Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Camping in the Kalahari

Imagine standing in a snowglobe, but instead of snow falling around you, there are stars. Imagine watching sunrises and sunsets that cast a crimson glow over the terraine from the red sand that radiates in the air. Imagine feeling like you’re part of a National Geographic documentary and witnessing nature at its best. Welcome to the Kalahari Desert, and welcome to my world.

So...want to know how a city girl has managed in the first few days in a drilling camp?

Roger came to Gaborone to bring me back to camp on the weekend. After only 4 days he looked like a bushman as he hadn’t had a shower and the camp was in his words, “a disaster”. On top of it, the camp manager/cook quit, so he appointed me the camp cook!

Before leaving Gaborone, we had to buy food as much had been stolen which spawned another first in my life......while we were unloading 3 carts of food in the grocery store parking lot, a group of 16-20 yr olds came up and said they'd take the carts. Roger said, no, we were fine. I remember now one guy bumping into me....and yes....he stole my wallet....but alas, a nice man from the Toyota dealership who just happened to be watching the grocery unloading, grabbed it and gave it back. I don't remember this happening in the # 1 Ladies Detective Agency books!!!! Just when I thought I was a savvy traveler who made it through Tana by myself.....

Roger did a great job of under promising what the camp would be like, so when I arrived, I was almost relieved. Here are some pictures of our camp site, the bathroom (finally a flush toilet and working shower!) the fire which we sit around at night, and my new “office” – the camp kitchen! The locals live in a camp 50 yds away and are given a box of rations once/week so I only cook for our guys which is anywhere from 5 – 8 people.

There is a S. African fellow running 2 drills and he has his family with him, so I do have some female companionship. The wife is now the interim camp manager and between the 2 of us, we're trying to get the camp organized. Actually a lot of progress has been made this week and I'm learning how to cook some meat and vegetables that I've never even seen which is neat. My day starts at 5:30 a.m. with getting breakfasts and lunches set out for the guys to take with them – by 9:30 p.m. I fall back into bed!

It's also been interesting seeing Roger running a crew - I told him he's like a ringmaster in a 3 ring circus. I've always heard that guys like working for him - and I'm seeing for myself how he gets his guys, and the locals on board. You might think I'm nuts (although I've been certified that I'm NOT an idiot), but I'm really glad to be here with Roger. I'm learning Afrikaans from the S. African family (the 2 kids are my teachers) and Setswana from the workers. Although, I probably should stick to learning just one, because today I was mixing up Afrikaans and Setswana!

Roger saw some ostriches on the way to the drill site yesterday, and cheetahs have also been spotted (pun intended....!) The bugs, birds and butterflies are amazing - incredible colors - I especially like the tiny yellow butterflies that travel in swarms as well as a species that has huge "eyes" on their wings to make them look scary! The dung beetles are hilarious to watch – they’re huge and fly around like little helicopters – swoop into feed on the dung and without landing – fly off.

Just had a shower - only cold water by choice as even the toilet seats are hot! This is NOT a complaint, but holy toledo, summer in the Kalahari Desert is dang hot (+40C)! Also, my buns and legs of Jello are getting a work out wearing steel toed hiking boots while walking everywhere in deep sand. But believe me, I'd rather have this than the -40C I left behind! However, as soon as the sun goes down around 7 p.m., it gets cool and we get a big fire going and sit around it with the drilling crew. My favourite part of the day is when the stars come out --- you can literally see stars touch the horizon they are so plentiful --- you don't even have to look up to the sky! It’s absolutely breathtaking and really magical.

Today as Roger was leaving to go to the drill site, he stopped one of the workers and said, “Please look after my wife...she’s the only one I have!” Patrick then laughed and said, “Yes, my boss, but I have two!”

Roger came back later and took me to the fuel station – it was fun just getting out and about and seeing something new. The picture below shows a couple that live at the refueling station drying meat (it's hanging on the fence!).

Must run....the guys will be coming “home” for dinner soon!


Anonymous said...

Man I love living through your eyes!
The camp looks quite good from what I would have expected! I sure you will have it looking like a showhome in no time! LOL
Trust you are safe! Hugs to you both!

John & Zunny said...

Appreciate what you are going through learning and keeping the camp organized.
I set up and ran 30 man tent camps in the bush near Peace River and Swan Hills the year Roger arrived.
We will give you a few months to get ready for guests B4 We arrive.
We went to the Tommy Hunter show and enjoyed very much!We took pictures with him.
We also enjoyed reading about your adventures and expect to see some pictures of you riding an elefant.
Take care! Love
Dad & Zunny