17 January 2012
Back in the bush again! Three weeks of summer sun and shenanigans in Helen Zille’s Land of Plenty left me refreshed, but ultimately also a little bored.
At first there was the novelty of having everything so easy and aplenty. Even the little things that people probably don’t even think about, like switching on a light, pulling into a service station whenever you need petrol, or ordering a pizza, never mind having it delivered. And of course ice cream. Especially ice cream!
Music was a treat too. I don’t have any in camp, not even a radio, so guitar god Albert Frost really lit me up when I went to a blues jol to Saronsberg near Tulbagh one day. Inevitably the night ended with good wine and hard rock on a stoep back in the home valley. Led Zeppelin, the assembled afficionados decided, after giving a number of rock greats the volume button, still rules!
Then the days settled into a summer routine and before long it was time to say goodbye to my sons, my dog and all the good friends again and saddle up the jet. Civilization may have its perks but somehow the elusive meaning of life seems harder to find under fluorescent lighting.
The lowveld was kind when I landed in Hoedspruit. Cool and verdant and resounding with birdsong, unlike the parched and fire-ravaged Boland I’d left behind.
I spent the night in the Selati reserve where my wheels were waiting and passed through Phalaborwa yesterday morning to stock up. The trip across northern Kruger National Park was the usual slow, somewhat tedious one, but for a change the border formalities where I crossed into Mozambique didn’t take forever.
Things had changed a bit while I was gone. The almost blinding
green of fresh summer growth had seeded into thigh high gold but the big summer rains were still holding off. An overcast sky and a cool wind spelt promise though. The little maize fields of the villages I passed through looked decidedly strained and the children who ran up to shout at my passing were kicking up dust. I made the run along the tortuous bush track to my camp in about three and a half hours and arrived last night just as darkness was settling in.
It turned out all is not well in paradise. Christmas spirit had got the better of Man Friday and he’d not only ignored the tasks he and the other guys had been given, but he’d also taken leave at will, leaving the camp unguarded. This resulted in two of my three treasured solar panels being stolen and the landing strip, where regrowth was to have been cleared, standing knee-high in grass. And that with a supply plane due today and twelve VIP guests on their way in two days’ time!
To add to my problems the internet system is not working and it started raining this morning, with no sign of letting up soon. Through the emergency sattelite phone I manage to get word out to hold the plane while I set about trying to get everything fixed that should have been done while I was away.
About the only good news is that the stolen panels were recovered in Makandazul village by two of my guys who heard about the theft when they returned from leave and then went there in search of the culprits. They caught the two tsotsi’s, tied their wrists and then marched them one and a half hours back to camp. After keeping them captive for two days and not really knowing what to do with them, they then marched them back again! To complicate matters further, the third member of my crew had in the meantime been stabbed by a buddy of the two thieves. He arrived back at camp two days later with a hole in his back plugged with wet cow dung.
Yep, I’m back in the bush. And certainly not bored. In fact, it’s taken me less than a day to forget all about ice cream and pizza and lazy days on the beach..