in Luderitz. This town even had the first X Ray machine in the Southern Hemisphere! Money was no object.
Once again look at the photo. We wandered down the empty hospital corridors hoping we wouldn’t meet the elusive hyenas said to live there now. We crawled through windows of houses so full of sand that the doors could not open. There were no other tourists when we went to take our sunrise or sunset shots. The only company we had was the blistering heat and sand shifting winds.
This town ran out of diamonds and without them life was too difficult to sustain. Nature wanted to take back the land that had given so much to these colonial powers. By the mid 1950’s the town was empty.
Unlike today’s visit to Versaille this was a ghostly experience, the howling winds almost carried the music of the dance halls and the thumps of heavy machinery. Both have left a lasting impression, but no amount of gold can have the same impact as a house full of sand,
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