after cyclone Dando

20 January 2012

Cyclone Dando may have spent its rage, but out here we’re still dealing with its aftermath. The only road to the south is still no-go.

A NASA image of subtropical depression Dando approaching the Mozambican coast. Note the thing's evil eye.

Yesterday a racey Piper Aerostar twin made a low overpass when it came to check out the route and the state of things, but my strip was still too wet for it to land. The expected guests will be choppered in today, an e-mail informs me.

The truck with supplies that should have preceded them left by road at four this morning, taking the long way round. It’s first heading east to Chokwe, then north to Mapai, then west to where it can cross the Limpopo by ferry and subsequently on to camp. It’s expected to arrive at about 7pm after a fifteen hour journey, whilst a crow would have had to fly only a hundred km to get here.

Shortly before ten a.m. I hear the chatter of rotor blades. A yellow chopper drops in over the river and settles squarely onto the H in a clearing next to camp. It drops two pax and a pile of bags, then hurries off to Massingir again. An hour later it’s back again and six more guys disembark as the blades wind down.

OK: Here I am with two pilots and the virtual who’s who of wilderness experts in my camp, and not much to offer them until that supply truck arrives. On it is food, bedding and a whole lot else that’s needed to host these folks in some semblance of hospitality. But they’re a good bunch, so we manage to hustle up something to eat from my rations in the meantime, before they go exploring. The rest of the day is taken up by aerial and 4×4 sorties until we all gather by the campfire at nightfall. The truck should be here any minute.

Later, when the jokes start turning into yawns, there’s still no sign or word of the truck, even though the driver has a satphone. My esteemed guests have to settle for yellowed, moth-eaten linen and jazzed-up mieliepap. To their credit, they don’t complain. Rather we’re all concerned about the candy van and its crew of four that’s unaccounted for. Where are they?

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